Nancy of the Boat 'Philo'
John Apps submitted the following alternative article for the 2019 Peter Batterley Award.
Nancy of the Yawl ‘Philo’. John Apps Adapted from A.B. [Banjo] Paterson’s ‘Clancy of the Overflow’ I had written her a letter which I had for want of better knowledge, sent to where I met her down in Falmouth years ago; she was caulking when I knew her so I sent the letter to her just on spec, addressed as follows, ‘Nancy of the Yawl “Philo”.’ And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected [and I think the same was written by a thumbnail dipped in tar]. ‘Twas her first mate who had wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it, ‘Nancy’s single handing, and we don’t know where she are.’ In my wild erratic fancy visions came to me of Nancy gone a sailing in the ‘Lantic where the western sailors go. As the waves her face are stinging Nancy‘s in the cockpit singing. For the sailor’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know. And the sea has friends to meet her and their kindly voices greet her in the murmur of the breezes and the rivers and their bars. And she sees the vision splendid of the oceans far extended and at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars. I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the buildings tall. And the fetid air and gritty of the dusty dirty city through the open windows floating, spreads its foulness over all. And in place of frothing wakes, I hear the fiendish brakes of the lorries and the buses making hurry down the street; and the language uninviting of the taxi drivers fighting comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet. And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me as they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste. With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy for townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste. And I somehow rather fancy that I’d like to change with Nancy. Like to take a turn at sailing where the seasons come and go, while she faced the round eternal of the cash book and the journal but I doubt she’d suit the office, Nancy of the Yawl ‘Philo’.