30/03/2017

THAMES BARGE - #flashfiction in 100 words


THAMES  BARGE

We’re hoisting the sails after water-proofing them when Churchill calls for anything that can sail to bring our soldiers home.
“We’re going to Dunkirk,” I tell Jed.
“Thames barges ain’t seaworthy,” he says, but he’s hauling in the anchor as he speaks.

We’re lucky the Channel’s fairly calm, because our boat rides the waves like a fat drunk, but its flat bottom gets us closer to shore than bigger ships. Dodging bullets, we pack exhausted men into the hold like sardines and high-tail it out of there.

Half-way home, Jed grins. “That trip’s got the fish stink out of the sails, if nowt else!”



I was lucky enough to sail on a refurbished Thames barge once – a large and practical wooden boat that still smelled of the linseed that had once been its cargo. These boats were known for their distinctive sails, tan-coloured from the mixture of red ochre, cod oil and seawater which was used to water-proof them. I don’t know whether any of these flat-bottomed vessels made it across the Channel to Dunkirk in 1940 but I hope at least one did, as I have written that possibility into one of my books!

Thanks, as always, go to Rochelle for hosting Friday Fictioneers on her blog  https://rochellewisoff.com/  from whence you can follow links to read other stories, and to Fatima Fakier Deria for the photo that is this week's prompt.

34 comments:

  1. That would have been a scary ride! But I can imagine that some barge owners did respond to the call for help at Dunkirk.

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    1. Bargemen are a notoriously tough breed, so they probably did.

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  2. Dear Liz,

    One thing about writing is historical fiction is inserting the 'what if's' and 'why nots?' Well done story.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

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    1. I love that thought 'what if' when it strikes!

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    2. What a great piece of historical fiction. -- gah learner

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  3. Loved the character voices, I could picture them from faced and determined to do their duty.

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    1. Their duty, yes, and also an adventure for those who were too old to serve otherwise.

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  4. Great story, Liz. I particularly liked: our boat rides the waves like a fat drunk...

    Susan A Eames at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

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    1. I was pleased with that phrase too, Susan - thank you!

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  5. I love a tiny slice of real people in the midst of a real situation that has become iconic. Good job.

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    1. Thank you Linda - I believe this is the best way to bring such situations to life.

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  6. What a delightful take! I really, really enjoyed your story ~ very different indeed. Alicia

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    1. Thaks Alicia - I had to write this one the moment I saw the brown sails.

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  7. Oh yes, what a great connection to Dunkirk - even in defeat there is victory

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    1. Odd, isn't it, that we celebrate that victorious defeat, but not the Battle of Medway 350 years ago when the Dutch navy invaded our shores.

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  8. Love the possibility you've brewed... The attitude of the characters is heartwarming. And your note makes the tale more enjoyable.

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    1. There were many sailors with similar attitudes who took their small boats over to Dunkirk in 1940.

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  9. They must have barged in. Nice take on the prompt.

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  10. Fab flash as usual, Lizy! I've set up my laptop for the duration of the A-Z to be able to comment on Blogger blogs, so can at last SAY SOMETHING!! xx <a http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

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    1. What a treat to see you here, Liz, and thanks for your comment.

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  11. Interesting take on the prompt!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Dahlia.

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  12. That was a great idea to have a brief story behind YOUR story! My favourite line was 'our boat rides the waves like a fat drunk' - just brilliant! :-)

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  13. I can imagine this, so why not, indeed!

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    1. I tweeted a link as I always do, and the Thames Barge Trust retweeted my story, so I reckon my guess could be right!

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  14. "our boat rides the waves like a fat drunk" A great line. A lovely take on the FF prompt.

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  15. hahahahaha - great description of the boat, Liz!

    marion

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    1. Sounds like you've sailed on one, Seaview!

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