Living on the coast as I do – fundamental instinct, I think – I often go for long walks along the sands and today I set off at lowest tide but in practical darkness, to watch sun rise and clear my head with all that ozone and other delights of maritime breezes. Yes, and it gives one a broad, timeless perspective as well. Or maybe that’s brimful of time as everything you see is so full of the prolonged passage of time. Sand itself resultant from endlessly repeated grinding of tides and waves, the cliffs worn away into so many fantastical shapes, bit by bit by bit, the gulls knowing where to go to find the foods they need, following those tides as they ebb and flow. And ebb and flow.
Yeah and on the distant headland a lone fisherman was kinda doing his contribution to timeless/timeful continuity. Fittingly gnarled, maybe by the tides of time (!),he was after bass or codling he told me. Codling? Yes – and he’d got a seven pounder two weeks ago. “So it’s worth the effort, then” and he agreed.
From this point I could climb up to the coastal cycle path and head home speedwalking. T shirted at seven thirty I drew comment from another fisherman stashing his bait at a promenade bench. A longer conversation ensued – that’s what’s so good about such a time of day. He had a big box of lug-worms which he was lining out onto roughly A4 sized newspaper, eight per sheet. He then rolled them up and added each bundle to a cool box by his side. There were many unwrapped worms still.
“I was out there at three o’clock this morning” he told me, “after driving down the coast from Cheshire”. Having been on the beach at six I asked “How do you find them to dig them up?” and was told he had a light and didn’t dig them. These poor devils are pressure blown out of their holes. That’s how he had so many!
Each bundle is then vacuum sealed and the contents remain fresh for a fortnight, during which time they will be offered to codling swimming in and around the Mersey. It struck me as a rather industrial scale hobby – ironically, in a way, as he said it was to get away from people and the rush that he does it – but this approach is easily drawn from his working lifestyle.
Turned out to be a second generation Scous Pole – his dad had come to the UK around or just after the Second World War and gone into chicken production. From hearthside plucking to 90000 a day and now sold on to a grain wholesaler, the business had flourished, although not without problems, like finance and staffing. The sell off raised finance – millions of investment is better borrowed from a position of strength – but staffing remained a problem. “We’d used up all the available labour in Cheshire and so I went to Poland”. And brought back a hundred or so staff, happy to be paid what was for them a fortune – anyway it was work unavailable back home where there exists far less regular paid employment. What there is accrues little financial reward.
“Poland could never join the Euro. It’s far worse even than Greece” he opined. “We can go there and live like kings” He does visit and keeps a flat in Krakow. Obviously something we all should do – and flights over are incredibly cheap, too.
So Cheshire locals could not or would not afford to work in the chicken processing farm. “In Holland it’s the same” he went on “they work’s too menial for them. The Dutch bring people in from Poland too – even Germany.”
He laughed also at the idea things would maybe even out with time but he shared my love of trees and forests – “There’s good woodlands in Poland” he offered and I concurred, telling him of the practically primordial, untouched indigenous, native forestry of his country, seemingly the best example left in all Europe.
Really, it seems to me that far from bringing them on board, into the new global economic turmoil and meltdown we should, instead, be seeking to emulate them and rebuild or build anew stability, sustainability, continuance, timelessness.
It was a themed walk!
PS: I wonder if anyone imagined the worm worked for the BBC.