Margaret of Ladram Leaves the Quay
A single blast from the horn
Echoes from the quayside wall –
Margaret of Ladram
Moves at a crawl,
Stately in her choreographed dance,
With a slow turn, churns the sea
And moves with a surprising ease,
This hulk of metal and rope and hope,
Yellow beams high like a surrendering thief.
As a part of the ongoing Squidbox project, I spent an enjoyable half hour or so on a trawler in the harbour owned by a wonderful chap called Tristan, who told me all about his job as a solo skipper on the smallest boat in the Brixham fleet.
Just for a moment, when you’re out there
With the sun and the gulls and the sea,
If you have time, you let out a sigh
‘I am my own boss, master of my destiny.
I have grabbed the day and made it mine!’
I may be a solo skipper,
A crew of one on the smallest boat in the fleet,
But I’m part of something larger,
A passion that is in my blood and in the souls
Of everyone in this town whose livelihoods
And dreams are at one with the tides.
It doesn’t really matter what I catch
So long as it’s got eyes and an arsehole,
It’s caught by me, from sea to shore and sold by me,
A lonely dot on the wild wide sea,
From net to quay,
Yes, master of my destiny!
Through winter squalls and the squawk of gulls
To the slap of waves on the bow and the hull,
Through summer sun and autumn fogs
To the warm embrace of this rock-clung port,
This sixty year-old sturdy machine
Purrs and throbs like a living thing.
When tides are rough and times are tough
And the day is an ache and you’ve had enough,
Tomorrow will be different,
The sea less belligerent,
And though I’m always vigilant I’ll feel that sweetness
Deep inside enmeshed in belief
And the usual, eternal pride.