Saturday, 4 May 2013

Stick it to the man, man.

This is nothing to do with health or St Peters or anything really ‘important’, it just means something to me. I’m hoping you will all support ‘skater gurrl’s’ petition to save the boarding area on the SouthBank.

I came to London in 1977, I’d tried surfing, had a cheap ‘pop-out’ board that didn’t cut it and no time or money to catch waves. Wetsuits were really expensive back then too.

As a student in the big city there was a lot going on, but I wanted to stay true to the ‘life’, bought a skateboard and kept it hidden from my sophisticated friends. It wasn’t something you did back then. Probably isn’t now either.

I boarded at the Southbank but at 18 I was too old and too stiff, so mainly I used to go to Regents Park and also Primrose Hill, early in the morning. From the top of that hill you can see everything that’s worth seeing.  I hope to get back there one more time.

If you see the film ‘Withnail and I’, you can see the characters talking next to the sad old Wolves that used to be kept in cages next to the path at Regents park Zoo. Prowling sadly and silently up and down. That was where I used to go.

Then I broke my arm badly at the elbow (nothing to do with the board) and as protective gear either didn’t exist or was just too expensive back then, the board had to go and I got on with life.

Michelle Shocked’s song, ‘Anchored down in Anchorage’, is special but the phrase ‘you were a skateboard punkrocker’, never made any sense to me until this week. It’s a song about growing up and not growing up – regrets and sadness and about being a skateboard punkrocker too.

This week I remembered the feeling when I heard that this special place is to be stolen and turned into ‘high value retail units’.

The SouthBank, up top, was always subsidised art for the elite, and underneath in the shadows of the brutal architecture, skateboarders carved out an arena for themselves, did wonderful things, found their voice.

In the end people came from all over the world to this Wembley Stadium, Lords Cricket Ground, Ridley Field – how can they close it down?

So, when I heard ‘skater gurrl’s’ appeal for help…..

Yo, Dude!

Stick it to the man, man.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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