AT about 1pm on this particular Saturday in Aspley, north-west Brisbane, the nerdy Inbetweeners character nicknamed Briefcase Wanker by his friends said something like “I’m in a bubble, everything is flat, and I think I’m dead”, after his first dance with Mary Jane. This got me to thinking. Not about death, or bubbles, or marijuana, but that despite the fact I was enjoying myself, I would not most likely be here, hungover after waking from a 3am Fortitude Valley session with my younger brother, if the surf was not flat. “What’s that? A few drinks?” I’ve been heard to say. “Nah, raincheck thanks: there’s waves to be had tomorrow,” I’ve responded to the appreciated good night out invitation on the other end of the phone, then turned in for an early night with a book in readiness for a dawn patrol. Perhaps Briefcase Wanker (Simon Bird, playing Will McKenzie) was on to something, regardless of the fact he’s a mid-20s man acting as a 17 year old boy in a town located so far from any surfable coast none of its inhabitants were probably aware of the lifestyle sport. Maybe, for a surfer, when the ocean is depressingly smooth for a long time, it does start to feel like you’re in a bubble and you’re practically dead. I mean the fact everything seems literally flat as a result cannot be denied.
It must have started during late-July. Possibly several weeks earlier. The worst flat spell of 2012. For the first few weeks I was saying things like “This is the worst flat spell of 2012. Goes to show how good it’s been for so long”, to sage-like nods from my fellow wearily wave-starved wax heads. Then I was saying things like “This might be the worst flat spell in a few years”. At time of publication, if things haven’t picked up, I might have taken up heroin for all I know. Before you start to wonder why I don’t stop whinging, I should mention that at the start of July I became unemployed for the first time since I was about 13 – a couple of years before I even started surfing and hence wouldn’t have even known what I was missing – or not missing in current circumstances – out on. Surfing has a proud history among the unemployed of the southern Gold Coast. Politicians whether local, state or federal and local business leaders in this area don’t even fight it. They include the fact people want to be able to surf around work and if possible work in the surf industry in their speeches to each other and the public. The John Howard Surf Team – that’s what it used to be called. Surfing, eating, sleeping, visiting the Centrelink office conveniently located on Palm Beach’s Gold Coast Highway, then surfing some more. This was the dream. This is my nightmare. Although I don’t even get the dole because I’ve too much money in my bank account and allegedly live with my parents.