“SHOW YOUR WORKING” Read the rest of this entry »


On the south side of the Thames next to Waterloo Bridge is an enigmatic environment most reading this will be ever so familiar with, merely Southbank to the skate population but formally known as The Undercroft by the suits and pencil pushers who run the much bigger Southbank Centre Estate in which it resides. With their legalisation of graffiti in the area and decision to call it a skate park (thus taking false credit for the initiatives of the pioneering spatial visionaries who first adopted the area over three decades ago), this former blackhole in central London’s seemingly polished exterior has become some kind of “urban” theme park attraction to the general brainwashed public who all got the social media memo that all things urban our now cool. They have even put up a fence around this once ungoverned frontier, where free roaming skate rats would weave their own uninfluenced paths, endeavouring to contain us like frogs in a massive jam-jar with a few sticks and leaves thrown in to trick us into thinking were still in our natural habitat. This however, will obviously never be the case.

Today the vast eclectic community that have grown up and thrived at Southbank seem, on the face of it, to have left the fort in the underserving hands of the urban tourists and cultural consumers who swarm like locusts in the Undercroft in the middle of the day, while photographers line the fence drooling over their new found alternative and extreme subjects to add to their dime-a-dozen, uninspired flickr feeds. Admittedly a lot of the self styled social outcasts who once called this place home have spread their wings in search of more hospitable dwellings, but a lot are just laying low, waiting for night to fall so they can carry on their business away from the prying eyes and trivial analysis of Joe public and his family. Mekka is OG; a street soldier from South London who was bossing the undercroft way back when most of his peers where still content playing with their Actionmen. He’s a mysterious character known by all who could be deemed locals over the last decade.

On a cold December night in 2011 my mission was to get a clip with Mekka to go into the Slam Video. Determined to give as accurate a snapshot of the scene as possible, the inclusion of such staple figures in London’s skate community was a must. I met him down there late and chilled for a few hour, bunning and reminiscing about the golden years of Shell Center (look out for some bloggage on that front soon) until the place was quiet enough and he set about his work. Mekka is not someone you would fuck with on road; tough and experienced in the most shady of situations, he aproaches his skating much like I imagine he does the rest of his life – by not fucking about. He was trying a line ending on a powerful frontside nollie down the bank to flat, a path rarely taken when the infamous 7 set sits right beside it waiting for the lemmings to fall. He landed on every attempt, either buckling under the impact of his epic pop technique or hitting one of the many elevated slabs that litter the roll out. At one point I’m pretty sure he broke or fractured his arm, having already crippled his shoulder and snapped his board. Either way he did not skate after this night for a good month or so after getting a cast on it. But before that he just drank some beer, smoked a joint and ploughed through the pain untill he rode out a few goes later, the results are one of my favourite clips from the video.

Sometimes the process of getting footage for a video can be very contrived, controlled and calculated. I chose to share this one excerpt as it is the complete opposite of all of those things. Mekka was lost out of the skate world for a few years not too long ago, with distractions coming from less fulfilling sources let’s say, but for the last few years he has been right back in the thick of it, skating everyday and being a living embodiment of the release and co-insiding focus that skateboarding brings into out lives.

Yes Mekka, your a fucking don.

Found this old low-res on one of my hard-drives a while back and it has had considerable late night and pre-skate viewage with some of the younguns I’ve been shooting with lately. I remember making this edit one night while we were hyping on the the new Wiley album in 2007. Shaun Witherup was and still is one of a ridiculously talented community of South African skateboarders who make up such a big part of the London scene. He’s definitely not from E3 but his skating, especially at that time was too raw to not be matched up with this track if only for viewing pleasures of Shaun, myself and whichever skate rats happened to be round at the time. It definitely generated considerable amounts of hype that fuelled many of the footage hauls of that glorious summer.

Half the footage was filmed by Morph who’s killing it over at the Clapton Castle right now.

It never made it into the public domain until now as all the footage was siphoned out into some early HTL edits that no doubt were influenced by this editorial muck about, enjoy and be sure to check out premiere SA/UK board brand Familiar if your ignorant enough to not already be backing it.

King’s Cross is one of the busiest area’s of London at any time of day, not so much because its a good place to be, but because of it’s advantaged location with main roads spewing out in all directions to places where people actually want to be. The most important component of it’s make-up is undoubtedly the two London Terminal stations claustrophobically planted right next to each other providing links to the North and more recently to Europe. Modern train stations often present exciting structural stimulus for those who seek such things and there are a few gems dotted about the vicinity. Generally, however, the never sleeping nature and, albeit necessary, paranoid protection of such buildings make sampling it’s wares usually no more than a fleeting daydream for most four-wheeled transients passing by.

Sometimes with skateboarding it comes down to who’s down to try their luck. Neil Smith is pretty much the definition of this philosophy, a true modern day stuntman – and I would usually say that word does not apply to skateboarders. Smiffy has conquered so many of the Big Smoke’s “imagine if…” spots and no doubt countless others around the world; my personal favourite being a toss up between the Waterloo Bridge / South Bank drop-in-to-gap in MFWTCB or the ollie into ‘Bank of Death’ at the bottom of the Aldgate nine stairs in HTL North V South. (screen grabs below for those unaware of these incredulous feats of whizzplanking)

The object of Smiffy’s desire on this occasion however, was not so much of the death-defying kind but more “er how you gonna do that you joker?!”. Off a side road headed towards Camden, Read the rest of this entry »

High Holborn is a main road cutting through the middle of London, linking theatre-land and covent garden to the sprawling mess of Banks and businesses in the square mile of the City. A common route for the Big Smoke’s skate rats, yielding a few architectural anomalies to muse over but certainly nothing to set the pulses racing of our American counterparts. One such anomaly lies in a greasy inlet leading to Staple Inn, a gated sanctuary for those who practise Law. The nugget in questions is a thin platform hugging the permitter of the alley, it is made of what I can only describe as pebble dash and at one point it ends to allow for a fire exit out of the building it clings to. For some reason either side of the door are some short banks, here in lies the challenge, obvious to all who possess the eye for such things. However, even in a scene renowned for its connoisseurs of harsh textures, this gap has only been touched by a few.

Steph Morgan is and always has been one of my favourite spot conquerers. Having already frontside bigspinned the gap for the seriously good Familia Feeder Promo he wanted another trick for his part in City of Rats. This was purely because of its aesthetic value, certainly not because it was fun to skate, and was in spite of it’s only other apparent use being as a convenient relief spot for pissed up city boys before they jump on the tube back to their leafy lifeless commuter town.

This trick took several outings, the first few of which were cut short by Police intervention but on the third visit all that stood between Steph and his conquest was a rather large puddle of what looked to be part urine, part McDonalds grease – I’m not sure whats worse. With each attempt it became apparent that more piss was located under the loose paving slabs that so typically seem to only occur in the roll-out of so many spots in this city. With each attempt disturbing said urine the smell became unbearable, yet Steph found himself diving into it over and over until he rode out a rather awkward frontside heelflip that didn’t really hit the desired point of entry on the bank. Enough was enough that day so the following morning we returned and Steph opted for a frontside flip instead, the piss puddle was greatly reduced but the smell didn’t take long to resurface, he grit his teeth and went to work as the rest of the crew arrived in dribs and drabs and after a few choice slams emerged victorious.

Filming skating is a funny old game, in a way you feel like your trying the trick yourself, willing your subject to succeed whilst perfecting the choreography of your own slightly altered path. The rewards are a few seconds of raw kinnetic connectivity between man, wood and his surroundings, immortalised in twenty five frames per second. It always seems so simple when you watch the make, but it is the process that feeds the elation.

I’ve been documenting skateboarding in this wonderful cosmopolitain jungle for over a decade now, a labour of love and in honesty an addiction I am yet to shake. Having just moved house I have been going through lots of old junk, including that of the digital kind. I found this low res clip of Rory, Lucien and Steph on my itunes, the footage was filmed around August 2006, some made it into my first DVD, “Writer’s Block” the rest end up it the first few instalments of Hold Tight London. This edit never found its way to the Internet I just made it to hype up the mans to get more footy.