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Missus Bawcock
The story behind the story of Tom Bawcock and the legendary Starry Gazie Pie. A fantastical rhetoric of what it must have been to be the better half of the most famous fisherman in the history of Cornwall. I have drawn personal inspirations from the lives of Kasturba Gandhi (wife of Mahatma Gandhi) and Hillary Clinton(Wife of Bill Clinton) while comprehending this romantic Cornish story)

A lesser known Cornish story January 2013

Her pies were to die for, and this one was no exception. Delicious morsels of Cornish fish was being enjoyed gracefully by one and all; while the brave children of Mousehole got to feast chivalrously on the heads of mouth watering Pilchards. Amidst all the joys and celebration Mrs.Bawcock gracefully retired into the inner sanctums of her husbands fishermans cottage where she had more pressing issues of domestic bliss to get on with Earlier that evening, just as the last bit of scads was being placed neatly into the heirloom pie dish someone remarked amongst all the singing and cheering Here me luvr,the storm is gone. All this was hard to believe. How could one good thing lead to another? How could a mighty Atlantic storm have subsided all of a sudden? But, as nature would have its say, a thin ray of hope in the form of starlight filtered through the village hall window and caressed the gentle tresses of Mrs. Bawcockss gracefully graying Cornish tresses. Wasting no time in celebrating another miracle of the already happening night, Mrs. Bawcock confidently rolled out her famous suet pastry over the luscious pie mould and winked at the passing stars as she placed a few dainty pilchards looking skywards out of the pastry lid, Starry Gazie Pie aptly celebrating the victory of hope over despair. Hope was starting to dry upon the quaint fishing village of Mouse hole. Incessant rains and gale storms had almost wiped out the potatoes and cauliflowers in the fields and it was next to impossible to launch the wee fishing boats into the chalky waters of a balmy ocean. Famine was almost certainly imminent and the last fowls, chickens and livestock were remorselessly consumed in Kiddly broth and Cornish Hen pasties. A little bit of whole grain flour, bit of suet, a few free range eggs and a few pints of milk was all that was left to feed a dozen hungry bellies and mouths. Best of traditional Cornish home economics skills was running short of keeping the spirits high on the fateful night of the 23rd of December. Giving up had never been an option in Life according to the Bawcocks.When everyone was busy lamenting and there was hardly any more fodder left, it was Mrs. Bawcock who looked at fisherman Tom and said, I guess you better sort this sea out me darling, or else we will all perish before tae!. Armed with the confidence of his beloved wifes prayers a handful of lardy cakes, his darling cat Mowzer and an inclination towards doing good locally, brave fisherman Tom, sailed off into the balmy ocean barely managing to keep his keel.

Living in Cornwall was never easy for anyone and everyone who be a fishermans wife in the early Eighteenth century.While, Fish, tin, and Copper was in its sporadic plentitude, climate change and evolving industrial revolution (beginning with the invention of wheel) was ever changing the destiny and lifestyles of everyone who drew a meager living out of the Land, Sea and the Air above them in Cornwall. Born, Elisabeth Mary Pascoe to a pastoral mining family in nearby Paul(a rather quaint parish town tucked securely behind the iconic fishing village of Mouse hole in Cornwall) the to be Mrs.Bawcock had a rather uneventful upbringing amongst a family of fourteen other sibilings.Being the oldest of the Pascoe family had its own set of advantages and the household skills of knitting and mending were as deftly grafted into her blood as that of clouting cream and baking a mean pasty out of Turnips and skirts of beef. One winter storm led to another and by the time little boy Jack was hand delivered at home(to become the ninth and only the third surviving son in the family of Pascoes)the frail ,infirm Mama Pascoe was knackered to death having lost all her living spirit to the joy of giving birth. This sudden but rather predictable departure left the reins of a bustling fishing family in the capable and furrowed hands of twenty something old Elisabeth.

.. Jousting was a job Mrs. Bawcock absolutely adored. Over the summer, while Tom, her fisherman husband was away at sea, five days out of seven, it was a great opportunity for her to sell some fish and trade essential supplies for the house. She would deftly finish her household duties,(including feeding a long line of domestic,cats,hens and cows)and leave the house at the crack of dawn to the nearby port of streetanowan (now lovingly called Newlyn) Her makeshift fish basket (made out of a disused crab withy pot) hanging neatly over her broad shoulders, flashing her unbridled Cornish beauty coupled with her cunning bargaining techniques she would fool the weary eyed fisher folk into trading the best of fish for literally next to nothing. Having secured her prized catch, Mrs Bawcock would then walk swiftly to the bylanes of nearby town of Penzance and Joust off her fresh catch of Monkfish, witchsoles, Pilchards and Scads accompanied with a melodious verse that very often offered valuable hints of cooking, to powdered gentle women who knew nothing about fish.Boy,was she good at scaling and gutting fish and with the one sway of her filleting knife(forged out of pure Newlyn copper by her great grand father)she would extract buttery fresh filets out of a sand eel and feed the silvery skin to the admiring seagulls. Selling off all her fish to the early birds, Mrs. Bawcock would exchange a few hot gossips with fellow jousters and pick up a cheap cut or two of meat from the town butcher who always saved for her a little bit of prime suet for her velvety fresh and crisp pie lids that was well known amongst the fisher folks of Mousehole.

Hoping against hope and trying not to worry much about Mr. Bawcocks safety at sea,Mrs Bawcock and her fishwife friends were deftly getting ready to serve a Windy Pie, stuffed with boiled eggs and dippy, made out of flour and milk, upon his arrival. The Joy of Cooking and the rhythm of shanties had long abberated the feeling of pain and hunger in the hearts and minds of the gathered fisherwomen of Mousehole.It was way past the normal croust hour that someone perched atop a nearby cliff, raised a Hue and Cry about spotting Tom Bawcocks makeshift coracle, The Pilchard dreams listing dangerously towards the Mouse hole harbour walls. Moments of surprise, anxiety, hunger and anticipation were soon put aside by Mrs. Bawcock and her fish wife friends. They ceremoniously gutted and scaled the seven varieties of fish while singing merry hymns of Christmas often breaking up into bouts of confused laughter and a few happy tears. Fish had once again brought hope and joy to the destinys children in a little corner of Cornwall. Scad and Hake and Shark and Morqui were all skinned deftly, chopped up into hunky steaks and tucked ceremoniously into the hungry corners of a rather previously drab looking Windy Pie. The next twenty minutes seemed to be the longest ever. Mr. Bawcock excused himself to freshen himself up, changing into a more warmer set of appropriate winter clothes from his normal fish gear of oil skin (sewn deftly out of a few disused flour bags by Mrs. Bawcock) the word was slowly spreading into the streets of Mouse hole of a worthy catch as life was once again looking up in a quaint little corner of Cornwall.