What's a ‘Sogger’?

This widely prevalent tag of ‘Soggers Gap ’was derived from the numerous submerged, saltwater-soaked logs which amounted to an infestation around the reef. These large-sized wooden rogues were generally dubbed 'deadheads' by those who worked in the logging trade, and 'soggers' by local seamen faced with the choice of fending them off from the hulls of their boats or using evasive tactics to avoid collision, at which times they were called a few other more pithy and succinct names as well, especially if they weren't sighted in sufficient time to be completely circumvented.

     Through the years the term 'Sogger' had come to be applied not only to the floating dismantled trees around the bay, but to anyone in the area whose thoughts and opinions ran counter-clockwise or at some divergent angle to the general consensus, and to those who generally lived from what less adventurous residents considered to be an undetectable, unpredictable or unacceptable means of support along that stretch of coast.

     The type who fitted into this combination of thought and income category could usually be found embodied in one and the same person but, surprisingly, some of these independent thinkers had money and never used it. Some had none and never worried about it. Regardless of financial status, they all seemed to flourish from such an existence. They didn't buy much and didn't sell much and made a lot of their own things instead of relying on the local merchants to supply their needs, which didn't go over too well with struggling enterprise.

     These other-minded citizens, many living close to the frontier of possessionless poverty, even had the effrontery to enjoy themselves while they were at it, as though they didn't need all the things most other people deemed necessary to stay alive. They didn't work regularly, if at all, and a few of them could almost always be found lounging around café or pub during the best part of a day when most other people were hard at work earning a living, at which times they were considered to be busy 'sogging'.

     There had always been plenty of those who'd used mostly their wits and their hands to survive, and there still were some who had stayed clear of or worked their way out from the efficient maze of regulations and conformity which seemed bent on keeping populations obedient and productive while providing necessary funding for government incomes.

     They were covertly regarded with a tinge of envy by some, in much the same way that barnyard geese, with their guaranteed grain but shortened pinions, cock an eye skyward as their wild relatives fly a freewheeling course overhead, honking cheerful greetings while ignoring the congested artificial pond and heading for a splashdown in the nearby marshes full of lush, reedy growth.

     Such people were looked upon as the rejected logs of the system, like the wooden ones from which they had received their name, lolling their carefree way in and out with the tide of sometimes and in-between jobs and schemes they played with to keep themselves on the margin of society, much preferring that to living at its epicentre, and since there was no law which said they were not allowed to ignore the amenities of civilisation or that they must behave like the majority, they continued to do as they pleased in small villages and along the shores, shunning the blandishments of a more organised and ordered establishment the way boaters looked out for soggers.

      This is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of “A Bay and A Barge”.
      To start reading the novel from the beginning, click here!


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