THE residents of my home village had a propensity to nickname everything.
One of the most inventive, and my favourite, was the name they gave Phillip Hicks.
He became "Gilligan" and it was a name that stuck fast.
Gilligan was the Lawrence ferry master and, for years, the sole operator. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day and I think 365 days a year he worked the ferry.
He may have received back-up for holidays, but I don't recall him ever taking any.
The ferry was his island and, Gilligan style, he was stuck on it.
There were meal breaks and a two-hour maintenance shut down each Tuesday morning, but apart from that, he worked the ferry continuously, including at night.
At the time there was a small ferry master's house on one side of the river and if you arrived in the middle of the night Gilligan would sometimes emerge, bleary-eyed, from the house to take you across the river.
But it seemed most of the time he took whatever sleep he could get on the ferry.
On the opposite side of the river was an alarm, and if you arrived to find Gilligan asleep on the other bank, you would turn the handle and a siren would sound on the front door of the house. He must have hated it.
Understandably, it was sometimes difficult to get him to stir.
Being stuck to the ferry virtually full time, Gilligan didn't have a lot of time for social contact, but most village residents were sympathetic to his work hours and usually only called on his services if they were working shifts or there was some kind of emergency.
He knew the work patterns of most residents and would attempt to organise his sleep accordingly.
How he managed to prepare meals or shop is beyond me.
His predecessor, of whom I have only vague memories, was Willy Knight but as a toddler I believed he was Willy Punt, such was his close connection with the ferry.
The traffic is now much heavier and it would be impossible for any one person to carry the workload, so sadly, we may never get the opportunity again for such a fitting nickname.
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