Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Cockney Surfing Slang

An edited version of this article appeared in Carve 140:

The number of surfers in London has exploded. What used to be a past time for the hardy or clinically insane that could bear to be in the sea with a homemade wetsuit or a woolly jumper is now a nationwide phenomenon. To realise just how popular surfing has become all you need to do is talk to anyone who has been on a gap yah and around an hour or so in to their travelling monologue (if you haven’t already bludgeoned yourself to death with the nearest blunt instrument) they will tell you how they stayed at a surf camp in Indonesia/Australia/Peru/Wherever. And although they were miles from anywhere they really found themselves after being at one with the waves and nature (put the hole punch down!). Then they spent the evening in a hammock overlooking the ocean, watching the waves come in, listening to Jack Johnson having, as one mate put it: a real sunset moment before proceeding to get wankered on goon and trying to have sex with/in/on/around anything that moved (not that I’m jealous or anything).

Put some Jack Johnson on and lets go find ourfuckingselves.
I’m not bashing surf camps, on the contrary I love them and travelling come to that, which, as the old cliché says broadens the mind. I mean in the last month alone I’ve been to both Bournemouth and Sheffield and it’s changed my outlook forever. I'm probably just jealous. I don’t get many opportunities to surf living in the big smoke. And I suppose people surfing on their gap yah aren’t all that bad, it’s not like I'm any better. I didn’t grow up with the brine in my blood and sand at my feet (I didn't have a gap year though...I'm not a complete twat), I grew up in and around London learning to surf on years and years of forced family holidays to gurt lush Devon. Basically I'm like the Man United fans that live in the Home Counties but moan about Citeh and Chelsea ruining football and their fans being glory hunters.

It can be lonely sometimes though being a surfer in London. It’s hard when you can’t talk openly about something you are so passionate about without boring everyone to tears. You end up getting easily annoyed with the hundreds people you meet who when they find out that you surf tell me that they surf too, before crushing your hopes of finally finding a kindred soul in big, bad London when they regale you with tales of their all 2 days in Surfer’s Paradise trying to stand up on a foamy seven years ago. But recently things have changed. I have been finding new sorts of surfers in London, the sorts of people that hare around the country every weekend looking for waves, strategically plan sick days to coincide with big swells or open pop-up surf shops in Soho. Fellow addicts. And going away with this new bunch of urbane surfers’ feels great. We have a clan. An identity. Admitedly everyone thinks we’re weirdoes. But it’s an identity nevertheless. There even seems to be a London Surfing Mafia in some line ups nower days.

More and more of us Londoners are getting in to our massive Chelsea tractors or run down Reliant Robins and trading in boutique wine bars, art galleries and drive-by muggings for cider, pasties and surf; our luscious, lilting, cockney voices will grow ever louder in line-ups up and down the land.  Localism will continue to grow and line-ups become ever tenser. But that’s not how it should be. There are more people in the water but as surfers we have to embrace that even if they are on a gap yahs. And it won’t end there, like it or not the cockney voice will become as much a part of surf culture in the UK as onshore winds and pissing in your wetsuit for warmth. It’s just a small language barrier and it’s about time we all understood each other. Because if we understand each other we can all live and surf together in harmony. You may call me a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. So here, for all you locals, is the beginner’s guide to Cockney Surf Slang:

Chapter 1: The Basics

Pumping Papa today.
Papa Smurf - Surf

You luck bastard. You got in Colin Farrell. It looked amazing.
Colin Farrell – The barrel

What a lout!
Drunken Lout - Wipeout

Here comes big Dave.
My mate Dave - Wave

Do you want to take? 
On the take - Point break

That your massive, wet  flute?
Whistle and Flute - Wetsuit

Typical Pope.
Pope John Paul - Grumpy local

I ended up on a ward.
Hospital Ward - Broken board

Show me behind the bins.
Behind the bins - fins

I had sevens all day today
Seven Deadly Sins - Drop ins

Look at me Big Ben.
Big Ben - Hang ten

Son. Come and shut the fuck up.
Shut the fuck up - The line-up

Chapter 2: Practical Application

So now you've grasped the basics. Let’s, as your French teacher said, ecoute et répète:

So I was out in the Papa Smurf the other day sitting shutting the fuck up at this nice secret take when my mate big Dave came along. I was just visiting Big Ben when John Paul committed a seven and made me have a barney and drunken lout just as I was about to enter Colin Farrell. I was lucky not to get a hospital ward but his bins cut my flute.

Got that? Excellent. Now you can understand us strange metrosexual Londonites when we are out at your local spot you don't have to drop in on us or shout Gerroff moiee laaannndd!! You can just calmly paddle over and (ecoute et répète time again children) calmly say:

'Oi Mate. Don't be a Jeremy Hunt, you're not on your Jack out here, get out of the sky rocket.' 

See it’s much more polite. We'll get the message, no one has resorted to violence and everyone is much happier. Sorted.

However, if they are called Jacosta or Hugo and are discussing avant guard theatre, hummus and how small daddy’s bonus was this year; just twat them one.

Happy riding.

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