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Our Parkgate Poet on Sandstone on the Slipway

Author: Barrie Youde Published: 30th October 2017 09:40
The Hilbre-class boat on the Middle-Slipway was recently encased in a sandstone rockery, which will soon be planted up with flowers.  Parkgate Poet Barrie Youde has penned a suitable tribute to the addition.

Sandstone encases the boat on the middle slip at Parkgate

Our Village Frontispiece

With summer's end and change of clocks
Our village ship is on the rocks.
Be calm, dear friends. And panic not!
No damage ails our classic yacht,

Nor human injury to boot
Nor prospect of some legal suit
For salvage, faulty navigation
Nor other form of botheration.

The operation is complete,
No case reported of wet feet,
Nor hypothermia nor shock.
It's time, perhaps, for taking stock.

Our ship has stood a twelve-month now,
Encradled at the stern and bow
Upon the slipway, advertising,
The absence of the tides in rising.

Bedecked with flowers. Look, how pretty!
She sails no further. What a pity!
Of sea and land she is betwixt,
Upon the slipway, surely fixed.

And now, like some well-tended grave,
A rockery is built. Enclave;
To hold her safely in her peace.
Here stands our village frontispiece.

The rocks are sandstone, as of yore,
Square-hewn, they have been used before.
As rubble from some older building
They serve today as lily-gilding,

Mourning over temps-perdu,
Or so it seems. What is your view?
Who will maintain this wooden boat?
And how? By referendum vote?


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Susan C
At 14:23 on 30th October 2017, Susan C commented:
I sense, though perhaps I'm mistaken, that the poet considers it a little over-the-top? If so, I agree, the early fishermen would have laughed themselves silly at this strange mixture of boat/plants/sandstone/soil and I'm not clear what it is supposed to be representing. The bollards and ropes look strong enough for one of the early navy's larger vessels to tie up to.
Barrie Youde
At 14:15 on 1st November 2017, Barrie Youde commented:
Thank you, Susan. You are not mistaken in any way.
As to whether the whole thing might be OTT, my own view is that it is a good idea badly executed. The rope and the bollards do nothing apart from emphasise the absurdity of turning a sea-going boat into a flower pot. Rather worse, they exclude for all time any further use of the slipway, because the bollards at the bottom of the slipway are permanently fixed by way of concrete. Some time ago I wrote to the Admiral of the Dee (alias the Lord Mayor of Chester) asking that the bollards at the bottom of the slipway should be removed (or at least made removable) in order to keep the slipway open for use. No reply has been received. At present, Parkgate as a port now advertises its own death, instead of making any effort to keep maritime interest alive.
As to the laughter of the ancient fisher-folk, I share it. I represent at least three generations of Deeside mariners. My great-great grandfather Captain John Gorham was Master and part-owner of the schooner Cheshire Lass, engaged in the cheese trade from Chester to Northern Europe. He died aboard his ship when berthed at Hawarden Bridge in 1848. My father (born in Chester) was a Mersey Pilot.
It always struck me that the appearance of the derelict slipway might be improved by the presence of a well-maintained old boat with some flowers. Never did I imagine that this would entail the complete closure of the slipway for all future use. The end result is that the area now looks more like a cemetery than a slipway.
With repeated thanks for your observations, which are spot-on,
Elizabeth W
At 15:39 on 21st February 2019, Elizabeth W commented:
Hi there BY, wonder what our pops would make of it? Spot on verse as always. Good to see you in print again. Mislaid your address etc tried to respond to your Christmas card to no avail (via Deva Bank).

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