Former Pro Surfer Enjoys Final Free Beer

Ding Alley
Swellnet Dispatch

Ten Minutes Ago, Toona Tavern front bar - This week’s cautious re-opening of Toonalook Tavern to ten patrons at a time has taken on an extra layer of significance as former top-five professional surfer, goofyfoot Simon “Colo” Coley, took delivery of his last ever non-surf-hardware-related perk of fame in the form of a schooner of Tooheys New in Toona’s front bar just then.

Coley – half-watching the greyhounds go round at Dapto on the bar tele after a productive night’s haul on the trawler he co-owns – found himself nervously approached by 39-year-old Harry Renner, a relatively recent Toona resident, and above-average surfer himself.

“G’day, it’s Colo isn’t it. Colo, mate sorry to bug ya, seen ya around but never had the guts to bowl up and say g’day,” the still-a-little-awestruck public servant is reported to have opened with. 

Encouraged by a freely-offered handshake, Renner went on to vocalise what he’d long wanted – and often imagined – sharing with his grommethood hero. 

“Mate just wanna say you were my favourite surfer when I was growing up. And all my mates. When we’d slide the tail we’d call it a Colo! I wore out that tape of Blazing Boundaries … mate you just… you just… fuck man… you just ripped…” 

There followed a strange pause as Renner’s 1993 12-year-old-self briefly seized control of its 39-year-old host and stared open-mouthed at his idol for a moment too long before adult Renner regained the helm and said “Mate, ahhh, I bought you a beer.”

With schooey handed to his hero, Renner – slightly abashed (and regretting an ill judged quip about “A schooner of New for an Old New Schooler”, though it wasn’t a bad line and extracted a genuine chuckle from Coley) – excused himself to rejoin his partner and kids in the bistro for their countery, leaving Simon Coley, aged 47, to his thoughts.

Examination of CCTV footage from the front bar suggests that, without consciously knowing it, Coley somehow intuited that the schooner before him was the last ever tangible token of admiration purchased in acknowledgement of his efforts as a professional surfer a quarter of a century ago. 

As a result of this instinctive understanding – and thanks to a shaft of light illuminating Coley’s glass in a sublime golden glow – rarely has a schooner of this mid-priced beverage ever looked so good, or been so appreciated. 

Onlookers claim there was nothing forlorn about this figure at the bar, with Coley’s posture suggesting an air of affectionate reflection on his time in the spotlight, and no less satisfaction at his current circumstance.

It is at this point where Ding Alley’s Tracy Grimshaw-esque commitment to reportage must give way to gentle speculation. Nonetheless, from our yaks with Colo in various Toona lineups and carparks over the years, we’re confident the following accurately documents his barstool ponderings.  

Though it was confronting to learn of the astonishing multi-property portfolios held by some of today’s pros (many yet to reach the high water ranking of Colo’s own best year on tour), while he was still mortgaged on the only house he’d ever bought – a modest three bedroom number in Toona Heights – Coley took comfort knowing he’d never have to swallow the bitter pill required to deliver disingenuous instagram endorsements about the miraculous qualities of a brand of sunblock, almond-milk, backyard jacuzzi setup, energy bar, kombucha, softboard or motor vehicle to his ‘followers’.

And despite only marginal financial gains recouped from those seven years on tour – or was it eight? – they were his years. There had been no entourage: no conditioning coach instructing him to jump from leg to leg while catching tennis balls like a pre-heat dancing bear; no strategy guru advising him to get the best waves and score more points because then, you know, you’ll beat the other guy; no adoring personal filmer / errand boy; no ‘Team Colo’; no partner or kids – even if you had ‘em that’d be a year’s rent gone just flying ‘em around with you and for fuck’s sake who could afford that

No. It had just been him and his surfing pretty much. And for all the outrageous fun, the tour had been bewildering and hard at times, but because there was no layer of insulation between him and the world, he became part of it, and on occasions lost in it, and he was grateful for that.

And he was stoked that those experiences had never been rendered vacuous by wondering how they’d play out on various Social Media platforms.

Thank Christ for the freedom of an uncurated life, hey.

His next sip went down particularly well as he realised he’d make it to the grave without using the phrase ‘one heat at a time’ or speaking about being the ‘best version of myself I can be’ on a live comp webcast. He’d made it home safe without ever having to reduce the driving force of his life to a handful of trite philosophical catchphrases.

Those poor bastards. Thank FUCK for that. 

Coley was also ready to admit that compared to the pros who’d gone around before him, he had not only reaped enviable rewards, but there were times when he was so in thrall to his own fame, insufferable and entitled, that the idea of having to pay for a drink, or failing to pull a root on demand had seemed like a personal and preposterous insult. And he also suspected that in time, the current generation of fruits would seem hardcore and low key compared with the next.

Most of all he knew he was one of the lucky ones who’d always remained tethered to the ordinary. His family, mates, love of fishing and the gravitational pull of Toona made his fall off the tour as good a fall as it was possible to have. He’d seen some of the others burn up on re-entry from their imagined stratospheric heights, and had come to understand that his normalcy was a gift more valuable than any amount of surfing talent.

And even though the free drinks were one final sip away from drying up forever, Colo would always get his boards at cost and his wetties for free, because when the point was firing, or the Toona Bommie woke up, he was still best on ground. And riding waves was still the best feeling ever.

As we file this dispatch, witnesses report Colo draining the dregs of his last free beer, ordering anothery, and taking it into the bistro to repay Renner.

// DING ALLEY

Ding Alley is two mates, ‘toonist David @maccatoons McArthur and writerer/designerer Gra Murdoch. They both scored an identical 72.5% in their 1985 Footscray TAFE art history exam. Let the record show McArthur was seated behind Murdoch. 

Comments

Sunnysideup's picture
Sunnysideup's picture
Sunnysideup commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:13am

"pre-heat dancing bear"

freddieffer's picture
freddieffer's picture
freddieffer commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:14am

A masterpiece!

Halibut's picture
Halibut's picture
Halibut commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:20am

Bravo! Col is an even more interesting character then the cat from the last story. These ding-alley tales just keep getting better.

in the future, everyone will be anonymous for 15 minutes

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:25am

Thank you and thank you.

The style of your meanderings takes me back to the satirical editorials of Colo’s era. A grand time of light hearted piss- taking containing an undeniable kernel of hard edged truth.

Great fun.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:31am

Landing back in your hometown, half owning a house and a trawler, and still the top dog at the point and bommie...Colo has done about as well as is possible it would appear.
Another great read!

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

P'tai's picture
P'tai's picture
P'tai commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:55am

Returning the shout is a master class in humility! Thanks so much..

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:58am

Yep. Thought that was brilliant. Tied it all together really well. Enjoyed the positive ending.

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:56am

good one

D-Rex's picture
D-Rex's picture
D-Rex commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 9:19am

MF or Occ?

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 11:09am

I reckon a world title gets you schooners for life.

This is more along the lines of Shane Powell.

There’s been that many Aussie pro surfers that virtually every little town must have its resident ex-tour competitor by now. It’s always strange to be paddling out and see the flash of style you were so familiar with from surf movies being performed by the bloke who lives around the corner.

It’s refreshing and watching good surfing never gets old.

I once went surfing at a nice little, low key East coast spot which breaks not far off the sand. A well known ex pro was there doing a surf coaching one on one with a 10 year old girl. Pushing her into these lines of white wash right on the beach as epic barrels pounded a shallow sand bar a few metres away. I’m sure old mate has caught enough sick pits to last several lifetimes but there was no mistaking the undisguised longing in his eyes when he looked seaward.

Welcome to reality , brother.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 10:48pm

Yes but in that giving forward to the 10yo, his influence may be remembered fondly in a life of stoke that will go beyond his own lifetime... we don't get to keep too much, just the memories of others.

Nigeisblessed's picture
Nigeisblessed's picture
Nigeisblessed commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 9:20am

Great read, my absolute favorite so far! Reminds of a better time - although as Billy Joel once sang, "the good old days weren't always good and tomorrow aint as bad as it seems." Thing I liked this comic so much cause I'm the same age as Colo and it was a grand time to be alive and in your prime - ot that I was ever best on point and I've never had a free wettie.

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 9:38am

Great read again guys.

He who hesitates is lost

mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207's picture
mikehunt207 commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 10:09am

Best one yet DA.
Reminds me of when a starstruck mate went up to very drunken Occy at one of the Margaret River Masters concerts (Hunters and Collectors I think) back in the 90,s and tried to to talk to him and was growled at and told to "fuck off" , broke his heart but cracked everyone else up.

andy-mac's picture
andy-mac's picture
andy-mac commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 10:24am

Brilliant!! Great read, thanks....

Botak

rooftop's picture
rooftop's picture
rooftop commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 10:33am

Pitch perfect. The best surfing satire I've ever read.

green_iguana's picture
green_iguana's picture
green_iguana commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 11:01am

Awesome. Thanks

The Shaper's picture
The Shaper's picture
The Shaper commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 11:42am

some great one liners........
"burn up on re-entry from their imagined stratospheric heights,"

Denyer's picture
Denyer's picture
Denyer commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 11:56am

Far out, who are these masters of prose?

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 2:37pm

9/10 on the Spuddups scale. Almost brought tear to my eye at the end.

synchrodogcal's picture
synchrodogcal's picture
synchrodogcal commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 3:39pm

haha, glad i'm not the only one there

H2O's picture
H2O's picture
H2O commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 2:41pm

Best yet

Doogs's picture
Doogs's picture
Doogs commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 3:24pm

A sweet read, as ever - nice work Gra, and well captured Macca...

Iced vovo's picture
Iced vovo's picture
Iced vovo commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 3:46pm

Ordering anothery :)

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 5:10pm

Nice writing, enjoyable reading.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

jelli's picture
jelli's picture
jelli commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 5:13pm

Just the light hearted, chuckle filled tonic i needed to end the working week. Great characters. I hope they resurface after a short hold down. Cheers.

Numbatt's picture
Numbatt's picture
Numbatt commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:01pm

If your not a people’s person your a fucken prick.

Fun read, cheers.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 10:46pm

Treatment of character was touching, made me smile. Humility is the greatest teacher.

And you mentioned the Dapto dogs.

NDC's picture
NDC's picture
NDC commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 11:01pm

Best yet

original smith's picture
original smith's picture
original smith commented Saturday, 23 May 2020 at 9:34am

When you serve up stories like that, I’ll happily wander to the bistro and shout you anothery.

rrr's picture
rrr's picture
rrr commented Saturday, 23 May 2020 at 9:50am

all these stories are painting a great picture in my mind of toonalook.
its filling in nicely .
thanks.

Tick's picture
Tick's picture
Tick commented Saturday, 23 May 2020 at 10:47am

Thank Christ for the freedom of an uncurated life, hey.

Thank you.

Hoodie's picture
Hoodie's picture
Hoodie commented Saturday, 23 May 2020 at 11:36am

Another ripper. Energy bars, Kombucha, soft boards, how true.

dinnerdish's picture
dinnerdish's picture
dinnerdish commented Saturday, 23 May 2020 at 12:14pm

you guys just keep getting better

arohabro

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Saturday, 23 May 2020 at 2:18pm

Epic

Northshore1's picture
Northshore1's picture
Northshore1 commented Saturday, 23 May 2020 at 4:22pm

Great story

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Sunday, 24 May 2020 at 2:33pm

A joy.

rogerelastic's picture
rogerelastic's picture
rogerelastic commented Monday, 25 May 2020 at 1:48pm

Fantastic piece of writery and toonery gents. I bet Toonalook is getting a few searches on Google Maps too.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Wednesday, 27 May 2020 at 7:09am

Hitting a vein there Gra. Keep mining it.

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch commented Wednesday, 27 May 2020 at 11:27am

Hey thanks heaps everyone for the really positive feedback. Ding Alley feels a little 2016 Matt Wilkinson here to be honest, out of the blocks unexpectedly well, but... ahhhh... might have peaked with this one?... Fuck it, we'll keep having a crack.