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Poetry: “Nine Pennyworth of Chips, Please” by Bev Ainscow

“Nine Pennyworth of Chips, Please”

Written & Recorded by Bev Ainscow






Nine Pennyworth of Chips, Please.

Thin folds of waves glide up the beach, foam-lipped, sinking

  into shards of sand dollars.

Low clouds, damp air, grey ocean – July in Half Moon Bay.

Hands in fleecy pockets, we stride by towel wrapped children, parents huddled by a log.

Did we drive from sky blue Sunnyvale to chilly bones on our day out? Is this a call from soggy roots?

Didn’t we emigrate for endless sun and lemons by the door? Weren’t we sick of drizzle, rain and fog?

The bait and tackle shop sits empty, whale watching goes unwatched, and Maverick’s surf shop sulks at the surfless sea.

No joy is booming from Pillar Point foghorn, a tsunami sign says head to high ground or inland if it happens.

But there’s a softness in the damp that soothes my face, no need to squint or daub on lotion, no burns or tans or wrinkled skin.

Then I smell it, malt vinegar in the mist, must be Barbara’s Fishtrap with plastic tablecloths of lobsters and starfish.

Clam chowder in a sourdough loaf? Best clams in town! Half a cracked crab, seafood soup with squid? What can I get you?

No clams for us, we want the lunch that’s home to rain and grey and grease.

“Two orders of fish, chips and mushy peas, wrapped in a newspaper please.

Nine pennyworth? Scrappin’s an’ all? Salt and vinegar? That’s one and six for two, ‘ere y’are luv.”

We grin and eat, unspoken, knowing we’re one, old times, old words in Prestwich Fish and Chippie on Bury New Road.

Didn’t we live there once?


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