The Why Not? Blog

At the tender age of 25 Dave started skateboarding. 14 months later he became the first person to skate the length of Britain. Another 8 months on he had crossed Australia on his board, breaking a world record & raising over £20,000 for three charities. Now, at 27, he's writing his first book, is a motivational speaker and a businessman, and he's only just gotten started on a lifetime of challenges which from the outside look just darn crazy. So, why? You know the answer, don't you. Why not?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Catch 22

I've been sat on my bed reading for an hour, Kiwa curled up on my legs with late afternoon light glowing through the window, trying to fill my head with words that I can dump effectively onto a new page of my book, which is coming along by the way. I met Barbara the other day for lunch. She's my commissioning editor. She walked into Starbucks beside Holland Park tube and greeted me with the words, 'Hello Author. Because that's what you are now.' I was quite chuffed at that, and then proceeded to ask her lots of questions about how the book was to be distributed in Australia and when my advance was going to arrive. You know, the serious stuff. I've learned to be honest in the past two years, not that I wasn't before please realise, but honest in the form of actually going ahead and asking or saying things that sometimes you wouldn't, because it's embarassing or something similar. What I'm getting at, is the following. I told Barbara, to some degree, that I was finding it a little hard to believe that I am capable of retracing the footsteps of my last two years. Going through the whole journey again and then writing it down isn't an easy process. To think about, let alone actually do. In all honesty, I'm fucking terrified that now I have this chance to be an author I'm going to write down such a bunch of drivel that no one will want to read it. It's all I ever wanted, you see, and I can't afford to write a pile of tat that will have my writing career hanging in a WaterStones exit this time next year. Who would have thought that skateboarding across Australia would be one of the easiest things I had to do this decade? (PS. Barbara, try not to worry. I'll learn to harness the fear and turn it into something good. Honest.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

So dreams can come true

In the past couple of years people have asked me questions that I've decided to answer with a cliche. Each time I do so I grimace inside a little. For example, 'Dave, why did you decide to skate across Australia, having only just taken up skateboarding?' I'd look a bit whistful, look them solidly in the eye and answer, 'Because I believe you can do anything if you really want to. The sky's the limit. The limits are in your mind. Never say never. Anything's possible. Nothing's impossible. Life is good. You're in control of your own destiny. Why not?'

And by the time I'd reeled off everything I read on this morning's ten sheets of motivational toilet paper the journalist had done one of two things. He'd disappeared completely, often through tired, unoriginal self combustion, or he'd turned into a zombie. Just nodding. Not needing to write anything down, because he'd heard it all before.

And then I'd realise what I'd done, apologised for using all the cliches in the world. And finished it off with a personal critique of cliches, to which this day I'm still very proud off. 'But, you see, cliches are here for a reason aren't they. It's because they're true.' And that normally finished off anyone else who was still standing around.

Dreams do come true, however. For as long as I can remember I had an intense amount of competitiveness in me, but no particularly direct ambition. I didn't want to be a doctor when I was a kid. I barely wanted to go to University because when I was asked to start thinking about it at the age of 16 I realised straight away that I was 16, 'and frankly Mr Gombault from the Careers Department, I'm not going to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life when I'm 16. I mean, I'm 16. I haven't even had sex yet.' And he looked at me sideways as if to say, 'neither have I,' and then I came out of my daydream and nodded vaguely so I could leave the Careers department and go and play football.

When I was 17 I decided the only thing I wanted to do with my life was change it. I wasn't very popular in school and I just wanted to have something to talk about so I could make some friends. I opted to give myself an extra year before going to University and take a gap year. Ironically, even though I was accepted onto a scheme which would see me go and teach in Uganda for a few months, I was still informed that I had to decide which University I wanted to go to and what I wanted to study at the same time as everyone else. Brilliant. I was going to East Africa to become a man and give myself some thinking time, and then I was lumped with the numbing realisation that all the newness of travel and life was going to abruptly come to an end in September 1999, when I was going to Swansea to study Management Science. Just brilliant.

In Africa I put the high powered maths and business course to the back of my mind, and started to write for the first time. I wrote a long daily diary, I wrote long letters home, I wrote poems to my first ever girlfriend Jessica and then cleaned up my housemate's sick when I tried them out on him first. But I'd finally found something that I really loved, writing. And ever since then I wanted to be a travel writer. And that dream hasn't changed for a moment.

And now, I'm smiling as I type this by the way, I'm about to become a travel writer. Because although I submitted tongue-in-cheek articles about my exploits in various jungles to the student newspaper when I was in my early twenties, it wasn't really travel writing. It was just pretending. The real stuff, the big cheese, was getting a book deal. And one day, having spent a few months living off an advance and writing for a living, I was going to be able to walk into Waterstones, start casually browsing the travel writing section and then exclaim loudly, 'oh bloody hell this one looks good,' and start waving it around above my head so the pretty girl down the aisle could see it. And yes, there it was, my book, with my name on, and my words inside. A whole book. Available for everyone to read.

And now it's going to happen. Because last Friday I was offered a book deal. And yesterday I accepted it. And now I'm writing a book that I'll be able to find in Waterstones a few months down the line. How bloody good is that, Mr Gombault? How bloody good is that?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Moving on...

I have learnt two things this week. One, that however often people tell me to eat more I just can't summon the energy to go downstairs and make some toast. And two, that I should never, ever, answer the phone having just been holding a runny egg and bacon sandwich. For the foreseeable future I will be chatting away merrily to someone in a different part of the world, and then realise after the handset has been returned to its cradle that I have yellow on my ear.

But, I always try to make a positive out of a negative situation. And besides the obvious light that shines down on a 27 year-old WHO IS STILL LEARNING, my cat Kiwa will now enjoy a tasty snack everytime I've been on the phone.
She likes licking my ear, it's how I wake up in the morning.
I haven't trained her to do that, by the way.

I'm in a bit of limbo. I flew back to the UK one month ago. Since then some good things have happened. I read about something called an AquaSkipper, and then decided I was going to go for a world record on it. When I started I was rubbish. and then, worryingly, I continued to be rubbish. But the local swimming pool in Swansea has given me a warm, calm environment on which to bounce this brilliantly odd contraption around in, and at the end of my second session yesterday I was finding my rhythym. The AquaSkipper, or more precisely, it's motion, has given me a new fun project to work on at the same time as I deal with everything else - which I am about to explain below. So, before I move on to the other stuff, I would like to welcome you to BounceFree! I have a BounceFree related blog at, and the BounceFree website is currently resident at I'm very excited about all of this, by the way, and I hope the videos and diaries make you chuckle. Ultimately, I'd like to do something extraordinary on the Aquaskipper, in time for Comic Relief 2008. Middle of March. I have a year to be a world champion. Sound familiar?

So, when I'm not bouncing, what else am I doing? Reading and writing, I am. Said Yoda. The BoardFree story is forming on paper, or at least on a screen, and to focus my efforts on the written word I've created a little reading haven in my study, which separates me from other distractions like internet and playstation and cameras and cats. Although I lied about the cats bit. Kiwa in particular enjoys my reading haven and tends to spend an awful lot of time on my lap, when I'm in there. As soon as I know when the book will be unleashed (I prefer 'unleashed' to 'released', it sounds more spectacular and might set it apart from other, more timid book releases) I will let you all know.

What else. What else? Oooh, I'm a company director! Sat on a plane in Altenberg, Germany, I prepared for take-off with the realisation that still less than two years after I stepped onto my first skateboard, I now have a good hand in taking forward rollsrolls, the marvellous company that created Elsa, my board of choice for UK and Australian journeys. Now, you might be a little unnerved to find that a company director is capable of saying, or indeed writing, the word 'Oooh.' Please don't judge me. I can't quite explain this longboard thing, it's a wonderful feeling rolling along, carving left and right down a hill. There were times in Australia when I was speeding along and quite uncharacteristically felt the urge to yell out 'Weeeeeeeeee!!!' Seriously, I actually said 'Weee', and I'm quite sure I'll be saying it again in the near future. I now have the job of marketing rollsrolls boards to the whole world, so watch out.

This Saturday the first of many public talks will occur at the TNT Travel Show near Covent Garden (see events at for details). On and off for the rest of the year I'll be travelling around the UK and Australia telling people how it is possible to do anything, and that the best reason for them to do anything is to be happy. I will share stories from the road, tell people about big blisters and dodging snakes - and undoubtedly as the tour goes on and people become more and more interested in how I managed to battle an army of snakes with just a skateboard and a water bottle, the whole scenario will get a bit exaggerated. That's just what happens after you've had to live for two years with a blister the size of a small country enveloping your foot. If you are in London this weekend please come along. You can even bring a book if you're not interested in the talk, but it will make me feel better to have at least one person sat there in a crowd of lonely plastic seats.

Right, I'm off to read some more in my haven and mull over the concept of AquaSkipping at the same time, I'm sure. Thanks for reading...and oh! I forgot to say, the site is now offline and we raised a huge sum of £19645.39 for Link, Lowe and Sailability, and this total will be added to by other people skating for BoardFree this year (see Sam Benson's epic European trip on and also by donations from book and DVD sales, hopefully.

Subscribe to Dave's Blog by email:

Delivered by FeedBurner