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no place for old men

There’s a line of about fifty outside the ticket office this morning and  it’s only five am, an hour before the gates open and they take your money. Most of those waiting are youngsters, girls and boys, and their excited chatter could be heard from the car park as the old man unstrapped his 9’6” single stringer. Colourful mob they are as well, nothing muted or faded in their towels, boardshorts and shirts and of the fifty or so at least forty are holding iPhones.
The old man locks his car up and joins the line. He’s wearing an ancient pair of Adler canvas boardshorts and printed on the back of an equally antique T-shirt is a faded ad for Haleiwa Strained Poi.

The kids hush down a little after he joins them and a couple of girls giggle behind their hands as he folds his ragged old towel, puts it on the ground and stands his board upright after gently settling the back end, unwilling to risk a fracture on the intricate woodwork built into the tailblock.

He’s a wiry fellow, brown as old wood and all bone and sinew, unshaven under his battered straw hat and he’s the only one in the queue barefoot.

Behold the surfer.

They wait.

The gates open.

When it’s the old man’s turn the ticker seller asks if he wants to pay for a beginner’s session, an expert or an advanced session, $79, $89 or $99 respectively then whether he would prefer a left or a right. He also mentions that with the maximum of 20 out already and another 20 waiting would he like to grab a coffee at the cafe and wait for his number to be called, and, by the way, there’s a big stopwatch on the building so he can time his one hour session.

An hour later the old man left $99 poorer, his shorts still dry, his old board untested.

Two days later he paddled out at the southern end of Sharpes Beach Ballina, alone except for a pod of dolphins.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Gavin #

    Hi Pete, they’re going to build one on the Gold Cost, on the Parkwood International golf course, where Christine and I lived until recently. I think it was a good time to move house, as I can’t reconcile the thought of what will become of what was our “back yard” with what it will become.

    January 19, 2023
    • Steady Gav, half the blokes on boards these days are accountants and lawyers, and software salesmen.

      January 19, 2023
  2. terry jenkings #

    “ Adler Canvas Board-shorts”…now you’re giving away your age Pete. Is Adler still modeling ??😊

    January 19, 2023
  3. Adler still around up in Q’land and let me tell you, those canvas boardshorts had no mercy if you weren’t wearing sluggos…

    January 20, 2023
    • terry jenkings #

      Since you’re talking about Old Men I can tell you that Andy visited The Table of Knowledge at The Lamrock cafe today. He sat at the head of the table and entertained the lads for several hours. A fun morning followed by a trip to the Pavilion where AC was interviewed for his story to be included in The Bondi Story Room. Your name was mentioned during the day !!! He’s well and in good form .

      January 21, 2023
  4. Glad to know the old lad is well … please give him by best.

    January 21, 2023

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