Posted by: smithdavid | June 10, 2012

One who Doubts

Robert picks the mini-mal up and turns it, bringing one eye close to where the stub of the broken fin is wedged in tight.

I’d tried several times to prise it out. On the last occasion I could feel my temper rising like a swell about to peak and then crash down. I was just a breath away from a tantrum and irreparable damage.

That is why I’m standing in a site office (one of many in the blur of my nomadic, builder’s existence) now and my board is in the hands of my colleague and friend. Robert served his time as a carpenter and if anyone can get the confounded fin out, he can.

‘Bring it in – I’ll sort that out for you,’ he said when I told him the problem. So up the padded lift the board came, to our make-shift place. The dark, February skies of Tallaght, Dublin seemed a polar opposite to the space where the board belongs. But the board and carrying the board made my spirits soar. An ethereal version of the weightlessness one feels when on a wave.

dark, Dublin skies…

Robert tinkers with a screwdriver and a hammer. The fin-stub is stubborn. He looks in his tool box and finds an adjustable vice-grips. I try to maintain an indifferent expression as he takes them to my board.

He wrenches at the fin, I wince. But his aggression is measured. Eventually something gives. In the jaws of the grips is a bolt rusted tight onto a washer. The slot in the mini-mal is undamaged. Robert smiles at me. Have you no faith? the smile says. I grin the grin of one who doubts.

Now I’m in The Great Outdoors showing the fin to Remy. He shakes his head. ‘They, ah, don’t make those no more…’ he says. ‘But I’m in theUKnext week and there is this one supplier…’

I have visions of surfing with just two fins. What difference will it make at my level? But I shouldn’t give up.

The phone goes a week later. ‘Yes, I have them…’ says Remy. I had almost forgotten. When I did think of it, I thought there would be no new fins. I should have had faith.

Rossnowlagh calls…

It’s now three weeks since I left the icy, Strandhill water. My thoughts are only of salty seawater and the ceaseless pulse of swell. Forgotten are the gasping and the lonely fear. Remembered is the promise to I made in December – I will not let too much time pass…

The swell looks good for the weekend. But Emmet has ‘flu. And a wedding to plan. ‘I used to go by myself all the time when I started,’ he said once before. So I start thinking. And within a few minutes I am convinced. All I need is a little faith.


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