Knowing that time was limited and in an attempt to maximize on the end result, I met up with Kris Vile (UK Almost representative) and headed to London early in order to get a head start. Arriving into town around 1pm, we dropped our bags off at the hotel in Farringdon, linked up with Austin Bristow (one of the filmers for the trip) and from there the one-man productivity mission began. Within two minutes skate towards the Tube we stumbled across a road gap and the first trick was in the bag as he stretched an ollie over the lengthy, potentially untouched gem.
Directly opposite the road gap was a gated, private housing block. Inside the secured residence lay all manner of skateable terrain including a waist high railing off a drop. Ever keen to get it done, Vile hopped the towering fencing and buzzed Austin and myself through the gates. With rumblings of security officers en route and with just enough time to get our cameras out, Kris switch ollied the sizable bar. As I was packing my bag up and calming the security team down, Vile filmed a crook pop over on the aforementioned bar and we were escorted off the property.
As the mid afternoon rolled around, the clouds started to look like they were ready to throw a spanner in the works. Ben Raemers, who’d only just returned from the US, was skating over at Frontside Gardens in Hackney Wick. With at least one guaranteed undercover spot right around the corner from there, we headed straight over. As the train pulled into Hackney Wick station, the clouds looked even more suspect and a fine mist descended upon the pavements. Undeterred we headed to an undercover car park spot and Kris noticed a bump to gate. Well ‘bump’ was pushing it; it was an incline at best and a rough one at that. Using the seven-inch cruiser that I was using to get around London on, Kris ollied the gate with zero issues.
Situated on the exit of the multistory safe haven that we had initially journeyed to skate, this ultra steep bank had slide or grind potential; we just needed enough wax to make that a reality. Dealing with the nause up of that kerb at the foot of the bank and waiting for a gap in two lanes of rush hour traffic, as I was shooting from across the road, Kris got a solid backside tailside right as the security had just about had enough of us.
Having received word from Dwindle UK team manager and ‘dude in charge of the tour’ Scott Howes, that the US and European guys would be at the hotel shortly, we squeezed in one last spot before journeying across town. We headed over to the kicker to bar spot which has had a right seeing to ever since first becoming a London filming staple. Having already heelfliped the bar in the Albion DVD, Kris turned his attention to the seeming unskateable up and down rail that fenced in the landing bank for the kicker. Having to skate along the top of the ‘rough as arseholes’ bank before carving in and popping off the downhill slope to the steep up part of the railing whilst trying to keep momentum to get over the apex and grind the full down section of it, Kris had his work well and truly cut out. Unprotected by the bridge above and with the rain now beginning to fall, Kris got the complex mix of speed, lucky and sheer determination right and his fourth photo of the day.
With seemingly no lasting affects of the 11-hour flight over from California, our visiting friends were up early and keen to get on it. With threats of rain and the need to stretch our legs, we headed over to South Bank. Being a Saturday and with the weather-spitting dummy out (briefly) I had concerns that it might turn into an unofficial demo and that anything we shot would be circulating the social corridors before we had even left The Undercroft. But to my surprise, other than a handful of people it was empty; bizarrely that handful of people turned out to be none other than Daewon Song, Blondey McCoy and Paul Shier .
With skateboarding, the Internet and the frequency of output ever increasing, people can pass you by way easier these days. Up until this point I wasn’t up to speed on what sort of things TJ was likely to be trying to skate. He was instantly at home and ultra stoked on South Bank with the new marble edged addition being at the centre of his attention. The switch bigspin tailslide 270 revert was done in a hand full of tries and was followed shortly by a switch bigspin frontside nosegrind revert.
As the blood began rushing, and before heading south on a street mission, an ‘over the chair’ session unfolded at SB. Ryan was up first with a lofty and well-caught 360 flip followed by a huge pop shuv. Tommy was next up with this massive backside flip narrowly avoiding a scalping via the low hanging ceiling at the far end of The Undercroft. Good job he had that beanie on….
Having spent a short amount of time with Ryan on a Globe Tour last year, I’d seen the reliable demo side of him and was keen to see him unleashed on the streets. Having just watched Raemers eat shit and tear his forearm open on the harsh brick coping, a few people sat the session out once the initial, ‘look at how rad this spot is’ hype faded. With the presence of a bunch of out-of-towners grabbing the attention of some of the sketchier residents on patrol, I started to get that familiar feeling of dread. Whilst hearing murmurings of, ‘look at those cameras’ from various members of the now growing group which surrounded the central spot, Ryan got a lofty frontside flip and with no need to hang about to see if the situation turned nasty, we were on our way to the Tube Station.
With the afternoon now all but over and a Demo at Bay 66 upon us, we made a quick detour to the ever reliable Ladbrooke Grove rail just incase anyone was keen. Finding it hard to think of anything that wouldn’t take some graft, Tommy decided to pay homage to The Muska with a backpack-laden crooked grind. Now almost an hour late for the demo the majority of the group headed up to the skatepark whilst Vincent (on filming duties) and myself stayed at the rail as Kris was getting into the 270 backside lipslide. Knowing that he’d have to skate for a good few hours and put on a show at the demo, he didn’t mess about and got another solid clip and photo in a handful of tries.
By the time we’d arrived at Bay 66, the Demo was well under way. Tommy and Ryan were flying about every corner of the park; with Tommy taking Daryl Dominguez’s line in off the roof of the office into the flat bank, frontside flipping the driveway to the floor and with Ryan frontside flipping the huge channel in the transitions, which forms the main entrance into the street course. Flo Mirtain and TJ flipped in and span out of all manner for slides on the central ledge whilst Haslam reenacted sections of ‘Cheese and Crackers’ to an enthusiastic fan base on the mini ramp.
As the demo turned into a session with the locals and kids now skating the park, I saw it as a good time to try and shoot a few photos, rather than just point and shoot documenting the demo, before we headed back over to the hotel. Whilst Ryan was shooting this sizable and well-contorted nosebone, we heard blood-curdling creams coming from the corner of the park below us. At first, I thought that a board had shot out and caught a member of the crowd who were stationed in the aforementioned gap in the main transitions but to everyone’s horror, it was Scottish stow away and now London local Husayn Smart clutching what was now left of his lower leg. If a Scotsman is screaming at such velocity and with such terror in his cries, you know it’s not good! Huge amount of love coming out to you from everyone in attendance that evening and all of us here mate, stay strong through the recovery and we all look forward to seeing you back on your feet soon.
With the second Demo of the UK jaunt planned at The Pumpcage in Manchester around 6 pm on the Saturday, we were up and on the train from London early. Tagging in some local spot info via Dwindle UK flow family dudes Seb Batty and Armarni Rochford, we headed across town to the promise of a few spots near the Pumpcage in an attempt to be on time for the demo. En route we got side-tracked at one of those ‘people have tried and people have gotten hurt’ spots. With a huge drop off the end and a sticky alloy edged inside ledge in front of him, Kris and his attempts now drew a sizable crowd. With more Iphones being pointed at him and the usual murmurs of ‘is this going on YouTube?’ all around, he gapped in, out and off the risky backside 5050.
Stationed at the same office complex as Vile’s backside 5050, the potential for going over the rail seemed possibly just a pipe dream as the run up and angle were limiting. Thinking we were moving on to something more skateable around the corner, most of the group skated off not noticing that Tommy was getting himself psyched up to get a trick, myself included. By the time we realized that people were unaccounted for and that we were potentially missing out on the action, we hurried back to the spot where upon our arrival, Tommy was rolling away from his trick. With just enough time to fumble the camera out of my bag and get a lens on the front of it, he was back up at the top of the stairs and heading towards a second and smoother roll out. A couple of close calls with the traffic on the busy side street which formed that latter stage of the roll out and he’d got it in the bag.
As we made our way along the short route to the Pumpcage we stumbled across a BT cover to railing. Ever keen, Kris had it propped up and was riding away from the initial ollie within minutes. Located outside of a pub and on a busy interception occupied by buses, cars and armies of revelers, Kris landed a kickflip within a couple of tries despite the ongoing distractions. Productivity strikes again.
Having had a pretty in-depth conversation with Haslam the previous evening, it turns out that whilst on a family holiday back in the summer of 1995 his Dad had found out about the now legendary Radlands competition. Chris was in the crowd as an unknown and unsponsored teenager with the antics of the travelling US guys and those heavily influential Tom Penny runs eventually having a major affect on his outlook on skateboarding and the potential of it being his long-term career. Whilst shooting the nosebone with Ryan, Chris boosted a kcikflip fakie and I shot a pretty solid photo of it, but he’s bailed it and seconds later the unfortunate events involving Husayn’s ankle unfolded and the session was over.
Having just shot a demo at The Pumpcage a few weeks prior, instead of repeating myself, I took the opportunity to get Chris over into the older wooden section of the park and get the kickflip fakie photo. Referencing Tom Penny at Radlands in 1995, Chris boosted it way above the coping.
As I said earlier, Ben had just returned from a lengthy trip to the US and was temporarily in a transient state as far as a place to call home went. So, understandably he was feeling a little out of sorts for the majority of the trip. Aware that we didn’t have a photo yet and armed with the assistance Sidewalk founding member Andrew Horsley, who’d come over to Manchester to watch the demo and hang out, we went in search of a street spot that Andy knew within spitting distance. Trying to skate the awkward wallie out of a large diameter post down a six foot drop for 10 minutes awoke the ailments that his body had undergone during the heavy duty US trip and his feet were done in after a pretty serious primo’d landing.
With Ben being such an all terrain beast, there’s always the transition for him to fall back on when his body is too written off to throw himself down a street spot. Picking the most awkward and structurally unsafe transfer to ‘misplaced kicker ramp stowed upside down against the fence’, Ben sent himself into the air with this rad frontside transfer. Bet his primo’d foot arches felt it the next day.