The Fish Market has gone online

I chatted to a trawlerman and he loved his job but the one thing he regretted was the fact that there’s no longer an actual fish market. It’s a sign of the future, he said. Everything is online these days.

The fish market has gone online

The fish market has gone online
And with it, the soul of a town whose
Existence is built on danger,
Humour rejecting the obvious over these
Hard-won trawls, a place to display
The catch of the day
And to laugh, and joke, and josh, and gibe
And welcome home the weary crew.

Under white fluorescent lights
In an atmosphere so clinical as to
Bely the sweat and grime of its industry,
(Not like the old days when
They’d slam the fish down on the pavement),
A ballet of lab technicians these
Restauranteurs and dealers in their white coats,
White walls, white trays filled with white ice,
Even in this,
There was camaraderie.

The dance of figures tripping from the auctioneer’s tongue,
A babble and confusion of numbers and percentage notations,
Earnest bartering, a price laid on each in
Humanistic terms, labour weighted and fortunes made public
Amid the gleam and sheen this raucous machine
Of social tradition and occasional profanity,
The eternal search for the highest bidder
Budgeted and boisterous and occasionally brave,
Face to face, seller, sailor, trawler.

There’s a relief at the heart of it, each transaction is
Gritty in so many ways but greeted eye to eye,
A shake of the hand, a pat on the back, a grin, a smile,
A joke.
The only connection now is broadband.
The heart of the community is a click of a mouse.

Author: Robert Garnham

Performance and spoken word artist.

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