Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Roger Nowell - The Skipper



I recently read the sad news of the death in July 2010 of Cornish trawler captain Roger Nowell who featured in the excellent 1993 BBC documentary series The Skipper along with the other regular crew members of the William Sampson Stevenson PZ 191. I am not sure if this ever got a repeat showing though there was a follow-up film transmitted in 2008.

Newlyn-based Nowell - facing up to the grim dangers of the sea and Her Majesty's Inland Revenue alike - came across as such a good humoured and charismatic individual. I myself have such fond memories of so many wonderful trips to Cornwall as one of the most incredibly beautiful and literally magical of all British regions that currently constitute the United Kingdom.

The Skipper may thus represent a last look at the brave men of a British industry doomed by the garnering forces of European centralisation and control - the follow-up documentary includes reference from Nowell himself to the catastrophic loss of fishing employment in Grimsby, Hull, Milford Haven and Fleetwood. Both the 1993 and 2008 documentaries conclude with Nowell underscoring in turn that not many deep sea fishermen tend to have particuarly lengthy retirements.

Daphne Du Maurier’s classic Vanishing Cornwall talked about a significant fracturing of the folk heritage in the county as long ago as 1967. In turn, and since the making of that original documentary in 1993, this part of the Celtic periphery of the British Isles has been utterly transformed by extraordinary financial discrepancies between local wages and hyperinflated property prices to the point of truly post-modern dimensions. Unequivocally the past is itself with regard to this truly unique corner of North Western Europe by way of spiv socio-economic trends forged upon once-in-a-British-lifetime opportunities for second home ownerships and retirement investments for the average worker.

RIP Skipper from all of us.

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