The door isn’t locked,I push it open and walk inside,the floorboard creaks, the wind moans though a broken windows, papers lay on a long abandoned desk along with a cash box, stubs of duplicate books and an old typewriter.
Ghosts of long dead fishermen waiting for their settlement hang around like dust mots in the sunlight. I blow the dust off the typewriter will it still work ? and I wonder will they tell me their stories? The day gets colder, The wind increases and I can hear moans, words, chatter and songs hidden in the rise and fall of the wind. Who were these men who chased the cod to the ice, who braved the storms to harvest the sea. The deckies and mates, engineers and sparkies and the skippers? Long forgotten. Their lives were small, work and home, names as insignificant as the dust on the desk.Their chatter increases I find myself trying to catch snippets.
“rolling down the Humber with the tide’
someone or should that be something sang
“I’ll have a bob or two on settling day”
a woman’s voice sang “and on the ice we die” and my blood runs cold, she tries to tell me her story, waiting for her man who never came home, fighting to get his settlement, hard work in the gutting lines, and the quiet desperation of death. I type trying to get it all down, the woman’s solidarity, their friendships, the cold, heavy clothes, the money, the pubs, the songs. She tells me about the shops which ones would do tic, public houses and the bank were the sensible ones put their money. The room is dark, I’m typing by touch, there are pages of stories here, finally it goes quiet as if even the ghosts have left.
I leave the old house go past the long shuttered shops, the abandoned pubs and the empty bank, past the derelict smokehouses with their wonky vents and seek the warmth of my little boat.
But I have new stories, and any writer knows the pleasure of new material to work with I look at the papers.
There is nothing on it except the line “and on the ice we die”
later that hat week I went to a production called “ six silk handkerchiefs” about the fishing industry here. There was one song that particularly resonated with me and when she sang the line “and on the ice we die” I knew I wasn’t the only one who had been in that haunted house.
Ten inches to the left and I’d be in Grimsby dock.Two meters of brown muddy water, a few flat fish and one of those submarine impersonating cormorants would be my companions. By the time I got back on board I think the sausages I’m cooking for tea might be burnt,
Is Chivalry realy dead?
Yesterday I watched a guy, probably about 50, offer to walk an older man to the train station. They are not related, he had no reason to do it other than courtesy. Roadworks have changed the town layout and the older guy was not a local and would have found getting across town a challenge.
I saw an old woman slip a young mum a fifty pence piece, the young mother was trying to buy her three children an ice cream each and had come up a few pence short, she had no reason to do this except a little sympathy for an embarrest person.
I smiled as I saw a lass, not much out of her teens hold a gate wide open so the courier on a cycle could manoeuver his steel steed down a narrow alleyway.
This is modern chivalry, shorn of its fancy cloak and obsession with archaic language, this is chivalry adhereing to its professed standards of honour, justice and caring for the less able in society. It is honourable to help those who are lost, even if it did mean a half mile walk in the other direction and to see that the child didn’t end up feeling picked on because it had to choose a lesser treat than it’s siblings did. It is always good manners to help those who’s burdens are greater than ours, even if it is mearly holding a gate open.
This is chivalry, yes it’s changed it’s clothes, some may simply call it ‘ paying it forward’, but this is the root and branch of it, some may think it lesser as they can no longer use it to demean women, to put them in their place and make them reliant on menfolk, let’s face it no one likes being made to feel grateful for something they didn’t want.
This is the modern chivalry we should all practice regardless of age or gender a little consideration for others and a little kindness makes the world a nicer place and costs the giver very little.
“Stand up” I yelled
“stand up or your dog meat”
I had five minutes left, if I didn‘t catch her she would be left for the dog tucker man in the morning.
The mare was in a corner, If she bolted I’d be flattened, this was do or die.
She was a pretty mare, good confirmation, sound, nothing wrong with her that a bit of good grass and a hoof trim couldn’t fix, she’d just been dumped. Literally dumped, the owners had left the country, the mare and her donkey companion had been turned out on a couple of acres of scrub land behind the rubbish tip.
I could see every muscle in her neck, she was tensed up ready to flee. It had taken the best part of two hours already. Sweat ran down my face, a fly landed on my nose, I daren’t swat it, if I moved she’d bolt. Forcing myself to relax, I began humming a tune under my breath, then took my eye of hers and slid my glance down her neck to that sweet spot by her withers. The mare began to relax, I stepped forward and scratched her under her mane, slid the rope over her neck and put a loop over her nose. Gerry, the truck driver jumped down from the rail he’d been sitting on a brought over a head collar.
“Thought we’d be going without her, she’s a wild one”
“no” I said “just scared, wouldn’t have dared block a wild horse like that”
“council will be glad thats sorted, now your just got to get her loaded”
“no problems” I replied
The mare walked quietly by my side to the truck, I sent her up the ramp and she went in without hesitation. I clipped the partition down and jumped out a Gerry put the ramp up.
“not a second to spare, you do cut it fine girl, dropping them at your place?”
“yes but go in the far gate, I should beat you there“
“what’s happening to them“
“donks going back to her breeder, the mare starts her new training next week”
“does she have a name”
“none that I know of currently, but tomorrow she’ll be Claire”
“Lovers leave and friends will let you down “
“My old friend the blues” The Proclaimers
Just the acceptance of the simple truth that sometimes, all you have left, is the blues.
Taken as read in the supermarket
I cannot help but pat and reassure
the door marked “caution this door is alarmed”
surely we could all do with a little sympathy
and reassurance if alarmed?
Twist and gone.
Welcome to my twisted world. I was brought here by my father before I could even walk, as he was by his father. I knew the ways and lays before I could articulate the reasons why.
I loved the scents, the musky dustiness, the bristles against my skin, the men, for they were nearly all men, the noise and the bustle. I knew, before I was even a scholar, the difference between an S twist and a Z twist. Shroud or hawser, I didn’t need to count. It was instinctive, in my bones, in my mind, I could tell you if it would hockel or if it was likely to be kinky, but it’s all gone now. The beautiful natural fibres, the sisal, hemp and Manila replaced by a mass produced synthetic product, made without love, respect or soul.
The ropewalks of Bridport are no more.
A fine spiders web
He loved me with a fine, fierce love
he put me on a pedestal, bought me fine clothes, jewellery
fed me rich foods, fancy meals,
gave me perfumes that suggested strange things.
He introduced me to his family and friends, saying “ meet my girlfriend” as if I had no name.
and all the time I could feel a spiders web weaving me into his world.
One fine morning I stared out the the window of my gilded cage and saw a spider
she caught a little jeweled beetle, wrapped him in silk and stashed him in the corner of her web, then went back to polishing her perfect web.
And I knew
I took off my finery, left the golden chains on the coffee table, took only what I came with.
The old crow who lived in the oak tree was the only one who saw me go,
as I stepped over the stile, she cawed, I think she said ‘good luck’.
Later I met someone else, he didn’t buy clothes for me or chain me with gold.
But he tied my heart to his with an ever expanding silver thread.
If I needed him, he was there, if I need space, he brought me a train ticket.
I afforded him the same dignity
Together or apart
we are one
Love is not possesion,
if you are choked or chocked then that isn’t love.
Love is the security that knows, what ever happens you will be there for each other.
It’s not your fault,
but the irony is not lost on me.
It’s not your fault that I got a double dose of wanderlust
my family tree is full of pirates, sailors and wreckers on one side
drovers, vagabonds and swag men on the other.
there will be no tying me down.
but that’s just family stories you say, there’s no proof
true, there are no traces, they died on the high seas, in ditches or out on the moors.
The few who where honoured with a church yard burial were never nailed down with stone or cross. They traveled lightly, my forbears.
It’s not your fault that I cannot resist the pull of the horizon,
be it on a boat, train, plane, or on foot step by single step
the need to travel is only beaten by the need to breathe.
It’s not your fault.
Oh, but how I fester and seethe,
You send me photos of music festivals, bonfires on the beach and the latest from your road trip.
You, who chose safety, have freedom
I who chose to roam, find myself in lockdown.With only the government sanctioned exercise to sooth me.
It’s not your fault.
But the irony is not lost on me.
To share cosy evenings by the fire with.
Two good strong arms
I would like a reasonable amount of padding but don’t object to a saggy seat.
well worn in and comfy is fine, but needs to look inviting by the fireside.
I‘m rather into leather at the moment, so a well tanned hide is good, not white however, it’s too hard to keep clean.
not worried about legs as I intend to replace them.
So if you are a vintage fireside chair looking for a forever home this retired upholster will tighten your webbing and reglue your joints, then we can spend our dotage cosy by the fire in the snug.