I’m part way through Roger Mansfield’s fascinating book ‘The Surfing Tribe’, a history of surfing in Britain, which I’d recommend for both the words and pics, but I have noticed that the book brings out an interesting and unexpected similarity between Cornwall and London.

London, of course, sees itself – particularly the media that are based there – as being representative of wider Britain, which is clearly nonsense but nonetheless true. As an example I once checked the content of The Guardian’s 16-page G2 section to find that the stories within ran to a 66-33 per cent split between London and the rest of the country, even though this is a ‘national’ newspaper with its (long forgotten) roots in Manchester.

Likewise, Cornwall seems to see itself as being representative of British surfing to judge from much of what I’ve read so far in ‘The Surfing Tribe’. It’s true that no area has had as much influence on UK surfing as Cornwall, but on a purely personal note I was more than a little piqued to discover that my own base here in Pembrokeshire merited less than half a page in the entire history of surfing in Britain – even less then North Wales and Cardigan Bay despite the fact that people have been surfing here since the mid-sixties (at least) and we have far better surf than either of the above named locations.

None of the established locals from the 70s and 80s – the Harvatt brothers, Chris Payne, Rod Thomas, Robin Copley, Reg Goddard, the Kitchell brothers, the Simes (and one of the oldest surf shops in Wales, Ma Simes), Andy Middleton of TyF Adventure and a host of other merited a mention either.

But then I considered again and realised that was actually pretty good news. Because it means that Pembrokeshire really has remained a surfing backwater when even esteemed individuals such as Roger Mansfield and co-writer and all-round good bloke Sam Bleakley have so little cognisance of its existence.

And being a backwater means we avoid all the excesses of Newquay and Bournemouth (see previous blog) which can only be a GOOD THING!



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