A hundred feet away, the perfectly manicured lawn of the football pitch lies empty like the thousand of similar pitches across Britain. Worse than London’s bus lanes, the playground of thugs unused 99% of the time.
A hundred feet away in a shitty unkempt scrap of woodland the trails are growing.
20 years before in Thatcher’s Britain, I built a skateboard ramp in these woods. We shared this dumping ground with glue sniffers and skinheads. Skateboard facilities were non existent. We were treated as criminals, we were the outcasts. The ramp in the woods lasted a spring and a summer before ironically, being torn to pieces by bored Roman Catholic school children for want of better things to do. Let’s hope the Man O War trails last longer.
Concealed in dense undergrowth, they kinda spring up on you. Invisible from 30 feet, my first reaction upon finding them was ‘What the fuck?’. The sheer magnitude and effort these guys have gone to dwarfs the achievements of 20 years past.
I thought I was alone; such is the camouflaged way of the trails. Not so, my stumbling bewildered presence was quickly noted by the trail men. Topless and dirty, shovels and picks in hand, beautiful. My photographer roommate would wet herself. All these sun dappled savages for her to shoot.
And it would seem that history repeats itself. The parties, the barbeques, the friends living life their own way. Positive energies doing something off their own backs. Creating and nurturing, crafting a perfect scene, a perfect growing landscape.
I give the trails 6 months before the dozers move in, and every one of those 20 or so 10 ton, hand built dirt jumps will be leveled, and the woods will lay silent and neglected again. The dumping ground for fly tippers, whilst the tax payer pays for the upkeep of those barely used football pitches mere feet away.