I was just putting last nights bottles out and Fred the last fisherman in the Bay happened by in his pickup, stopped, rolled down the window and said cheerily, 'Do you want any herring?'
He had a boxfull from his morning session. I was thrilled to be this 'local' to be offered herring. He said, 'How many do you want?' and I said, 'Six'. 'You sure you don't want more?' he said, doling them out into my blue plastic
Six already seemed a lot but he put in an extra one and wouldn't take money for them. I had done him a big favour last year getting a whole load of nets from a neighbour who had stopped fishing in the Bay and didn't know what to do with the gear so I didn't push it.
We fell to talking in the beautiful sun about the coming car boot sale season and his sales of beach art made from all the bits and pieces he finds on the beach and remoter places under the
cliffs he accesses from the little cove boat he uses.
He bridled at the way people might be about to rip of his ideas - seeing as how he was the only one who made their pictures from his point of view out on the water looking back at St Margarets. But he said, in magnanimous mood, 'I akin it to being a composer or writer ' bringing in new ideas and perspectives.
I'd never heard that phrase before - to akin (liken).
What an amazing bloke he is at over 70 and still so full of vim and vigour.
I took a load of different photos as I scaled and gutted the glistening fish so fresh out of the sea I thought one might be alive. In the end I went for a crop of this one of the heads, cleaned
of their blood and guts.
It reminded me powerfully of the early paintings of Scottish painter, John Bellany, from a fishing family in Port Seton on the East Coast and his predecessor of mythic fishies, Max Beckmann.
Out of death came something else - art? - for it is a very visceral process preparing fresh fish of such beauty and grace and reducing them to mere food.
The Herring is the King of the Sea song here.
There is a lovely page on the 'Fesh Quines' - the 6,000 Scots Herring women who followed the Herring trade south each year here ending up in Great Yarmouth http://www.mcjazz.f2s.com/FishQuines.htm
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