Friday, 14 October 2011
For the moment I am a watcher.
From the quayside I watch the sun rise and travel the day,
watch its flare set into the hills beyond the flood and the ebb,
the swing of boats and the arrows of geese that fly into dusk.
On a new morning five swans drift by the quay.
Colours are cut in crystal. A woman wanders,
city clothed and somewhere in her dream.
At the church bell, she stirs and is away.
A dog bounds into the morning, scattering the swans,
but somehow the woman stays with me.
I roll her dream on my tongue, seeking its flavour.
In November, storm winds lash the quay,
drive the tide high in pitch black night.
Figures emerge from the streets, hoods over wet faces.
There are quick voices, torches. She moves among them easily,
feeling ropes, shifting sandbags into doorways.
She calls to me and her laughter is woven
into the wind, softening the night.
On a fine Sunday, I am among the cracking sails,
Thrilled by the breeze and cooled by frisking spray.
On the quay, five summer children dangle hooks.
There is bait and buckets, mud on brown skin.
She is there, reaching for a crab that scuttles to freedom,
A man is with her and I see the look between them. I turn away.
I can only remind myself that I watch and wait.
Over months they walk this quay, sometimes in love,
Sometimes apart. Come winter and she is always alone.
There is a day when snow follows a purple dawn.
Some snow is fallen; some feathers an icy breeze over black water.
She is there, buried in fleece, looking towards the hills.
Suddenly she is the song and all that is warm in this winter
And I walk out in her footprints, carrying my dream to her.
(More Jenny Moon)
Saturday, 8 October 2011
In February 1821 the mate of the revenue cutter 'Scourge' , at anchor in Lyme Bay, managed to lure the notorious and seasoned smuggler 'Jack Rattenbury', then 42 years of age, aboard his vessel by telling him that there was a spyglass of his on board the cutter which Jack might like to collect by rowing out.
Jack Rattenbury should have known better but he rowed out to the cutter to collect his spyglass. He took with him his two little boys, one five, the other nine years of age. Once aboard he found not only the mate of the 'Scourge' but also the captain of the 'Lyme Packet', who was a fellow smuggler turned informant, and a deputation officer waiting there to arrest him.
Jack Rattenbury later wrote:
"It is impossible for me to describe my feelings on finding myself trepanned in such a manner and when the deputation officer desired me to go below I positively declared that I would not; and when one of the men asked me what I was going to do with the boys... being goaded to madness by the question, I replied in a rage, 'Throw them overboard if you like, and drown them, for you might as well do so as to take their father from them in such a clandestine manner.'"
But the officers did not drown the young Rattenburys. They set the boys ashore and half an hour later the 'Scourge' made sail for Exmouth with Jack aboard. At Exmouth a coach was waiting to carry him under guard to Exeter and so to prison.
Sunday, 2 October 2011
(image courtesy of http://www.richardrochester.co.uk/)
From the Exmouth Journal January 15th 1910:
"The herring fishermen of Exmouth have met with very little success this season, poor catches having been the order throughout, while many men have been working their boats at a loss. This is most serious because the majority of local fishermen depend to a very great extent on the proceeds of the herring fishery to tide them over the lean period of the year.
"It is suggested that the heavy gun practice which is indulged in by warships in the neighbourhood is responsible for the absence of the fish and there appears to be something in the idea. The vibration caused by the firing of a heavy capital gun can be felt for miles on the water and would naturally affect herrings coming into the bay to spawn and, while it would drive the majority away, the spawn of those which remained would, in all probability be broken up by the vibration."
Across the century one hears the rumblings of war and of the great guns and the grumblings at the bar of the Volunteer.