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Froth, fun, females, festival fever, flippancy, fudge*, fate and fidgeting on Friday at the London Surf Film Festival 2015.

*lies

18:50

This time, I don’t wear the lanyard round my neck – I’m too cool for that now, too seasoned. I also don’t wear checks because this week, ladies and gentleman, it’s all about power dressing. (N.B. This is a sequel, a second installment, a nod to my faithful readers who have come back for part II. If you don’t get the significance of checks and want to be in the club, do the preliminary reading here). I am, however, still forever alone

18:58

Weekly seat analysis: I sit on a row of two so that whoever sits next to me must therefore also be alone, and we will share between us an unspoken alliance of mutual understanding. And maybe even get married afterwards, who knows. (Spoiler: we don’t).

london-surf-film-festival-2

19:08

The opening Shorties entry, Peony directed by Ornella Hawthorn Gardez, feels like an elegantly compiled piece of fan-art. We follow her through the south-west of France and Spain, boating, ripping, training hard, the lens always candidly watching. It is nonetheless a beautiful film, and the apparent lack of plot is overridden by the pure pleasure of grainy monochrome, isolated sound scenery and the classic-but-vital underwater rock run (URR).

The female drought from last Friday has ended, and it is raining Peony. Girls on film, girls on film.

19:17

Tragicomic things happen with the Stoke-a-Tron300 again.

19:28

XXL feature The Wave I Ride premiers in Europe. The opening scene is a man frothing some milk, and I suddenly see parallels everywhere. I feel I have accessed another dimension of comprehension: everywhere I look there is whitewater froth, stoke-froth, morning mugs of milk-froth, and a foamy cloud of knowledge consumes my mind. I briefly believe myself to have attained oceanic nirvana, but then I see Paige Alms tear down a whopper at Jaws, and I realise I am nothing. That wave was huge. This girl is cool. She is sitting somewhere in the audience. Must accost her in the interval.

Paige does some impressive URR.

Star of the show Paige Alms with director Devyn Bisson take part in a Q&A

The Wave I Ride director Devyn Bisson with star Paige Alms during the Q&A

Paige stands next to a signpost to a place called Haiku Town. I enjoy this and dedicate the following to its inhabitants:

under tropic skies
weave salt brown paths and palm trees
glass shards of lost coves

The tropical Hawaiian saturation disappears when Paige travels to cold water Louisiana for a contest, and everyone has a good laugh at Keala Kennelly sitting in a hot tub in a 5mm. Things turn serious when we hear these world-renowned surfers (who happen to be female) were initially taking part for free.

Eventually, the organiser persuaded a local surf shop to donate a $5000 prize, and they split it between them. The men, competing in the same event, were playing for $50,000. Paige says this is unfair and girls shouldn’t need to sell their buttocks for sponsorship. Humanity agrees.

20:40

Paige (wearing the most powerful of all the dresses) and The Wave I Ride director Devyn Bisson (wearing the second most powerful) do a Q&A. She offers a nugget of wisdom to a man who is trying to teach his seven month old daughter to surf: it should be a choice, not an obligation. She’s so COOL.

21:01

Interval o’clock. This time, however, I have consumed some ale and transform from my cocoon of self-awareness into a butterfly of rabid fangirldom. Paaaaaaiiiiige!

Confronted with the moment, however, I can only blurt one question: What is your favourite vegetable?

She says kale, or perhaps asparagus. A classic Paige choice, and one I admire too. None of this predictable carrot or tomato nonsense.

london-surf-film-festival-5

21:33

I return to my seat just after The Search For Freedom has begun. It is an extreme sports banquet for the eyeballs: motorbikes, mountains bikes, skateboards, snowboards, cliff faces, parachutes and – of course – a fucktonne of perfect barrels.

a fucktonne of perfect barrels

Watching it, however, I have never felt less free in my life. I am in a cinema seat, not on that wave or on that mountain, not getting cold, wet or tanned by any of the wonderful elements of the Earth. I am psychosomatically tortured by a lust for stoke. Urrrrghhhhhh.

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Then I am saved from my personal crisis by a hilarious montage of people wiping out. There are some alarmingly heavy falls (33 somersaults down a glacier, handrails in the groin etc) and the whole cinema is crying with laughter. Weekly existential question: why do we relish the pain of others?

Someone in a squirrel wingsuit goes under the arm of Christ the Redeemer in Rio. This world is mad.

22:45

The night is ending. I have so much residual adrenaline in my blood from The Search For Freedom that I don’t believe I am in London. I am at the snowy peak of stoke. I don’t want to leave this froth-house and force myself to get on to the tube. Why can’t it be a chairlift instead?

BenSkinner

In guise of a neat conclusion: gal representation was high tonight, which belatedly-but-effectively fills in the gaping hole from last Friday. XXL is a very large size, and nature is great. Kale may be the secret to success and it’s the genes on chromosome 11 that can make you a thrill-seeker. LSFF is good.

Gregson out.

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