The jagged Mewstone, Its restless seagulls, And solitary hermit’s hut Languished to the larboard While the Jurassic Cliffs by Silver Cove Veered skywards to the starboard. We sat huddled in the fourteen foot Yvonne For ever and anon Tossing in the sickly green swell To the sound of the Grim Reaper’s bell Fishing for pollock And the occasional haddock While Mummy hit rock bottom And got brassed off With a thick-skinned wrasse.
When Brod peed copiously over the side A conger from Neptune’s Hell took him for a ride. When Daddy landed the eel His toes began to peel. But smart-arsed Tommy surpassed them all With a Portuguese man of war That made us all sting With a ding and a ping.
When Dad revved up the ancient outboard motor Wembury Beach was a safe haven in reach But our wooden klinker-built skiff, Designed in Devonport for a sniff, Turned ever so abruptly, Stern following helm, Up the River Yealm, And sped like a vole Leaping out of a hole Towards the heaven-sent niche Of Old Cellars Beach.
Ginger Rogers overtook us With a face like a porpoise, Looking quite staunch In his seaworthy launch, Hauling several basking sharks He’d caught for a fark and a lark By the Eddystone light. He was always good for a fight And quickly left us out of sight.
As we crossed the fertile sandbar On the Noss Mayo side, The mackerel took us in their stride. Tommy grabbed Brod’s fishing rod, Kicked his skinny shins, And tried to catch cod. But Granny Flo was as good as a nanny And tanned wicked Tommy’s spotty hide. I began to feel squirmy inside.
When I tried to row, I cried ‘Bollocks!’ As the oars got stuck in the rollocks. I caught a crab, My head felt bad, And I was ever so sad. Thereupon Brod teased me, His little, put-upon sister, With a gurk and a prod, And said ‘Thank goodness the seagull missed her.’
Ned Charon the Ferryman approached us, Carrying six pompous goats In his sleek riverboat Towards the mudflats up the creek Where we play hide and seek. ‘Newton Ferrers next stop,’ he cried, with a keen gaze which put me in a faze. As Ned steered to the port side, Tommy fired his catapult And hit the fattest old goat with a bolt. ‘I’m sorry, Your Worship,’ yelled Daddy, Twisting Tommy’s fearful ear. ‘That was entirely my fault.’
The magnificent mansion, Where the reclusive sanitary engineer hid, Heralded Newton Pool Where the swans nested on a wooden raft And the jet set were ever so daft. We floated through the snotty kids Relaxing on the topnotch yachts Until we reached Captain Quacky Drake’s imperious craft. But we poured onto the crestfallen Wanderlust That was fit to disintegrate in the next hefty gust. Once aboard, Granny brewed us A piping hot pot of peppermint tea And played fiddledee dee While we hung Tommy’s ankles from the mast, And everybody laughed when they sailed past.
Tom (right) with his brother and mother on the "Wanderlust" on the Yealm Pool about 1961