It’s probably the first time in 20 years that I’ve done that. It was only three weeks old, and it’s £50 down the drain, but snapping it made me so happy.
Back when I was in my 20s, and spending almost every spare hour skateboarding at Southbank, snapping boards was a fairly regular occurrence. But that was a lifetime ago, I grew old, my skate crew drifted apart, we got proper jobs, debts and responsibilities. I never officially ‘gave up’ skating, but there was probably a good decade where I’d skate maybe once every six months, a rare taste of the beautiful freedom of skating.
I suffered with depression, I went to therapy, and one of the things my therapist asked me to do was to try to force myself to do some of the things that I knew I enjoyed. Skateboarding was up there at the top of that list.
There’s a beautiful peace that comes with the chaos that is skateboarding. You spend the entire time essentially thinking about the minute movements in your body and trying not to fall off. Your head fills with thinking about where your weight is, what your feet are doing and feeling through the flow of landing a trick. There’s no space for anything else in your brain at the time, and so you forget about your worries, you forget about everything other than the present, the risk of injury, and the possible glory of landing whatever you’re trying.
So a few years ago, around the time of turning 40 I decided to properly start skating again. Around the same time, the wonderful bunch of misfits that I grew up with in a weird little town in Essex also caught the skating bug again. We were all over the hill, we all had to basically re-learn everything from scratch, and we all still spend most skate sessions moaning about our old bones and drinking beer, rather than actually landing skate tricks. But we’ve formed a skate gang Team Bentham, and it’s bloody brilliant. Suddenly I had a crew again…
We’re currently filming for our big Team Bentham video. Although deep down we kinda know that the audience for the video is only going to be us and our friends and partners, we’re all putting in the work as if it’s going to get reviewed on The Nine Club or shared on the Thrasher website.
The hype is real, and the celebrations when each of us finally land the thing we’ve been battling with are glorious. Of late we’ve been out every Saturday filming clips for the video, and throwing ourselves at stupid obstacles that are always just a bit out of our comfort zone. It’s meant that most Sunday’s I’m laid out on the sofa aching all over and covered in cuts and bruises (not a great look for a glamorous drag queen). I’ve gotten to scoping for spots when I’m out on my evening walks, and making lists of tricks that I want to try and land in the video. I’m finally living my pro-skater fantasy.
Which brings me back to yesterday, and snapping my board. Six months ago, I’d have not even stepped up to try skating the spot that I broke it on. But the support and encouragement from Team Bentham, and the regular sessions we go on, has seen me landing things of late that I didn’t think were possible, especially not with this old body. It’s honestly looking better than my section in the video I made over 20 years ago.
So yeah, yesterday I snapped my board, but it snapped as I landed the trick, and it was a banger, and it kinda proved to me that I was properly a skater again. And that felt bloody wonderful.
Sk8 or Die