Sunday, 3 December 2017

A Grimsby Fisherman's Wife, Mrs. Ethel Richardson

 Dear Reader,

                                                                                      Fishermen's Wives

The contemporary wave of the woman's movement began in the late 1960's when Hull fishermen's wives protested about women's poor labour conditions.  These women started an uprising led by a Mrs Bilocca following the sinking of three Hull trawlers in as many weeks, with the loss of 58 lives in the dark winter of January and February 1968.  The sinking of the ships was a devasting blow for Hull's fishing community.  The wives and daughters of local trawler men launched a petition that attracted 10,000 names in three days.  They also picketed the docks to ensure departing ships carried radio operators, and then marched on Parliament to meet ministers who ordered trawler owner to implement new safety arrangements with immediate effect.

December 3rd, 1869    John Ruskin, Denmark Hill, Surrey.

'Down at 7 exactly, and foggy, not only cloudy.  Note, there is much light in the sky even now, though not three three weeks to the shortest day.'

A Grimsby Fisherman's Wife

During the day she knitted
her life into rough wool sweaters,
Fear of north-east gales,
- more forecast -
fear of no return,
and Fridy night beatings,
were turned with a collar,
stiched with sober wools.
Knit one, purl one.

Men known to her, sea-taken;
the grief of loss for
a babe or two, and
winter storms and
treacherous rocks that
albatrossed a fisherman's life,
were knitted into sleeves,
into polo necks.
Knit one, pearl one.

At night, from her narrow bed,
she knitted dreams of exotic places,
warm from the summer sun.
She danced on beaches, cockle-free
and knitted love
into her dream sweaters,
with wools, brightly coloured,
corals, blues, pinks, and red.
By night she knitted pumpkins.
Knit one, pearl one.


With very best wishes, Patricia

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A life brilliantly encompassed. You say so much in your poems so very succinctly!
Wonderful. Xx