Posted by: smithdavid | October 14, 2012


I’ve stopped to look at her again, run my hands along the sleek lines. I can’t help it, I do this nearly every time I walk past. But something is wrong. One of my housemates does not understand the delicacy of these things and has been careless, I think at first. But there is a memory – I was stumbling down the passage half-asleep, past the stairs, the lights were off, I heard the crackle and thought little of it, I didn’t check anything.

The fibreglass on one of the points on her tail is shattered. It looks like a broken window. I run a finger along from the split in the tail up. It’s smooth at first and then I feel the jagged edges.

Now I feel heavy, my mood is soured to an extent that surprises me. It’s like something has happened to a family member. I put Matilda back in her bag and close it.

fergal’s repair

‘We can get it fixed but you’ll have to get her here and it’ll take a couple of weeks,’ they say at The Bay Surf Shop. I’m not sure when I will next make the journey from London to Woolacombe. ‘You could get a ding repair kit, it’s easy to fix yourself…’ they add.

It’s Friday evening and it’s dark and raining. I rush from Hammersmith to Camden to make LCB Surf Shop before it closes. But they’re shutting up when I get there.

‘Do you have ding kits?’ I ask the guy who is packing up, thinking I can come tomorrow and pick it up.

‘Maybe in a couple of weeks…’ he says.

So I message Fergal, he must know these things.

‘I fixed the nose of my long board, I’ve got some stuff left, I’ll do it for you…’ he writes.

We meet at five o’clock one Sunday evening at Ealing Broadway. It’s been dark for some time already; Fergal has a beanie on and is puffing on a rollie. When he exhales the stream of smoke is followed by mist.

Back at the house Fergal gets busy – Matilda is placed on the kitchen counter where the light is best.

‘You used to get two tubes that you had to mix together so they’d go off,’ he says.

‘Like Pratley’s?’ I say, thinking of the countless repair jobs my Dad did around the house in Pretoria.

‘Exactly!’ says Fergal. ‘This stuff just needs a bit of sunlight…’ We look each other and at the heavy darkness outside and we laugh.

Fergal shrugs when I thank him.  ‘Get me a pint sometime…’ he says.

one that gets away…

I check Matilda the next day. The resin is still soft. The tube said all it needed was a half hour in the sun. I reckon twenty four hours should’ve done it. I explain this all to Ronan, my housemate, when he gets in from work. He nods, a thoughtful look crosses his face.

When I get in from work the following day, Ronan has placed her right beside the window to catch whatever sparse rays may have fallen. I feel Matilda’s wound and it is firm and healed. It’s like some collective will has cured her.


  1. Lovely post David.

    • cheers brain

    • Prattleys was the answer to so many household breakages before superglue – your Dad

      • i remember it so well dad, a blob of brown and a blob of white mixed together on cardboard…

  2. ja, i have had to treat sofia a few times…best to keep some suncure and a sheet of fiber glass handy at all times, make it as part of your surf kit… A little first aid bag is always a good idea….never know what the ocean can throw up!

    • ja ou perd, ek onthou nou dat dr. ernst altyd ‘n 1st aid kit saam met hom het!

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