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.
A 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.
At 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On a shelving bank, and the tide withdrawn,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!