Swimming in the harbour
YC: If t’was fine weather she wouldn’t go to school, she’d be down on the beach waiting for us. And we’d be down the cliff path, take off our dresses and right in the water. And all the mothers would be on the beach, on the top, sat down, most of them knitting. Then after we’d been in the water we’d go up and have a yeast bun and a bottle of lemonade. We thought that was it.
JM: There again, like we’ve always said before, we had a safe childhood down here. You had all the old men on the Platt.
YC: They’d all look after you.
JM: Do you remember Granfer Provis? He used to wear that old trilby hat. As I said we dove down, out swimming. This is how we was good swimmers.
YC: Yes most of the children of the children in Port Isaac were good swimmers.
JM: But, saying that, you was only allowed to go out so far. If they thought you were going our too far, you’d hear a shout ‘Oi! In!’ And they’d go like that (makes beckoning gesture). You had to come in. Oh yes. They dear old men, they always had a sweet in their pocket and when we was coming up, when we had to come home, cos my mum would come down for us in the end and that, dear old Granfer Provis, he said;
‘Well then my ‘ansome, you been a good maid, there’s your sweet’. And he’d take a sweet out of his pocket. Now, you give a child a sweet today! But they always had a sweet in their pocket. ‘You been a good maid, now home you go.’ And you had to go, there was no argument about it, you had to go.
YC: The children were wonderful swimmers and most of them could swim from Port Isaac to Port Gaverne.
JM: Yes I’ve done it.
YC: The old men would follow them in a punt.
JM: It was actually uncle that learnt me to swim. That’s Uncle Jo (Honey), out Port Gaverne. I would swim out and uncle would be in the punt with the oar out over. Then if I got a bit tired he’d put the oar out and I’d hang on. And that’s how I learnt to swim like that. Mind you I was like a porpoise in the water because I was what they called a ‘well covered maid’ And I didn’t care! (Laughter)
YC: Margaret Anne, and I’m always on about Margaret Anne because she was a character.
JM: she was actually the school bully you know.
YC: Yes she was but she didn’t bully me, because I was a cousin.
JM: No she didn’t bully me either.
YC: She would throw herself off the breakwater and she would swim under the boats, used to frighten the life out of me. She wasn’t afraid of anything.
JM: We used to wait until the tide was right in then we’d swim out……. if we got a bit tired hang on to a rope for a little while…. Then we’d get out and jump right off the breakwater. I did many a time.