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Scotland: a fairy tale lullaby.

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO SKATE IN SCOTLAND?

Basically it's a hard knock life. There are gangs of 14-year-olds running riot in the streets. It's all you can do to avoid being duped by a backward community of highland pagans into sacrificing yourself by bonfire for the sake of the next harvest. It's either raining or freezing or extraordinarily windy or all three. The streets are mostly cobbled and the other streets are the most brutally-graded sandpaper imaginable.

These problems are of course solvable. With a sharp tongue, a critical eye regarding organized belief systems, a good scarf, a cappuccino and some larger wheels, you can have a great time. Oh yeah, and it's sunny quite a lot in the summer. And the skaters are mellow and want you to come and visit.

Not too long ago Mr Burnett journeyed to Scotland in the summer. It was sunny July and we had a jolly couple of days cavorting amongst the highland springs and asking the elves and faeries which way to the skateparks.

There have been a few concrete parks constructed. They have their design flaws but there are certainly good times to be had. As for the streets. It's tough in the streets of Scotland and in this particular little selection of pictures there ain't much. Maybe one. There were two but what with the modern day pressures of the marketing department we're just left with the one. It's OK though, 'cause we replaced the lost street photo with some incredible artwork that a small amount of you might appreciate. We may have had another street photo if CeeKay had not been unavoidably detained during the brief course of our Thrashery time in the motherland. Oh well.

FRONTSIDE INVERT AT QUEENS PARK

A young team had made their way over to Shawlands from Castlemilk and were armed with sharpened wooden sticks. Crude swords. That's right folks, out here the youth still war like back in the day. Medieval style. Me and Mike were justifiably terrified by these 14-year-olds.

One particularly short kid told me that I should do something good cause what I was doing "wiz shite." I asked this violent-eyed munchkin what he thought was something good. "Fitba," he told me (I don't want to hit you over the head too much with this stuff but fitba is Glasgow talk for football), and that I was useless. He then shot me a viscous glance as he crouched and laid his sword on the ramp's platform and barked at me "Leevat air datutchit" before dashing off to help his friends find bottles to smash up. I left it there and I didn't touch it. You see, although they war in the manner of a pre-industrial tribe of savages, they are in fact highly sophisticated in the intricacies of the psychological attack. I was shook. It was time to frontside invert the fiberglass wonder and break out.

BENSON FLIES AND SPINS

The last time I had been at Livi was on the Osiris Europe tour. Since then Benson seems to have sprouted a little. That time before, I had offered him a fiver to back tail revert down the escalator at the deep end of the halfpipe. "Ahv already got a fiver," he told me. For a tenner he obliged with style, and the day we sessioned Livi this time he spun this frontside three for free.

THE INIMITABLE STU AND DIV

Not long after we all figured out this particular section of the synchronized routine, Div caught a bad one and bruised his elbow up. This led to wee Shinpad the sailor asking Div, "Er yi awright?"

Div replied with the classically Carlukian "Fuck oaaff."

"Here you, daw be tellin' ma ween tae fuck awf," Shinpad's dad then yelled at Div.

"You fuck awl naw ya fanny. Nawah n poke yersel n yer rusty sheriff's badge while yer at it." That was Div's final speech before he skated off to the other side of the park in a moody huff.

Now, you don't need to understand exactly what all that means. It is the English language; I can tell you that. The important thing was that the whole scene had the rest of us in hysterics towards Shinpad and his old man despite Div being the unmistakable asshole of the whole little scene. Don't get me wrong though, he's a lovable asshole. A lovable rusty sheriff's badge.

BACKSIDE NOSEBLUNT

These tightly transitioned brick banks have been sessioned for many years in Aberdeen. An architectural solution to dead urban space became a convenient location for underage drinking and irritating backside noseblunts.

STU'S TAILGRAB

Historically the Graham clan made a living stealing cattle and blackmailing people. These days they seem to build roads and do tailgrabs at the new Saltcoats park in Southwest Scotland, Stu Graham tailgrab.

So where might you go if you came to visit?

GLASGOW has a reputation as a tough city but in all the time I've spent there I've only ever seen one car get its stereo nicked right in front of me. I've only ever got myself into one drunken fist fight. I lost. I've only ever been threatened and spat at in the face by a gangly youth wearing a shell suit and brandishing a can of mace once. I've only ever had a damp retractable umbrella thrust in my throat while being threatened with a broken fuckin' jaw once. The rest of my time in Glasgow has been nothing but rosy laughs with good friends and ripping skates through the streets by night with the Glasgow heads. Skating street gaps, wallrides, random steps and ledges, and rough ass banks.

If you found yerself in CARLUKE, Div and the dirt swans might take you in, feed you Stella and make you an honorary swan. At Livingstone skate park these days, sadly still the only Scottish park with any concrete coping, you might find Stu and Div flying 'round the park working on their synchronized contest run for the annual skate party. I'm pretty sure Stu told me that the next one will be set to Boleros house of the Capulets. Stu's like that you see. A bit posh really. If you ever meet him you'll know what I mean. If you hang around long enough you may catch a glimpse of an aging Victor Lebonte the voracious French-Scot pro from the early '80s. Now retired and living in Bathgate.

If you were to visit ABERDEEN you might find the words "SPARE ME THE MADNESS" escaping your lips. For those of us who've grown up skating Aberdeen life has been slightly different. For we have endured the harpy shriek and perpetual fear of dive-bomb attack from the mutant seagull of the northeast. You may learn of it if you dare to read on.

THE AIRWALK

"It's guid 'cause it's like ballet in the sky," commented Mr Irvine. However, the sky is the domain of the City Gull of the northeast. Brave airwalk through the kingdom of the harpies. Even if I do say so myself.

HOW COULD YOU UNDERSTAND--

how could you possibly EVER understand--it's true what they say about another mans shoes; you can't understand, I can. I live here--I understand very VERY well that life is dangerous, things in life are dangerous, nature is dangerous, people are dangerous, animals are dangerous ... however, some more than others.

Guns are dangerous, but guns are man-made, and mostly in America. Seagulls however are not. Seagulls may live all over the world, but not the hybrid killing machine know as the Herring Gull/ Greater Black Backed Gull cross. They only live in my small windswept part of Scotland; you couldn't possibly understand the terror.

Nature has a way of improving upon itself. First, millions of years ago there was the dinosaur. Admittedly a little large and clumsy, nature refined some of them into the perfect killing machines, razor sharp claws for tearing through toughened hide, sharpened teeth for surgically tearing flesh into bite sized pieces. But then--then nature added wings, creating beasts such as the Pterodactyl, the predecessor of today's modern bird. I believe that if you look into the eyes of the Gulls you can still see its reptilian past lurking unchanged for a billion years.

Those black staring eyes that only see food--yes, they only see food, the only thing they see is food, that car is food (it's just not dead yet), that crisp packet is food, that empty can of coke is food, that pigeon is food and it's smaller than me so I can kill and eat it. That seagull killed under that bus is food, that other seagull is looking at me like I'm food--maybe I should kill it and eat it. Humans ... yes, humans they are food but they're not dead yet. Can I kill one and eat it? Or should I eat whatever it's holding? That thing in its hand MUST BE FOOD--nature has created an unfeeling killer, take it anywhere in the world and it WILL thrive. It eats anything. Take it to Africa, the most drought-stricken region and release it ... Lion, tiger, anything will just turn into food--it WILL survive!

Once man has destroyed itself, the Gulls will remain, simply pecking upon our dead bones then forgetting about us and getting bigger. The gulls are getting bigger; every year they get bigger. I think once they reach the size of flying ostriches scientists "might" take notice of what we here in the frozen northeast of my island have known for many, many years.

Guns are for the paranoid American, scared of being attacked by invading hoards of Arabs? Am I not right in saying that the crusades already happened? when the great Christian nations went to Arabia to "liberate" Christians (who seemed to be living in peace with the Jews and Muslims at the time)? America, however, has just caught on that Arabs are there to be attacked and have their religion mocked. If I could train the gull on the other hand, now that would be a weapon of mass destruction, worse than any bomb; it won't ever stop, never--it will kill everything. Then, once there is nothing left and no more blood to spill, it will turn, turn upon its own--for I have seen it.

This is why the Scottish fear nothing when away from home; you don't have birds the size of dogs that shit at you and attack you while screaming like harpies day and night. The only thing I wish I could take abroad with me is a small taste of my country's evolution--just a few eggs here and there--and you will start to understand the terror.

Put the guns away and let the gulls come out. LA will be a very different place when the gulls come!

Photos by Michael Burnett
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Author:Rattray, John
Publication:Thrasher
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Words:1814
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