I’m drawn to the people that stick out in a crowd: those who emulate certain quirkiness. Jake most definitely is one of these people, although I’m not entirely sure if he’s aware of it. I first met Jake at a friend’s party, back when we were still teenagers. At the time he had a mass of curly, black hair and was drinking those cool little beers from tiny, French bottles that had screw tops and thus no need for a bottle opener – exciting stuff. But it wasn’t the beer bottles that engaged my curiosity (although I was happy to help myself to them anyway) but perhaps more his sense of humour that was riddled with piercing sarcasm; another personal element that I’m drawn to in the quest to match my own sense of humour.
Through befriending Jake throughout the night, I learnt more about his background: how he grew up in a variety of countries, mainly Sweden, Saudi Arabia, and China. I also learnt of a previous conversation Jake had had with someone else, where he told them he had lived in China, and they’d replied that now they knew that, he did indeed look quite Asian. A comment we found pretty hilarious at the time, considering Jake’s English heritage.
How did you cope as a child, growing up in different environments – this must have provided a lack of stability through moving around so much?
‘In terms of coping with that kinda thing and absence, and a want for consistency… Skateboarding gave me that. I made friends through it, it’s an incredibly warm and welcoming community – wherever you go’
Jake goes on to tell me anecdotal stories, describing how the community unites through strength: a counter-culture that fuse through their shared love of skateboarding. Through these stories it strikes me how the sport is so much more than it may seem to an outsider, and although all sports have communities, I was beginning to understand how skating may feel like more than this. Through it’s association with anti-social behaviour (alongside that of Street Art), a sort of secret, underground network has formed – creating a satirical stance in response to those that are unwilling to peak outside of their conventional boxes, and are more set on persecuting those who do journey out.
Jake explains to me the expansive unity that such a sub-community holds, providing me with an example of a skate shop that had struggled to open for three years, but which received it’s deserved funding thanks to the skating community who fought against the ‘anti-social’ restrictions that the shop owner had faced.
Did skating give you anything more than a sense of base?
‘Skating taught me perseverance, I broke my nose and my wrist and it never occurred to me to stop. My shins are lumpy as fuck. Getting battered up by something you love teaches you to appreciate pain – there’s a good metaphor in there. Anyway, the more gravel the better – it was like a foundation for my face.’
The focus that Jake had to develop in order to achieve his goals, taught him from a young age that nothing worth having comes easy. It also allowed his mind and body a moment to breathe from life:
there’s too much energy put on talking stuff out but sometimes the best remedy is activity – you don’t have to talk to process things.
We discuss for a while the hardships of our generation – the Millenials – alongside the things we take for granted, ‘partly because we’re self-entitled shitbags, we are very precious’ he emphasises his point by pulling a crying face. We continue on to how true satisfaction can’t be achieved without having the drive. Jake explains how ‘by being punctual and self-reliant – eventually something will click’ he adds ‘there’s no such thing as complete self-success, nurturing your skills makes you more confident to ask for help; you are genuinely doing everything you can.’ He supplies me with another eloquent metaphor to describe the importance of nurturing your skills first so that you can survive on your own, otherwise ‘it’s like having the scaffolding taken away without having built the foundations well enough’.
I could write a whole book on Jake; his command of language and his risqué use of semantics; his courage to continuously step in to the unknown; his quirky sense of humour that endeavors to lightly dust his words with a sarcastic irony – all of which are accompanied by his humility. For now though, I will leave you with a final metaphor from Jake, on both life and skateboarding:
If you keep trying a trick and you’re not getting it then you’re probably doing something wrong. Think about what you are doing. You can’t just press enter and be sent to the heavens, you have to take that pain and turn it in to something that will help you.
OH and check out Jake’s super talented friend, Bobby, who’s created an animated video of Jake’s skating perseverence.