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Get up and skate everywhere to the point of exhaustion

Ross at Meanwhile II 1991

Ouch: this is so painfully close to the truth. The idea of having a carefully written out list of tricks to master was no fiction. My hunch is that a lot of people had such things. Their five year plan. Or one month in this case. As usual Gavin was writing about a deeper truth.

I’m also intrigued to find him recommending Siberian Ginseng — far more obscure than the Korean equivalent. Gavin knew a lot about a remarkable range of things, but health supplements for skateboarders as used by Russian athletes? At the time I probably only checked that he wasn’t suggesting something weird and shrugged. Fifteen years later I find myself taking it too and doing a bit of work for a company which sells it. Spooky. Maybe I’d better find out about Juniper body oil as well!

Days 5-7: Wednesday 26th – Friday 28th June
Now the regime really starts. For the next three days you’re going to be watching your videos and reading your magazines. You’re going to train your mind. Continue Reading »

Issue 96 May 1991 &Skateboard culture timlb 29 Apr 2007 No Comments

Gavin Hills on skateboarding in Ireland in 1989

Gavin Hills on Norther Ireland in 1989Only the double act of Vernon-and-Gavin could have handled this for us. Gavin seldom got the chance to address his bigger themes head on in R.a.d, though he was always true to them whenever he could sneak them in. There is nobody else I would have trusted to attempt this — certainly not myself. Sheryl Garratt once wrote of how she would struggle to keep Gavin from quoting William Blake in The Face; on this occasion he managed to get Yeats into R.a.D


by Gavin Hills

“The innocent and the beautiful
Have no enemy but time.”


Someone once mentioned that everything in Ireland is a lot greener. I certainly was — me, along with the rolling hills and sheep-clad fields. To travel to Northern Ireland is to travel through history, and history in this case is a nightmare they are all trying to awake from. Continue Reading »

Issue 82 December 1989 &Skateboard culture timlb 14 Jul 2006 No Comments

Whose Line is It Anyway? (Part 7)

Jeff Hedges photographed by Claus GrabkeThe main picture of Jeff Hedges is by Claus Grabke. I wish we had run more like that now. Inset shows Mark Abbott and Shane O’Brien.
This was the last page of a remarkably long feature. Too long perhaps, but it does provide an interesting sense of the skateboard culture in Britain back in 1989. In April 2006 there was thread in the Sidewalk magazine forum discussing how little things had changed.

Issue 81 November 1989 &Skateboard culture timlb 24 Apr 2006 No Comments

Whose Line is it Anyway (Part 6)

Paul Davidson Bloblands (Norwood Park)Paul Davidson at Bloblands (Norwood Park), just up the hill from the sad quarter pipe on the cover of Rollin’ Through the Decades and just down the road from where I sit writing this.

Now stop for just a moment. Go back again and read that lot. It’s no more true than the first piece. There’s an inifite number of choices — and you don’t even have to choose one. Just skate. Remember the last words of the Old Man of the Mountains:

“Nothing is true,
Everything is permitted.”

And that’s another theme which underlies the whole history of R.a.D. The quotation is from Nic Roeg and Donald Cammell’s film “Performance” — there were plenty more scattered through R.a.D over the years. I’d sneak them in whenever I could.

Issue 81 November 1989 &Skateboard culture timlb 23 Apr 2006 4 Comments

Whose Line is it Anyway (Part 5)

St George's Skatepark WeybridgeThe skater was credited as Patrick Hughes [actually Pat Phillips, see correction below], shown here at the private mini-bowl on the St George’s (?) estate in Weybridge. This was (and still is) a posh private estate with its own security force and home to sundry celebrities, including some of the Beatles at one point. This bowl had been built for a skater who had since grown up and left home. His family were happy for other people to carry on using it.

And perhaps they’re right. The freestyling and racing heroes of the sixties and mid seventies were supplanted by the vertical stars of the late seventies and eighties. Now we have pros who have established their name on the streets. That would have seemed ridiculous at the beginning of eighties, but as skating grows, new areas, new aspects of skating, are opening up all the time.

The mini-ramp has brought a whole new style of skating to a new generation. New, different: not better, not worse. The lines of the mini- ramp wizard are not the direction based lines of the park skaters, they have more in common with the trick based lines of the freestyler. But nobody feels a need to slag off freestylers because all they do are ‘tricks’ or a slalomer because all they do is wiggle through cones.
If you can only see lines in terms of travelling over concrete, or flowing patterns the width of a big vert ramp, then you’re the one with the blinkers, you’re the one trapped in the mental tramlines. And if you’re spending time worrying about it, that’s your problem, not the bloke who is actually skating on the mini.

Issue 81 November 1989 &Skateboard culture timlb 22 Apr 2006 2 Comments

Whose Line Is It Anyway (Part 5)

Will Bankhead Skating in the City 1989
Jay Podesta’s photograph shows Will Bankhead skating ‘somewhere in the City’. This was around the time that the City of London started to get really hostile to skateboarders.

Do you get pissed off with people coming on better than you on the grounds that their skating (or type of skating) is better than yours? It’s fashionable to take the piss out of kids who get hung up about who can do what tricks. But the people who take the piss are careful to maintain their particular status. It’s not how high you can Ollie, for them, but the point remains the same — ‘I’m better than you’. In this case because ‘I’ am into a ‘better’ form of skating.
This prejudiced view has established a set hierarchy: concrete, good; big vert ramps, nearly as good; mini-ramps, bad. Just as some do-gooders insist that skateboard graphics are the work of devil, so some skaters carry on as if satan had come up with the idea of the mini. They forget that skating is constantly changing: that when they first took to riding back yard pools most ‘skaters’ were more into spinning 360s or racing down hills. Or maybe they don’t forget? Maybe deep down they fear the new?

Issue 81 November 1989 &Skateboard culture timlb 20 Apr 2006 No Comments

Whose Line is it Anyway? Part 4

Rob Dukes sequence, KenningtonA crashing change of gear takes place at this point. It’s hard to work out what the idea was. I have a feeling that the first part of this feature was written by Gavin and that the second part was by me and that this page is the dividing point. I think I detect a switch into lecture mode as well as a division within the editorial camp. The exact kind of thing I was describing to Joe Millson in a comment on another post. This is me having gripe in print, I suspect:


Now go back, read that stuff again but this time and ask yourself whether you agree. Beneath all the standard ‘open your eyes and your mind’ stuff we usually trot out, is the assumption that a particular style of skating is ‘bad’.

Issue 81 November 1989 &Skateboard culture timlb 19 Apr 2006 No Comments

Whose Line is it Anyway? Part 3

Nicky Guerrero at Munster, picture by Claus GrabkeI really like this picture of Nicky Guerrero, taken by Claus Grabke. I wish we had run more images like these.

Conformity breeds stagnation which spreads like a plague of death and destruction, and napalms our very souls. Instead of going for the latest trick, go for a new line. Tramlines may be in vogue in skinny haircuts on young hippety-hoppity heads, but at least they’re showing variety. Take a leaf out of their book: I saw these photos from some New York barber’s the other day — there was a Mickey Mouse on a skateboard. That barber had the lines sussed.
Tramlines? Leave them in Blackpool, mate, leave them in Blackpool.

Issue 81 November 1989 &Skateboard culture timlb 18 Apr 2006 No Comments

Whose Line is it Anyway? Part 2

Reuben Goodyear, Kensington slide slideGreat picture of Reuben Goodyear skating a playground in Kensington, taken by Jay (Podesta).

Everyone’s got a line in them unfortunately today more and more are choosing tramlines. They’re stuck in a groove and won’t break out.
Mini-ramps have brought many good things into skating, but on the down side they’ve given many skaters a tramline which they lay down everywhere. Ramps, reservoirs, parks and even pools are now becoming just mini-ramp substitutes as the tramlines are laid down across them. Back and forth everyone goes with aerobic style routines.
All terrain contains an infinite number of lines, so why not ignore the squashed circle most have chosen? BREAK FREE! Go back and forth, up and down, round and round, crave figures of eight even. Crave figures that if you drew them would look like some Dada drugs experiment.
Find a line, hide it, find a new one. Then get your old one out and show off. Lines are as much a part of the creative side of skating as tricks: a creative skater can find lines that enhance his skating.

Issue 81 November 1989 &Skateboard culture timlb 16 Apr 2006 No Comments

Whose Line is it Anyway?

Whose Line is It Anyway?Picture shows Shane O’Brien at Neasden, and it’s only when I look it at it now that I start to appreciate why we ran it (I took the pictures but tried to leave the choice to other people). This feature looks like one of those excuses to run a load of pictures we liked…

Issue 81 November 1989 &Skateboard culture timlb 15 Apr 2006 No Comments