Cleavies Fish Counter #13

Hello Fish-heads, how’s the price of fish today with you? John Brown’s got plenty of punters for mackerel fishing, the lobster boats are all out, cod’s come down, turbot’s up, pollack’s still cheapish, and the luckiest girl in North Cornwall and I had a half pint of prawns each at the Port Gaverne hotel last night, with mayonnaise and a fresh baked bread roll [is this sounding like one of them tweets?], and my middle boy George says that the punters in the fish cellars are driving him and all the other jowders [fishmongers] up the bleddy harbour wall.

Two prizes awarded so far – number one, most fatuous remark –‘Omigod, it stinks of fish in here!’ Please remember that this is a fish shop full of fishmongers selling all sorts of fish in a fish cellar in the middle of a fishing village.

Number two, most ridiculous question – ‘Are the green lipped New Zealand mussels caught locally?’ – No, of course not, they’re caught in Padstow you twat…oh I’m sorry, I mustn’t be like it, but it’s August right? And open season on those who perhaps are not the sharpest fish knives in the drawer.

Dear old, craggy old, cantankerous old grizzled Port Isaac fisherman Mark Townsend had a magnificent armoury of snidey ripostes to standard ‘tourismo stupidos.’ In particular, the ghastly, grating question that is always accompanied by the sympathetic smile – ‘Have you been here all your life?’, was always met by one of two replies, each guaranteed to bring an end to any hopes of a conversation with a real local. Either the acerbic ‘No, I was over there yesterday…’ with a nod to the other side of the road, or the more fatalistic ‘Not yet I hope.’ Maybe it was dear old Mark who that tosser from the Sunday Times bumped into….oh, enough…

Anyway fish-heads, celebrity is beginning to take it’s toll. I’ve not been asked to open anything yet [well, only my wallet, and clearly that’s as likely as Trev singing a cheerful song], but I have been asked to be after dinner speaker at two Rotarian evenings, and to hold forth for the St Minver old people’s morning.

So I had to make a little spiel about my exciting past couple of years with the FFs, and then on my writing and illustration and series of kid’s books that I first published when I was a mere stripling youth of 45. It’s always nice to give these things a little title, and after much thought and modest introspection, I decided to call the piece ‘The Late Flowering of My Artistic Genius by Jon Cleave aged 52.’ What do you think?

Where did it all begin? Well fish-heads, I have to tell you that I’ve been thwarted at every turn, but because I’m a spoilt, ego-centric, everyone else is wrong and I’m right only child [apparently], the glorious, magnificent late blossoming has occurred…

So I’ll tell you about the singing part of it. As a little boy I loved it, and sang to my mum and dad and aunts and uncles and grans and granfers. And in primary school – fantastic! We would sing ‘The Drunken Sailor’, ‘Westerlin’ Home’, and ‘The Skye Boat Song’. But then…

Then came Mrs Tyler, as our new music teacher and nasty old witch to boot [I won’t use her real name, she’s long gone now and it might offend the Taylor family…] and she used to take the school choir, which consisted of the entire school, to the Wadebridge Music Festival every year. At eight, my mate George Lyford [who later sneaked back in] and I, and Teresa Ann Tregaskis, were all chucked out of the choir for being ‘growlers.’

Growlers eh? Are you looking down now, you poison-sac poker-backed, bitter as the gall turkey-necked, never-been-kissed wizened old hag? Discarded on the musical scrap heap at eight? Eight! Really, I never sung again until I was over thirty [yeah, yeah, all right Lefty, it’s a pity I ever did...whatever]. Seriously fish-heads, consider what pleasure would have been denied to millions were it not for my selfless determination….

To be fair to her, and as you can probably read between the lines I don’t really want to be, she was right in the case of Teresa Ann, who did sound as if she was possessed by a chorale of tone deaf screaming banshees intent on drowning out low flying aircraft. But she too was only eight. What of Teresa Ann now, though? If Mrs Taylor’s, sorry Tyler’s, judgement was anything to go by she’ll be top diva at the opening night at La Scala. And if you’re reading this celestial blog and scowling down at us from above, stick that in your cauldron and boil it!

And what happened to dear old George, who incidentally had the best train set ever? I never blamed him for sneaking back into the school choir. You see, whereas I took the growler bit to heart, George joined the church choir on Sundays, and found that he could sing really well and loved it, and when the following year it was time for the music festival he stood in line and sang like a bird and no-one remembered that he’d been cast out….except Teresa Ann and me.

But we didn’t say anything. We growlers, past and present, have to stick together. I still see him from time to time and a thoroughly nice man he is too, and when our middle boy was born I remembered all this, and it made me want to give him that good old name. And do you know what fish-heads? My George loves to sing as well, as he’s packing in the fish down in the fish cellars…gangsta rap mostly….

Now there’s a cultural fusion to be proud of!

Port Isaac meets the East side projects…

Dreckly motherf****rz xx

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