Wednesday, 26 May 2010
A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to meet the Fisherman's Friends, noted for their new album of sea shanties which is the first folk CD ever to make the Top Ten. Being a singer myself, I was keen to see them in person, and on a beautiful evening Himself and I drove up to Port Isaac, through sun dappled lanes, under Wedgewood blue skies: North Cornwall couldn't have looked better.
When I attended the launch and signing of their CD in Truro with my sister in law, we discovered that one of them was wearing a brooch made of Cornish tin. I lent over and said, “My husband designed that – and made it.”
“That's my brother!” added Shelagh.
Two weeks later, Himself and I turned up on Port Isaac quay and were met by two of the Johns (several of them are called John but I won't list their names here as it gets too confusing). Himself handed over a bag of Cardinham Cross brooches – one for each of them - that he'd made back in the days when they ran the Cornish tin jewellery business (all made from tin from the last working tin mine in Cornwall, South Crofty).
The Johns looked astonished. “Thanks, Mr Sue,” they said, and insisted on buying us a pint in the nearby pub.
The next hour was fascinating (“You'll treat us gently, won't you, Sue?”). I've never interviewed 6 people at a time (not an easy thing to do), but it was clear from their quick banter how close these men are, and what fun they have together.
What became clear is that it's not just the quality of their catchy singing that has caught the imagination of the public (though their singing is fabulous). It's also that these 10 men, ranging in age from 50-76, have been friends since they met at Port Isaac primary school.
In an age where celebrities tend to be young, self centred and obsessed with fame and fortune, it was particularly refreshing to meet these men whose lives aren't ruled by money: they are all self employed, and appreciate the beautiful place they live in. They are also proud to live in a small community where friends and family are all important. They have a sense of proportion about life.
So here's three cheers for the Fisherman's Friends, whose single No Hopers, Jokers and Rogues, is out on May 31st.
They sing most Fridays at Port Isaac at 8pm (check website for details of other gigs) and if you get to see them, have a look on their smocks – if you catch a glimpse of silver, it's a Cardinham Cross tin brooch.
Cornish good luck for very special Cornish boys.