The Modern Mariner 1934

It’s National Poetry Day today, and in honour of that I thought I’d post a Norfolk Broads related poem. It actually kills two birds with one stone as it also gives me the opportunity to highlight another recent purchase for the Broadland Memories Archive.

christinethorn_herbook1934A few weeks ago I purchased a beautiful photograph album which dates from 1934. It contains a wonderful selection of photographs, but what makes it so special is the way that it has been put together. Compiled by a young lady named Christine Thorn, the album is more of a photographic journal as, alongside the images, are hand written notes about the sailing holiday which was taken aboard one of Ernest Collins “Norman” class of yachts. The lady I bought the album from discovered it at an auction and knows nothing about Christine Thorn other than she seemingly lived in the Southsea area. She was clearly a talented artist though as there are little line drawings scattered amongst the pages. It’s one of the most delightful items I think I’ve come across in the last ten years of running Broadland Memories. The dilemma now is how best to display it on the website.  It seems a shame just to scan the photographs as I think it needs to be reproduced in full. I suspect it will end up being scanned and converted to a PDF file for download.

thorn_modernmariner_01At the back of the album, tucked into a wallet, I found more notes about the holiday and a poem written by Christine called “The Modern Mariner”. It seemed fitting to put it on the blog for National Poetry Day. I’ll transcribe it below as it is a little awkward to decipher her handwriting in places.

The ship was beered, the staithe was cleared,
And Merrily we did drop
A’down the Broad: we hardly knew
The mainsail from the mop:
Though inland we were all at sea
Re the proper way to stop

But soon we ran and reached and tacked,
Hove to and reefed – at last, in fact,
Could even gybe yet not attract
More jibes from rude onlookers.

Dgs, bovine herds and war-like birds
We easily outwitted,
But insect bites, the first few nights
Had made us nigh half-witted.

A Bumboat came alongside
And the cook, light ‘Slusky’ bought a
Tremendous stock, enough to shock
A Pierpont Morgan’s daughter:
Then anxious o’er her budgets fate
And preaching thrift (a trifle late!)
She sent the old man and the mate
A mile to get free water

On a shelving bank, and the tide withdrawn,
We’d reason for alarm, as,
Judged by the slope of the cabin floor
It seemed that the yacht might turn right o’er,
But we manned the boat and got ashore
In safety and pyjamas.

The Modern mariner
(a long way after the ancient one!)

It’s amazing what you can find tucked into the pages of a book or, in this case, at the back of a photograph album. Just to add a couple of notes: “A Pierpont Morgan’s daughter” refers to the American financier and banker John Pierpont Morgan. A “bumboat” is a small boat used to ferry supplies to a ship moored offshore. In this case it presumably refers to one of the provisions boats which used to sell groceries to holidaymakers on the rivers. I can only assume that ‘Slusky’ may have been the name of one of the holiday party as I can’t find any other reference to a meaning online. I look forward to getting Christine’s album on to the website in the near future.

In the meantime … Happy National Poetry Day!


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2 Responses to The Modern Mariner 1934

  1. Kate says:

    This afternoon out of nowhere the name Christine Thorn popped into my head and I thought I should google it, and I found your delightful find.
    You see when I was a student at UEA in 2003-2007 I rented a house on Unthank Road and it seemed little had been done to the house since the 1960s. It had the feel that some one had died and they just rented out the place nearly as-is; complete with family photos, paintings, and books. The books were amazing, the work of your Christine Thorn. We had school books of hers – she was from Southsea, but then moved to Norwich. (Which we always found funny as my then boyfriend [now husband] was also from Portsmouth and ended up in Norwich.) She seemed amazing, the drawings and the details she added to the books were beautiful. I always wanted to know more about her. I’m very happy to see more of her work is still out there and being enjoyed.
    I have some photos of some of the books, let me know if you’d like to see them.

    • broadlandmemories says:

      Oh wow – how wonderful! Thank you for getting in contact. It’s lovely to be able to find out a little more about her to accompany her photo journal of the Broads when I manage to get it online. It’s such a beautiful thing. It’s also interesting to hear that she did move to the area. Please do get in contact via the email address listed on the main website as I would love to see some photos of her books. Regards – Carol