Sidewalk Skateboarding Working Class Hero - James Barnes-Miller - Sidewalk Skateboarding

Working Class Hero – James Barnes-Miller Working Class Hero – James Barnes-Miller

James 'Stub' Barnes-Miller has a very unique job.
James was born with one hand but never let that hold him back from ripping on a skateboard or doing anything else that he fancied.
After a drunken conversation led to James being scouted by a company involved in ‘casualty role play’, he has ended up gaining employment with the Ministry of Defence and participating in training exercises designed to train soldiers in field surgery and trauma first aid.
Read on to find out more about James and his mental career path. 


Taking it back to the beginning James, am I right in thinking that you were born with only one hand? You didn’t lose it in an accident or anything?

Yeah man, I was born with one hand. Sorry, there’s no exciting story behind me losing it, (laughs)

When and how did you first get into skateboarding? You’re from Kent, right? Have you always skated with Biscuits, Powley and co?

Yeah I’m from Broadstairs in Kent, a lovely seaside town. When we were growing up Biscuits (Ben Wilks), Two Hands and I were always on our boards. I think it was Biscuits that got us into it so I always skated with him and Powley since I was 15/16-ish I think.

I guess it would make sense to give us a brief description of your job and what it entails…

I work for a real life simulation company, mainly working with the M.O.D and mostly with the army. We train the soldiers in first aid with an emphasis on shock factor.

So how long have you been doing it?

I’ve been doing it for just over a year.

What is your current job role specifically then? What is your actual job title?

I’m a casualty role-play actor. It’s basically me rolling around on the floor playing dead, (laughs).

Does it mainly involve a lot of acting or are you involved directly with the first aid training itself?

Yeah there is a lot of acting. We work with the training staff, so they would teach the first aid first then we would set up a scenario and they would have to treat us, and the training staff would assess how we are treated.

Do you work at one particular army base then, or do you have to travel around?

We work all over; it’s pretty cool beans. I have been to a few different countries with the job too. I went to a massive base in Germany full of Americans for two weeks fairly recently. When they weren’t training, all they did was dance battle each other, (laughs).

How does the acting part of the job work? Do you have a certain amount of roles to play or do you really only have the one ‘character’ so to speak? If you do only have the one, who is he?

(Laughing) Nah there are loads of different roles. We are told before we start how they want us to play it, because casualties are always different. I’ve even had to dress up and play an Afghan before.

Talk us through an average day at work for you then. From getting to work on a morning, how does your usually day play out?

That’s the good thing about the job – there is never an average day, every day is different. Some shifts can take a couple of hours; sometimes I do a 12-hour day solely pretending that I’m dying, (laughs).

So before you got this job, what were you doing for work? Were you involved with acting or did this opportunity come out of the blue?

I was working in a gym in Broadstairs as personal trainer. I had done no acting at all; it totally came out of the blue.

How did the real life simulation company even hear about you? Did you get talent-scouted so to speak?

Someone who was working for the company passed my number over but I didn’t know anything about it. It was funny, they rang me when I was in the pub and she tried to explain the job to me saying I had to pretend my hand from my stub had been blown off. Obviously I thought she was taking the piss so I hung up on her. Luckily she rang me back the next day and explained it again when I was sober so I went up and met her and loved it.

Is this a full time job or do you have to still do other work on the side?

It was but as the army are moving out of Afghanistan, the cutbacks to the training means there’s not as much work now, so I’m working for a building company as well between jobs.

Is it true that your twin brother is called ‘Two Hands’, or is Biscuits pulling my leg?

Yeah, that’s true. He’s been called Two Hands for a while now. If he’s out and people mistake him for me he waves both his hands at them, (laughs).

Do you find it a bit ironic that you make money pretending to be a victim of war, while your twin brother actually serves in the army?

Umm…no. He isn’t allowed to go to war so I do more soldiering then him. He is a useless fat potato.

Other than basically sitting around getting paid to do nothing, are there any other benefits to the job?  The bars are cheap on army bases, right?

I work very hard thank you very much, and I don’t drink. What are you trying to say?

How did you get the nickname ‘Stubba’?  I also assume you’re pretty into it, right?

I’ve got one hand mate, (laughs); it’s that simple. We were in a car driving somewhere and Shabba Ranks – ‘Mr. Loverman’ came on. Biscuits started shouting “Stubba” between every line and it stuck from there.

I understand that some of your work colleagues were a bit shocked by your nickname and thought it was a bit out of order, right?

They are alright, a lot of them just call me James but they know my nickname. People that don’t know me or meet me for first time sometimes feel bit odd though, or don’t like calling me Stubba.

Traditionally you’d be described as ‘disabled’ yet obviously you wouldn’t be able to do your job without the trusty stub.  Have you found any other advantages to the stub?

Thousands, but I don’t think you’d be allowed to print them; there are many secrets to the stub. When I was younger I used to eat yogurts by dunking the stub in the pot then basically sucking it off, (laughs). Spoons are overrated.

Are you still bitter that they wouldn’t give you a blue badge for your van so you could park wherever you like?

Yeah, I’m well gutted. I can’t park outside the pub for free. Downer.

When you’re drunk, you talk to your stub and put it in people’s pints then wipe their faces with their own beer. Is there any reason for this?

I don’t have a choice; the stub does what it wants.

Do you and your mates play games using the stub?

There are a few.
Stub Roulette – when we are out drinking. I get spun round with a menu in front of me, then I stop and stub it and whatever drink the stub is on is what we all drink. There is Stub Rodeo too, where mates see who can hold the stub for the longest – which is harder than it sounds – and also Stubaoke where everyone uses the stub as a microphone and sings into it.

What’s the best stub related prank you’ve ever pulled?

Biscuits and I used to work in a nightclub, we convinced this girl that also worked there that I was to undergo surgery to re-grow my hand. We did this in time for when my twin brother Olly was coming back for a weekend from the army. We then forgot about what we’d said and were out that weekend and the bar woman saw Biscuits and Olly and couldn’t believe how real his hand looked and how it fully worked, (laughs). Olly thought she was some crazy woman, looking at his hand stroking it and saying how amazing his right hand was.