Morphine Memories (one)
Pantin, Spain. 31 July 1993.
I am not sure how the handcuffs got into my possession I think they were bought by the boys for psycho slut, the French groupie that had been stalking us for weeks. For some reason they were in my Kombi, I know Miss Piggy had put them to use the night before in the car park in front of where we were staying at Casa Ramos up on the hill above the beach in Pantin. The whole restaurant had marveled at how brightly luminous condoms can shine from behind misted up backseat car windows, but that is an entirely different story altogether.
The day had ended badly. I had just lost my heat in the round of 32, I needed a pretty low score and slipped and fell on my last wave, ended up 3rd and eliminated with an equal 17th place. I was not happy, I was used to quarter finals or better, this was my last year on tour, I wanted some good results. I was pissed off. For some reason there was a lot of green seaweed in the water it was terrible, slippery and caused a lot of drag, I had decided to surf without a leash and had fallen on my first wave and lost too much time in that green mess, a bad error of judgment, I was not happy that afternoon.
Most of us travelled and lived in camper vans and Kombis, a small flotilla of vans following the European leg of the ASP world tour, we were a pretty tight knit bunch and were on a kind of permanent surfing adventure, from town to town, country to country, it was astounding really.
There were always girls around, they loved hanging out with us in the vans, they were not shy, they were far from shy. None of us spoke Spanish and none of them spoke English. That never seemed to matter we all spoke a common language.
Grish and Spence, stopped at my van, they were going into town, it was going to be a big night, there was a rock band playing, everyone was going to Ferrol, it was Saturday night, summer and we had all lost that day. It was time to let of some steam. I thought about it for a few minutes said, right let`s go. I kicked the girls out and got ready, one of the girls got back into the van and was making a bit of a fuss, I had no idea what she was going on about, but she refused to get out. Clearly she wanted me to stay with her but that was not going to happen.
The handcuffs were on the stove. I handcuffed her to the bed, locked the Kombi, got in the car with Spence and Grish and we drove into Ferrol 20 km away, little did I know then the biggest night of my life was waiting in Ferrol.
Grish looked at me and smiled, he knew, he was the best player of all. It had all started with Gorilla Biscuits and Bullo a year ago In Tapia, or was it that first day in France in Lacanau when we stumbled onto the nude beach searching for good waves in the forest. No of course not, actually it began the very first day I arrived in Europe back in April 90.
I had never seen anything like it. South Africa was just so different, nudity was banned. Any kind of nakedness was not allowed the Nationalist government had made it a criminal offence to print or publish any kind of nudity. We had been led to believe it was a sin and the NGK (Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk ) deemed any kind of moral misbehavior would most certainly end up with you burning in hell for all eternity. After my first night out in Newquay where I just happened to bump into a bunch of nurses on a hen`s night out, I knew I was damned.
It was Bullo in Tapia that started to keep a tally after Gorilla Biscuits and her friend had taken advantage of us while we were happily experimenting with the wonders of Cidra, the Asturian apple cider that was freely flowing in the bars of the small port town one night. We never paid for drinks the bars wanted us there, where the surfers were, that’s where the action was and everything was always free. They were crazy times.
I was in the first heat of the contest the next day, so I needed to get back to the Kombi, rested and ready for the final day. Cidra is like apple juice and it sneaks up on you and when it hits it leaves you in a mess. One minute I was fine the next I could hardly stand, I needed to get back to the Kombi.
Bullo gave her the name Gorilla Biscuits and she came out of nowhere I had not said a word to her all night but the moment I left the bar she came running after me. She was French, a yoga instructor and I was doomed.
Spence frowned at me and asked “did you just handcuff that girl to the bed” I laughed, they were real metal but were just toy handcuffs and were broken. She could easily get out of them and unlock the van from inside and leave. Grish laughed anything for another dot on the door.
Everyone knew what the dots on the doors of the Kombi stood for, we were the “Surfers from Hell, the Death Division” and we were free on a wild rampage through Europe. I really cannot explain the feeling of freedom and adventure of those years. Before everything had been so structured, discipline was everything in South Africa, first at school then the army. There were always consequences for any deviations and they usually always involved punishment and pain.
Bullo started the tally. It eventually evolved to the dots on the door, but began with Gorilla Biscuits friends panties tied to the radio antennae of the Kombi, a trophy for everyone to see, proudly flown from town to town, country to country.
I never made it back to the Kombi that night in Tapia, It was Bullo´s turn. I ended up in the backseat of a two door Peugeot 106 which was parked in the middle of the town square. Biscuits helped me there, I was all of a sudden in no state for anything and started vomiting like crazy, all over her, all over her car, someone must have slipped something into my drink. I was dead on my feet. I awoke the next morning with the blazing sun in my face, totally naked with a bunch of old women dressed in black shouting at me through the car windows. Biscuits had disappeared it was late in the morning and I had no doubt missed my heat and an opportunity to earn a bit of badly needed cash.
That night I realized I was out of my depth, I was not prepared. Growing up in Apartheid South Africa had not prepared me for this. I had always considered myself a liberal thinker, we were a liberal thinking family at home in Durban.
I vomited on Biscuits head and without so much as a blink she looked up and kissed me, now that was a defining moment. It was the moment I realized I knew nothing and was about to enter into a whole new phase of education.
I will never forget that moment, it was brief, an instant in time but it is forever imprinted in my brain. The moment she came across the park towards us, we had arrived in Ferrol it was a glorious summers evening, still bright daylight at 10 in the evening. We had arrived right into the middle of the town`s summer festival and there were hundreds of people in the streets.
She came directly towards me and we crossed paths, our eyes met just for an instant and I swear my heart skipped a beat. I had seen many beautiful women in Spain, there are swarms of beautiful women in Spain they are everywhere but she took my breath away.
She was wearing an amazingly sexy Gaultier black leather waistcoat with silver pointed studs, tight fitting blue jeans, jet black long flowing hair, she was a goddess. Our eyes met she walked past me and she was gone into the crowd.
We crossed the park and went into the club. It was packed the whole contest was already there it was going crazy. Grish and Spence pushed in the crowd and that was the last time I saw them that night.
There are times when you can just feel it deep down inside, a kind of shiver a nervous thrill, you just know that something big is happening. It is not a conscious thing, like a deja vu kind of feeling you just know something is going to happen. The moment I stepped into the club that night, I got goose bumps and the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Yes it was going to be a huge night.
Peth was there, Beto was there, they were ASP judges and they had a group of girls cornered at the bar, they knew I had just lost in the last heat of the day they called me over and offered me a drink. We were like a big travelling circus, they knew what I normally drank, Peth handed me a vodka and orange, looked me straight in the eyes and said, you take the short one with the blue eyes and I´ll take her friend with the big tits.
I swear in Spain there must be more bars than people, it has to be seen to be believed. The way it works is you have a drink or two in one bar then move onto the next as you go along you collect more people into your group and lose others. The night never ends as it began and never ends as you expected. It’s a real life living experiment of the “Chaos Theory” and it is glorious.
Peth, Berto, Blue Eyes, Big Tits and myself were cruising we had gathered quite a number of people in our pack as we went from bar to bar. It is nothing like F1 after every pit stop, you do not go faster your chances of spinning out just become greater and greater. I was learning fast, this was not a sprint like South Africa where everything closed just after midnight or like the UK where the bars closed at 11pm. This was a marathon, the discos only opened after 1am and the parties lasted till long after the sun had risen the next day. After the shock of being abused by naughty Gorilla Biscuits in Tapia, I had learned my lesson. Pacing yourself was everything.
One of Spain´s biggest and best all time bands was playing in Ferrol that night and the town was packed, the streets were full, the bars were full, once again I felt that feeling. South Africa had not prepared me for this I had never seen so many happy young people, freely walking the streets, no restraints, no restrictions of any kind. In South Africa we had just come out of a “state of emergency” where martial law had been declared and no one freely roamed the streets at night. This was a new thing for me.
I saw her again, almost in the same place, this time we crossed paths going in opposite directions. She gave me a sultry defiant stare and the smallest of smiles as she brushed past into the crowd. She was going to the bar we had just left. Blue Eyes gave me a dirty glance as I turned around and watched her walk away into the ever growing crowd.
At the last possible moment just as she disappeared into the mass of people going to the rock concert, she turned ever so slightly and looked back and smiled.
Bingo, it was game ON.
I have no idea how long the bar roulette went on for, it seemed as if the whole of Ferrol was out that night, we kept on bumping into people from the contest then losing them again only to meet up later somewhere else. The boys from Pukas in their Renault Espace, were on a mission, with Pablo and Ignacio leading their charge. They were by far the real masters at this game, I was just a mere apprentice we could not keep up and always seemed to be a few paces behind them. Throughout the night they seemed to drift in and out of vision as we kept crossing paths, their car always full of laughing girls and raging surfers. If an award for the naughtiest guy on tour was awarded Pablo would have been the winner hands down, if ever there was a problem Pablo was guaranteed to be involved.
The year before in Pantin we had drama in the water, it was solid a good 8 feet, big lumps of ocean, perfect for me, I had 3 Basque surfers, Pablo, Gorka and Jorge in the quarter finals. It should have been an easy heat, semis next almost a sure thing.
We were sitting up against the cliffs and as soon as the heat started I dashed into the middle of the bay with Pablo sticking to me like glue, a perfect left stood up right in front of me and I was perfectly placed to get a bomb wave in the first minute of the heat, a perfect start.
I looked at Pablo he was too deep, impossible for him to go, he was famous for playing dirty, He was paddling over the wave and shouted for me to go, I turned took two digs and was up and gone. As soon as I committed he had turned and thrown himself over the falls, somehow made the drop, bottom turned and was right behind me. A classic interference, my contest had come to an end.
I was not angry I was fuming, I wanted to smash his head in, instead we were getting caught by set after set and getting smashed ourselves right up against the cliffs and rocks of Pantin. Earlier in the day the contest had been called off while one of the Owen twins rescued another competitor who was drowning in the middle of the heat, so this was not a game this was heavy water pushing us up against the rocks. My anger dissipated fast as survival came first.
Eventually there was a break in the sets and we made it safely back into the lineup I was swearing and cursing at Pablo the other two competitors gave us both a nervous glance and moved as far away from us as possible, I said to them not to worry they would advance into the semis as Pablo was not going anywhere. I grabbed his leash, wrapped it round my arm and paddled him out to sea. He was not going to get another wave, not if I could help it.
We sat in open ocean for the next 25 minutes with Pablo frantically trying to get away but I held him like my life depended on it, the whole beach and every other competitor was watching, let this be a lesson. With a minute to go a perfect big right stood up right in front of me, I let Pablo`s leash go paddled for it and went. It was a perfect wave I got a big score and just missed making the semis by a fraction of a point. Pablo got last the only wave he caught that heat was the wave of the interference. We had a little scuffle on the sand before we were broken apart and we went our separate ways.
So that night when I saw Pablo being chased out of the disco we were about to enter and down the road by a group of apparently very angry guys and a few policemen, I smiled put my arm around Blue Eyes and walked in.
Things went downhill pretty fast from there. It was packed, more and more people poured into the club, our group was growing by the minute. I have no idea how or why the owner of the club came over and ordered us all another round of drinks, he started talking to Peth who was by now hardly able to stand and was drooling all over Big Tits.
One minute we were all in the mosh pit, going berserk and the next we were on the stage, the owner was mumbling something to me and was handing me notes of cash. I had no idea what the hell was going on, Berto said to me dance, just dance, dance, dance.
Berto who at the best of times was a bit creepy was the one who started it. The stage had a kind of walkway, so like a bunch of dancing monkeys, we started dancing. The crowd was loving it and then all of a sudden went wild. I turned around to see Berto had started to rip his clothes off, I had no choice but to do the same.
I suppose there is a first time for pretty much everything in life and this was the first time I had literally hundreds of crazy screaming girls at my feet and they were shoving more notes of cash at us. The rest of our group were literally rolling around on the floor laughing, it was pretty hilarious. We were down to our underpants and people were stuffing money into them, it was one of the most bizarre situations ever.
I looked over at Peth and Big Tits and there she was, talking to Blue Eyes staring right at me. She was the only person in the club who was not laughing.
Shit! she was friends with Blue Eyes and Big Tits, I jumped down off the stage, managed to rescue most of my clothes, shoved the notes I had stashed in my underwear into my pocket, quickly got dressed and walked over to Peth as if nothing had happened. Everyone was laughing hysterically as Berto tried to get naked and the bouncers pulled him off the stage and out the back.
I looked at her, walked up and said let`s go, she said ok and we left.
We walked the streets talking, the Pukas Renaut Espace was still cruising around like some kind of ghostly phantom. I wanted to see her again, we sat in the park, and before we knew it the sun was rising, everyone had disappeared and I was stranded in Ferrol. She walked me to the taxi rank, pushed me in a taxi and told the driver to take me back to Pantin.
The taxi driver was jabbering away the whole trip but I had half passed out in the back seat, I grabbed some of the crumpled notes I still had in my underwear, paid him and opened the door to my Kombi. The moment I stepped in she hit me and started yelling like a mad thing. Jesus Christ what the hell was going on?
I had forgotten all about the girl handcuffed to the bed, what the hell was she still doing there. She was still handcuffed to the bed and had wet her pants.