You might think this is all a bit out of character for me; I’m six months away from the unforgiving impasse that is my Thirtieth birthday after all. With this rapidly approaching milestone comes a confession: I was a skater. A fully paid up member of the Etnies trainers and DC hoodie crew that drove everyone’s dad mad by incessantly slamming that 8” wide piece of wood against the tarmac outside your house trying to do a sick varial flip. I also covered all the kerbstones on your street in purple wax. Call the council, mate. I don’t care.
Growing up on a diet of long summers at skateparks and late nights playing Tony Hawks Pro Skater left a lasting impression on me. I’ve always kept one eye on the skate scene since I made my graceful exit into a career and wearing proper shoes. The last time I had a go on a skateboard, I managed to pull off a pretty convincing kickflip straight out of the gate. I’ve always suspected that miraculous return to form was fueled solely by the confidence and bravado that 8 cans of beer bring to proceedings of that nature.
My experiences listed above are largely limited to skating wooden decks and while I’d seen a few Penny boards out and about, I never really understood what they were all about until Penny reached out to give me a little bit more information and offer me the chance to try out one of their boards. After some advice, I erred on the side of caution and opted for the Penny's bigger 27" Nickel board.
I decided the best place to regress to my misled youth would be my old stomping ground of Sheffield city centre. I figured a quiet Sunday morning would be the best time to save any ensuing embarrassment from stacking it in a big heap. I spent my teens skating these streets and although they still feel familiar, they've changed a lot. Despite the passage of time, being back on a board here felt natural. It was easy to get back into the rhythm, although once I got up to speed I realised I'd forgotten how to stop which presented the need for immediate course corrections towards a soft landing. Crunch. There must be some muscle memory left in these old legs because after a while I was cutting about quite well; I even managed a few tricks.
Penny Skateboards was founded 12 years go by Ben Mackay, his experience in skateboard manufacturing has given him a strong appreciation for what it takes to make great quality boards. His hardwearing, ultra fun plastic skateboards are a testament to how much work Ben has put in to the design and manufacturing process.
Ben says that by looking at any skateboard you can see whether its fundamentals are balanced - you can see it as each component comes together to make the final product and you can feel it under your feet and in your hands. And, it’s what sets Penny Skateboards above all the rest.
While the board is different to anything I've skated before, it's responsive and intuitive, and smoother than my previous set-ups. I was so impressed with the ride that I think I'll be using it for getting about around town when my confidence builds. Honestly, I think my days of five-stair 360 heel flips are behind me.
The highlight of the shoot was skating on the roof of John Lewis. Getting busted by security made the regression to 2004 almost real. Heady days. My reaction to being turfed off the roof was notably more sedate than it might have been at the height of my amateur skateboarding career; I'm no longer a menace to society. After this slight buzzkill, we realised it was still only early and since we'd been out since dawn, Coffee and a proper breakfast was in order. We headed straight for Marmadukes Deli to refuel with flat whites and fried breakfasts all round.
The one thing I can say about my experience with Penny's Nickel board is how fun it was to ride. Proper, old school fun - the kind you can't put an age limit on. If you're in the market for a new skateboard or fancy reliving your youth in style, I'd recommend you connect with Penny on the links below to put some fun in your life.
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This post is presented in partnership with Penny Skateboards. Thanks for supporting The All Night Listening Post.
All photographs by Fern Merrills