Me being forced to pretend I'm enjoying myself while photos are taken
Being forced to pretend I’m enjoying myself while photos are taken

Last summer I went surfing for the first time. It wasn’t my choice, I was pressured into it in about the only way a grown man can be — by the demands of his offspring.

“Dad, I really want to go and I can’t without an adult.”

We were on holiday in the surfing capital of England, St Ives, Cornwall. Without my knowledge, tickets were bought for an hour long surfing lesson. And so the trap was set.

A few hours later, having been vacuum packed into a neoprene skin, I was sat on top a surfboard, still on the sand, taking lessons from “Eve,” who was so slight I was convinced the board would snap her clean in two if it tilted at just the right angle.

The worst thing about surfing (of which there are many) is the wet suit. I now understand the plight of Edwardian women forced into rib crackingly tight corsets and can fully sympathise with the Suffragettes burning their restrictive undergarments. Clothes so tight that you’re forced to walk like you’ve soiled your trousers should be outlawed by the European Court of Human Rights.

Wet suits are solely designed, it seems to me, to squeeze every ounce of energy from your body. To sap the blood stream of all absorbed oxygen and leave you feeling like a winded bratwurst.

Did I enjoy surfing? Absolutely not. Following my experience, there are now two groups of people I no longer trust: surfers and people who enjoy watching competitive sports. Why anyone wants to wade around in freezing water, repeatedly falling off a wooden raft, while swallowing gallons of sodium chloride infused H20 is beyond me.

Several times a rogue surfer, clearly a seasoned pro showing off, almost crashed into me as he weaved with annoying skill between the learners. He stood, posed stoically on his wooden board like the statue of David as he looked down on the plebes with scorn.

I’ve taken part in fitness boot camps for years but I’ve never been as exhausted as I was 45 minutes into surfing. It’s the type of exhaustion where you feel as though your stomach has been sucked out through your oesophegus and you just want to lay down, sleep, and be fed liquidised crisps through a straw.

To make matters worse, as I was bobbing around like a beluga whale desperately trying to beach itself, a drone buzzed continually over our heads filming me flopping around in the shallows.

And, if you’re interested, no, I didn’t manage to stand up on the board. When surfers stand up, it’s just an illusion. I’ve now confirmed for the rest of humanity that it’s not humanly possible to stand up on a surfboard.

After an hour of surfing, and I’ll admit, I gave up after 45 minutes through exhaustion and pretended to be “giving pointers to the children” instead, the nightmare was over and we returned to shore.

Despite the excitement of the children, who loved every second and wanted to dive back into the water instantly, I was resigned to never surfing again.

I could now put my surfing career behind me, safe in the knowledge that no-one would ever know of my hour looking like a chubby black-pudding rolling around in the shallows of a Cornish beach.

I’d got away with it, I thought.

Until I saw this video on Facebook a couple of weeks later.

It turns out we’d been filmed without our knowledge for a television advert. My surfing disaster was distributed nationwide on tevelision, social media and YouTube.

Look! It’s me.

To be fair, you can’t see much of me, but I’m there, and now the day has been memorialised forever on YouTube. I suffered the indignity of surfing so that a company could flog a healthy snack food.

Thanks Hippeas.

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