Hello fish-heads. How is everyone? Thanks to you all up north for all your lovely good wishes on our tour. What a brilliant time we had, and all that stuff to see – the Tyne Bridge, the Sage, Durham Cathedral, Britain’s most haunted pub The Shakespeare, the Derbyshire Dales, and of course wonderful Harrogate.
Several best bits for me, and hard to choose one in particular, but here goes. If you’ve never been into the Royal Hall in Harrogate, you should try. It is stunning, all gold leaf and lapis lazuli and muriels [yes I know it’s ‘mural’- it’s what Hilda Ogden used to say] painted all around.
I love muriels. Funnily enough I was at college with a girl we nicknamed Muriel. She was going out with a boy who was a bit of a geek really, and got bored with him and dumped him [to his face, of course, there was no texting option back then…]. Anyway, he went on and did well for himself and is now in the Sunday Times Top 100 richest people in the country list. How do you feel about that, Muriel? That’s where shallow behaviour gets you. You’re right though, he was a geek ….
I don’t suppose either of them is reading this anyway [not if they’ve any sense].
As usual I digress. Sorry. I loved just coming across the Angel of the North, looming high and mighty out of the misty morning – I’ve always wanted to see it and it is as magnificent as I imagined. We also came across the Cock of the North, which is the name of a pub in Bristol, and the now honorary title of a landlord in Newcastle, whose establishment we sadly allowed ourselves to be sucked into.
We’d been in there the previous day, and it seemed such an affable and character full place, even down to them playing a scratchy recording of ‘The Shoals of Herring’ on an old fashioned gramophone. Wonderful. We sat in the snug and sang along. And then we met three young folk singers in there, one of whom was a great shanty enthusiast. I mean we’re hardly a threat to the nation’s security are we? Five granddads and a great granddad of 79 [did I mention he was 79?] in the group, it was indeed surprising to be ejected from this pub for singing.
Remarkably, it was the first time any of us had ever been slung out of any pub, anywhere [ in these days of recession I thought they’d be throwing us in ], which considering we have a combined age of nearly 600, is a pretty remarkable statistic. That, in linear terms, is just one ejection since three years before Agincourt.
I just wonder if this tw*t [sorry, but sometimes only one word will do, and it’s not twit] might have infringed our human rights? Surely the right to sing and be happy is enshrined somewhere? I always say to people, particularly around Remembrance day, that my dear old dad ended up in Bombay in the war for four of what should have been the best years of his life, to allow me to be the loud mouthed, opinionated know it all that I am today. As Pete would say ‘Everyone’s entitled to your opinion Jon.’ Thanks for that Pete. Did I mention he was 79?
Anyway, what right did the Cock of the North have to try and repress that? It became even more bizarre when he threatened to call the police. Well, I went along to some funny calls when I was in the constabulary, but never anything like this. I suppose for a long time we’ve been in danger of being charged with crimes against music. Maybe he did have a point after all….
The other highlight for me, and I suspect all the other buoys, was all the truly lovely folks we met in and around Newcastle, Gateshead, Derby and Harrogate. They sometimes say that Britain is divided, but I don’t believe it for a minute. There is a terrific warmth between all us ordinary people that is tangible, a union of different kinds if you like, and it’s only when you have the rare misfortune to come across someone who doesn’t share that, that you really appreciate what you have got.
Just one Cock amongst all them Angels!
Dreckly dears xx
Mornin’ fish-heads – here’s a little shock for you. The fish-counter is re-opening for business after the summer recess. It’s a bit like parliament does really, but without all the mealy-mouthed, hypocrital, old Etonian, right honourable members called Hugo…
We’ve had a damp and dreary old summer like the rest of you, but we’re now highly excitorised at the fact that this winter we’re going to be doing a gig in Wales; St David’s Hall, Cardiff in fact. We’ve sung there before, with Show of Hands at the Welsh Proms a few years ago, before overnight we became phenomenally stupendous and fabulous [my god, I can hardly remember those days before we became sensational fish finger icons], and my what fun we had – Whoop whoop!
It’s going to be brilliant doing a gig in a place where we have such a shared cultural heritage – singing, language, mining, Methodism, over-fondness for farm animals and bitter and twistedness towards anyone who’s not Cornish or in their case, Welsh. We have so much to talk about, so many notes to compare.
Now what we try and do at certain gigs is to try our hand at performing songs resonant of the area. So for example at Liverpool Philharmonic last year we slaughtered ‘The Leaving of Liverpool’, to much sympathetic applause it has to be said. Well, the scousers love a trier don’t they? When we go to Gateshead in November, you Geordies need to prepare yourselves for a soft southerner version of ‘Fishy on a Dishy’ [like in the fish finger ad!], and we’re sure that you’ll be as gracious as the people of Liverpool were.
But what should we sing over in Wales to ingratiate ourselves with the local punters?
I asked my old muckers Spickett and George and Gully, all Welsh exiles in Bristol and mates of the FFs, what we should do and to a man they all replied ‘Myffanwy!’ at the top of their voices.
Cwm Rhondda [Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer fish-head, stay with me] is a magnificent hymn, but I’m not sure if it’s right for the occasion. Then of course, there’s ‘Land of My Fathers’. Now I’m not sure whether in St Isaac we could ever really sing it with any conviction, given the confusion that annually reigns here on Father’s Day…
Anyway, it’s always a bit dodgy singing someone else’s national anthem isn’t it? I’d hate to hear any Welsh boys singing ‘Trelawney’ I must admit. There is, of course, this adaptation of ‘Land of My Fathers’, which before I provoke the ire of the Welsh, I first heard sung by Welsh rugger buggers years ago…
‘Wales, Wales, bloody great fishes are Wales,
They swim in the sea, you can eat them for tea,
Bloody great fishes are Wales.’
That’s the thing. When it’s your National anthem, you can do what you like with it.
Talking of Wales, on Sunday the luckiest girl in North Cornwall and I went to a Moby Dick symposium in Plymouth. The ‘Moby Dick’ big read has a different chapter read online everyday [there are well over a hundred of them!] – Tida Swinton has read the first, and other readers have included Sir David Attenborough [him with the long straggly ginger hair – or was that a programme on the oran utan? It’s hard to tell I know], the Prime Minister, our mate Stephen Fry, Simon Callow and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Despite numerous incursions against good taste by continual repetition of fatuous remarks about Greenpeace and sushi, I’ve also read a chapter. So fish heads, if you prefer ham to whalemeat, you can catch it at Chapter 36, The Quarterdeck. Hope you enjoy it. If you don’t, I don’t want to know if it’s all the same, thanks very much.
Thar she blows!!!
Dreckly dears xx
Yo, fishy-dudes. This is the newly anointed ‘By Royal Appointment’ fishcounter. Did you watch the telly the other Sunday afternoon, or go on up to that there London? We made a rare trip up there, and delivered some fish at the same time to boot.
Typical Cornish boys abroad though; got a bit lost and confused just after Lanson and were told to keep going until we got to Exeter, then go on up the motorway. Same thing happened at Bristol, where one of the local punters told us ‘Turn right me old babee and keep on driving that old fish van on past Reading.’
We did, and when we got there we were told yes, keep going straight on for London, you can’t miss it. There’s lots of tall buildings and aeroplanes flying low and black taxis and stuff. And when it looked like we’d got there, we pulled over and asked a bloke on the pavement ‘Is this London?’ and he said ‘Yes’, and we said ‘Where do you want your fish then?’ do you know what, he didn’t have a clue. Typical.
Anyway, if you missed the big event, there were ten national treasures floating on the Thames for the pageant, dressed up in all their finery and waving regally to the cheering, adoring masses that lined the banks, the Tower of London directly [not dreckly] behind them, and Tower Bridge opening right up, all framing a most iconic picture.
Coincidentally, the Queen and royal family were there too….
What a fab day, all helped along by the lovely Fearne Cotton who was a delight, and all the veterans of HMS Belfast to whom Lefty sang ‘A Sailor ain’t a Sailor’, and all the local Sea Cadets who soon picked up ‘The Drunken Sailor’. I don’t suppose we’ll ever do or see anything quite like it again. It really was one of those ‘what are we doing here?’ moments.
Boldly we laughed and sang and quaffed with the nation, as the flotilla passed by right in front of us. My, what merry, merry making we buoys had, and what deep joy we tasted…
We eventually got home at 2.30 Monday morning, FFs, fwags and all. It would have been earlier, but Pete [he’s 78, have I ever mentioned that?] decided to engage in a little attention seeking behaviour and did a swallow dive, a la Tom Dalley, out of the fish van onto his head in Fore Street, and we had to hang on for half an hour for the ambulance to whisk him off to hospital.
You’ll be relieved that the antique granite pavement edging appears undamaged, but it was a close run thing. It is, after all, a grade one conservation area, and he more than most should have more respect for that fact.
As he lay prostrate and semi-conscious on the cold, wet road, I actually had to say to him, [in a supportive way, you understand] ‘You know, it’s not all about you today, Pete’.
But what can you do when the old Duke pulls exactly the same stunt a few hours later, apparently blaming a dodgy doner kebab for his upset tummy.
And the Queen? She just sails gloriously and graciously onwards….
‘Here’s a health unto her majesty,
Long may she reign.
She’s the queen of the seven seas,
And the pride of the Spanish Main.
For ’tis he that will not merry, merry be,
Shall never taste of joy.
Sing! Sing! The Cape’s in view!
And forward my brave boys!’
Pass Around the Grog [trad]
Dreckly dears xx
Fish-heads! Tis me. Thought we could have a brief muse about the price of fish.
Funnily enough, the other reader of the fish counter [that’s apart from you and mother], a lovely girl down at Cornwall College, Camborne [where the hill is…] invited me the other week to talk on the very same down there, where the business students were hosting a conference on iconic Cornwall.
I confided Boy George as usual, and all he could do was sing ‘Karma Chameleon…’ which was no use at all, a chameleon of course being a funny person like Bernard Manning or Marty Feldman, or, I’m told, a type of lizard with weird eyes. Funny that coincidence about the weird eyes….
So I asked my boy George, who properly enlightened me as to the price of fish.
Cod is dear, turbot is as dear as hell, and mackerel is quite good at the minute as there seem to be a few around. Conger? It’s a good dance but most people prefer the hokey cokey. Clams? They apparently don’t give a stuff about other bi-valves and just look after themselves – they’re very selfish shellfish. Sea bass? There’s no such thing – just bass.
Which brings me on to pollack, that darling of the culinary left. Environmentally sound, eco friendly, politically correct oh-so-sustainably hand-line caught, tasteless, textureless, ugly bastard pollack….but hey, that’s just me.
I’ll let you into a guilty secret. I’ve eaten jellyfish, snake, bat and cat in the wild animal restaurant in Guanzhou. They were all ok, except the jellyfish which was disgusting, but even that was nicer than bleddy pollack.
Oh, and guess what. Since all the TV chefs have been talking a bag of scallops about how marvellous it is, it’s getting rather scarce out there. Huzzah!! Poor old pollack is about to go the same way as the plesiosaur, which according to Ugg, the stoneage TV chef in one million years BC, was also a tastless, ugly bleddy fish, even if it was a little more sporty on the end of a line.
Anyway, apparently the provisional wing of Greenpeace see the FFs as ideal candidates to help promote their campaign for sustainable fisheries and communities, and that’s our next little jaunt for the remainder of 2012. Funny that, after they threatened to take a fatwa out on me – at least I think that’s what they said – last year. I didn’t think I was that fat…
I have clearance for all the wonderfully highly inappropriate and crass whale/sushi/harpoon/rotisserie/‘thar she blows’/fennel fronds/marinade comedy gold gags of old to continue just as before, following their tremendous success at Glasto last year on the pyramid stage just above the Greenpeace banner….tumbleweed moment or what?
We weren’t quite sure of the cut of their jib at first, but it should be fun, though I’d rather be with the Taliban or Hezbollah to be honest, they don’t seem quite so extreme. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is we’re not getting all politicised or serious or worthy or anything like that – we intend to remain the utterly charming, irascible, cheeky buoys we’ve always been. So I’m sure you’re all very relieved at that….
Anyway, fish-heads, there were no sodding dolphins frolicking around in the sea behind us at the Minack this year, looking cute and bouncing beach balls and generally stealing the show. Greenpeace or no Greenpeace, we ain’t having it…
Dreckly dears xx
Mornin’ fish-heads. Just got back from foreign parts [West Penwith!] from our two Minack gigs. What a place – we love our own bit of Cornwall, but that is something else down there. The Celtic feel and vibe seems that much stronger.
The luckiest girl in North Cornwall and I made a little holiday of it. Talking of vibe, we’ve just bought Jason’s pimped up VW camper from him – he had to sell it to get a pick-up because he’s gone fishing again, and we camped down at Treen, a little too close to the Logan Rock Inn. Brilliant camp site if you ever want to go there, fresh homemade pasties delivered every morning, and even hot cups of tea and coffee from the shop if you can’t be assed to light up the ghastly gas stove….
Anyway, there we were, vibing and dude-ing and hanging in the van in Ray Bans and Hawaiian shirts, beads hanging down [from the mirror obviously] and looking faintly incongruous in a vehicle more suited to someone full of youthful zest and exuberance and the intention to ride the wild Atlantic rollers. Man.
And we went bird watching.
It was good though. The RSPB re-introduced the chough to the west of the county a couple of years ago. It’s the Cornish national bird, and had become extinct here. They’re like a large jackdaw with a curvy red beak and legs, and you have always been able to find them out in parts of west Wales and Ireland, and now they’re thriving again in that part of Cornwall where the scenery is so similar to those other Celtic lands. Marvellous.
When we’d done with the twitching vibe we got back into the van vibe and fired up the Beach Boys greatest hits – you remember them, they were the ones who made The Sloop John B quite popular before we came along and immortalised it. There’s several other songs of theirs we could pinch, maybe ‘The Lonely Sea’, or ‘Sail On Sailor’, but I just love ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’, just a pity it’s not nautical….probably just as well it’s not as I’m sure we would bugger it up; just imagine us old farts singing a zestfully youthful song of naive teenage hope and aspiration…
We met loads of folks at the campsite who’d come down for the gigs and were, like us, making a small holiday of it. I was touched when a lady told me that her husband had seen us live for the first time and that he’d cried.
‘What was it?’ I asked. ‘The ticket prices? The crap singing? Hayfever?’
She explained that he’d come down expressly for the Suzanne Vega gig, and got the dates wrong….
Anyway, lots of them were in the Logan Rock Inn after the Thursday night gig, and joined into an impromptu jam vibe thang with guitars and accordions and voices, and Lefty performed The Music Man, carrying Johnnie Mac on his back around and around the bar like a jockey and cracked his head on the nice low beam and we all had loads to drink as usual and left there at three o’clock….there’s zesty, youthful exuberance for you.
So the singing season has begun in earnest fish-heads. It’s the first Platt gig in Port Isaac on Friday, and then up to London for the River Pageant, the Royal Cornwall Show, the Falmouth Sea Shanty Fest, and on and on and on.
I remember a few years ago thinking what we might be getting ourselves into; gigs, recording, tours, signings, TV, radio, lovely audiences….
I remember thinking ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice?’
Dreckly dears xx
Happy Easter fish-heads, if that’s not too much of a contradiction of terms. Sorry not to have troubled you about the price of fish for a week or two, but I took boy George [not Boy George] and boy Jakes skiing for the former’s 21st. When I say skiing, that’s what they did. I came down the mountain more like a cross between a three toed arctic tree sloth and a glacier, and all the more dangerous for it. Still, no broken bones, and back in Port Isaac ready for Easter.
We’ve probably all but forgotten it’s true meaning, or so we’re told. Just like dear old Christmas when, lest we forget, we celebrate the day when the baby Jesus came down somebody’s chimney, at Easter we simply stuff ourselves with chocolate and tell jokes like the ones that end with the punchline ‘I can see your house from here’, or ‘What a bloody way to spend Easter’. Don’t ask, but they raise an annual titter for those of us with nothing newer to tell.
They were, of course, far more religious a thousand or so years ago, and naughty jokes like those would have had you horribly tortured with spiky bits of metal and molten lead and the like, and your entire village burnt to the ground and your family massacred. And just to make it worst, this would be done in front of others for public entertainment. Well, I don’t know about you fish-heads, but think of the humiliation, eh? That would probably have done for me, way before the debilitating effects of being hung, drawn and quartered took full effect, ‘The molten lead up the jacksie was pretty bad, but the embarrassment….can you imagine how I felt?’
With all these lurid images of medieval justice flitting in and out of my mind that we descended a couple of weeks ago on Hastings. It has apparently not rained in Hastings since William the Bastard [a much better epithet than ‘the Conqueror’ don’t you think?] stuffed it up poor old Harold the second, who was tired out anyway after a fortnight’s walking up in the northern hills.
Now, you may be asking yourselves that as William was from Normandy in what is now France, why history does not remember him as William the French Bastard? Well, of course apart from the fact that it might upset that oversensitive malignant dwarf Sarcozy, William and the Normans were of Norse origin.
Somehow, it’s all rather soothing to reflect that the French have never conquered us. Isn’t it re-assuring that our ancestors were butchered by psychopaths of Viking origin, not French ones? It helps me sleep at night, I can tell you
Anyway, Hastings is drier than the Atacama desert, and al fresco local events are de rigeur, my dears.
So how come it p****d down on the night, eh?
We had a cracking night there though, and a lovely crowd of music lovers came along and joined in the fun. We’d brought a nice bucket of the finest Cornish water [not the Camelford stuff, obviously] to auction off, just to try and make a bit extra from the trip, but it got watered down with the rain and we had to give up on the idea. Another time maybe.
So, happy Easter to all you fish-heads. Stuff your faces with choccy, have a nice roast lamb dinner with your folks, and try not to run over too many bunnies in your four by twos or whatever they’re called.
The Warbling Walrus of lurve.
Hello dears. Thought I’d write a little yarn to muse the price of fish with you all. Got back safe and sound Monday afternoon in the new improved, pimped-up, dark windowed, ‘my god that looks like a brothel on wheels’ fish van, and very comfy it is too. Well, it should be for £375 [ including road tax]!
We did 1,300 miles, visited some great towns to which most of us had never been before, and re-visited some towns who had foolishly welcomed us back with open arms. No accounting for taste…
It was very much our version of sex and drugs and rock and roll, the wildly Bohemian and hedonistic second leg of the winter tour. Considering that it has taken us since the first day of December to get over the last speaks volumes.
Experienced now in the art of tour management, we went properly equipped in the fish van nouveau with, wait for it, a built in telly and DVD player. We had the entire collection of Dad’s Army DVDs, nine whole series plus the Christmas specials. So often did we sing along to the theme tune that we are thinking of adding ‘Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler’ to the repertoire, with Peter [our very own Corporal Jones] singing the lead.
No bottles of vodka and whisky and pills and spliffs and wild, wild women for us either, oh no. We had a lovely Victoria sponge that Jason’s Annie had baked for us, which it has to be said had disappeared before we passed Lanson [not Lawn-cest-on, don’t forget what happened to the last person who mispronounced our place names – he’s never been seen again…], and a bleddy great tin of chocolate biscuits. We know how to live, we FFs.
We went around the colleges at Cambridge, and the town itself which was great, around the Roman ruins and cathedral in St Albans, and then for me what was to be the highlight of the tour in York, a morning in the Yorvik museum, and then an afternoon in the York Minster, with a break for a swift half in the Blue Bell in between. At least, that was the plan.
Oh dear….how very predictable. 12 hours later, the closest I got to the Minster was stretched out on the green outside waiting for a taxi with a massive doner kebab in hand, singing ‘Old Johnnie Bugger’ with my magnificent moustache caked with congealing chilli sauce. Had God been looking down he’d have been terribly disappointed. Just as well he had better things to do in other parts of the world.
Such friendly folk in the Blue Bell. Indeed, we were all struck at how great it is in the north that people are so uninhibited at socialising. If there is a choice between new arrivals sitting alone at their own table, or joining you on yours, they invariably do the latter with a merry ‘Do you mind if we join you?’ I think it’s really sad how we seem to have lost that in many other parts of the country – long may it continue. Surely that’s how folk should be?
Having said that, I don’t know how the four nice ladies of a certain age who joined us on our table felt about it the next day. On their weekly get together for a glass or two of vino, they were rather drawn too much into the singing. One poor lady had to be carried out by her mates having had just a smidgeon over her limit, following their tearful [as tearful as a newt] first friend who’d been slung out by the landlord on her second warning for standing on her bench and squawking out ‘On Ilkley Moor Bah’t Tat’ like a demented rook. And these were delightful, respectable, demure ladies I can assure you. Well, they were when they first came in and sat down anyway…
The Fisherman’s Friends? Sex and drugs and rock and roll? Nah…just mad, bad and dangerous to know. I do hope they felt better than we did the next day; at least they didn’t stoop to munching kebabs. Now that would have been disgraceful.
Whatever, we hope that when we sing our songs of the sea, either in auditoriums or pubs, that folk realise the songs belong to all of us, ordinary working folk from the west and the north and all the bits in between. Sing them how you like and enjoy them, they’re yours, and don’t let anybody tell you any different….
But if you’re joining in with us not too loud please, we don’t want you to bugger it all up after all!
Dreckly dears xx
Co-ee fish heads! How’ve you been? Shivering I suppose. Well, I know it sounds a little harsh, but serves you right all you lot for living in that little bit of Britain east of Cornwall; let’s face it, you’re right on the edge of the Steppes there, aren’t you? Down here has been mildly temperate [rather like the people], if a little windy at times [not at all like the people!]. No snow and very little frost or ice at all.
Mind you, my boy George [that’s my boy George, not my ‘Boy George’ by the way], managed to get a little frosticled one day, stacking halibut or bream or skate or whatever in the big freezer of Dennis Knight’s wet fish emporium, and the door shut behind him, and he found that the emergency handle on the inside had, wait for it, frozen up and he was trapped. Could that be a design fault?
A bit like those stainless steel flip-lid teapots that don’t shut properly and spill scalding hot water down your plums, sorry lap, when you try and pour. Or that moulded plastic packaging that scissors and knives are packaged in now, that you have to use, wait for it, scissors or knives to cut into it to get the scissors or knife out. Why would I be buying scissors or a knife if I already had them? Did anyone consider that?
We took the trans-Siberian express out of Exeter St Davids last week, bound for Paddington across the vast tundra and permafrost of central southern England, to go on the One Show. Well, it was so much better than last time, when we all ended up getting mugged by winos in a piss-stinking alley on Shepherd’s Bush Green.
Our newest best mates Matt Baker and Alex Jones were charm itself, and so was Stephen Fry. It’s amazing to me that he chose to go into showbiz at all, when with a name like that you’d have thought he’d naturally have been predisposed to open his own take-away. Same applies to Matt Baker I suppose. I only say these things as I was once a policeman with a PC Nick Crook – having said that I don’t remember him ever nicking anyone. Too much paperwork and all that…
Anyway, after the show, I left the FFs in the middle of a snow shower and went off to join the luckiest girl in North Cornwall at Fishmonger’s Hall, one of the ancient London Guilds. She’d illustrated a children’s book for the lobster hatchery in Padstow, and as a result we’d got an invite to a fundraiser there, and I was bandwaggoning along, whoop whoop!
Well, what a plaice [geddit?] – no huge deep freezers with dodgy handles there my dears. No stench of red herrings or fish guts whatsoever. It’s a fabulous building right next to the Thames at London Bridge, and steeped in history.
Being a bit of a history nerd, I was fascinated to see in a case the dagger owned by the Lord Mayor of London, William Walworth. He was escorting young King Richard 2nd [who turned out to be a bit of a twat if you ask me] at Smithfield during the peasant’s revolt in 1381. Walworth used it to stab Watt Tyler, the leader of the peasants, who had got too close for comfort to young Dickie. Well, I’m blowed if Walworth wasn’t a fishmonger as well as Lord Mayor, and in recognition of his services the fishmongers of London were recognised as the fourth city Guild the following year – a great honour. The fact that he’d single handedly set back the cause of democracy, the rights of man, civil war and revolution in this country by nearly 3 hundred years is neither here nor there apparently…That’s fishmongers for you. I must have a word with boy George.
Still, the dagger was remarkably sharp after nearly 750 years, and sliced through my scallops [the ones on the plate] like a, well, dagger through scallops. The lamb cutlets were no problem either, and I was even able to carve ‘JC luvs CC 4ever’ into the surface of the priceless teak Georgian dining table between courses, and just in time for Valentine’s Day too. She was needless to say very touched. It also doubled up beautifully as a toothpick, proving more than equal to a stubborn slither of Brecon blackface lamb wedged in my right rear filling [in my tooth, that is].
But let no one say we Cornish don’t know how to behave. I put it right back in the case as we left – a lovely little piece of history – still with a tiny bit of lamb on the point. A class act me.
So there we are. Boy George has been driving the fish delivery van around all week like a dog with two tails, or like a fishmonger with a van full of fish anyway, while Lefty has been preparing our pimped out new fish van for part deux of our tour. There will not have been so many rugged, rustic types east of Cornwall since 1381. If you can get to a gig, you’ll truthfully be able to say ‘My god, the peasants are truly revolting’!
The Warbling Walrus xx
Click here to find out where you can see us singing in the future
Merry Christmas fish-heads, and a Happy New Year too! I bet you’re wondering why we haven’t got a Christmas song out, aren’t you? So am I, seeing as I wrote one last year and we’ve recorded it, along with a couple of Cornish carols, and it sounds good to me. Then, it would do, wouldn’t it? It’s called ‘The stars of the New Year Turning’, and is meant to fill us all with hope and optimism in these dodgy times….
‘And we’ll all be all right
When we walk home tonight,
The fires deep in our hearts burning.
If you want to survive
Keep your passions alive,
Be the stars of the New Year turning….’
There, that’s cheered you up already, hasn’t it?
So what are you all doing pre-christmas? Carol singing? I hope you don’t come to the Port Gaverne hotel Friday evening, or the Golden Lion on Christmas Eve, because we’ll be in there carolling and shantying together probably, with loads of other locals, and we wouldn’t want you to join in and bugger it all up. Maybe you could just listen from outside? The windows are generally open for you to hear, and if it’s freezing with a blizzard blowing in on a North Easterly and you’ve got icicles hanging off your nether regions, and you’re being attacked by polar bears or wolverines or the like, we could pass you out a ginger beer and bag of crisps.
We love our own carols, fish-heads. One in particular we regard as the Port Isaac carol, ‘Hark the Glad Sound’. That’s a good old hellfire, brimstone and eternal damnation number that is…
‘…The gates of brass before him burst,
The iron fetters yield!’
Good old Methodists, just like the Taliban only without the bonhomie and goodwill and wicked sense of fun. The best thing about it is that no one else knows it, so they can’t join in at all!
We always had problems with people joining in with ‘While Shepherds Watched’, however we put paid to that by doing it to the tune of Lyngham, which is hugely popular in Cornwall. Imagine how disappointed I was to discover that Thomas Jarman, the composer of Lyngham, was in fact from Northamptonshire. Still, it by far and away the most rattlin!!! version of the carol.
And just who was it wot rote ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithfull’? It is a fabulous carol I know, but what on earth possessed him to think up the line ‘…Lo, he abhors not the virgin’s womb’ ? What’s that all about? I’m surprised some rapper hasn’t ‘sampled it’ [pinched it in other words] – ‘…Yo, he abhors not the virgin’s womb etc etc’!
I think, for me certainly, therein lies the appeal of carols. They take you right back to your childhood, when you could change the words to give the lyric a naughty, silly little twist. You know, ‘Noel, Noel’ becomes ‘Oh hell, Oh hell..’, ‘Most highly favoured lady’ becomes ‘Most highly flavoured lady’, and ‘While shepherds watched their flocks’ became ‘While shepherds washed their…’, oh never mind. These little tweaks, seemingly inaudible to teachers and choirmasters, gave us little moments of fun through those interminable rehearsals for nativity plays.
And then some of us graduated on to doing complete sets of lyrics for traditional Christmas songs. I remember fondly my exquisitely filthy version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, the cleanest bit of which was where three French hens became three French tarts. Ahh, Christmas. The warm glow of nostalgia. My nuts roasting by an open fire and all that…
Talking of Nat King Cole, I’ve had a little tweak to the Christmas classic, ‘The little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot.’ I do hope you like it.
‘I’m the little boy that Santa Claus forgot,
And heaven knows, I didn’t want a lot.
I left a note for Santa for an X- Box and a gun,
I was so disappointed when the old bugger didn’t come.
Now I play out on the street with all those lucky boys,
Then wander home alone to last year’s broken toys.
I’d like to stampede all his reindeer,
But then I know he’d never come here,
To the little boy that Santa Claus forgot.
I recall one Christmas eve when Santa came to town,
With Dancer, Prancer, Rudolph and the sleigh.
I left a glass of sherry, and a carrot for the deer,
Then hid behind the sofa, for Santa to appear.
Yes, I hid there all night long and all through Christmas day,
Boxing day too…the old bugger never came.
I’d light a bonfire up my chimney,
But I haven’t got it in me,
Cos I’m the little boy that Santa Claus forgot.
It’s not as horrid as my original re-write, but you see he might just read it, and then I really would be the little boy that Santa Claus forgot, wouldn’t I?
A very Happy Christmas and New Year to all fish-heads everywhere!!!!
Dreckly dears xx
Fish-heads! Hello dears. Just got back from tripping the light fantastic….or did the light fantastic trip us? Who knows or indeed cares now; we’re back in dear old P.I.. What an absolutely fabulous and memorable time we’ve had, and thanks to all you lovers of high culture for coming to see us – we were overwhelmed and a not a little touched by your response to the shows.
No accounting for taste…
Of course, were it not for the luxurious diva treatment afforded to top international superstars like us these days, the whole experience could be quite unpleasantly debilitating. The Hovelodges [or whatever they’re called] that we stayed in were rather resonant of a serf’s hut constructed of mud, cow dung and twigs from the reign of Widdlebert the Incontinent [the heir to Piddlebert the Incompetent]. Seemingly, all that was missing was bubonic plague and the occasional horde of marauding norsemen intent on rape and pillage….oh, and starvation. We had plenty to eat, as you’ll see.
To be honest, once we’d made ourselves at home by smashing the huts, sorry rooms, up a bit, they became home from home really. The fact that we’ve had no complaints about the state the rooms were left in tells you all you want to know….
And as for the lear jet, sorry stretch limo, sorry luxury tour coach, sorry…fish van. Oh my god. Has anyone seen the ‘I’m a celebrity’ gig with the contestant’s head in a glass box full of blowflies? Believe me, that’s nothing compared to the fish van.
It seems that a particularly sexually active couple of blowflies have been having it away behind the door and window seals, and laid enough eggs to provide the world’s spider population with copious snacks for the next fifty years. The only problem being that the fish van doesn’t have any spiders in it, only us.
Add together the unseasonably warm late November, and the combined body heat of ten FFs, and you have that peculiar zoological phenomenon, the mobile blowfly hatchery. At precisely 11.07 am daily when the temperature was apparently at it’s optimum, the little bastards, sorry big bastards, would start to emerge and lazily, dopily, dozily bump from one FF’s head to another, in our ears, in our eyes, up our nose, up our…oh never mind, I’m sure you can guess. And they were so massive. I’d swear one was bigger than a rook!
Now you always hear complaints from the rock and roll fraternity about all the hanging about and the travelling between gigs. Well, maybe they should all invest in fly blown fish vans. From the emergence of the first on day one, somewhere outside Bridgewater [you know, of Simon and Garfunkel fame – ‘Trouble Over Bridgewater’ remember that?], until the journey from Salisbury to Bristol on day three, we had found a new way of passing the long, tedious hours.
Rather than the usual needlework and embroidery, and in-depth investigation into the origins of the capstan shanty, and philosophical discourses on the role of the enlightenment in the French Revolution, we killed flies.
We progressed from primitive swatting methods, using rolled up bits of cardboard and newspaper, to more advanced fly destruction techniques. Sam pulled over at a DIY shop and equipped us with some spray left over from the Gulf War and some builder’s face masks. Sadly, these did not protect the eyes. How Lefty still managed to drive the fish van blind I have no idea. He did it by pure instinct, like Tommy at the pinball machine. That deaf, dumb and blind kid sure drives a mean fish van…
And then came the ultimate swatter, shaped like a mini tennis racket only with an electric charge, one only had to squash the unfortunate bluebottle against the window and crank up the voltage, and watch as the sparks flew and the smoke and stench of sizzled fly flesh drifted up our nostrils. My, how the hours flew by.
By the end of the journey, the fish van was like a fly cemetery. It was flymageddon. There were so many dead flies that we were tempted to give up our blossoming careers in entertainment, and turn instead to opening an organic Eccles cake and Garibaldi factory.
Anyway, fish-heads, we’ve decided to invest in a new fish van for next year – we reasoned that it’ll save money on flights if we get invited to the US or Australia. In the meantime, anyone interested in an old fish van, two hundred thousand plus miles on the clock, seats as soft as church pews, and with the unmistakable malodour of sizzled flies, stale farts and of course fish lingering imperceptibly within, give Lefty a shout. He’ll get back to you shortly….
Dreckly dears xx