Round Britain – Newlyn

A peculiar lot, fishermen. Firstly, it is ‘men’; the last bastion of unreconstructed raw masculinity doing one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet. (Newlyn harbour does not appear to have a Ladies’ toilet and I never spotted a single female on the dockside.) And the fishing boats themselves seem to exemplify the character of the men who work them: immensely tough, battered and scarred, certainly not pretty. Most of them have terrifying machinery aboard that could easily rip your arm off, and this has to be worked at night in a bucking sea. The tophamper, cranes and derricks, huge winding drums and weird metal frames, appear to have been added without too much reference to the principles of naval architecture.
Then there is the underlying fatalism: I could not see any safety equipment on any of the boats, barring the compulsory liferaft strapped in to be out of the way. Lifejackets? ‘Better to drown quick than prolong the agony’ is the excuse, but I still find it outrageous that a fishing boat can capsize and drown its crew in moderate weather without any emergency alarm being set off.
They seem to be optimistic about the prospects that Brexit may bring, so much so that a new fish market is being constructed (with EU money). But I wonder. Fishing has to be heavily regulated as otherwise it would have a short-lived bonanza and then wither away when the fish are gone. They also need to be restrained from scraping all life off the bottom of our seas – if that sort of approach were done by farmers on land, there would be public outrage. My suspicion is that the fishermen will not get the deal they longed for, and may well become victims of a wider agreement.
One happy discovery: The Swordfish Inn at Newlyn is an old-fashioned unpretentious drinking house with rooms to stay. They were incredibly welcoming and happy to allow customers to bring in their fish and chips. There are too few pubs like this left, long may it flourish.