Hanging on the Wall
HANGING ON THE WALL
`Drop our anchor on a falling tide,
Oyster Catcher; hear their cries.
Sunrise see sands exposed;
Bacon frying in the morning cold.
Between the tides at the break of the day,
A father and son found they could play,
Them wasted years in the wake
This little ship for them to take.`
(From a song written by me inspired by J & H)
Following a prolonged spell of very hot weather, we had set sail, my father and I. We set off later than planned; the tide was now ebbing fast. The day was bright, with a moderate sea, the wind blowing us onto a broad reach. Although the wind was forecast to increase later, we would be well on our way by then and I was running late, having to be in Norwich to start my course in 7 days time. Jeannie, only 22 feet long was clinker built, mahogany on oak, and handsomely rode those waves. We were sailing her hard, and nearly half way across the estuary before I noticed the boat behaving strangely. Unlike my father, I had never sunk on a boat before. During the war, Dad sunk hundreds of times and survived! But that was in submarines! I asked him to open the cabin doors, as I was steering. Sloshing about inside could be seen several inches of water. And within the time it takes to doff a sailor’s lid, we went about, the excess water pulling us over more than I like to remember. The previous week`s sunshine had its effects upon the planking of the hull, every wave forced itself into the dried out seams. About two hours later we were about a mile off the coast. Happily though we had not foundered, thanks to a submersible pump hurriedly hooked up to the battery that was now almost flat! Yes, I had put to sea without having the pump already connected! The planks were slowly taking -up but we were still leaking and now we were unable to start the engine. At least the wind seemed to be easing a little, but changing direction. I was supposed to be sailing up to the Norfolk Broads, and as a student, Jeannie would be my home for a while but things were not going to plan. Crawling onto the foredeck I let go the anchor. As the light began to fade and the tide turned, my boat rolled uncomfortably. We would have to stay there the night and have another go the next day, when presumably, the boat would be more seaworthy.
That night, the oil lamp flickered nervously in the cabin, casting woolly shadows and dim light onto the varnished mahogany. Ten miles away, beneath a bleak moon, the night air would be rushing in like the tide with a vengeance over the salt marsh, unchallenged, untamed, and slamming into the masts, spars and rigging of the moored boats. Amid this cacophony of howling and screaming at the darkness was now a vacant berth and how I wished I was back there. All I could feel now was unsettled,very xposed and vulnerable and I was frightened. Those screams ran on into the night as I lay there listening, restless, watching the hands of the clock in the diminishing light as we rolled violently. Outside, hump-back monsters charged about without a care. The white horses crawled their way after them. In my fugue-like state, I was unsure of past, present and future. I was drifting…. The lamp wavered a little and went dark. Had I finally closed my eyes? I then heard them talking! Barely audible over the relentless thuds of waves against the hull, the hissing foam and the tell-tale groan of a wooden vessel straining at every roll. Their voices resonated; I had never heard an anchor dragging before. Usually with the hook down in fine sand and mud I was accustomed to, there is no noise but this is through shingle! Like a tin can telephone, the anchor chain vibrated like the string into the can, in this case the boats hull……
Hanging on the wall, was that very same fisherman’s anchor. I had finally succumbed giving it to the Reedcutter pub when it was refurbished. We were playing our last number. Many drunken voices joining in the chorus. One of the customers, dressed in a saucy sailor outfit, danced in front of our band; earlier she had boarded my boat as it lay unattended at Reedham Staithe, we were aghast as she posed and used my mast for a pole. She was very good! The river was busy and the mayhem that siren caused! Despite the vibrant atmosphere, I played my fiddle in a detached manner becoming fixated not by the girl’s pelvic gyrations and her spirited friends on holiday but by that anchor!
The pub emptied. I Parted company with the band after being paid to walk across to the one and only sailing boat on the Quay then looked up at the moon. I had only a couple of drinks inside of me but the effect was evident; I could no longer play the sailors hornpipe at break-neck speed; an unlikely detector for drunkenness but it worked for me! A gentle breeze played on the river as I stepped onboard Annekie, still looking up; the Jolly Roger at the mast head fluttered and danced with silhouetted wisps; thin veils of cloud that wiped the moon`s face. Without noticing SOMETHING on deck, I lunged towards that black water, grabbing the starboard shroud, preventing an un- planned recreational swim. Spurred on by ale and rum, I hoisted the gaff, cast off and set the mainsail. I was free! I was no longer feeling confined and landlocked. I still yearn to be out there!
Beneath that smiling moon, I also smiled while pulling on the sheets, unfurling the foresail and jib. With that huge masthead bunting pointing the way, and silhouetted against the moonlight it was truly an eerie sight. I deliberately sailed as close as I could to those moored boats at Reedham Ferry, If you were the person I frightened that night on holiday, I`m not sorry. How could I be? With the tide under me, sails full, and the distinct sound of a bow wave disturbing the stillness. The exhilaration I felt was palpable only to the Gods! That night I knew what I would do. The broads had been fun but I wanted that anchor back again. I would break the shackles of conformity as I was already breaking byelaws by sailing drunk at night, something I admit but have long since escaped the arms of the law; the Broads Authority stop where the sea begins. It was out there where freedom sails. Here I was deluding myself, as much as believing that girl would volunteer to be my crew. I was now sailing too close to the wind; the sailor girl was also sailing close, we had something in common but expressed it differently. My Jolly Roger was taken down; no self- respecting pirate wants to draw that much attention to themselves! Obviously Saucy Sue was different; she needed the attention. So that night I just sailed on until I grew tired. Took the sails down and just turned in and slept. Annekie just drifted on the flood, her navigation lights still on as she brushed the reeds with her bowsprit. I was unconcerned, irresponsible and drifting, but I knew where I would let-go my anchor….
After a dash along the coast and crossing the bar, we stepped onto the sands next to Annekie, she was heeling over after taking the ground in Blakeney Harbour and we followed the chain away from the bows of the boat. My Son Joe was fascinated at the marks scored into the drying sea floor by the chain. I could feel Dad looking down at us. The footsteps in those sands that day would not last forever but as we came across the exposed fluke of our anchor amongst the bladderwrack, I knew we had arrived. I would no longer look for an anchorage with an uncertain ground. In this part of England now, we had found a safe anchorage…….
MAN WALKING ON A DISTANT SHORE LOST IN A DREAM HED LOST THE WAR
SON NO LONGER THERE BESIDE THAT BOND WAS GONE HE COULD NOT ABIDE
CAUSE THERE BOAT SANK NEVER SAW THE SEA, SHIPWRECK WAS THEIR DESTINY
BENEATH THE SURFACE A DREAM WENT DOWN TIDES RECEDE THEY CAN STILL BE FOUND
WERE GONNA DROP OUR ANCHOR ON A FALLING TIDE
OYSTER CATCHERS HEAR THEIR CRIES
SUNRISE SEE SANDS EXPOSED, BACON FRYING IN THE MORNING COLD.
BETWEEN THE TIDES AT THE BREAK OF THE DAY
FATHER AND SON FOUND THEY COULD PLAY
THEM WASTED YEARS LEFT IN THE WAKE
THIS LITTLE SHIP SAILED FOR THEM TO TAKE
THE YEARS THEY PASSED THE SON LEFT HOME, FATHERS DREAM TO SAIL AND ROAM
ONCE WAS ALL HE EVER DID YEARN NOW HE WISHES THE SONS RETURN
FOOTSTEPS LEFT ON DRYING SANDS THOSE LETTERS ARRIVED FROM DISTANT LANDS
BUT IF THAT DREAM WOULD EVER COME TRUE HE NEEDED THAT SON BACK, AND NEEDED A CREW.
OFFSHORE THE COMPASS SWINGS, HE WONDERS WHAT TOMORROW BRINGS,
OCEAN CROSSINGS STILL IN DREAMS, STIRRING STARS WITH THE EARTH IT SEEMS,
WHEN HE RETURNS THEY`LL HEAD OUT TO SEA AND KISS THE FOAM BLOWN BACK FROM THE LEE
WASTED YEARS IN THE WAKE OF A LITTLE SHIP FOR THEM TO TAKE.
SHIFTING SANDS, A THOUSAND TIDES, THAT BOND WAS BRIEF BUT NOW HE`S DIED
LIFE MOVES ON AND THE CALL OF THE SEA, IS STRONG TODAY ITS GONNA ALWAYS BE.
THE SON HAS SONS, THE DREAM SAILS ON BUT HE MORNS THE LOSS OF THE SON THATS GONE
AND HOPES ONE DAY THEY COULD MEET AGAIN – IN A RENDEVOUX…..REMOVING THE PAIN
ANOTHER FATHER, ANOTHER SON, THE TIDE IS OUT WHO KNOWS HOW LONG
HARBOUR LIES JUST ACROSS THE BAR, WHO KNOWS THE COURSE, WHO KNOWS HOW FAR?
WE CANT STAY AT SEA, WE`LL GONNA HAVE TO GO HOME, THE FATHERS DREAM TO SAIL AND ROAM
ONCE WAS ALL THAT HE EVER DID YEARN, NOW HE WISHES…..THE SON TO RETURN………………….?
REEDHAM FERRY SONG
EVERY MORNING AT EIGHT TWENTY FIVE, DOWN TO THE REEDHAM STAITHE I RIDE
PARK MY CYCLE UNDERNEATH A TREE, THEN I POP ALONG THE GANG-PLANK, THEN I`M FREE
FREE SAY YOU…HOW CAN THAT BE? WHEN WE ALWAYS FINISH UP ON THE OPPOSITE QUAY
DOUBTING TOM I SHALL EXPLAIN…WHEN I GET ONBOARD I`M GONNA DREAM AGAIN.
WHERE ARE WE GOING TODAY MR FERRYMAN, WHERE IS IT GOING TO BE?
DONT GO STRAIGHT TURN LEFT DOWN THE HARBOUR AND OUT TO THE OPEN SEA
THROW ABOARD A COMPASS, LEFT HAND DOWN, PASS THE PIER WE`LL GO
ROW AND BE MERRY ON THE REEDHAM FERRY, IF WE RUN OUT OF PETROL WE`LL ROW YO HO
IF WE RUN OUT OF PETROL WE`LL ROW. (CHORUS)
MONDAY JAVA TUESDAY SPAIN, WEDNESDAY TOKYO AND BACK AGAIN
THE ONLY TROUBLE IS, THERE IS`NT ANY GENTS, WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR 50 PENCE
OFF WITH ME RAIN-COAT AND ME WOOLEY VEST, SEE NAKED LADIES ON MY CHEST,
TODAY IS FRIDAY HOLD ON TIGHT, ITS OFF TO TRINIDAD AND BACK TONIGHT
SOMETIMES I GET UP LATE AND ONLY LEAVE THE JETTY AT HALF PAST EIGHT
THAT DOES`NT RUIN MY WORLD WIDE TRIP, CAUSE THE 8. 37 IS A BATTLE SHIP
OFF ON THE DOT OUR GUNS AIM HIGH, HORNPIPE DANCING SEA-GULLS FLY
BRITANNIA STILL RULES THE WAVES, ARMCHAIR SAILORS MUST BE BRAVE
THERE`S A GIRL IN A PORT; AS LONG AS YOU PAY! ARMCHAIR SAILORS MUST AWAY,
THIS ONE NOW`S BEEN CAST ASHORE THERE`S BLOOD IN THE VEINS WHERE THE SEA ONCE ROARED
AND THE BOATS IN THE GARDEN ROTTING AWAY, MY DREAM BOATS NOW FULL OF CHICKENS AND HAY
BUT REEDHAM FERRY SHE SAILS THE SEAS…..CLANKING CHAINS IN THE MORNING BREEZE