Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reviews of 'Why Lawyers should Surf' at The Times Online

Two reviews of 'Why Lawyers Should Surf' have been published at The Times Online's Surf Nation blog in the last few months. The most recent is by Tom Anderson author of 'Riding the Magic Carpet: A Surfer's Odyssey to Find the Perfect Wave' and the earlier one is by Alex Wade the writer of the blog and the author of 'Surf Nation: In Search of the Fast Lefts and Hollow Rights of Britain and Ireland'. Click on the date to be taken to the original or read below.

August 12th 2008
Meanwhile, why should lawyers surf? Having been one, I'd say that the answer is that if they don't, when they finally return to live once again by the coast they'll be condemned to languish forever in the intermediate zone, sometimes getting it right, sometimes getting it wrong. But Tim Kevan, author of a book cunningly entitled Why Lawyers Should Surf, begs to differ. He's quit briefs in the City for clean lines at Lynemouth, and his book is reviewed below by Tom Anderson, a Welshman who had many scrapes with the lawyers (not least, a night out with me which we somehow both survived) but never became one. Instead he leapt straight to being a writer and surfer, penning the much-acclaimed Riding the Magic Carpet. I'm not jealous, honest, so without further ado, here's Tom review.

From the days of the Hawaiian kings to the present, surfing has always captured people's imagination and managed to take them out of their day to day lives. It is uplifting and spiritual and provides a connection with nature and forces greater than ourselves. So it seems only natural when the authors point to surfing as a way of helping cope with the stresses of modern living and of re-gaining some balance in life.

Why Lawyers Should Surf is written by a former barrister and a psychiatrist. I particularly liked the way they avoided the cheesy, self-satisfied tone that instantly puts me off most motivational books, which too often come across as some sort of instruction booklet for life but which forget the art and lose sight of the soul. This book on the other hand not only provides an extremely clear and accessible introduction to cutting-edge techniques for getting one's mind into shape but it also provides a context. It stresses the need to feed the soul and listen to your own heart just as surfers monitor the movements of the ocean.

The use of the metaphor of surfing works surprisingly well. It not only taps into the inherent power of the sea but also has the benefit of resonating with those who have perhaps previously only ever surfed the internet. What's more, the book subtly introduces the reader to a wide mix of literary, scientific and spiritual sources. As a surfer I particularly liked the enormous range of the quotations and reflections on the meaning of surfing itself and our almost primeval connection with the sea. (In many ways it is a song for the modern age which could well become a cult classic like perhaps Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea.

As for the reference to lawyers, it is clear that they are simply being used as an example of the work-shackled majority who perhaps yearn for something more in their lives. Certainly it applies across the board to anyone looking for inspiration. The tone throughout is authentic and a nice footnote is that since co-writing the book Tim Kevan has indeed walked the talk and given up the trappings of the bar for the surf of North Devon. He is now living in Braunton and writing a novel for Bloomsbury Publishing. That's what I'm talking about!

Spot on for surfers, lawyers and anyone else looking for inspiration.

28 March 2008
During my Wrecking Machine phase, I was a lawyer (that's two plugs of your first book. I'll let you off because it's your birthday. Ed.). This was a profession whose intellectual aspects always intrigued me but whose rigmarole wasn't my thing. At all. Today I'm off to interview a lawyer I met in the line-up at Freights yesterday, this for a weekly slot on lawyers with interests outside the law (which today features sometime contributor to this blog and Perranporth surfboat rower Andy Cox). The Bajan lawyer's name is Barry Gale and watching him surf yesterday put me in mind of Tim Kevan's book, 'Why Lawyers Should Surf'. Kevan's book is a passionate call for professionals to destress themselves by gliding on a few turquoise walls. Kevan, with co-author Michelle Tempest, makes more than a few nods to the Romantic notion of the sublime, a trait that he shares with many writers on surfing (though to my knowledge, Kevan is the first writer to co-opt TS Eliot - arch-modernist and poet of despair - in favour of surfing). While avowedly a motivational book Why Lawyers Should Surf contains many fascinating curios on surfing and makes me wonder whether, if I'd been surfing as much as I'd wanted to do during my legal (illegal) days, I might have avoided the Wrecking Machine phase.

'Why Lawyers Should Surf' is available at http://www.amazon.co.uk/ at £9.49.

1 comment:

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