December 23rd, 2015

The Mousehole Cat

For Looloo - bluegerl - the poetry book was delivered today xxx

December 23rd isn’t just the day before Christmas Eve in Mousehole….it’s Tom Bawcock’s Eve.

Tom was a local fisherman who braved a winter storm to break a famine after bad weather had kept the fishing fleet in harbour for weeks.

~ "Then at last one evening, as old Tom sat with his cat Mowzer on his knee, she felt him take a deep sigh. “Mowzer, my handsome,” he said, for he was a courteous and well spoken man, “Mowzer, my handsome, it will soon be Christmas, and no man can stand by at Christmas and see the children starve. Someone must go fishing come what may, and I think it must be me. It cannot be the young men, for they have wives and children and mothers to weep for them if they do not return. But my wife and parents are dead long since and my children are grown and gone.” Mowzer purred to tell him that she understood, for it was the same with her. “I shall go out tomorrow, Mowzer, my handsome,” said the old man, “and I shall not come back without a catch.” Mowzer purred louder to tell him that she would go with him. For he was only a man, she thought, and men were like mice in the paws of the Great Storm-Cat."

~ extract from the Mousehole Cat by Antonia Barber & Nicola Bayley.

Tom Bawcock's act of heroism is commemorated annually and the story is re-enacted in the harbour; the streets are illuminated with the famous harbour lights, there is a lantern parade and the special local delicacy called star-gazy pie is served. The Ship Inn is the place to eat the pie – you’ll also hear the special song about Tom’s brave act.

"Merry place you may believe, tiz Mowzel 'pon Tom Bawcock's eve.
To be there then who wouldn't wesh, to sup o' seb'm soorts o' fish.
When morgy brawth had cleared the path, Comed lances for a fry,
And then us 'ad a bit o' scad an' Starry-gazy pie.
As aich we'd clunk, 'is health we drunk, in bumpers bremmen high,
And when up caame Tom Bawcock's name, we'd prais'd 'un to the sky."