When I first moved to Leeds for university, I went through the usual student situation – halls, living with classmates etc., and for a couple of years that was fine. By year number three however, too many people in an enclosed space meant that most days were spent with everyone sitting in their rooms, occasionally venturing out in order to bicker and cook.
I found myself spending most of my time in a house just down the road, where the reprobates within seemed to spend every night drinking whiskey and Coors, watching 80s movies or skate flicks, and shooting each other with BB guns. I think the residents at the time were Roz, Sam, Ian and possibly Willy, alongside a cat called Biggie that had a habit of pissing over everything and a revolving cast of couch settlers who were too far away or hammered to make it home.
As long as you weren’t fussed about BB pellet bruises or everything you touched having a slight layer of stickiness (probably caused by the noxious deep fat fryer taking pride of place in the kitchen), it was retard heaven.
The living room is constantly close to bursting point with what looks like popular culture itself having a breakdown and shitting itself…
Moving forward a couple of years, I had finished uni, ran out of money, and moved back with my parents. It didn’t take long before Yorkshire was calling once again, and the start of my MA coincided perfectly with a space coming up in the house where I’d spent most of my third year.
The times since then have been the illest – what with the ridiculous VHS piles keeping boredom at bay during the winter months, a Carl Weathers themed gym in the basement, a fridge usually better stocked with beer than food and a sketchy-arse foot high QP with concrete coping for when weather allows.
There’s also a mouse which no-one else believes exist because I saw it after a sleepless night partying, but I haven’t seen him since we started letting random neighbourhood cats in (Biggie apparently departed for cleaner climes, though not before leaving half my possessions reeking of cat piss).
Living within ten minutes of various other skate houses means that I’m almost never short of some crew to hit up a session with, and that’s not even counting the aforementioned couch dwellers, whether they be local or touring skaters/musicians. Tim Kerr came through last year, there’s a photo of him skating down our back street and he described the house as some kind of weird and awesome artistic/skate commune, which was pretty cool.
The house can be hard for some to handle, as we skirt the edges of what can only be described as ‘hoarding’; the living room is constantly close to bursting point with what looks like popular culture itself having a breakdown and shitting itself.
Being here makes me even more stoked on skateboarding, even when we’re not doing anything to do with skateboarding…
Toys, videos, books, records, Halloween masks and cowboy hats compete for space in this museum of curios. I’ve discovered more cool shit in the past two years than I probably have in the other years of my life combined, and I know if I go away travelling for a few days that when I come back there will be fresh piles of excitement scraped from the dark cultural underbelly.
Sometimes living in a skate house can give you false expectations of what happens in the rest of the world, I go to other peoples’ houses and no-one’s sitting drunk in the living room explaining to me loudly why Smokey and the Bandit is the best film ever whilst wearing a cowboy hat.
It’s not just the fact that I can have a discussion about skateboarding with the analytical depth of a PHD student, but the house draws in like-minded oddballs from all walks of life, so I know that if I head downstairs on any given evening, I will almost definitely walk into some kind of interesting discussion, whether it be thought-provoking musings or a lengthy game of matching up band and personal names (Maroon Clive, Fred Zeppelin and the Stu-Tang Clan are current front runners).
Occasionally I’ll come home to find a new obstacle on the back street, this summer plenty of evenings were spent with a few beers and a setup of some wallie-able tables, a bench, the aforementioned quarter if we could be arsed lifting it out of the garden, and these were undeniably the best sessions of the year.
Being here makes me more stoked on skateboarding, even when we’re not doing anything to do with skateboarding; if you get the chance to move in with a bunch of skaters don’t hesitate, jump in to the weird and see where it takes you!