Come, all you East Looe boys of old, a flight of fancy I’ll unfold. Come wallow in nostalgic haze and live again those bygone days. Let pleasant memories backward reach in a game of “jasings” round town and beaeh. As erstwhile chums around you flock, we’ll start off now from Skiddery Rock. First Shanny Pool is met and passed, Cow Rock and Brown Rock, Brown Rock’s last. Up by the Mountain, out through Lake, to reach Tom Barbers a climb we make. Up the ladder hand over hand, for a moment on top we stand, a risky descent, some will slide when getting down the other side. Here you must be careful, cool, or finish up in Conger Pool.
Then headlong rush o’er rocks and weed, make for the Cave in breathless speed, our feet know every pitch and hold, what care we if the waters cold? Soon we are in upon the sand with “Rinkle Pool” on the starboard hand. Brown clay-faced Ropewalk high above, this is the sort of life we love.
“Up Saunders” comes the leader’s call, then up we follow one and all. A stiff climb this if there’s been rain – get two steps up – slip back again. Your speed somehow you must increase, so, short-cut through a “Tiddy Piece”. So on through nettles, through the woad, up and across the Plaidy road. Onward and upward through the brake, now your second wind you take. Never the smallest boy did yield and we’ve reached the top of Windmill Field. From here we look out across the bay, and watch the “sculls” of mackerel play. The “Teddy Bear”, with just five bands, shot in a “scull” in Popey Sands. A thousand gulls, each hopes to claim a dinner ere they tuck the seine.
We cannot linger at this place, we’ve only finished half the “Jase”, so racing off, we wonder who will be first to get down to Looe. Into Daisy Field by way of the stile, over which we clamber in single file. Down the steep carpet of white and green., where the mackerel huers can be seen. One’s taking a rest because his bolts been “shot” and he’s wondering now how many they’ve got. Yet one more stile of slate and wood at the end of the lane where Old Battery stood. This place is known as “Up-on-the-hill”, where many a Jack has courted his Jill.
Look down over “Crissy-Cross” as we passd by, see the washing, all bramble-borne, laid out to dry. A woman with apron as clean as a pin, her basket beside her, is “picking it in”. But onward and downward, our tarry-twine boots send up sparks as the flint stones are rapped by our “scoots”. Past Gwendrock, Marwinthy and Tobin Steps too, ’til Old Tower Hill Chapel is brought into view. There’s a prayer meeting on, as we pass by the door their voices swell out as they “Pull For the Shore”.
Down Castle Street now, but mind how you tread, Jack ScantJebury’s cows have just gone on ahead; and the women are out and they fret and they fume as they wash it away with the bucket and broom.
A tiresome job this and it all seems in vain, for they know that tomorrow they’ll do it again. We’re away down the hill as their cobbles they drench, cross over Fore Street and through Pedlar’s Bench, where the rhythm of hammer on chisel is heard, as the headstones are shaped in the old granite yard. Black posthumous letters are carved out of lead; for the rich they’re in Gold and speak well of the dead. But black letters or gold ones, the ultimate three say with equal finality R.I.P.
Two three-masted schooners came in yesterday, one’s unloading coal and one’s taking in clay. At Dick Pearce’s boatyard a moment we pause, where the swing of the adze beats out time for the saws, where in goes the oak and the lofty elm tree and out comes a ship, to go down to the sea. And now, “Up-between” where there’s never much light, on to Hallelujah Comer and here we turn right; past The Bay Lodgings House, for Dark Lane it’s too late, and we’re out on the quay again just by Dung Gate. Little Pier, Little Beach and the Lifeboat slip too. We leave on our right as we pass on up through “Chichane” where we tarry, indeed where we stop, by the famous old landmark. Tom Cook’s Blacksmith Shop.
We’ve done a full circle, I hope we’re agreed that this mental excursions not left us fatigued. That places and faces have been brought to mind, from the days of our youth now, alas, far behind.