Saturday, June 27, 2009

'Scribblings from the Surf' - Devon Life 7/09: The Pull of the Wave

The first in a new series entitled 'Scribblings from the Surf'. For more information on Devon Life, click here. To read the article, see the text below or click on the pictures of the original article below that.
THE PULL OF THE WAVE
Celebrated blogger Baby Barista, aka Tim Kevan, swapped life at the bar in London for living by the ebb and flow of the tide in North Devon. But what does it all mean? He asks, in the first of this new series.
For anyone visiting North Devon, it’s almost impossible not to notice the effect that surfing has had on the local economy and culture from big brands like Tiki and Saltrock which now have a national presence to popular local boardmakers like Gulfstream. Yet despite this, surfing itself still remains a mystery for the majority of the population. What is it, for example, that drives people to get up at first light in the depths of Winter and clad themselves in thick rubber only to get pounded on the head by freezing cold walls of water as they paddle out towards the breaking waves? Or to give up well-paid jobs simply to be at the beck and call of a swell which can be as fickle as it is generous in what it delivers up from the far reaches of the Atlantic Ocean?
Despite the fact that many surfers spend much of their time either surfing or planning their lives around it, most would probably agree that it’s almost impossible to capture the full effect of the lure of the sea through words alone. As if just by trying to grasp its meaning would push it further from reach. Maybe it comes from our origins in the sea or the fact that our bodies are mostly water. As Goethe put it, “All is born of water; all is sustained by water.” But then again what it’s really all about is simply paddling out and harnessing the raw power of the ocean. Being at one with nature. Reacting to every small change in wind direction or swell size. Becoming another of the many creatures which live by the ebb and flow of the tide.
For my part, having been brought up by the sea in Minehead in Somerset and then ending up in the middle of London practising as a barrister the pull of the sea was almost visceral. As each year went by and the visits back increased, so the harder it became to return to the city. Finally about a year and a half ago I made the jump and moved back to the West Country and specifically Braunton in North Devon where I could finish a legal comedy novel I was writing for Bloomsbury Publishing and above all, I could surf.
But still, what does it all mean? As the surfers sit on their boards and stare at the horizon in search of the next set of waves it’s almost as if their minds are cleansed of the everyday worries. Distracted only by the oyster catchers or the odd porpoise, it’s as if the gentle rise and fall of the ocean literally feeds the soul and restores perspective on an otherwise disordered world. As Anne Morrow Lindbergh said in Gift from the Sea: “Rollers on the beach, wind in the pines, the slow flapping of herons across sand dunes…One becomes…flattened by the sea; bare, open, empty as the beach, erased by today’s tides of all yesterday’s scribblings.”
Then there are the waves themselves. Those bundles of energy which travel across the ocean before rising up and dissipating as they reach land. Only in those final moments can surfers share the journey. But like a Spring plant which has lain dormant in the soil for so long, this is the time that waves burst forth and blossom into altogether more impressive creatures. Then to catch such a beast in full flow, well, how can you explain that? As far back as 1777, canoe surfing was described in an account of the voyages of Captain James Cook in the following way: “I could not help concluding that this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and so smoothly by the sea”.
But riding the wave is about more than just pleasure. It’s a sense of timelessness, of other worldliness yet at the same time as connected to this world as it’s possible to be. Daniel Duane describes it in Caught Inside as “a small occurrence outside the linear march of time”. In The Four Quartets, T.S.Eliot describes “the still point of the turning world… [w]here past and future are gathered” and it is perhaps only in poetry and the evocation of life’s mysteries that one can approach the essence of surfing with any accuracy. The words of William Blake, for example, resonate far more than simply describing the physical act of surfing:
“To see the World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”
Then again, we can look back to the ancient Hawaiians themselves whose thoughts echo down the generations through the language they used. Specifically, their word for surfing is he’enalu which splits into two. He’e means to run, flow, slip, glide and also to flee as well as to ride a surfboard. Nalu means to suspend one’s judgment, to think within oneself and to search after any truth or fact as well as the surf itself. So, too, with the Hawaiian greeting Aloha which is broken down into alo, meaning “experience” and ha meaning “breath of life”.
But maybe also, it’s simply a tonic to the woes of modern life. Of the credit crunch, reality TV and an empty celebrity culture. Of bureaucracy, red tape and ever increasing health and safety regulations. Time away from worldly noise and chatter and a return to a simpler life if only for those precious moments in the sea. Above all else, perhaps, it is about freedom. As a Billabong advert once said: “Only a surfer knows the feeling.”
Tim Kevan is the co-author of ‘Why Lawyers Should Surf’ (with Dr Michelle Tempest) and his novel ‘BabyBarista and the Art of War’ will be published by Bloomsbury in August. For more information visit www.timkevan.com.







Thursday, June 25, 2009

London Book Launch for BabyBarista

The London book launch for my forthcoming book BabyBarista and the Art of War (Bloomsbury Publishing) will be on Wednesday 5th August from 6pm-11pm at the Old Bank of England Pub, 194 Fleet Street, Holborn, London EC4A. It's open house and a pay bar with no guest list restrictions so please come along and bring your friends. It promises to be a big night. Though just so we can get an idea of numbers, please can you email approximate numbers to booklaunch@babybarista.com? The invitation is below and to see a larger version, just click on the image. The book is a legal comedy novel and is based on the blog I write for The Times newspaper. It has been described by broadcaster Jeremy Vine as "well-drawn, smartly plotted and laugh out loud" and by author Boris Starling as "sharp, acerbic, and almost illegally funny". Reviews of the book can be found here and you can pre-order a copy here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Braunton Book Launch for BabyBarista

The Braunton book launch for my forthcoming book BabyBarista and the Art of War (Bloomsbury Publishing) will be on Friday 7th August from 6pm-midnight at The White Lion Pub, North Street, Braunton, Devon EX33 1AJ. It's open house and a pay bar with no guest list restrictions so please come along and bring your friends. It promises to be a big night. Though just so we can get an idea of numbers, please can you email approximate numbers to booklaunch@babybarista.com? The invitation is below and to see a larger version, just click on the image. The book is a legal comedy novel and is based on the blog I write for The Times newspaper. It has been described by broadcaster Jeremy Vine as "well-drawn, smartly plotted and laugh out loud" and by author Boris Starling as "sharp, acerbic, and almost illegally funny". Reviews of the book can be found here and you can pre-order a copy here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My funniest interview on The Jeremy Vine Show

This was several years ago and the subject up for debate was the right to protect your property from burglars. I remember at the time that the caller raised more than a few smiles in the studio! Click here to listen.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chasing Dean: two great reviews

Author Tom Anderson has scored a monumental hit with his new book 'Chasing Dean' in which he goes on a road trip in search of hurricane surf. He's had a great couple of well-deserved great reviews just recently in The Times and The Daily Telegraph.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Podcasts/interviews

Just completed two interviews with Charon QC for the excellent Insite Law Magazine. To listen to either of them, click on the following links:

Interview on the importance of jury trials

Interview about 'BabyBarista and the Art of War'

Campaign to save Kimmeridge

Electrician in Braunton, North Devon

If you're looking for an electrician in Braunton, Ilfracombe, Barnstaple or anywhere else in North Devon then I couldn't recommend more highly the services of Jason Stirzaker who runs JTS Electrical. With years of experience under his belt he is friendly, helpful and above all someone you can trust with any electrical problem you might encounter. His contacts details can be seen here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dan Hannan MEP attacks Brown again

Boxer Barry McGuigan MBE praises 'BabyBarista and the Art of War'

"BabyBarista provides an entertaining and highly amusing insight into the mysterious world of wigs and gowns. Right from the start the gloves are off and the fight for tenancy is no less dramatic than a top class boxing match. It's a terrific read which makes you both laugh and keep the pages turning. It also confirms what I've always suspected - that the courtroom is not so different from the boxing ring." Barry McGuigan MBE, former World featherweight Boxing Champion. To pre-order the book at a heavily discounted £7.19 (incl p&p), click here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Valerio Massimo on top of the world

Very many congratulations to Valerio Massimo who summited Mount Everest on 21 May. He has now posted some fantastic pictures and an enthralling account of his ascent on his blog here. Valerio is encouraging people to contribute to Sir Edmund Hilary's Himalayan Trust which he founded to build schools and hospitals for the Sherpa people. For more information, click here.

Surf and sickies okay says Oz court

Article in The Telegraph today which reports that an Australian surfer who took part in a competition when he was on sick leave from work has had an appeal against his sacking upheld.
Hat tips to Blawg Review and Quiz Law.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The next Prime Minister: James Purnell

I have twice posted in the past saying that James Purnell would be our next Prime Minister. First last July (here) and most recently last month (here). I see that Guido Fawkes this evening reported and then retracted a story saying that he had an unconfirmed source who said that Purnell would stand if no credible candidate came forward by noon tomorrow. Despite being no fan of New Labour and it being obvious to anyone that Purnell would do far better than Brown, if he does decide to stand then I wish him well. He has turned out to be the only member of the Cabinet with sufficient guts to take on Gordon and the bullies who surround him. It was such political boldness which characterised Tony Blair and I think that Purnell remains Labour's only chance of avoiding complete annihilation. So, as I have now said twice before: watch this space. James Purnell as the next Prime Minister. Oh, and I see Paddy Power is offering odds of 12-1 for Purnell as the next Labour leader.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How to make the perfect cup of tea



I can also heartily recommend Andrew Gadsden's www.allabouttea.co.uk.

Local artists at The JC Gallery in Braunton

The JC Gallery is a new contemporary gallery which has recently opened at 28 Caen Street in Braunton, North Devon by potter Jon Curtis. With a space well-suited to displaying all mediums it showcases the work of local artists including photography, painters and Jon's own pottery. This is an exciting addition to the North Devon artists' scene. For further information and contact details, visit their website here.

Neil Halstead - playing at Lilicos, Barnstaple, Monday evening