HEY DUDE, NICE STICK.
We've all heard the cliched line, but sometimes you do find a nice stick. One fell off our almond tree a few years back, and something about it's shape resonated, so I whittled all the bark off.
It sat in the backyard for ages, got weathered, cracked, until one day the kids were driving us mad...
Dad we're bored, there's nothing to do, all that.
Right, we're going to paint the stick.
That's right, we're painting that stick leaning over there against the fence.
So I dig out the paints, mix up a nice thick base coat of blues (cobalt, ultramarine, and maybe a touch of white) and off we go. Once that was down they each had a brush with the handle end cut flat, then we sat there, dotting, just like they do out back.
They loved it.
And now we have a Nice Stick, which hangs in the kitchen.
Another Nice Stick was owned by a guy who paddled past me at Estagnots, near Hossegor in France, one day in 1978. He looked very familiar, and it all dawned on me as he took off.
Hey mate, is your name Miki?
I can't remember his exact reply, but it was in the affirmative, and we sat and had a yap for awhile, until a set came and I started paddling for a wave. Taking off, I was horrified to realise Da Cat was behind me.
Holy shit, I thought, with images of a flying kickout and 7'10 of gunny Doraboard heading straight for my scone.
Miki though, had other ideas.
Stay on, man.
Well I wasn't about to swing into a big cutty, so I stepped forward, cheater fived on my 6'5" double wing round pin, and trimmed away, looking back at a bit of Mickey jive, as we cruised along a very clean little French wall.
Later on the beach, we caught up again, me, Mickey and my travelling mate, Rene.
Sat in his big, green, Benz camper while he told tales of Malibu, Manson, and all sorts of madness, tinged with a little paranoia of the establishment which I later came to realise was more that a little prophetic.
In the van was his little library, and in it was a copy of Helter Skelter, the book of the Sharon Tate/Manson killings.
Miki had apparently crossed paths with Manson back then, and had already told us how Manson had tried to get him involved in the Family, because of the influence he had over the surfing community.
But Miki says take the book, just get it back to me.
Not long after, Ren and I headed into Spain, and Portugal, scored big time, but everywhere we went we'd bump into guys going, " Are you Mick and Rene?. Miki wants his book back."
Heading back to France a few months later, and the first break we hit is Guethary. Clean, 6 foot, two guys out... and one of them is Miki.
We paddle out.
Hey guys, you got my book?
Don't worry mate, it's in the van.
Two years later, I couldn't let the travelling go and I'm back in France, standing in the car park above Lafitania.
I turn around to see a big green van parked away aways.
I wander over and say hi.
He looks at me quizzically for a moment, and I remind him of the Helter Skelter story.
He smiles, we have a chat for awhile and then I went for a surf.
That was the last time we crossed paths, later that year Miki was in jail, but it's always been fun to think I've been hanging out, and hanging five, with Miki.