I’ve been fishing the sea since a lad of fifteen;
There’s not a stretch of the ocean where I haven’t been,
And I’ve seen Northern lights and the whale fish at play,
And I’ve slept through the dogwatch, been fined half me pay,
And I’ve prayed long and hard in a westerly storm,
And I’ve dreamt of the young girls who had helped keep me warm,
And I’ve sat with the old jacks and listened in glee
To the tales of the women, the drink and the sea.
I’m the luckiest sailor that Hull ever knew;
When the Kingston ship sank with the loss of her crew,
And I prayed for their lives and their sons and their wives
On the day that the Peridot perished.
I was a young sailor with settle in hand,
From trawling in Iceland with white fish to land,
And I’m dressed to me nines in me Ruckerback tails
And I’m off down the Stricky to sink a few ales;
But I’ll tell you a tale of the taxman and me,
He’s been robbing me blind since I first went to sea,
And I says to the skipper, ‘I’ll spend time ashore,
Cos I’m damned if the taxman will have any more.’
Then a whisper was heard that a Hull ship was down,
With no chance of a rescue, her men had all drowned,
And I supped up me ale and I knew in me head
That the Hull ship was my ship and me mates were all dead,
And the coins in me pocket weighed heavy that day,
And it took little courage to give ’em away,
And me mind took me back to me long days at sea,
And I asked the good Lord why me mates and not me.
This is a contemporary song about Yorkshire.
Luckiest Sailor was written by Linda Kelly and is usually sung by Linda and Hazel, [Hissyfit] however the singer here is Mick McGarry from his CD Raggy Lad
In January 1968, what is sometimes referred to as the Triple Trawler Tragedy befell the Hull Fishing Fleet. The St Romanus, the Kingston Peridot and the Ross Cleveland, sank within a few weeks of each other with one lone survivor and the loss of 58 crew members.
Linda’s husband, John, was a 20 year old ‘deckie learner’, an apprentice deckhand, at that time, and a crew member on the Kingston Peridot. It had been a good year for fishing that year and shortly before he was due to sail he received a tax demand from Her Majesty’s Inland Revenue. Unimpressed, he decided that he would give the next sail a miss. It was the Kingston Peridot’s last voyage.
The ‘Ruckerback' was a style of suit much favoured by fishermen. Often in bright colours, they were single breasted with a belted and pleated back. There were lots of tailors on Hessle Road at that time, including Feinsteins where John had his suits made. The ‘Stricky’ refers to ‘The Strickland Arms’ on Strickland Street, a small pub which still exists today.