3 Apr 2014

An Open Letter To Lee Coan

Today I'm going to write a letter to Lee Coan (the one on the left who isn't James May), the "Journalist" who wrote an article that was featured on the Telegraph's website today entitled "How old is too old to skateboard?"

old skateboarder jamie harrison back tail london street skating copyright 2013 scott madill
Old Man Harrison with a Back tail on the city streets

This week we have already seen teen girls told not to bother trying to skate, because it might hurt, by a "Journalist" at Marie Claire, the article has now had the offending section edited due to a public backlash.

We are also being treated to the Selfridges' conspicuous consumerism take on skateboarding with their tacky/tasteless and exploitative "Board Games"promotional event, that featured such exciting and ground breaking items as this for a measly £75 or this travesty of an object for a poultry £1000.  But I digress.

This post is all about my disappointment with Mr. Coan's article that I mentioned above.  Last night I got home from skating at Stockwell and my wife mentioned that she had read the article and suggested that I should not (as nothing good would come of it).  This is tantamount to putting me in front of a big red button marked "Do Not Push".

I heeded her advice, right up until this morning, when I noticed multiple friends posting a link to the article on Facebook, accompanied by some very strong reactions, and I cracked.

One big reason for my reading the article was the title "How old is too old to skateboard?"

This is a question I've asked myself in the past, more than once.  I've spent many ours and weeks looking into what sport, activity or hobby I can move to when my body finally says "no, that's it your done with skateboarding",  Martial arts, Cycling, and many more are currently in the running.  So for a serious newspaper like the Telegraph to dig deep into their pockets to hire a freelance journalist to investigate this problem that is close to my heart,  well it was obviously going to be a stellar piece of work.

Not so much.

What they did was, hire a guy who used to compile the Funny-news-stories/readers-letters section in lads magazine FHM.  Who apparently skated for a year when he was 11, hurt himself a little bit, as a result gave up and... well that's it.  This year of skating when he was eleven satisfied the editors at the Telegraph that he was the man for this exhaustive piece of investigative journalism.

Street Sherman defying his advancing years

The article seems to find it's genesis in the fact that a guy at his son's nursery happens to skate in his late 30's/early 40's.  

Coan swings incoherently from suggesting skateboarding is the greenest mode of "Transport", to equating older skaters to Gary Barlow singing Nirvana covers, to continually repeating his assertion that older skaters look "ridiculous" "is not a good look".  This all wrapped up in his singular viewpoint that everyone should stop skating when they are 11.  Because that's what he did.

His piece shares a number of characteristics with the Marie Claire article, that incensed women and girls across the country and beyond, one is the sheer number of, what my friend Kev referred to as, "Clangers" that are present on both.  The sign off paragraph being the most obvious.  Here it is:

"So by all means skateboard, just know that you look ridiculous, and remember that you'll probably end up at some point sobbing in a some filthy A&E department."

How much did the Telegraph pay this idiot to dispense such incisive advice?  It was definitely too much.

Maybe Coan regrets not persevering with skateboarding.  Maybe when he tells his son "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" a wave of shame and regret washes over him as he realises that's what he should have done to get the most out of skateboarding.  Maybe it's that deep sense of self loathing that drove him to write this hate ridden piece of tosh. I'm sure we will never know.

What I do know is what I want to say to Mr. Coan in my open letter to him. Here goes.


Dear Mr. Coan,

I couldn't care less about your opinion on this subject. Please stop.

Yours sincerely,



30 Nov 2013

Hayes Skatepark And The Birth Of A Travesty

Concrete skateparks are now getting built at a fantastic, almost unbelievable rate.  If I look back at the skateparks that existed in the south of England in the year I left school, I would barely need the fingers of a second hand.  Now they are getting built all over the place.  And surely this can only be a good thing.  Well, not always.

Back in June of this year, so less than six months ago, some photos appeared on the Caught In The Crossfire site. Take a quick look HERE.  The photos were of a new Wheelscape designed, concrete park in Hayes, Hillingdon, West London.  This area needed something decent as this is one pocket of Greater London that seems to have been slow in getting anything built for skaters.  The photos looks promising, as did the plans.  Quite a large area, a good mix of transition and street and even a few bits I've not seen done before.  

A visit to this park has been on my list ever since.  My friend James had been to check it out and what he said did nothing to move the visit up my list. Even after all this time I couldn't just take James's word for it, I had to go and see for myself.

Hayes Skatepark London Skateboarding Lizard In A Lab Coat © 2013 Scott Madill

Two words.  FUCK ME!!  I have no idea who built this park, but they need to be outed, blacklisted, sued and given some form of electronic tag that delivers a life threatening electric charge if they go within 5 miles of a skatepark construction site.

I didn't think this shit could still happen.  There is so much wrong with this place, coping that wanders all over the shop, riding surfaces that seem to have traffic calming measures built-in, seems in the pours that you could stick your finger in, pockets that should have a transition are kinked beyond belief, the shapes of some of the obstacles are almost avant-garde in their randomness.  Some pieces are actually WONKY, fucking on the piss, sloping, not square, twisted...

Hayes Skatepark London Skateboarding Lizard In A Lab Coat © 2013 Scott Madill
Was it even finished? 
As I was wandering around the park with my brain being hit by travesty after travesty it was hard to believe this place was completed only 6 months ago.  It's already falling apart. It's probably going to be too dangerous to skate or derelict in less than 5 years.

Hayes Skatepark London Skateboarding Lizard In A Lab Coat © 2013 Scott Madill
look at the state of it

I can't overstate how bad this place is. What makes it so bad is that it's purely down to the construction. It's not a badly designed park, and that just makes it worse.  You want to skate it, but there are fucking booby-traps all over the place.  So back we come to the question of "How do incompetent contractors get the work?" and "Who signs off on this kind of incompetence?" and what the hell kind of come-back do skaters of Hillingdon have to get it sorted out? They are all questions that I hope to get to the bottom of.  If only to try to stop it ever happening again.

So watch this space, and watch yourself of you decide to try to skate this death-trap.

See you out there.


Hayes Skatepark London Skateboarding Lizard In A Lab Coat © 2013 Scott Madill
Not exactly curvaceous is it.

Hayes Skatepark London Skateboarding Lizard In A Lab Coat © 2013 Scott Madill
I think someone was doing community service

Hayes Skatepark London Skateboarding Lizard In A Lab Coat © 2013 Scott Madill
So much wrongness

Hayes Skatepark London Skateboarding Lizard In A Lab Coat © 2013 Scott Madill
I have no idea what that is
Hayes Skatepark London Skateboarding Lizard In A Lab Coat © 2013 Scott Madill
Wonky as F**K

Hayes Skatepark London Skateboarding Lizard In A Lab Coat © 2013 Scott Madill
Street bits
Hayes Skatepark London Skateboarding Lizard In A Lab Coat © 2013 Scott Madill
other street bits

16 May 2013

The Unnerving Peace and Nose-Grab Insanity.

Time has a habit of flying by these days.  It's been over a week since Johners and I got soaked to the skin at Stockwell only minutes after arriving for a relaxed skate, the day before the Annual Stockwell Jam.

The place was deserted and considering it was a bank holiday Saturday, it was strangely unnerving.  Of course, the benefit was that we almost had the place to ourselves, apart from James McLean and Stevie T. fresh from his power move onto the roster of INSANE skateboards.

If you're not aware of the place in UK skateboarding history that the INSANE brand holds, you could do worse that go and check out the website. 

For now, here's a photo of Stevie showing how Insane wood can put you up in the rarefied air above the bowl section at London's best skatepark.

See you out there.


15 Jun 2012

Some Horsing Around with James

You've probably noticed that as you go through life you will come across two types of people;  those who are doers, and those who don't.  James is a doer.  Quite a good one too.

He's the man behind Horse Zine, a hand screened DIY and Skateboarding Zine that he's recently stepped up to produce his complete book that looks at all aspects of the DIY skateboard culture, which I'm sure he's saved me a copy, but more about that when he finally agrees terms to come and do an interview for the Lizard In A Lab Coat blog.

For now James is helping me drag out last Saturday's Kennington photos.  I shot this in the middle of a little corner session that James and Questions where having, both coming at it from opposite directions and both getting the travelling tricks they were after. Unfortunately I didn't get Questions lip-slide but I stopped chatting long enough to grab James's Crail Slide.

I'll give you all the details of Jame's book and his other DIY projects when he has a chance to talk to [LIALC] ... James?

See you out there.


14 Jun 2012

Danger Taking Advantage

After the recent long gaps between posts, I've decided to hold a couple of bits back.  In reality I just didn't have time to sort them out quickly enough so when people started pestering to see photos I figured I'd make sure they got posted via this here blog.... everyone's happy.

Here's a little sequence of Alan "Danger" Christensen recreating a much loved line that has survived the re-vamp at Kennington.  Mixing the old with the new is always a romantic proposition and this time it looks like it's paid off.

The original "DIY" quarter-thing had a lot of "Personality" and this recreation has managed to retain some of the original's unique characteristics, which the guys who did the work should get a good old pat on the back.

Of course I've yet to skate it, but that will happen soon enough.

That's your lot for now.

See you out there.


12 Jun 2012

A Slight Return to Kennington Sun

This happens with blogs, by that I mean it happens with THIS blog. I'm talking about the long gaps. Between posts.  It's never deliberate, things just happen that way.  I'm not going to go into the reasons for this most recent period of dead-air but it's a combination of injury and biblical weather, suffice to say I ain't been skating much.

Thankfully Jamie Harrison got my attention on friday with a message about having a skate to Celebrate the Hippy's (Johners) birthday, that he had kept pretty damn quiet, Johners that is.  This kind of occasion would usually mean a session at Stockwell but a recently revamped Kennington had just been returned to a skateable condition thanks to the eventual installation of a drain. Yep, a drain, singular. I know, me too.

I'd just kind of imagined a bowl that big would need more than one, but that remains to be seen and so far THE DRAIN was doing what is paid for and the standing water, that had caused a certain amount of blood pressure increase in the South london Skate community, was gone. Now a distant memory.... so no real need to post this...

Since when did I need real reasons to do anything?

There are going to e many more conversations in the near future about brands like Nike and Converse getting involved in skateboarding and what that means to us in the short term and long term, if what I hear is true.  More on that when it happens.

But for now, here are some photos documenting a brief explosion of sun in this dark and grim June.

More crap from me soon, see you out there.


Harry in search of some frontside shade.

Questions to fakie

Birthday-Boy just hanging around in the melancholy position

Alan taking his 5-O of the end of the re-creation of the old quarter-thing.

Johners and Craig talk late 80s Hip-Hop.

Some front-side action from Mr. Gold.

Willis going long distance from the funny quarter.

23 Apr 2012

I Put My Back-out Amidst A Photo Black-out.

I'm not a fan of the "text only" blog post.  But there is a very good reason for this one.  Secrecy, and lots of it.

I've talked about the etiquette of secret spots and DIY builds before and I'm not going to go over old ground here but, that's right, BUT it would seem that not all skaters in the UK read this blog, a revelation that rocked me to my core.  How do I know this? 

I know it because of our recent escapades at the new Secret Spot.  A combination of a poor grasp of the etiquette and the introduction of the interwebs and associated social media has had blood pressures rising and stern words a-spoken.

I was going to bring you images of the spot depicting the leaps and bounds in construction that happened on Saturday and even more that went down on Saturday. Unfortunately we are now on a photo-blackout.  Hence all the words.

So with no visuals for your eye-balls it leaves me only one course of action.  To moan about my bad back.  It'll get you too you know.  I was very smug about back pain when I was younger, I was a very flexible teenager, as my golf swing proved, and bad backs were what lazy, inactive people got as karma for being lazy, inactivate and quite possibly fat. Now I know better.

My back's taken a beating over the years, like most skaters, just think of all the times you've landed on your coccyx.  This Saturday I learnt that crouching on my knees hammering away at a concrete floor with a masonry chisel and a flimsy hammer for an hour or so can have an even more devastating effect on my back. Since the hard labour of Saturday I've been walking like the worst kind of incontinent pensioner and, of course, unable to skate.

This is where I finally get round to making my point.  Skateboarding is amazing, we all know that.  Building something to skate is even more amazing.  Crippling yourself building something to skate is still amazing because pain is temporary. I'm gutted I won't be able to skate for a week or so but knowing what is in the works at the spot totally makes up for it.  If my back goes once we're finish and it's ready to shred,  I may well be less philosophical about it.

Look after your back kids.... Pah, as if you're going to listen to me?


P.S.  bend zee kneez!!