Saturday, October 01, 2016

The Sunday Whirl

Posted Saturday October 1

‘Stand tight’ hollered boatman Gideon. Hercules his trusty horse tugged on the rope with all his might, stretching it then standing four square waiting for the barge to move. ‘Forward’ ordered Gideon as he slung the beast’s lead over his shoulder, and once again their daily journey along the canal was under way.

Like his father and his father before him, Gideon transported grain in the timeworn narrow-boat Marion. In foul weather or fair, on billowing or waters still,  Gideon went about his work uncomplaining. Through locks, under bridges, along the muddy towpath.

Gideon never had a son to pass the barge on to, nor a wife or mistress even. So after mooring Marion for the last time, with his silver blade he carved his initials and the date on the cabin door. ‘You done well ‘ole gal’ he whispered.

As Gideon sat on bench outside the Plank and Leggit Inn, tankard in hand, watching the next generation of boatmen trudging by he reflected on his past. He had been contented but then he knew nothing else.


‘How old is she?’ asked the father, ushering his wife and excited kids onto the canal boat.

‘Marion? We are not entirely sure, but she was a working barge until July 1926’ said the captain pointing to the cabin door ‘Make yourselves comfortable and enjoy our cruise’ He fired up the motor, spun the wheel and set off.

For The Sunday Whirl where the given words are grain, lock, barge, filter, wisp, spin, blade, reflect, billow, shoulder, fin and bridge



  1. How delighted we would be to know the history of old things, whether it be canal boats or jewellery. Researching family history often reveals some gems as well.

  2. Maybe the names but there is something biblical about Gideon leading the reins and leaving a part of history behind

  3. In contrast to Old Egg's comment, how cool would it be to know how are things are passed on in the future? I wonder what Gideon would think of Marion's new life.

  4. One wonders how many people who take pleasure trips on old transport even pause to consider the history of them. Very entertaining.

  5. I have a friend who owns a long boat, and we often take it through the canals in London. Makes for a great day out in the summer. A bit too cold though, once autumn arrives.