Uncle Someone

Uncle Someone: Krooked Krillas

Originally published in Sidewalk about 1999. This was a popular story that generated a lot of responses.

[DDET Krooked Krillas, or The Development of the Ollie ]

Part 1

Standing at the far end of the narrow path stood Spectrum (real name Steven Trumble). He gripped his brand new board by the nose and tapped the tail nervously on the concrete slabs. Ahead of him lay a thirty or forty metre run-up, and then a massive set of twenty stairs. It would be the ollie of his life, sure to get him that sponsorship he so deserved.

At the bottom of the stairs crouched his best mate Re-Cycla (real name Richard Chiswick) holding a Hi-8 camera, and the rest of his skate posse, the Krooked Krillas.

Spectrum looked down at his board. The trucks gleamed from the light of the street lamps, and the wheel graphics were still in top condition. A couple of Krooked Krillas stickers were strategically placed on the deck, surrounding his latest tag which adorned the central area. A dope-ass masterpiece, it brought pride and adrenaline to his veins. After landing this ollie, he thought, I’m gonna spray that tag on every one of those twenty steps, like a street dog leaving a mark for the bitches.

He checked to ensure that his laces were undone. Check. Thinking that one trouser leg rolled up to the knee was now a bit too cliched, he adjusted one leg so that it was only a couple of turn ups more than the other. His secret hope being that the material might fly up his shin a good few inches more during the ollie, perhaps ‘accidentally’ reaching up to his knee.

Almost ready to start the run-up, he silently mouthed some lyrics from his favourite rap album.

Just becuz yo ready don’t mean I’m feelin’ randy,

Wait ten minutes bitches, I got reason to be dandy,

My five bucks don’t stretch to what yo offer for a man dear,

I think it’s time I rent a movie-that way I use my hand here!

Spectrum waited for the moment when the bass line would have kicked back in, and then he moved off. The tiles on the path were crooked, and made it difficult to gain speed. On the wall to the left he passed tags and graff from rival gangs.  He noticed some of the better work, but quickly regained concentration as the steps began to loom. His slightly rolled up trouser leg felt heavy, banging against his shin, aggravating an old scab.

He could see the heads of his posse at the bottom of the steps now. As they peered up, he put on his dopest grimace, and began his pre-ollie affectations. His lips pursed and then pouted in a gangsta fashion, his arms adopted an unnatural swing with each push. Wrists and fingers contorted, halfway into the gang signs he so often used without even noticing. His confidence grew as he remembered who was the baddest skater, the wickedest tagger at the local bus station. It was himself, Spectrum, and now he was gonna be the first sponsored skater in their stupid little hick town. Just twenty steps lay between him and skate stardom. He would then save up and fly out to LA, sure to get noticed in no time at all.

He crouched, ready to spring at the edge of the rapidly approaching first step. He saw Re-Cycla with the camera, and he saw the glory in front of him, and with all the effort left in his body, he ollied as far as he could. Every muscle in his body was being used. Every vein pulsed the maximum amount of blood. His eyes focused through the sweat down to the landing spot at the bottom of the steps. It looked a long, long way away.

Part 2

Steven Trumble stood at the top of the steps, and had a good look down all twenty of them, before turning around and skating off down the path which would be his run up. His board and shoes were pretty worn out, but he liked the look of them.  They had been worn out from skating, so he didn’t perceive it to be a negative process, just a natural one. He thought to himself, why do some skaters moan about the condition of their decks? Steven knew he was poor and unsponsored, and so by accepting his situation so readily, he could find nothing in it to complain about.

He carved down the path to the starting point, about twenty metres away from the steps. All of his skating friends had gone home a while ago, and whilst he had enjoyed their session together, he felt truly at peace when skating alone at night. No one to judge, no opinions to clash, no distracting rivalry, or disagreements about where to skate next. Steven had been thinking about ollieing these steps for a little while, but he hadn’t mentioned it to anyone. It would have seemed like he was after some kind of attention, which was the opposite of the truth. He simply thought of ollieing the steps because he knew he could. He didn’t strive to ollie them, nor desire it particularly. He had allowed nature to have it’s way, and nature had chosen this evening to be the right time.

Reaching the twenty metre point, he stopped and picked up his board. An outsider would observe that he handled it with remarkable, even obsessive care. But Steven was simply cherishing the skateboard that would take him on his journey down the steps. He respected the board, and offered it deep devotion, knowing that repayment would be automatic, and in full.

He began his run-up slowly, taking the best route amongst the cracked paving slabs without being aware of it. Free of all emotions, he had entered a state of contemplation. He didn’t see the gigantic ollie ahead of him, but instead viewed the entire process from run-up to ollie and then landing as one flowing movement,  more like the growth of a tree, or the transformation from rain to sleet to snow.

Later on, he would have little memory of these moments, because they were more than physical in nature. He truly existed as he skated down the path, and he always would exist in that way. How can you remember that which always takes place?

He had plenty of speed now, and prepared his body for the ollie by crouching slightly. This was the most tranquil moment. The edge of the steps were not a sharp edge, they were more like a slight change in the plane of his path. He ollied into a distinct space above the steps, his route to the bottom was clearly defined and easy to follow. His body remained relaxed, the combination of correct speed and technique not requiring any huge effort or strength.

It was certainly not rational to ollie down such a large set of steps, but it was undeniably natural. With a mind that remained clear of all thoughts of failure or injury, of college or work,  he barely even noticed the landing, intent instead on the process as a whole. Simply aware that he was nearing the end of it now. His speed took him far down the landing path and out onto the empty street. Steering towards home, he enjoyed the dying ebbs of momentum before finally pushing once or twice more, looking forward to some food and rest. The only sound came from his wheels, but he was blissfully unaware. He briefly noticed some graffiti that had been sprayed on a wall by the street, and smiled for the first time since the ollie, knowing that he had entered another world now.

The previous world of the graffiti and the other skaters and his parents seemed ever so comical, ever so distant.

Uncle Someone



Radio Wednesday: LW UPS

Listen to LW UPS on Spotify

Bo Diddley – Bo’s Bounce
The B-52’s – Rock Lobster
Sly & The Family Stone – Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey
The Very Best – Julia
Dan Auerbach – I Want Some More
Joe Gideon & The Shark – Harum Scarum
Dr. Dog – The World May Never Know
Serge Gainsbourg – Bonnie And Clyde
Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Ecstasy – explicit
Butthole Surfers – Who Was In My Room Last Night?
The Fugs – Marijuana – 2006 Remastered Album Version
Lucille Bogan – Shave ‘Em Dry II




Charlie, backside grind. Photo Kingsford.

Apocalypse Milo

John Martin, The Great Day of His Wrath, 1851-3

Milo’s been killing it recently, he is simply everywhere. But deservedly so if he can get to Playstation by 5.45 on a below-zero Wednesday.

Where does he gets his drive from?

Well, turns out his Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather was renowned landscape artist John Martin, 1789-1854. See below for how his features have changed through the ages of olden times:


Major Minus Snowstation

empty-playstationSo three of us went on a major minus temperature skate last night.
I was sitting at home thinking whether I should do Playstation or not so I phoned Milo who was just arriving at 5.45 on the nose, on time and inline with his precise calculations.

“I got to go its an emergency” he says, “I have the whole park to myself, they are not sure whether they are staying open but they are letting me skate for ten, got to go, got to go.”

I then call Snowstation and ask if they will stay open and they say they will. The fellow behind the counter goes onto the course and finds Milo, explains they are staying open and takes 6 pounds off him.
Milo phones me up and says “Listen, they are staying open but you got to let me go, I got the whole park to myself, can’t talk can’t talk.”

I said I would see him in a bit and made my way there.


Dave R comes along and puts on the best matching shoe, board and coat outfit I have seen for a while. We attempt to skate, the bones are rickety, and the toes are cold…the last thing you want to do is take a tumble.

Within minutes I hear a crash and Dave is rolling in agony. One of the first pops of the day and his wheel landed in a deep hole in the wood. I didn’t see this one but Milo said in order to avoid crashing his face into a corner of a block Dave managed to skip and scurry out of the way on his knees. A kind of hop and skip across wood and metal to dodge the oncoming obstacle but only on his kness. At minus temperatures…not fun.

We do get a skate in.

Then I think the cold begins to break Milo. We take it to the pub and Milo and Dave order some burgers and chips and steak. Milo can’t seem to get warm, he is constantly complaining about a draft and he is shivering. So we move to another table where there is a candle in a glass. Milo starts getting really into this candle, clasping his hands around it. While the couple at the next table are out having a smoke he steals their candle. They are left in darkness on their return. He then books a cab home, repeating the phrase “door to door” a couple of times “can’t face that platform”.

Broken by the cold.

Westborne Park to Hackney please. We join him as he promises to pay 70 percent of the fare. And I leave my hat in the pub.

By Jacob Brown


Skate The Sky

Louie and Sam, pre-performance, Tate Modern.
Louie and Sam, pre-performance, Tate Modern.

Happy Birthday Spence!

Spence is a legend, one of the few skateboarders I ever saw make Snoz’s jaw drop. He comes to London twice a season, ridicules any slanted surface with his abundant prowess, then disappears in a flurry of taxi receipts.

On set
On set of the Graley Brothers' first production. Photo by James Davis
Uncle Someone

Uncle Someone: Granny Bottlechurch

Click to read a marvellous letter originally published in Freeride magazine about 2000.

[DDET Uncle Someone: Granny Bottlechurch]
Dear Granny Bottlechurch,

You asked me to write to you about our new neighbour in the village, well here is the story, verbatim, and recorded from their strange bearded gardener called ‘Dagger’.

“Runs upon the Tyne, oblong ties to go, Big Spence used to keep fit with curry paste smeared under his toenails due to the likely emergence of a tiny Indian parasite known as Eschebone Sandispatticus. As the little bug took hold of his feet, the incessant and agonizing itching could only be relieved through lengthy jogs near water, champion tennis and hockey activities. The big man soon tired of this activity and, after endless meetings with homeotherapists, aromatherapists, reflexologists, osteopaths and many other purveyors of bodily cures, Spence took his pocket money down to Rollermania in Bristol and bought himself a skateboard.

The year was 1989, and the Cotswold Fertiliser Wars were coming to an end. A treaty signed by Hinton and Gales of Southrop and The Victoria Inn of Eastleach ensured a time of permanent peace would return to these battle-scarred hills. Spence maximised his opportunities and quickly learnt the joint trades of street and ramp skating. A visiting fighter pilot at RAF Fairford was overheard saying, “Man, that guy was born to skate ramp!” after witnessing the ex-tennis stars transition skills. And what a true statement it was – defying both the physical laws of gravity and the metaphysical laws of gradual self improvement, Spence staled his fish high above his peers and rivals alike.

SS20 opened its shop in Oxford, and the inhabitants of the Leach Valley Players quickly adopted this retail outlet as an extension of Fairford youth club. Riders with names like Moul and Scamp were befriended and informed of the burgeoning scene within the Coriniums’ catchment area. Evil Kinevel ramps were constructed under the eyes of a thousand owls so that Stretch Limo might practice his stunt work with protection from the elements. School suffered, as it should, only to be enlightened by a short story concocted by some pupils regarding the midnight antics of members of staff.

The next decade saw ramps and decks broken with frequency, Bradford visited for the purposes of culinary and social education, new friends arriving by the quarter, and improvements in every field the handsome young man set his wellies in.

A Penny dropped in on Oxford’s new mini ramp complex and set about a global domination and withdrawal act in 36 months flat. The reverberations would be felt for many years, not least by the Penny’s many associates along the lengthy Thames Valley.

Stretch continued to skill himself up even more, and added a dash of balletic fluency to his trademark sketchiness of previous years. The big man’s media appearances started to flourish, so almost in response, he began a yearly crusade down under to cherish the Southern Hemisphere’s rays, and blemish the South of England’s days with his absence.

Today of course, the old bugger spends his time with a pantry stocked thick with fine wines and meats, a miniramp complex in the grounds of his castle, a motorised satellite dish the size of a meteorite crater, a loving wife and a devoted following amongst Chilford-under-Wychcarve’s younger generation of skate fanatics.

In other words, he’s made it.

To follow in his footsteps, just enter your name as SSPE, and when the final boss appears, type in JONNY B ROCKS before the first rollerblading minions begin their attack.”

Well, Granny, I think you will agree he’s an interesting fellow, although I’m not sure if a single word of that ‘Dagger’ fellow can be relied upon. If you visit in the spring, be sure to bring some Scotch fancies and we can pop round theirs for tea and find out the truth,

Your loving Granddaughter,

Jocelyn Buckwheat-Pasta.


Death Banks

Brad, kickflip, Old Street.
Brad, kickflip, Old Street.