Peak hour traffic.

Progress is slow. Bumping along potholed gravel roads with small ravines carved out by rain, the fastest we travel is 30km/h. At times we have to stop while shepherds guide cattle off the road. Chickens, dogs, and pigs move off themselves. It’s a fine morning. Light winds ruffle the long grass on the short, steep hills of which there are so many the landscape mimics a rough sea.

We have the windows down, the air is warm. Johan lights a cigarette every 15 minutes.  Round huts with thatched roofs speckle the otherwise green landscape. These huts are called rondavels, they are made with stones bound by mud and cow poo. Inside a rondavel is enough room for a bed, a cupboard, a table and chairs and a cat. Women are busy washing clothes or laughing or carrying faggots. Kids are busy walking to school. They wear more uniform than I did. Everything outside the car appears to be happening in slow motion. The slow motion scenes rolling by have sent me into a state of languor. Soft guitar strings coming through the car speakers and the mellow rocking of the car add to the effect.

We are heading for a river. At the mouth of this river, we have heard, a wave breaks from the point to the middle of the bay, over 150 meters. Our fingers are crossed but our expectations are in check, South African surfers tend to get a little… overexcited, especially when they are talking about the Wild Coast.

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Men waiting for the wind to die and the moon to rise.

The Wild Coast is a region on the eastern side of South Africa. It is the remote home of the impoverished Xhosa people. Nelson Mandela was born here. Many villages do not have running water or electricity.  Locals smoke joints as if they are cigarettes. You can buy a litre bottle of beer for $2, making it almost as cheap as petrol. Or you can buy a sack of powder for $1.50 that turns into 5L of beer when you add water and leave it overnight. I tried this but it came out looking like porridge and tasting like sour milk. I only managed to drink one cup.

A few hippies started surfing the Wild Coast in the 80s. Much of the coastline is riddled with bad access, a lack of facilities, aggressive sharks and an abundance of rarely surfed, high quality waves. These factors combine to give the Wild Coast mystique we could not resist.

At last the ocean comes into view, just a few kilometers away. After an hour of driving at a crawl, gazing out the windows, we arrive at a small gravel carpark tucked inside a headland. A parked tractor is the only other vehicle. As soon as we get out of the car, two perfect waves steam past a crop of rocks and out onto the open sand where they continue to run as far as the eye can see. Without discussion Tom and I take our boards down from the roof, insert fins, apply wax and slip into wetsuits.

What follows is four hours of surfing immaculate waves in warm, crystal blue waters until our arms are exhausted and the wind comes in.

Back on land I feel intoxicated. Tom and I keep staring at each other in wonderment, “what the fuck just happened?” A man approaches, asks if I want to buy weed or hash. I don’t, but I’m feeling so good I want him to feel some. His name is Benny. Has one of the best laughs I’ve heard. It is a trumpeting, stomach-grabbing laugh. While we are talking about diving for crayfish I try to use hand gestures to explain that it is hard to grab the crayfish’s feelers. You can imagine me standing in my wetsuit pulling imaginary feelers atop my head. How does Benny react? He thinks it is the funniest thing he has ever seen, almost turns inside out. We are laughing too.

The decision is made to stay right by the rivermouth so we can be as close to the wave as possible everyday. First we have to stock up on groceries. The closest thing to a supermarket is a dusty, warehouse-sized shed a couple of hours away. Need 20kg of rice? You got it. How about a 3kg tin of coffee? Aisle seven. We don’t need either of those things but we do need fruit, vegetables, meat and a half a dozen tins of assorted non-perishables.

See those bushes at the top of the hill on the left? Our tent is in there.

From where we are camping we can see across the bay to the wave. A short bandy down the hill, a paddle across the river and a giddy jog along the beach and we are in a rip getting shot out to the start of the wave. When we are not surfing we are making food, reading books or taking naps. One day I walk into a village searching for crayfish but instead get stoned in a hut. When the guys roll joints they drop buds on the floor and don’t flinch. Weed is that abundant.

Nearby there breaks another, slightly better wave but I cannot write about it because I am sworn to secrecy. A few days turn into a week, then two. The winds are almost always offshore and the surf seldom flat. I can see two weeks turning into two months, two years and then the rest of my life.

Anyway, I would love to stay and chat but I fear you will get sick of me. Take care, I will write again soon.


H F Peniston



Tom gets into bed aggressively.

There is an adage I recently read on the inset of a backpacking pocket book. It said, “Lay out the clothes and money you want to take on your trip. Halve your clothes, double the money.” Even though he hadn’t heard the words before, Tom Hewitt knew the principle.

Preparing to camp in Africa’s south, he packed as light as he could. Two long sleeved shirts. Two short sleeved shirts. Four t-shirts. Two pairs of black pants. One sweatshirt. One windbreaker. One jacket. A good strategy, executed almost perfectly. Almost perfectly. I’m no travel-packing expert. I was ridiculed when I turned up alone in a scorching hot Mexican town dragging a suitcase through the sand, but Tom’s baggage plan had a few holes in it. Like, actual holes.

A few nights in, the force from pulling his favourite t-shirt over his head turned a little hole into a tattered mess. That t-shirt has been turned into rags and lives a dignified second life.

A few nights later, the same thing happened to another t-shirt. I think he threw this one out in frustration.

Then, the zip breaks on a pair of pants. Johan manages to fix the zip. Tom breaks the zip again. Now his fly is more or less undone when he wears those.

A couple of weeks later, one of his button up shirts goes missing from a washing line.

To add to his clothing woes, his card was swallowed by an ATM and his replacement card lost in the mail. Oh, and he’s had his surfboards fixed four times*.

If your plan is to pack light, one would think you’d pack durable clothes. Tom says he didn’t have the luxury of choice.

“It was either [pack] dirty work shirts that are disgusting or t-shirts with holes in them and I’m not here to pretend I’m in a bakery,” he says.

“I do miss my croissants though, they are soothing.”

Now, he’s down to three shirts, two t-shirts, one pair of pants and a few jumpers. If he wasn’t packed light before, he is now.

*Since the time of writing, Tom has had to repair one of his boards for the fifth time.


Localism 1
The lads beat down on a kook. Photo: David MacGregor

A group of local surf thugs are searching for a traveling surfer in Jeffrey’s Bay.

The manhunt was triggered by an incident at the world famous wave, Supertubes, on Thursday afternoon.

Greg Rover, the unofficial leader of the group, said the tourist had disobeyed strict surfing protocol.

“This guy, fucking idiot, paddled past Bruce [de Kock], smiled and said ‘Bonjour’ like he was his bru,” Rover said.

“Not even 10 minutes went by and he dropped in on me.

“If you come to our home break and think you can just be friendly with me and the guys, you better expect a serious beating.”

Another of the group’s prominent members, Bruce de Kock, elaborated.

“That little frog made eye contact with me and smiled. What does he expect?” de Kock said.

“Supertubes is one of the best waves in the world, me and my brus have got to regulate the place or it would be a circus.

“So yeah, that guy with the blue on the shoulders of his wetsuit should watch his back.”

Exactly what the group planned to do when they found the man was unclear.

“I’m not saying we are going to kill him or hurt him badly, we just want to have a chat with the guy,” Rover said

It was not known if the French man knew he was being looked for or if he was still in town.

The Jeffreys Post was told by a local café owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, of an incident that occurred the week before where a local 12-year-old surfer was berated by Greg and the boys.

Jack Nimble, 12, was yelled at while surfing at Supertubes.

“I didn’t even do anything wrong, Greg dropped in on me,” Nimble said.

“But when I protested he started abusing me.

“I was almost in tears, he called me a little pussy.”


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“Couple waves out there ai.” Photo: Johan Evert

Cape Town turned out to be quite the vortex. After two weeks spiralling closer and closer to the eye, Johan pulled us out of the water and into his Freelander 2. From there we made it along the coast to Jeffrey’s Bay without a scratch. Or a stab wound, as so many were sure we would acquire. Then again, it is early days. We may be stabbed thoroughly yet.

The wave at Jeffrey’s has been so heavily mythologised the place no longer seems real. Though I can assure you, it is real. As real as an abandoned water park. As real as salty dreadlocks. As real as Billabong jeans slipping over cracked heels. As real as Fox hat beanies and surfboard letterboxes. At a time when the surf industry is supposedly floundering, there are no signs of struggle in Jeffrey’s. In fact, this place might be single-handedly keeping surf brands alive.

One does not have to look hard to find a scaly sea dog smoking a scoobie. Some of the locals here would smoke Nimbin folk under the bong-covered coffee table. “My eyes are stained red from the stiff south-easterlies,” they say as they slide their mull tin under the car seat.

Some of the locals are placid. Some are aggressively territorial. Tom had a run-in with some disgruntled men on our second day here.

“I jumped off the point, paddled straight out to where everyone was sitting,” he said

“I didn’t really barge in, just sat at the back of the pack and was going to wait my turn and just instantly got bailed up by like three guys who told me to get the fuck down the point.

“Who did I think I was? Sitting up there with them. A bit of localism.”

Tom and Hugh share a wave at J-Bay. Photo: Johan Evert

Nobody warned us about any localism before we came here but it is clearly present.

How many people warned us about sharks before we came? Many, yet the only sharks we’ve heard of have been at home.

No stabbings, no shark attacks, no water shortage. Safe to say we are immune to Africa’s deadly threats.

Then again, it is early days.


H.F. Peniston


26B9CB1B-6E5E-4F27-B776-47EFDF0B946DOur plan was to buy a nice big burly car to road trip Africa. We spent about a week running around Cape Town chasing that dream, so now we are experts on the matter. The following is a step-by-step guide to help you, should you ever choose to buy a car in the Mother City.

Step 1: Spend a few days getting drunk. Why? Because you can’t just waltz into a place like Cape Town and buy a car without first drinking a few cold ones with the people. Long Street and Kloof Street both run through the top of town towards Table Mountain. Together they contain the cultural crevasse you are looking for. Try the balcony at Yours Truly or up the road at Power and Glory first. Buy a few bottles of wine. Introduce yourself to some lovely local women, of which there is an abundance. Get something to eat at Rick’s Café Americain, Kyoto Sushi, NY Slice Pizza or The Sorrows. Remember, the place is heavily influenced by Europe so partying tends to happen late and long. When it gets late, head to Harrington’s, Asoka, The Shack, Hank’s, Love Thy Neighbour, Modular, The Orphanage or anywhere you walk by that has a crowd. Take your time, do it right.

Step 2: Now that you are nursing a good and proper hangover, you are ready to start looking for a vehicle. Your best bet is to lie in bed and scroll through Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree for hours on end. Open a million tabs. Message a few people. Enquire thoroughly. This thing has to survive months of potholed roads, long distances, dirt tracks, attacks from lions and hijack attempts. For some reason many of the cars we looked at had had their original engines replaced with something shit. Get a few trusty steeds in your sights.

Step 3: Go against just about everyone’s advice and meet strangers in the middle of nowhere to look at their cars. Between us we can’t do much more than change a tyre and check the oil, so we lifted the hood and intently whispered nonsense to each other. Don’t let the car owner clue on to the fact that you are mechanically hopeless. Take her for a drive. Don’t stall.

Step 4: After a sustained effort you still haven’t found the right car. Repeat step 1 until your inspiration is topped up.

Step 5: In Parow there is a long straight road called Voortrekker Road (R102). Start at Pick ‘n Pay and walk west. There are over 50 used car dealerships here. Spend three to four hours walking into all of them in the heat of the day. The salespeople mostly ignore you so the whole experience is almost pleasant.DFD7D249-64FE-4DC5-AE8E-5D14B6BEE761.jpg

Step 6: When all hope seems lost and you haven’t got enough money to buy a decent car, call my friend Johan Evert. We found ourselves ready to call it quits on the whole trip when Johan pulled us out of the muck. He agreed to drive down from his family home in his Land Rover Freelander 2, pick us up, and take us wherever the hell we wanted to go. In essence, we got ourselves a third member of the party and a private tour guide. After some back-and-forth and some wildly inaccurate calculations we worked out a price that was roughly the same amount we had set aside for a car. Only with Johan we had the added bonus of extensive expertise and all the gear we could possibly need for camping. If you need him, look up ‘Your Friend in South Africa‘.

Now one way or another, you are ready to start your journey. Best practice is to buy yourself a road map, burn it and dance around the fire until you see your next destination in the dregs of your last bottle of Black Label.

Until next time,

H.F. Peniston


SCN_0114The air’s warm, still. A light waft of smoke enters my sleepy nostrils as I lie under the mosquito net staring at the Birds of Paradise in the front yard, letting my brain stir. It doesn’t take me long to get ready. I pack most of the things I’ll need into my small backpack. A notebook, camera, trunks, sarong, medical stuff for my leg wound, a packet of chips, bottle of water, cigarettes, weed, sunscreen, my Swiss-army knife, a pen and enough money for the two day expedition. I’ve got to pick up a book from Alice and Stew’s villa after breakfast and buy a block of wax.

The directions to Bangko-Bangko (Westerners call it ‘Desert Point’) are written down in my notebook. The trip should take two to two-and-a-half hours on my bike, if everything runs smoothly. Supposedly it takes an hour-and-a-half in a car. There are 17 steps to follow: from Kuta, past the airport, across the island, through jungle and steep hills then around an inlet to the western tip of Lombok.

45 minutes in heading west on a highway I stop for petrol and to refresh my memory on the next few steps of the journey.

Driving behind a military police Jeep I remember I’ve got a few grams of East Lombok’s finest dope in the middle pocket of my bag and remind myself not to do anything too bold. I wouldn’t want them to pull me over for a traffic offence, check my bag and find the packet. The middle pocket isn’t obvious, and the packet itself is underneath a book and a bottle of sunscreen. If there were a place they would miss, it’d be where it rests right now. Still, better to just sit a few scooters back from them like a good little tourist. Damn it’s hot. Why are we going so slowly? I hope they turn off soon so I can get back to full speed. We drive past a pulled-over police car, then another on the other side of the road. We’re stopping. I realise I’ve ridden straight into a police checkpoint, seconds later a cop is waving me off the road. I pull over and look up at his face.

“You speaking Indonecian?” he asks me. I shake my head. He points at it and says something I don’t understand, then points to the place where my left mirror should be only it isn’t there. I turn the bike off and look up at him again, wondering what he wants me to do, trying not to think about the little brown paper packet in my bag so as not to give anything away on my face. I look around and see that everybody else is wearing helmets. The policeman takes my keys out of the ignition,

“You have lissen?” he asks, obviously unsure of his English pronunciation.


“You have lissens? Lissens,” he asks again, tone rising.

“Oh license, yes but not here.”

Internasonal lissens, regishration papers?” he adds. I shake my head. He motions for me to go with him, takes me across the road and hands me over to an officer with an offence pad and a plump, kind round head. The new cop tells me to wait a few minutes.

“Can I smoke a cigarette?”

“Yes sure.” I wander a few meters away to assess the situation. There are pigs everywhere, in both directions. Escape is off the cards. I didn’t bring enough money to pay bribes but I don’t really have a choice. The new cop calls me over and asks if I speak Indonesian. I say a little bit, “sedikit”, and he asks where I’m from. He says I have to wear a helmet.

“You no hab helmet?” he speaks English more comfortably than the first guy.

“No, in Kuta nobody wears helmet so I didn’t think I had to.” My mind thinks back to the packet of weed but I quickly flick the thought away. The cop puts his pad on a car’s bonnet and asks my name. I tell him. He suppresses an embarrassed smile, hands me the pen and shows where to write it. Looking into my dumb eyes he warns me to wear a helmet next time, says I can go.

“Thankyou sir, what’s your name?”

“Me? My name Putu,” he answers. I look into his big brown eyes,

“Thankyou Putu, thankyou,” then walk back to my bike and get the hell out of there.

“Once you’re on the dirt road, you’ll come to a junction. You don’t turn right like you think, you go left up and around a hill and then you’ll come down to Deserts,” words Josh said to me the other night spring back into my head as I hit the shocking, rocky, dusty path. It all happens just like he said it would and I pull up to the famous lefthander feeling falsely like some sort of pioneer, there’s no one else around. I wonder how long it took me to get here, feels like around two hours. The waves are small, waist high. A very slight wind blows from behind the waves, ruffling their lips. A few young local boys are surfing the end section.

After a late lunch I walk out onto the now-dry reef up at the take-off spot to smoke a spliff. It should be about low tide now. I’m sitting on a rock only twenty meters in from where the waves start, a couple of nice ones run by but a few crumbling sections are separating the clean, tubing sections. The long chain the waves form across the barrier reef is broken in some places. I stand up to walk back, but stop to watch a set of three waves, slightly bigger than the others I’ve seen. They break cleanly, hollow tubes uninterrupted for a hundred meters. With a life of its own my mouth opens and twists up in the corners, freezes in an expression of wonder and disbelief. The three waves I just watched were only small, maybe chest height, but they were beautiful. Watching the second and third waves was like watching the first wave on repeat. I’m standing on dry reef, a little stoned, on the edge of an Indonesian island staring at a wave that has defined perfection for surfers since its discovery 25-odd years ago. No more waves immediately after them I turn and walk lightly over the reef to the sand. When I get to the beach I face the ocean to watch a head high wave running along in the reef shelf. For 15 seconds I keep my unblinking eyes on the wave and it doesn’t stop barrelling once. She’s starting to wake up.

I paddle out for an afternoon surf, there are only a few guys out and conditions are stellar. The big waves are a decent size but most waves are small, not worth looking at. My first wave is juicy, sweet looking, not working too far away from me so with gusto I stroke in and spring to my feet early. A short section steepens up ahead. I go to it with speed, a little too much, and whizz by ahead of the barrel. To lose speed I draw a high line and come out of it pointing down. An almost identical section to the last presents itself, I turn up from the bottom of the wave to the middle and get shot along ahead of the tube again. The next section is far too long so I push up and off the back of the wave. A bit nervous and a little jittery, I’ve made a mess of my first wave out here. Was a gem too. Back at the top of the reef I swim down for a look at the bottom. Even out past where the waves start to break it’s only a meter and half, two meters deep. The tide is still quite low but it’s on the way up, the waves are less frequent than an hour ago.

The ocean almost stops. I get to know a couple of young guys from Adelaide and an older guy who is also from Margaret River. I sort of recognise his face. I don’t get another shot at redemption, there are one or two more waves but it’s not my turn. I paddle in while the sun dives.

According to the forecast the swell will fill in tomorrow morning.


Thomas James Hewitt was born on the 1st of September 1994 shortly after his twin brother Duke. His mum is a midwife and nurse; his dad works in health & safety for large oil companies. The family lived in a three-bedroom house in the town of Margaret River until Tom was ten. They then moved into a large modern home by the sea with ocean views. It was his family who had the home built, an architect friend designed it.

The kids went to St Thomas Moore Catholic Primary School, then Margaret River Senior High School. Dad surfed, Frances surfed, Duke started surfing and Tom followed soon afterwards because “at that age you’re getting told what to do, ‘go there’, ‘read that book’, but when you’re surfing you’re having the time of your life doing whatever you want for three hours.” Tom started taking photos with his mum’s camera around the age of 12, took a liking to it and continued learning about it through high school. Once he graduated Tom took a gap year, which he thinks is a good way to describe it because he wasted it away in Margaret River smoking too much weed and not surfing all that much. He then moved to Perth to pursue his interest in photography at university, but dropped out after a semester because it didn’t feel right.

He signed on to a pastry chef apprenticeship, living in his parents’ beachside flat with sister Frances. Once he finished his apprenticeship he travelled in California and Mexico. Back in Australia he moved back in with his parents in Margaret River and got a job at the local bakery. When he isn’t working he surfs, takes photos, reads books and browses the internet.

Tom thinks depression isn’t a thing if you’re an affluent white kid from a town like Margaret River, because “you should just wake up, smell the roses and realise how fucking good we’ve got it.” Tom wouldn’t rule out having sex with a robot if he was drunk and it was pretty life-like. He hates 21st century hippies because “they’re posing as something they’re not. You don’t have to have dirty hair and stink and drive a crap car to be environmentally conscious, they’re just doing those things because they want people to know.” He thinks the world is made up of 20 people he likes and 7 billion people he hates, he hates people who surf longboards in WA even though his dad is one of them.

I called Tom to get his perspective on the process of ‘growing up’.

G’day Tom.


What are you doing?

 I’ve just pulled over on the side of the road, coming back from a surf.

Alright. You ready?


What were the best parts about growing up in Margaret River?

Isolation. I feel like kids who grow up in cities are hyperaware of what other people think of them, whereas we were, for lack of a better word, free range. We thought something was cool and we did it because we wanted to and it made us happy. Also it meant we got kept away from heaps of bad stuff like drugs and going out, for a lot longer than if you were to live in a city or even a bigger town.

What were some of the bad parts about it?

Isolation, again. The narrow-mindedness of everyone, you couldn’t just be a little bit different to the stock-standard, normal of what everyone expected of you without someone questioning you and being like, ‘what, you’re a weirdo’. When in reality you’re just trying to be an individual, not just a run-of-the-mill blonde haired surfer. People didn’t like that.

Would you consider yourself a grown-up?

I think of myself as being an adolescent but not a grown-up, nah, I’m not grown up.

When will you be?

 Maybe when I don’t live with my parents and have some kind of financial buffer that I can use as a way to bounce my way around places. Have my own place maybe. It’s more of a mindset, being a grown-up, at one point in your life you’ll think ‘I’m not a kid anymore’ but I can’t really say. I’m not there yet. Maybe I’ll never be a grown-up. Some people don’t grow up Hugh.

You’re talking to the Pope of not growing up, right now.

I’ve got one foot in the door, toes in.

A bit of both.

 Yeah, tested the water and I don’t really like it enough.

Do you think you’ll go in a bit more?

 Probably not, maybe. Being a grown-up is like having your responsibilities and having things that tie you down. I feel like that’s a real grown-up thing, and I’m not into that.

How was your childhood compared to growing up in a time pre-technology?

 I honestly don’t think it would have been that different. We didn’t get the whole social media thing until quite late. Our way of hanging out was meeting at the river mouth after school. That was our fun for the arvo. We didn’t give a fuck about getting a cool photo to put on Instagram because we didn’t have it. We were maybe one of the last years to get through before shit got whack.

How would your childhood compare to someone who was born today?

The whole social media thing. You’re 10 years old and you’re expected to make this perception of yourself, via the internet, for people to look at and like. When I was 10 I didn’t even know what I wanted or who I was and now they’re putting up photos of how they want people to perceive them. Writing stuff because it’s how they want people to think they think. It’s just weird, it’s making kids grow up way too quick.


IMG_0149First sign of a water shortage? Only one tap works in the Cape Town airport bathroom. A mere 17 hours ago Tom and I were 8,500 kms away, in Perth, where there is a drought but no real threat of running out of water. We’re delighted to exit the airport into drizzling rain.

Here in Cape Town, water was scheduled to run out a month or so ago. As in, all the taps are being switched off so grab a bucket and queue at the water tanks for your daily allowance. Stav – the man who owns our airbnb – has been in Cape Town for a few months so has a thorough grip on the situation here. He manages to sum up the whole crisis in one poetic expression, “If you gave the South African government control of the Sahara Desert, within five years there would be a shortage of sand.” Stav knows many other great things. For instance, banks created inflation. Cool stuff.

The city of Cape Town sits in a sort of basin created by three sharp interruptions to flatness. On the east side is Devil’s Peak. On the south side is Table Mountain. On the west side is Lion’s head. And to the north is the Atlantic Ocean. It is a very multicultural city. It’s a bit of a whore really. People come from all over the world to enjoy her.

Table Mountain is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The other day Tom and I demonstrated that man is far superior to nature by climbing all over the so-called wonder. The views from the top were often obstructed by tourists and selfie-sticks. I was woke enough to realise I was one of them.

All the people here love us. All of them. We are very cool because we are not racist and we give money to beggars (but not too much because we need to be able to afford our daily green smoothies).

Anyway, I have to go. There are some people at the door who want to take us out for lunch. Better oblige.


H.F. Peniston



Ninja’s been put at my feet. He’s a nosy little tabby cat, wakes me up. I’m in Lombok the moment my eyes open, there’s no delay for remembering I’m in a different country than yesterday.

“This is amazing,” I say to Tess who is pottering around.

“What? Your bed?” she asks.

“No, everything. I was lying here reading last night, I just thought, ‘damn this is perfect’.”

And it is. I had a good sleep, feeling wholesome surrounded by a blanket of drowsiness. Wearing a goofy half-smile.

Writing an assignment after breakfast a classmate reviews my court story then tells me it’s not due until the end of next week. If I had known that I would have left it until Friday and had it hanging over my days. Instead it’s done and nearly ready for submission. Tess is back from running errands so I’ll finish it and submit it tonight.

Just down the road from breakfast we organise a scooter for me to hire for the next week. There aren’t any motorbikes for hire in Kuta, just 100cc Yamahas with board racks sometimes. More than good enough.

With my Lombok life sorted Tess and I ride east for a swim at a pretty, long beach. She gets us a bit lost on the way, never seems absolutely sure where we’re going but finds it in the end. One of the boys in charge of motorbike minding seems to think I sure, points further east and says,

“Good surfing wave there Gurupuk, you go surfing?”

“No, not today, wind is bad,” I reply.

“You hab surfboard?”

“Yes, in Kuta.”

“Ooh, you hab,” He mumbles and turns back around. I may as well go have a look though, could surf there in the morning if I don’t go to Deserts. Tess desperately wants to swim so I go alone; it’s only two minutes away. In a micro-harbour full of skiffs and outriggers I have to squint to see a few thin lines of white water on the other side of the bay, doesn’t look promising. Now I desperately want to swim.

By the time I get back from submitting my assignment, buying cigarettes and fuel and shopping for fruit and veggies it’s apparently time to go get a drink with this guy Josh. He’s been here for a while, two or three months, so he knows where to surf when the forecast says this, that and the other. He’s offered to help me ‘make a plan’ and he knows how to get to Deserts from here. The three of us eat dinner at a dingy restaurant across from Kuta Beach, Josh and I discuss Deserts for a while. Looking at the forecast it appears that Wednesday and Thursday will be better than tomorrow, it’s not too hard to get there but it takes two and a half hours. It’s still bloody hot yet it’s been dark for an hour.

Saturday night, I figure if I’m going to party while I’m here it should be tonight. Josh says he’s keen. Tess will come down for a beer. Bus Bar gets a good crowd on a Saturday.

After a bunch of beers the music and atmosphere have livened me up. Even though she’s yawning and stagnant Tess has a good time, stays longer than I expected. It’s loud, small, comfortable and vibrant, with just the right amount of tackiness thrown in. Everyone’s smiling; two local lads are shaking cocktails and slinging beers from a repurposed Kombi van, a couple of guys walk around selling cigarette packets and balloons of mushrooms. Easy to tell who is on the mushies. A smorgasbord of European women step and jive on the dance floor while two young Swedish guys take turns mixing house music. Not all the chicks are conventionally attractive but they’re all having fun and that’s attractive enough for me.



I had one of the roughest days in recent memory not too long ago. It was a real struggle. A real mental struggle, a real physical struggle. The whole day I felt on the edge of insanity, sometimes I was not sure I hadn’t crossed over. My mind went in a million different directions at the same time, it was impossible to keep track of. As an image it would have resembled a twisting black ball of oil; spurting, contracting, imploding and twisting at high speeds. Throughout the day I wrote thoughts down as they came to me. I stopped writing when I picked a platonic girlfriend up from her house; she stopped me thinking the thoughts that I was writing down. She replaced them with thoughts of arctic wolves, oranges, hair and bullying. So anyway, I decided to share those dark thoughts with you because you’ve probably thought similar things. If you haven’t, but you are human, one day you will think similar things. And fuck it, it’s nice to know you’re not the only one.

Progressive musings from a hard day:

I’m an idiot for ever thinking I would love you for the rest of my life. When we were together I saw so many similarities between us. Since we’ve broken up I’ve noticed nothing but differences. Big, gaping differences. You don’t know what it’s like to wear someone else’s shoes. All you want is what’s best for you and don’t bother trying give me your bullshit, give it to someone else, it’s wasted on me. You can’t change with words what I now know to be true regardless of language. Don’t fall in love kids. I hate you. I contemplate suicide once, not thinking about how it would feel but wondering how everyone would react. What would people say about me at my funeral? Would the people who I’d told my funeral songs to remember what they were? I’d jump from a tall building. I wouldn’t shed a tear if you did it. I keep seeing things, I don’t know if they’re real or not. Broken. Alone. There’s a horrible, twisted demon inside me. I smile and laugh at my fortune. I deserve so much better, yet I’m terribly embarrassed. Friends will be whispering about it all right now and not many of them have the whole picture. I realise that without the details they’re missing, I look like a bad guy. Fuck it. I can’t control it; it’s all out of my control.

And then I brought her back to my studio where we listened to records (she played her first ever!) drew each other pictures, wrote stories, doodled and talked about the whole stupid universe until 2am. After 2am we spent an hour wrapped up, breathing on each other and occasionally asking questions to see if the other was still awake. Then we fell asleep and I know I had a big old smile inside me.