always lived on the edge, boy;
Small boats, lines and nets.
We've always fished as the old men fished,
And the old men showed the sea respect.'
When I visited
Aldeburgh, the Suffolk coast was new to me. Its physical geography
surprised me, its stony shores unexpectedly bleaker and more
exposed than the sandy beaches of Northumberland. In the four
weeks I spent there, however, I soon found many similarities
to home particularly in the crisis facing the longshore
fishermen, who use small boats and traditional methods to catch
cod, soles, herring and crabs. When I wrote this poem, seven
boats fished from the beach at Aldeburgh. Two years later, only
three are left.
As I crunched along the Suffolk beaches, I reflected
on the mutability of the coast. I looked out towards the lost
city of Dunwich, once one of England's biggest ports, now almost
entirely sunk beneath the sea:
white fretted, brown
And snagged with angry light.'
thought of the decline of the longshoremen's way of life, handed
down for generations, and now vanishing before our eyes. Longshore
Drift is an attempt to capture a glimpse of what we are losing.
Drift was written for radio and first broadcast on BBC Radio
Press Ltd 2005
ISBN 0 9539472 9 7
148 x 200mm, 48pp, two colour