Stories from the Helston Rambles

Stories from the Helston Rambles

Our time in Helston has come to an end, and so we want to share with you some the best bits.

To kick off the Rambles programme this year, lead artist Anna Maria Murphy walked for three days around the Helston area, beginning in sunny Porthleven and ending at the seaside village of Porthallow, collecting stories along the way. She was joined by Jim Carey and Jenny Beare to read stories at Kestle Barton, and to gather more in cosy pubs.

We also held workshops in Helston with Helston Museum Mini Movers, WILD young parents, Park View Adult Learning Disability Group. We met some brilliant people from Helston Museum and Helston History group who told Anna tales from the past.

We celebrated the end of our time in Helston with workshops and storytelling in the CAST building. Workshops were led in banner making with Alice King, animation with Daryl Waller and Lizzie Black, and cooking with Helen Swift. The next day we were joined by lots of local people for tea and cake, and Anna, Jim and Jenny told the stories Anna had collected during her time in Helston, including the story below. 


Jonas Peters

Jonas Peters from Ruan Minor hated fish.

He’d fished all his life, but he couldn’t stand them.

“I can’t stand them.” he said.

Since a boy his father took him out on his boat, like his father before him, and his father before him, father before him, and so on.

And as the young Jonas leant over the side of the boat, emptying the contents of his stomach once more into the briny, he noticed a dark shadow.

It was always there, that dark shadow, following him like a bad dream.

As he grew to be a man, his hatred of fish didn’t leave him. He couldn’t bare the smell of them, the slimy feel of them, the way they gaped and squirmed on deck in their final minutes.

But what else could he do but fish? What else could Ruan men do?


He tried casting for crabs, but they pinched and scuttled. He had a go at lobster, but could never find his pots. Also, their feelers. He couldn’t tolerate the way they stuck out and waved between the mesh as if to say, “Let us out”.

He tried conger. Five feet of flesh and muscle. One whip of its tale could break your leg. Conger eels didn’t like him either.

He went for shark. Thought there was a future in shark. Supply the fancy restaurants up Helford. But shark wasn’t in, it was all salmon and sushi up the Helford.

Choirs of singing pilchard started to haunted his dreams. Troupes of parading puffer fish danced on his bed. squid groped him while he fitfully slumbered.

He lost things too, out at sea. Equipment mostly. Radios. Radar. Tackle.

As a boy whilst staring at the dark shadow, a teddy bear, a toy train, his comfort blanket infused with the smell of his mother.

In a storm, two framed photographs of his ex-wives.

An entire boat, The Shamrock, newly bought from Dodgy Seamus in Ireland. Sunk with out trace whilst on it’s moorings.

And always that dark shadow under the seas skin, as big as a trawler, following him.

“See that ?” he said to Shrimp Harvey.

“That’s just the shadow of your boat Jonas,” said Shrimp Harvey.

“It’s got eyes though Shrimp,” said Jonas.

But Shrimp Harvey just shook his head.

One night when the moon was full and his heart was empty, Jonah went out in search of cod, his least favourite of all fish. He still had the bite marks of a giant cod on his arm. Even in its dying breath it clung on to Jonah’s flesh.

Yes, Jonas Peters resented cod above all fish.

So. There he was, out past the Devils frying pan, casting his nets for the cod, when he saw the dark shadow again under his boat.

He leant over to have a closer look. It definitely has eyes, Shrimp Harvey was wrong.

Whatever it was lurched. Jonas’s boat shuddered and lurched. Over he went into the  murky shadows. Salty champagne bubbles rose to the surface as Jonas Peters sank down.

All went quiet. This must be death thought Jonas. But he heard his heart beating and saw his breath.

As his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, he realised he was in a chamber. A vast fleshy chamber.

Inside it was dark ,echoey and wet. Then it  occurred to him that it was not his heart beating, but another, as loud as the engine on his boat.

Ba-boom. Ba-boom.

Inside the chamber there were fish bones, an anchor, radar discs and one half of a boat with the name “The Sham something on it.” There were plastic bottles, decaying dolphins entwined in nets, oiled guillemots and the remains of a wide-screen TV, wires still attached.

“Hell.” Thought Jonas, “Where am I?”

Jonas crawled on the soft floor of the chamber, and there, under a lobster pot was a battered teddy bear, a rusting toy train, an old blanket

And two water marked photographs.

Of Jonas Peters ex wives.

A shaft of light appears. A huge swell of water with the oceans detritus rushes in. Then Jonas Peters is belched out, upwards towards the seas surface and the sky and stars, away from the dark shadow that had haunted him all his life.