Thursday, September 27, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Strong stuff from Clif over at the ever readable Blown Glass who tags on this provocative video to reinforce the proposition and then goes on to call for a boycott of Australian surfing.
Now the fact that I’ve only ever enjoyed the company of any Aussies I’ve met seemed to sit at odds with this depiction of Oz as a racist republic and had me rather agitated. Do you come from a land down under? I bet you have a view on Clif’s perspective.
As a kid in Belfast in the 70’s, Australia seemed as far away as you could get from anywhere short of leaving the planet. That ticked a box. If I was looking to escape over the rainbow then Oz – well, my imaginary construct of the place – looked pretty enticing.
First there was Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and later, when the hormones starting kicking in I lusted after Jenny Agutter in Walkabout without worrying too much about the fate of the Aboriginal boy or the story. “Friday –too tired, Saturday – too drunk, Sunday too far away” is purportedly the lament of the sheep shearer’s wife and provided the title for one of those cinematic buried treasures that only aficionados of Australian movies will have heard about. Set in the Outback of the 50’s it’s a straightforward tale of how changes in the labour market impacted on the lives of a bunch of hard drinking sheep shearers. But like all great movies, the film is more than the sum of the sets and the story. It’s one director’s take on what it means to be a man, and an Australian. I thought it was great.
Around this time I was working on the Irish border in a madhouse of a factory concocting chemicals for cows. Some of my production team were also interested in chemicals – rustling up some explosive presents for the British Army. It was time to get out and, but for a twist of fate, the emigration papers from the Australian embassy may well have been submitted and I’d be there, not here.
When John Howard made the headlines a while back with his plans to tackle the alcohol and child abuse endemic amongst indigenous communities it had me thinking. From the outside looking in, it sounded bleak beyond belief. Surfing and the life of the beach has often proved a lifeline. Were there Aboriginal dudes out there that I could read about that challenged what was beginning to look like a media stereotype? I’d never heard of any Aboriginal Surfers but it didn’t take me long to Google up Dale Richards – the teenage surfer from Queensland who has become the first Aboriginal Australian to qualify for the main round of a world championship tour event.
Then flicking through “Between The Flags – One Hundred Summers of Australian Surf Lifesaving” to see if there was any reference to Aboriginal Lifeguards I came across one Burnum Burnum, formerly Harry Penrith.
This bloke campaigned for Aboriginal rights and wasn’t shy of pulling the odd stunt to publicise his views. During the Australian Bicentenary Day celebrations in 1988, he was busy hoisting the Aboriginal flag above the white cliffs of Dover. This was one in the eye for Arthur Philips, who in a moment of supreme colonial cheek, had stuck a flag on a continent and claimed it for England. If a people's sense of humour is an indicator of their spiritual and mental well being, then I hope for the Aborigines' sake, there's more like Burnum stepping up.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Now here's another favourite beach of mine immortalised on film - our very own Perranporth Strand has been used as the backdrop to a video produced by the kids of the Humphrey Davy School from Penzance. It's been selected by the BOOM! Awards - a national initiative where schools enter videos designed to "inspire the teaching and learning of creative media and film production skills in the classroom."
Having spent my school days hiding behind a map of the Peloponnese at the back of the class - thus avoiding the missiles of a deranged master of Ancient Greek - I can but marvel at what kids get up to at school these days. And all this in two weeks!
What's ace about this particular video is not just the quality of the production but the fact that it has been selected by up and coming song-smith Tom Baxter as one of three hopefuls for selection as the backing video for his new single "Better" which is being released in the UK on September 24th. If you've seen "Run, Fat Boy, Run"directed by David Schwimmer (Friends) starring Simon Pegg (star of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead) then you will have already heard the song.
I know I'm biased but if you enjoyed it as much as I did, please head over to Tom's site at www.myspace.com/tombaxter and vote for the kids at Humphrey Davy's.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
A shoal of bodies, sporting DayGlo style swim hats and suited up in Snugg and ORCA wetsuits, gathered at the far end of Perranporth beach last Sunday. If you joined up the orange headed dots there’d only be one picture revealed - the opening 1km swim section of the ever popular 20th Perranporth Extreme Surf Triathlon. Follow a dip in the sea with the hilly hell of the 35km cycle and a 7.5km jaunt across some soul sapping sand and you get the bit about “extreme”.
The competitors stretched and jangled limbs, waved at friends and waited, waited. Some dived and swam a bit before the off, literally testing the waters. What waves there were lay low, the big rollers of other years a memory - much to the relief of those less used to wild, sea surf. Some folk looked focused, some looked glazed, some looked like winners. Mostly they looked frighteningly fit. There’s a communal vibration that’s pulses almost tangibly when a gathering like this goes on. It’s seductive and maddening and had me wishing I was in the race. I pushed this thought aside for later and thought of Clint Eastwood muttering, “Every good man knows his limits".
Having volunteered to marshal I’d ended up "official" photographer to stand in for the blokes that normally cover the event. Now "the camera never lies" is an old chestnut that, as every photographer knows, is patently untrue. As the countdown to the start drew nearer, neoprene encapsulated nerves twitched and risked turning into something looking pretty close to fear on the faces of virgin competitors, or those veterans who'd wished they'd packed more training in. But as the camera pulled up to capture the proceedings, it wasn't fear I framed in the lens but the forced rictus of a smile, a jokey gesture or a thumbs up. If anyone was anxious, they weren’t going to let it show.“True Grit”, “Right Stuff” and other suitably cinematic tag lines seemed appropriate. I hoped it wasn’t going to be “Die Hard” for some.
One hour, forty three minutes and thirty four seconds later (just outside the course record set in 2003) young Harry Wiltshire crossed the line to win the Men's Open event. Having set a blistering pace and with the sun coming out like a blowtorch towards the end of the race, I expected torrents of sweat - not the fine sheen of moisture on the winner’s brow. Whilst later finishers grimaced and rolled to the ground, all spent and done, there was a fluidity and ease with which Wiltshire unzipped the tracking chip from his ankle that suggested he’d been warming up for something bigger. His sights are set on Beijing 2008.
Matt Pullen followed a few minutes later just pipping Perranporth’s own Andy Byatt, another elite performer into third place. For the women, Sam Herridge crossed the line just over two hours after starting, followed by Helen Parkinson and Perranporth’s Jemma Holland pulling out what they refer to in footballing circles as “a top drawer” performance. Michael Birchmore, surely one to watch, also of Perrranporth Surf Lifesaving Club won the Junior Men’s race bagging another great result for the club in their 50th anniversary year.
As the competitors chomped through the catering tent, grabbed a post-race massage and headed to the Sunset Bar for the presentations, I glanced up at the banner set across the finishing line. “Are You Tough Enough?” , challenged the banner. I wondered.
Event Sponsors: Skinners Brewery, Cycle Logic, Snugg Wetsuits, Ponsmere Hotel, The Watering Hole, PureBlue
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 License.