Revolutionary wave

Surfing the storm swells of history

Featured in

  • Published 20230801
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-86-3
  • Extent: 196pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

I CAN’T REMEMBER exactly how it started. With a random sighting, perhaps, of a lone surfer carving up a sunlit wave: like entering a cathedral for the first time and seeing all that stained glass. But from that point forward the sight, smell and sound of a storm swell steaming into shore exerted a devastating pull on me. I was a thirteen-year-old provincial boy from Swansea in South Wales, and already a student in the science of Atlantic swells, the way they travel to shore in neat parallel lines, in sets of three – a prime number. Swells have order but it comes from disorder; their source is always chaos. They arrive on shore in graceful step, wearing bridal veils of pale spindrift. What the eye can’t see is their fantastic propensity for violence. 

Surfing is a whole other thing, a primordial art, some might say. The urge to stand up on a wave – pure atavism. I bought my first, second-hand board with my paper-round money for £5. My father refused to help out since he thought surfing was effeminate. He used to say that Wales was a sporting nation, but surfing was not on his list of legitimate sports. Rugby, definitely. Cricket. Boxing. He never once came to watch me surf.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at griffithreview@griffith.edu.au

Share article

About the author

Russell Celyn Jones

Russell Celyn Jones is the author of six novels, including Soldiers and Innocents, which won the David Higham Prize, and Ten Seconds from the...

More from this edition

Louche

Poetry On the bleached beachof café seats, he’s drenched, hairslicked, tarnished as tinespulled up from a shipwreck, savea naughty part:silver forelock a hookswaying as he...

Etc.

FictionTogether we were drawn mechanically across the road, boredom/fate reeling us in. The lawn sprawled over the grey-brick kerb. The house was painted green. Sellotaped to the windows were rows of pressed aster. The feeling of something too large to explain was heavy in the air. The door squeaked, swinging open, the main door ajar behind it, and through the gap we glimpsed a white hallway, a pile of discarded shoes on one side.

Dressed for success

In ConversationHip-hop was about taking this mainstream look – a nice, acceptable, appropriate look – and, like, changing it up. Sampling it like it’s a song and turning it into something new. So when preppy emerged in mainstream white corporate culture, it started mixing with denim in new ways and mixing with sneakers in new ways and becoming a form of streetwear.

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.