A Surfing Life!
Hi I'm Sam Lamiroy - and this is the story of how a little kid from Belgium, who cried when his dad tried to make him windsurf on the comedy lake near their house, with his comedy plastic windsurf board - complete with comedy sail made out of the same comedy material as my trunks - ended up actually living a full surfing life and being at the forefront of the current global revolution of surf schools, spear headed by Hurley right here in Cornwall.
I'm a liar or a prophet or Nostradamus reincarnate ... or at least, I used to be. Maybe it was a sense of inferiority- not sure, but the fact that I was suddenly standing in the school playground, in Tynemouth, Newcastle- aged 10, not speaking a word of English, having lived in Belgium for my first 2 years, then spending the next 8 essentially becoming a proper German kid,then, ripped from my European brethren and now standing here in the north east, cold concrete under('alternatively' shod) foot, them- eyes staring trying to get a reference (weak point), me - resplendent in woolen trousers that my mother assured me were entirely adherent to the British school uniform dress code (they most truly were not), I was also sporting a ferocious 'rats tail' haircut- essentially 'short on the top, social suicide at the back' like a 'mullet' with an eating disorder.
Yeah - so right there, in that very moment feeling like a true alien - I tried to smile - but the "I'll show you all" mantra of pretty much all high achievers (and me) started to rise up - at the time, I certainly did not identify it or articulate this feeling - but it would manifest in the most interesting manner about 4 months later - by which time I had learned enough of the Queen's English ( well - a canny gud vershun ov it at leest) to get by, and the rats tail had long been severed, by my personal collective of junior hairdressers, obviously against my wishes, with a rather blunt knife from the school canteen - (where I did find the 'hot dinners' utterly amazing - I'd never experienced the delights of treacle pudding and custard before - custard! heavenly!) - anyway - I bled a little from the nape of my neck for a bit that day, but very soon a sense of balance was restored - my class mates figured out we were not that different after all and resumed the torment of more obvious targets - the fat, the bespectacled, the ginger, the excessively tall or short and the different of skin - of course!
So as soon as I could communicate in this new land - what wisdom did I share with my freshly forged allies? Well- I told them the following
"I am a professional windsurfer, I am sponsored by O'Neill and I have a surf shack on the beach in Hawaii, where I go during the holidays"
A pretty bold statement from a 10 year old who cries on his plastic toy windsurfboard because he is cold, can't stand, and the sail is too heavy to pull up, bobbing on the comedy lake - as his father watches on in despair - wishing he had just bought the infernal bicycle this ungrateful little dweeb kept asking for at Christmas - while a most gentle breeze fails to blow away the descending air of frustration and thinly veiled disappointment.
And then a lot of stuff happened, lots of surfing,years in the whitewater on boards shaped by Simon, the local butcher, tears, ice cream headaches, a great tight knit surfing community in Tynemouth, some contests,peer pressure, university, more contests and fast forward 15 years from that original lie - and ...
"I'm a professional surfer, fully sponsored by O'Neill (of all brands!) and Red Bull, sitting on the balcony of my Hawaiian beach house (rented unfortunately - i did well - but not that well!) overlooking the iconic Pipeline, about to go in for my second surf of the day - my beautiful girlfriend hands me a cold beer, there is no rush ... we are here for the whole winter, "
Utterly ridiculous - and this time totally true - the reality was even better than the wildest fantasy my 10 year old mind could conjure up - It did not happen through money, nor massive talent or even an unshakable desire or confidence... it just seemed to ... happen.
Looking back now - that early lie - that rash moment of declaration of projected self still feels raw - if I really try to think back to it, I can feel real emotions welling up, the flush of heat - the rolling soup of anger, embarrassment, fear of being exposed and branded a liar - the self loathing for saying something so stupid - and the shame of feeling such a desperate need to be accepted and revered- craving attention while wanting to disappear ... a silly, insecure little boy, telling whopping lies to impress kids who actually don't even care.
I guess I made that little false scenario very real- clear and emotive ... so as I bounced my way through my adolescent years - this was one of my guiding lights- not consciously, (I grew up in Newcastle - being a 'pro surfer' was never really on the careers advice syllabus) rather a quiet voice, a feeling helping to avoid complete descent into drink, drugs, the mundane, whatever traps and derails the aspirations and potential of so many of us - we all stray, we are all lost - but it feels like it's those funny little moments - those unrealistic visions, hunches, desires, glimpses of what we 'would love to do' - those should be our compass - our vague direction... because with every little choice, with every little nudge in that direction we get that little bit closer to making the stories we told ourselves as children come true.
Oh - and then 15 years ago I told my mates that I wanted to ....