Surfing! The ancient battle between dude and sea. Ever since the aborigines jumped up on a dead kangeroo* and rode the wave back to shore, mankind has embraced this most noble of pastimes like a favourite son that hasn't washed for a month. Famous surfers include Professor Stephen Hawking, that fella off the opening titles of Hawaii 5-0 and ...err... Keanu Reeves. Surfing. It's ace.**
Newquay is the surfing capital of the universe, apart from all those other places like Hawaii and Australia. It is also the holiday destination for every wanker on the planet who seem to think it's the coollest place in the world. Which it isn't, not by a long shot. As a veteran of Cornish holidays (I've only got to go there for the next three hundred years to qualify as a local), you soon realise that the nearer you get to Newquay, the higher the wanker quotient.
So why in the name of God did we decide to visit Newquay? Ah yes, I remember now. We thought it would be cool to go surfing. It would end in tears. In fact, I could guarantee it.
Fistral Beach, a long, windswept curve of golden sand with some of the finest surfing waves in the country. I stood there, shivering in my Marks and Spencer bathing trunks while my brother negotiated the old getting-changed-wrapped-in-a-towel stunt, the traditional on-holiday contortion mastered by hapless Britons on the beach. At last, we were ready, handing over a sizeable deposit to the muscular and tanned board hire bloke.
"Strewth!" he said on spotting the two skinny nerks trying to join the in-crowd, "You two fellas know how to use these things?"
"Yes", we lied. We'd seen Hawaii Five-O, "Surfing's a piece of piss." Out on the brine, the experts were cutting up the water like old pros, and we were soon to join them. And unlike these total no-hopers, we were taking the dog with us too. We'd practiced at home; but if you must use a flymo like that, make sure your medical insurance is fully paid up.
So, out onto the waves we went, paddling our boards, arms going like a Wankel rotary engine, out ever deeper until we were at the point where the waves were just starting to break. Time to fly.
With a swift paddle, I launched myself off onto a wave and I was away. Now to find my feet.
It was at this point that we both realised that this surfing lark may be rather more difficult than it appeared. In the next two hours, I spent approximately ninety minutes with my head under water, drinking South West Water's finest sewage outfall, something which would only worry me for the next few days.
Then, finally, with a shout of triumph, I was finally up and standing, surfing the waves like a true star. Then I realised I was in about three inches of water with the tailfin wedged in the sand. Bumflaps. But it was a start.
My confidence increased, and fairly soon, I could ride a wave, fall off and look like I knew what I was doing. Time to go for The Big One. I'd go out with the big boys and ride one all the way back to the beach, and I too would attract girls, get a great tan, and if I was really, really lucky, chest hair.
I bided my time. I wouldn't get up on the first wave that came along. Everybody knows the sixth wave is the biggest. Or the seventh. Or something. I waited. And I waited. Then, it came. Like that huge wave at the end of Point Break, it was a monster. I turned the board, and looked along the line of surfers, all ready for the ride of their lives. It hit. We paddled. Three - two -one and HUP! Onto my feet and riding for the first time ever - I was a real surfer! King of the World!
For a whole twenty-seven nanoseconds, riding bareback on the pony of love.
With a blood-curdling scream I looked down into the valley of doom, and was flipped arse over tit into the drink, taking huge gulps of shit and tampon strewn water.
At this point in the tale, there's one thing you should know about surfboards. They come with a little velcro strap on the end of a long elastic. You put the strap round your ankle, so when you come off, you don't have to spend hours chasing after your board. This little device saved me hours of frantic wadng up and down the beach, but it was soon to have its awful revenge.
Spang! Went the elastic band, as the board was swept away from me.
Spong! It went as it reached full stretch.
Spung! It went as it accelerated twoards me at a rate of knots.
JESUSFUCKINGCHRISTMYARSE! I shouted as the sharp end of the board caught me squarely up the rusty sheriff's badge.
Not on either cheek, but right up the hole. A perfect bullseye.
That was it. I was getting out. The surf bums were openly laughly at me.
"Hey!" said my brother, "You're bleeding!"
He was right. The board had split my trunks clean in two, showing my bleedin' bleeding ringpiece to the entire beach.
Only one thing for it. Clench the buttocks and make for the hills as best you can. I slunk off back up the beach like a salubrious reindeer.
"Fun?" asked the board hire dude as I gave him his evil bit of wood back.
"Yes", I lied.
"You do realise your arse is bleeding," he observed.
Yes, I realised.
"And there's a big split in your trunks"
"Thank you. Goodbye."
I'm please to report that it stopped bleeding eventually. However, at three o'clock the following morning, the gallons of ingested sewage struck back. It was a camping holiday. I was in a sleeping bag. With an aching ring, which was about to spend the next thirty-six hours on fire, squirting brown windsor soup through the eye of a needle. The camp site toilets only had Izal shiny white paper. Fill in the blanks for yourself.
Worst. Holiday. Ever.
We went back the following year. I gave the surfing a miss. The dog won the UK championships.
* May not actually be true.
** No it's not, it's shit.
More surfing madness, bizarre injuries, mirth and woe at Local Surfer.
*cough* It's Scary's birthday on Sunday *cough*