The restaurant 2 Fore Street lives on Mousehole harbour, near gift shops: the post office and general store have closed, leaving a glut of blankets and ice cream, the remnants of Cornish drama. It’s a truism that Mousehole is hollowed out – tourism changes a place, and no one knows that better than Mousehole. Eating at 2 Fore Street gives the visitor the opportunity to examine what they have done with what they call love.
Mousehole is one of those cursed villages that gather in the south-west: haunted in winter and glutted in summer, to paraphrase ‘The Pirates Next Door’. Darkened cottages have Q codes, not families, and only the postman knows the true number of year-round residents, a question that offends them. There are benefits if you are selfish. Driving through a storm to drink at the Old Ship is a bleak pleasure, because no pub has a blacker granite floor: it is a mirror made of part of a mountain. And beauty – with people, without people – is still beauty, even if the village reminds me most of a closed theme park I once discovered in Bulgaria, and loved.
The remnants are interesting, as remnants always are. Mousehole has its own myth – Tom Bawcock, who sailed into the storm to feed the starving village. When they realised he had gone, they stood on the harbour wall to light him home and used his fish to make Stargazy Pie. (That they had pastry, potatoes and eggs is a plot hole that fascinates me.)
2 Fore Street is as lovely as the village that it lives in: so much so that it appears in the children’s story ‘The Mousehole Mice’ as a café particularly beloved by tourist mice. Would human tourists eat in this café for mice? Of course: people will take fiction if that is what is offered.