Hello me ansums, time for a bit of news from the very heart of the fish counter.
According to buoy George (not Boy George) there’s plenty available down at the fish cellars and prices are not too bad, and he’s laid it out all nice for you. He’ll carefully fillet whatever you want, except prawns and jellyfish obviously.
You can’t be too careful these days, can you?..... Remember the chef who baked fish pie for Her Majesty the Queen mum (Gawd rest her soul) and nearly choked her with a fish bone all those years ago, well he’s up for probation soon. He must be relieved. I wonder if the palace have kept his job open for him?
Thing is, in the intervening years since he was locked away for treason, chefs have become all powerful in this country, and there’s not a night goes by without some preening ponce in whites extolling the virtues of extra virgine first presse or squid ink linguine (makes your teeth black mind!).
I guess if one of the royals was choked now and someone was banged up for it, we’d have mass celebrity chef and food critic demos in London chanting ‘Free the palace one!’ down the Mall.
Can you imagine it? Gordon Ramsey self- immolating in Trafalgar Square? I’ve got some kindling if that would help.
Or critic Charles Catchpole going on hunger strike? This scenario is unlikely I know, as above all else (finely honed palate, sophisticated taste) he does seem to be just a fat greedy bugger, and I can’t see him foregoing his grub for anyone. Maybe in protest he could throw himself in front of the Queen’s horse at Ascot?
He’d probably kill the poor horse rather than himself – imagine the following week’s Masterchef skills test, and Monica telling the terrified contestant that she wants him to butcher a horse and prepare it for an equine banquet…
Am I going too far? Sorry.
I’ve been a bit full on, barrow-boying me books at various Christmas Fairs around the dear old county since the last little tour to Hastings, the Union Chapel and Milton Keynes.
What a blast we had with you all, and cheers for your joyous support and enthusiasm. You really made all the journeying worthwhile!
It was particularly fun to see the Sveaas and Haden-Paddens at the Union Chapel – yes, they sound like warring factions from Game of Thrones don’t they? – they usually come and see us down at the Platt in Port Isaac, and I did hear one of them whisper that £25 was a bit steep for tickets.
I had to remind them that they’d been feasting on our top-notch international cabaret for nearly 25 years for free in P.I., and that consequently it all worked out rather nicely for them at about a quid per head a year.
On reflection, in view of the entertainment on offer maybe they did have a point; a quid a year is probably a tad on the steep side!
One of their lovely party was heavily pregnant on the night, and indeed it was touch and go whether we were to witness the first arrival of the first FF’s baby during the rollocking, bollocking, Jolly Rogering chorus of South Australia but,bless, she held on in there.
We had a pre-gig agreement that any baby that arrived should be named after a fish. Easy enough if it was to have been a buoy – Ray, John (Dory) or even Gurnard – but trickier if it had been a little maid. Halibut was the best we could come up with – Hali is not too bad, is it?
Anyway, it’ll be nice to know at Christmas what it was and how they all are.
Can’t believe that Christmas is creeping up, although we’ve been sort of celebrating it here since September first when the Co Op put the mince pies on display. I’m not joking, and they were in red, green and gold boxes with shiny, sparkly bits that didn’t actually say Christmas, but we all knew what they meant!
I’m looking forward to Easter now, which here in Port Isaac always starts on Boxing Day with the re-appearance of the Cadbury Crème Eggs, and they always go down a treat with the cold turkey and bubble and squeak.
My, how the years fly. Grab ’em while you can dears!
May see you at Padstow Christmas Fest, until then, ‘Dreckly!’
The stinky ole Walrus of P.I. xx
Thought I’d have a break.
I’ve been slogging away at a new book all day long (Catching Crabs if you’re interested – sequel to Nasty Pasty!)) whilst it’s been persisting down outside.
Anyway, just in case you’re wondering, a bit of proper fishy news to help you down at the mongers; boy George (as opposed to Boy George) tells me that down at the real fish counter, hake’s pretty good at the mo, cod’s still as dear as buggery, and plaice is coming down as it’s coming in to spawn. That’s the word on the street down at P.I. fish cellars.
I forgot to mention last week that the luckiest gal in North Cornwall and I had a nice little task to perform when we were over in New England. An eleven year old boy from Nantucket had thrown a message in a bottle into the sea over there back in February 2014 (nothing to do with Stink or Sting or whatever he’s called whatsoever!), and by last September unbelievably it had washed up on Port Gaverne beach (five minutes walk from P.I.) where it had been found by a local farmer who does a bit of lobster potting on the side.
It had taken eighteen months to cross. It took the Pilgrim Fathers sixty days, and us seven hours in a plane! So we took it back to him – he’s a teenager now – and his folks came and said hello and gave us a tour of the island and the Whaling Museum. And when the missus asked him what he felt about the whole thing, he just said that it gave him…hope!
Bless. Ain’t that a nice story?
We also met up with dear ole Rick Spencer and his wife Sarah, friends of the FFs from when they visited P.I. in 1976 and we all went over there on the rampage a year later.
This time we did a tour around the Vanderbilt Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island together – nothing special; home from home really.
Anyway, Rick was one of the resident musicians in the group Forebitter, who played in the fabulous Whaling and Sailing Museum at Mystic seaport, and Sarah still works there now; a fantastic place to visit if you get the chance.
If you have a singing group of your own its worth listening to their back catalogues for inspiration. Jeremy’s song Silver Darlins on Proper Job was based around one of Forebitter Dave Littlefield’s melodys (a song entitled Luce Brothers), and we gained lots of inspiration from them (including the French filth that is Le Capitaine De St Malo!). Cheers chaps!
We’ve always touched on a few whaling songs in the FF’s (Blood Red Roses, The Last Leviathan), and so it was good to go out on a whale watch from Boston. Trouble was, a coachload of Amish folk arrived from Utah and they came on the voyage as well. Fascinating – well, I’m a great people watcher, and frankly they were far more interesting than any whales. What are the chances of that happening though? Fifty odd Amish verses twenty whales? Well, obviously the whales were much larger (generally, although one was a fine great woman), but they didn’t balance any beach balls on their noses or sing any high-pitched arias, and although I didn’t catch any of the Amish breaching or spouting (they’re not terribly demonstrative), it was rather like going back in time, and the Amish won hands down. I must add that they seemed to be most gentle, courteous and polite people, and not all standoffish.
And, no, Harrison Ford was not there…
Bill and I wrote a song about a whale on our Roscarrock album, First and Last; it was entitled, The …errr…Whalefish. We were very pleased with it. Maybe we could think about an FF’s cover version, we’ll see.
It was all about a sperm whale that washed up sick on P.I. beach in 1827 (true story), and how the village kids gathered around it, fascinated by how it had got there, probably all the way from Nantucket. Some things never change, eh?
‘We dreamt every night of questions and more,
To ask the great whalefish beached on our shore.
On equinox spring, you floated by tide,
As flotsam you lay, with we at your side,
We at your side.’
Getting ready for the next mini-tour. Maybe see you at Hastings, London or Milton Keynes? Looking forward to them all!
The Walrus of Lurve x
Sorry that I’ve not managed to follow up the return of the Fish Counter very quickly, because the luckiest girl in North Cornwall and I have just had a nice run ashore over in New England, and a proper job it was too. I got home from the last gig in Birmingham at three in the morning on Sunday the eleventh, woke up dreckly in the day and set off right away for Heathrow.
Before we were elevated to superstar status in 2010 and embarked on our wildly Bohemian sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle, casting off all our roots, friends and values in our shallow and superficial surge to success (well, that was the plan anyway…), the FFs had visited New England back in 1997 on a short gig tour. I’ve wanted to return and have a good old look around for ages, and got the chance this autumn. All right, this Fall.
There’s no denying that the sight of the turning leaves over there is wonderful. I think the main difference is in the amount and variety of red and yellow in the mix, not that I know much about trees because there are only three here in Cornwall (one in Bodmin and two in the Eden Project), but I’d seen pictures enough in my Observers Book of Trees to know that they’re big brown things made of wood, with greeny bits called leaves that change colour once a year and then drop off and make a mess. The trees over there are fantastic, and there’s lots of them.
There were plenty of other things to look at as well. The coastal bits of New England are a bit like home, in that at this time of year the vast bulk of visitors (and many of them really are vast bulks) have gone and their kids have returned to school, and the tourist trade is sustained by older, retired people and young couples. This is what is referred to in Cornwall rather unkindly as the season of ‘newly-weds and nearly-deads’. The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is so much kinder, isn’t it?
Anyway, certainly not being in the newly-wed category anymore, and reluctant (obviously) to join the other, we travelled up to Provincetown, one of the old clapperboard ports at the tip of Cape Cod Piece. I remembered 1997 when the FFs visited, unaware that Provincetown was (and is) hugely popular with the gay, lesbian, transgender and transvestite community. Nothing wrong with that, and it had been my own choice all those years ago to grow an enticing Uncle Joe Stalin moustache. Still, enough of my insecurities….
This time the Provincetown equivalent of newly-weds and nearly-deads was much in evidence.
Having been brought up on a TV diet of Danny La Rue and then the blonde bomb site Lilly Savage, and having seen at first hand some of the astonishing lady-boys in Bangkok, and watched that geezer with the beard who won the Eurovision a couple of years ago, one has come to expect a modicum of glamour and not a little glitz.
Now bear with me. Back in dear ole Cornwall, if we get an OAP coach trip visit on some sort of mystery tour, it’s invariably made up of old ladies, simply because they tend to live longer and there are far more of them (men are very much at a premium and my, what fun they must have!). When the coach pulled up in Provincetown main street and the elderly passengers disembarked, it was evident that it really was a mystery tour with a difference. It was very mysterious indeed to witness the arrival of a coachload of male OAPs all dressed as old ladies. One of the locals, an elegant and well-presented twenty-something man with a bobbed hair-do and twin set and pearls, was clearly pissed off with their Provincetown equivalent of newly-weds and nearly-deads, and muttered darkly about another coachload of ‘tranny-grannies’.
I’ve been puzzling over whether this is an offensive term. My inclination is that it’s not if used by a ‘colourful’ resident of Provincetown on Cape Cod Piece, like on this occasion. I’ve never heard it before, so maybe I’ll let you be the judges. Then if you decide it is, I won’t use it again.
Not for a few weeks anyway…
There was not the slightest tantalising turn of a stocking. There was no hint of satin or lace or stiletto, nicely manicured nails or eye make-up. It was all sensible, comfy flat shoes, old cardigans, tweedy skirts that had seen better days and frankly rather down-at-heel coats with trimmed collars or flea-bitten fur stoles.
Only a few sported wigs, and these seemed to have been rescued out of mothballs, and were rather dusty and worn at interesting, jaunty angles. The others just had bog standard can’t-be-bothered-anymore scruffy old bloke’s haircuts done at crap ‘That’ll be two dollars, awesome, thanks a million, next please’ barber’s shops (as if I would know).
Stubble appeared to be ‘de rigeur’, and there were several impressive sets of ‘old bugger grips’ (mutton chops to the uninitiated). Those who had bothered with such niceties as lipstick had economically applied it to the very middle of their lips, like Hilda Ogden used to.
It was like a convention for Adam’s-appled Nora Battys.
The weird thing was, I just had this compulsion to take a peep inside their (mostly clutch) handbags. Were there crumbs in the bottom? Were there packs of tissues? Jars of tablets? Were there sticky, fluffy sweets? Did they have purses? Folded see-through-plastic rain hats with chin ties? Did they collect sachets of sugar (always white) or little pats of butter or small packs of digestives, or plastic pots of semi-skimmed? Had any of them wrapped-up uneaten morsels in a serviette from the last diner, to take home for the cat?
Or, dare I ask, were they full of blokey stuff? A biro maybe? A comb? Betting slips? Small bottle of whiskey? Tools? Manuals? Surely, if the contents were too blokey, it could easily blow your cover. I don’t know, what would a bloke carry in a handbag? I’ll check mine out and let you know.
There is one thing I’d like to ask though, does this curiosity about tranny-grannies make me a bad person? Oh darn, I just said it, didn’t I…
Dreckly dears x
Well dears, the long-suffering amongst you, those of you who go back with the dear ole FFs to when our notoriety was more global, may remember the incoherent, rambling nonsense that was the Fish Counter.
A blog particularly aimed at those people who don’t mind when someone starts a sentence with the word and. And I frequently do.
And paragraphs too.
See, I just did it....
Cue the pedants who think the previous paragraph is too short to be a paragraph. It’s just a short paragraph, all right?
Rather like this one is going to be…
Anyway, I think it might be fun to resurrect the old Fish Counter, and please accept the above grammatical warning, as well as others regarding mature themes, bad language and flashing images. I think it’s important that the reader is pre-warned, don’t you?
A bit like the way I try to warn the punters before a gig that it’s likely to be saucy, fruity, bawdy and Jolly-Rogering. That way we get carte-blanche to include as much puerile and salacious filth as possible. Everybody’s happy, except of course the music lovers (and what would they be doing at an FF gig?).
By the way, I don’t buy the one about flashing images, do you? Do you know anyone who has had a seizure after being exposed to a rank of flashing cameras whilst watching the Ten O’Clock News? It seems that we get the same warning every single night now, and I have to keep grabbing the zapper and switching off, lest I end up gibbering and dribbling on the floor, and consequently it’s a helluva job to keep abreast with current affairs these days.
So can anyone help? Who are England playing in the quarter finals?
And what about coming across flashing lights when simply going about your daily business? For instance, when I was flashed by a sodding camera whilst minding my own business and doing eighty six at 02:46am (yes, am) just outside Exeter on my way to the airport, should I have been warned that it was about to happen?
Perhaps that would have saved me from the hundred quid fine and three (more) points on my licence. And had they considered the possibility that I might,as a result of the flash of the camera, have ended up gibbering, dribbling and twitching in the foot-well of the car?
There has to be a defence there somewhere. Where can you find a decent lawyer when you really need one?
So, prior to our jaunt up North this week, maybe some warnings are in order…
Manchester. Durham. Birmingham.
"South Westerly gale force eight, increasing gale force nine, locally hurricane force ten.
Visibility crap (if you’re sitting at the back, obviously).
Warnings of showers of ale and lager if in the front two rows.
Possibility of raucous ‘singing’, ribaldry, and overpriced, tawdry merchandise in the foyer.
Backing North Easterly and decreasing early Sunday morning for gentle breeze home."
See you there dears.....
....And no flash photography!!
Love and Fishes from
The dear ole Walrus of St Isaac xx