Cleavies Fish Counter #20
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
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