Emma booked us in for some surfing lessons this morning. We were picked up at 9:30 by a bloke named Terry in a van loaded with random backpackers. It was a rubbish day for surfing, a northerly wind, low-tide, Terry reckoned that you could wash your clothes in it (that’s bad) – so we drove 20mins down the coast to Lennox Head.
After lying on the board on the beach and practising jumping up from a lying position, Terry sent us out. Or rather, for those of us who were absolute beginners, he took turns in pushing us in front of nice-looking waves. He had this little system: getting to your knees, planting the front foot, bringing up the back foot, keeping the knees bent – he would yell out each step. After a few attempts everyone had managed to stand, except your faithful correspondent. ‘Yours Truly’ was still planting his face in God’s blue yonder.
After a bit… longer, Terry, who was beginning to worry about his money-back “we’ll have you standing by the end of the first lesson” guarantee, yelled out, “You just get to your feet anyway you can mate, maybe this system’s not for you. You can do it, you’re an Australian.”
I was touched and inspired by his faith in our glorious sun-kissed nation.
But then doubt set in…
Maybe I’m a freakish reversion back to my Northern Hemisphere genetic heritage? Maybe I still have some miscreant Anglo-saxon DNA? Perhaps the cleansing fires of this wide-brown land have failed to fire me into a suitable vessel for our national sporting prowess.
Goddammit, why have I spent so many hours each summer watching Cricket! I’ve payed my dues.
With that thought, and a nod to the memory of The Don, I felt a great surge of belief.
Maybe that it was that same spirit who whispered in the ear of the Man from Snowy River,
the spirit of Anzac Cove, of Mateship,
the spirit that would lead a man to build his own armor and wade into a future of lead,
or jump into a Billabong singing, ‘you’ll never take me alive’,
Whatever it was, I leapt, and I planted those feet for Australia.
I made it about 10 metres. Terry’s cash was secure. I managed it a couple more times before I threw my back out.
When we got into the van for the ride home we noticed that someone had placed a sticker across the windscreen, right at eye-level, saying ‘Harden the [email protected]# Up Dog Face (I seek to spare my readers world-weary eyes). Terry pointed out that if they’d really been serious they would have stuck around to check that he got the message. He seemed ready and willing for a spot-check on his Hardness Levels.