Category Archives: Culture: songs, stories, photography and art

Traditions and culture relevant to the world of real boating and sailors

Recommended CD: Sam Larner, the singing fisherman of Winterton

Many of us are thinking of Christmas presents, so here’s a little recommendation from me, priced at just £16.

Sam Larner (1878 – 1965) was a fisherman who lived at Winterton who late in life became legendary for the quality of his singing of old songs, and his extensive repertoire.

This pair of award winning CDs of recordings made by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger of his songs and reminiscences is a gem that includes 65 songs and fragments, plus some illuminating spoken passages.

At 149 minutes, the collection is said to amount to pretty well all of old Sam’s recorded repertoire, and gives a powerful impression of his life and times, and of course his character and the way of speaking on the East Coast in years gone by – for when I hear him speak, it could be my East Coast grandparents talking.

Read the very informative CD booklet and check out the review by an expert in traditional songs.

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Good Little Ship – Peter Willis’s book about Ransome’s boat is out now


Just in time for Christmas, I’d say!

Here’s what publishers Lodestar have to say:

‘Generations of children and their parents have delighted in Arthur Ransome’s series of twelve ‘Swallows and Amazons’ books, but one of them stands out from the rest as being of a different order altogether. We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea is both larger of theme and tighter of plot; it is a rite-of-passage tale quite unlike the others, and in describing the experiences of its protagonist John it illuminates much of Ransome’s own psychology.

‘Good Little Ship is a blend of literary criticism, maritime history and sheer celebration. Peter Willis combines an analysis of a classic of maritime literature (“a book of which Conrad would have been proud” – Hugh Brogan) with the story of the Nancy Blackett, Ransome’s own boat which appears as the Goblin in his story. He describes her life, near-death and restoration, and her renaissance as an ambassador for Ransome and his tales.’

On one point, I can’t agree with Lodestar. I think quite a few people who are neither children or parents have  enjoyed Ransom’s books…

For information, ordering etc, click here!

Marine Quarterly, autumn 2017

I’m currently ploughing through a 764-page text book on English folk song, but when I’m done there’s a treat in store: the autumn 2017 edition of the Maritime Quarterly.

We’ll all have our favourites, but items that catch my eye in this issue include:

  • Uffa Fox sailing the Atlantic, singing as he goes (I’ve got a CD of his sea songs, so I know how that goes)
    Max Liberson reflects that his first efforts at anchoring were made very easy by mud of the Thames Estuary (surely not that easy – there are anchor-robbing chains and who knows what down there)
    Tom Cunliffe takes a relaxed look at Lecky’s classic instruction book ‘Wrinkles’
    Illustrator, artist and boat dweller Claudia Myatt goes cruising
    John Rousmaniere takes part in the intense conversation of the New York Yacht Club Book Group