The “Fishwife Call”

If Lamorna Ash had written about nothing else except the pubs of Newlyn and the eight days on a fish trawler with six (or was it seven) Cornish fishermen, this book would have been worth the read. But we are only on p. 40, so one can only imagine what other Cornish memories lie in store!

So far, on this eight-day fishing trip, Ash has made reference to Moby Dick and something by Conrad, this interspersed with anecdotes about the crew (Kevin, a flaming redhead and the youngest of the crew is, naturally, the cook. First night’s dinner is “chicken burgers and lovely fucking peas.”)

Speaking of Moby Dick, self read that book for the first time in her first quarter as a Creative Writing Fellow at Stanford. Everyone else was reading Raymond Carver but, self being so obstreperous, she read Moby Dick. It took her, she thinks, something like three months, and she was in pain the whole time.

The trawler’s name is the Filadelfia –why? Next thing self knows, she is trolling her archives for pictures of Philadelphia, her favorite American city next to her own, the city where Dearest Mum attended Curtis (Dearest Mum was only 11 when admitted, and became super-famous, a famous like Britney Spears! For winning the New York Times International Piano Competition, at 14. Her teacher at Curtis was a Madame Mengerva, who told Dearest Mum she should never get married, which is why, when Dearest Mum was 21, she eloped and ended up having five children with Dear Departed Dad)

On p. 40, self reads about the Fishwife Call, that lovely seafaring tradition where “whoever is on watch puts the kettle on, makes mugs of coffee and then heads down to wake the snoozing crew for the next haul” with a hearty ‘Alrightfuckers!’

So interesting.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Eight Days on a Fishing Boat from Newlyn

Lamorna Ash is a beautiful writer. Self appreciates the precision in the following description, especially “they will repeat this performance over fifty times more in the week to come”:

Dressed in their oilskins, the men head out onto the uncovered deck to spread the nets ready for the first haul. They will repeat this performance over fifty times more in the week to come. The ancient, bird-like being heaves her wings back up, pulling the chainmail-clinking nets high up into the air above us, before dropping them down into the water with a smack. They break its surface and disappear beneath. The nets will remain sunken for the next few hours, stroking along the seabed, gathering fish into their cod-ends.

The salt-licked wind makes my eyes red . . .

Dark, Salt, Clear: The Life of a Fishing Town, p. 33

And since self has so many pictures from her own trip to Cornwall in 2019, she’ll just throw in one more, why not?

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