Islander honoured to be star of published poem
The owner of the islands' Fish & Chip van has said he felt "very honoured" after a poem was written about him.
Scilly Fish's Eugene Hogan is the star of 'An Ordinary Miracle' by regular visitor Louise Walker, which was recently published in an anthology about Britain.
Louise, an English teacher from London, told Radio Scilly: "I was just standing waiting for my fish and chips looking at Eugene and his team preparing it and everybody’s waiting very expectantly. And I thought if somebody from another planet came and looked at this they'd think there was some amazing, maybe even religious, ceremony going on.
"You’ve got Eugene and all of his team and each one is moving gracefully. There’s not a lot of space in the van but they know exactly what they’re doing. Because I was standing waiting for my fish and chips I was just watching it really carefully and I didn’t realise that until afterwards.
"Basically my poem presents it as if it’s some kind of special ceremony and yet we can have this every day. And I think the reason it was chosen for the anthology is that having fish and chips on the beach, sharing it with your family, is such a British ritual."
Eugene said he felt "surprised but very honoured" that Louise was inspired to write the poem, adding "a big thank you to her".
Louise has visited Scilly for the last seven years, staying at Mincarlo and enjoying a week to herself, which she describes as the "highlight" of her year.
She said: "The first time I came I just fell in love with it. I know everybody says that but I really did. It’s the combination of it being so relaxing but also very inspiring. So I’ve made it a regular thing. I always stay in the same room and have a lovely view across the harbour and have a week to myself just walking and looking at everything and writing. I book every year as soon as I leave, as many people do."
'An Ordinary Miracle' is included in Second Place Rosette, an anthology of poems about Britain from The Emma Press, which Louise described as "a very small press that publishes really interesting and unusual and also very beautiful books".
She added: "I think the idea was to create an anthology with an inclusive sense of British identity, perhaps particularly with the feelings of divisiveness with Brexit. The book works its way through the year so you have a few poems for each month of the year and they’re all rituals or ceremonies, [whether] attached to a particular region or cultural group... Somebody described it as a patchwork quilt of Britain so all the differences are there but somehow we're all united."
'An Ordinary Miracle' is also the title poem of a pamphlet Louise published last year, which features various poems written on and about Scilly. It is available at the Tourist Information Centre on Porthcressa and the Pot Buoys gallery on St Agnes.
Read 'An Ordinary Miracle' below:
An Ordinary Miracle
Breezy evening on Porthcressa:
A small crowd has gathered,
Gazing at the shrine
Where steam wafts like incense.
The van rocks gently
As Eugene, light on his feet
As any ballroom dancer,
Turns between fryer and counter,
Blue eyes scanning the orders.
Grasping a fish by the tail,
He dips it into the batter,
Dropping it into the oil
In a single fluid gesture.
Two deft shakes of the scoop
And chips fan out crisply
Into neatly ranged boxes.
Three patient acolytes
Each have a part in the ritual,
Until, at last, one of them
Calls out my name
And delivers a blessing.
With the salt and vinegar.