Forgetting to fasten his tie correctly,not asking the assistant for the correct sized shirt didn’t seem that much of a problem to Rob.After all,it was just another interview ,another rejection letter on the mat of his previous failures.Not that he always got replies.As he saw it,who was,going to employ him after his track record from leaving school,it was hardly glowing.Someone once said to him:”Follow your dream Rob,or you’ll regret it”,well it might have seemed more apt if he had followed along more in class ,even if those lessons bored the pants off of him.Of course,having a brother who was nicknamed Einstein didn’t really help and what was even more annoying was that was the name his teachers called him at his fancy grammar school.Rob,on the other hand was a secondary modern drop out,quite an achievement so said Einstein with that irony that highly intelligent people have a habit of just inserting into a phrase at the end :”Oh,this is my bother Fiona,he’s a secondary modern dropout”,with the inflection on the words Secondary modern.
So,that’s how I exist in 1976,Rob Bridges,left school at 16,no qualifications ,well non that are recognised by my parents that is and I just go for interviews.All told,I’ve been for well over 50 since I left .Its not I’m choosy,just that I would like a job b where I’ve got a better than a 50% chance of still being alive by the time I retire.Now,in Cornwall,where the unemployment rate has always been high,by being choosy,you are somewhat narrowing down your options in many ways.Yes,there are seasonal jobs,there always have been,where you work crazy hours for a few months of the year,then your told your not needed at the beginning of September and told to come back the following Easter when they might consider you again for some mind bending task or another.Come to think of it,it might appear that I would suit a boring job with my lack of academic credits,but I have a delusional side to my character ,by that I mean that I feel that I could have gotten these little bits of paper but not remained cool .You see,being cool is very important to me.Now,by that ,I mean,being on the water,as surfing is my Passion,and Fistral (Fisty to me) is where I’m the cool one,especially round the Cribber.
Now,my Einstein brother and his Grammar school friends run the roast when it comes to passing O-Levels and that their university stuff,but I don’t hold with it.My favourite subjects at school were practical.and by the time I was 14,I had made my first board,and I was ,and still am,so proud of it.Its served me well,it’s my friend ,it’s propelled me from the guy could couldn’t even stand up ,to a rider,a player.Once,when my dad wasn’t banging on about my brother and his achievements and stuff ,I asked him if he would come down and watch,but he just said there was no future in it.You see,my dad worked for Christians,the biggest building firm in Newquay,he worked hard all day and at the weekends he just rested in front of the television while mum did the cooking,the ironing,and the washing up.She would get annoyed with me for not cleaning my room up,but let Einstein get away with it because “He had important work to do”.Dont get me wrong,I didn’t mind that ,but I minded that my parents never took the things I made seriously,as I thought I was good.
Surfing down at Fistral in the 1970s was the domain of the locals,The would be Miami boys from Cornwall,up at 5 no wet suits to write home about,but covering their bodies in Lard to keep warm.Those days were a community,the surfers were your family,they looked after you and you them.You lived to ride the waves,you respected the Atlantic,and if it was too rough,y you u do don’t venture,that is,if you valued your life.I loved my teenage years there,those long days ,the crack ,the music,the girls .If life was passing me by in the getting a proper job stakes,I didn’t get it.
One day ,dad came home with that look on his face,that look of:”Rob,it’s time you sorted yourself out “,!
He had put his neck in the line for me with Christians as they needed a young boy to labour on a new hotel that they were building just off Henver Road.As the money wasn’t bad,and mum and dad were now at the point of getting so worried about my lack of employment prospects,I gave it a go so to speak on a months trial.It was agreed that I would go int speak to the manager on Monday with coaching from dad as to exactly what to say and what to talk about.ait all seemed pretty false to me,because I wanted to become a surf board maker ,or a boat builder,not a builders labourer.However,my parents thought my dreams were crazy just like kymsurfiny,just like my friends,just like everything in my life.So,I gave in to their pressure,and accepted my fate.That line really annoyed me :”Well,your brother is going places Rob,he’s at university and will get openings into whatever he wants,but you,Well,you’ve not got any prospects,have you”.?Those words hurt,even for a 16 year old,and that Saturday I got up early rode my waves at Fisty,rode them high ,got drunk ,fell off the board,got back in again,and rode the mouth of the Cribber and dreamt of where surfing would be in years to come.Yep,I thought about it,I thought that life doesn’t have to be doing what others think you want,but what I could make happen.
So,I started on Monday and Christians, and I hated it ,every minute,every Nanno second,but something there made me think.This place had kit,kit for making things,lathes,just top stuff,for mak ng bigger and better boards.Fred Candy had worked at Christians for years and he was a cool guy who surfed at Constantine,but he had a wonderful board that he had made himself.One lunchtime,we got talking,he was a great guy,like me,left school with no pieces of paper but a practical head.He wasn’t bitter like my dad,he just was chilled,and he took and interest.
So,yep,after a week at Christians ,I was exhausted,couldn’t hardly stand up,but something had changed,I saw somethng to do if I could stand the hard work,they might teach me something,or,to be exact,Fred Candy could,and I was willing to hurt,hurt like hell to ride a board like his.
So,I tell you my story ,it all started in the 1970s and it might surprise you where it ended.