TIME – TRAVELLING

THAT MAN OF BLOOD WIK_Charles-I_by-Daniel-Mytens_1631 KING OF ENGLAND

WOULD MURDER HIS OWN SUBJECTS IN OUR BEDS? PEOPLE SHOULD SHUT THEIR FUCKIN’ MOUTHS, SPEAKING TREASON – I DON’T WANT YOU GOING DOWN TO THAT DEVIL’S TAVERN ANYMORE THOMAZIN! I’ll GET MY JUG OF ALE ELSEWHERE.

devil's tavern

It’s no easy task to write A CHAPTER in the imagined life of your 12 x removed Great Grandparents! Yet it is my exquisite obsession, my job to tell this story to my grand-children, students, and general readers.

The English Civil War (1642-49) was not something I learned in my English education between 5 to 14 yrs or 1967-77 in Birmingham. My husband didn’t learn about it during the 1950’s in Leeds.

Was Westminster afraid we would turn against the Status Quo, become rebel rousers?No our History lessons were like a scratched, repeating record of the War of the Roses and Henry’s Tudor wives.

cropped-tower-hamlets-militia.jpg

So I’ve been learning at home via the wifi internet  of this amazing period which was the beginnings of the British Commonwealth Parliament, the cornerstone of our system of Government today.

By this generosity of shared knowledge in the global village I can see and hear my New Model Army lovers who bear witness to the King’s head being chopped off by Parliament,  and M.P. Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of the British Isles.

In fact they were the first REDCOATS, the initiative of Cromwell and Fairfax to create a professional national Army. I aim to bring my cross-dressing Tom-boy Gran out of the closet of obscurity. Somehow they survived the onslaught of Cromwell leading them to victory in Ireland, Scotland and finally the battle of Worcester where my Mother lives!

To flesh out my 17th century ancestral characters I trawl through the academic research, go back to virtual Sunday School to read their favoured Geneva Bible, imagine so many Pub-crawls and Church pilgrimages of East London in a constant background of Wars.

Like an Olympian I needed a Coach…  It was opportune to see on facebook, the James Patterson Masterclass for Writers for an affordable $90.00. The number one author said I needed an OUTLINE – but first a plot in 2-3 sentences:

12 Generations ago, close to 400 years my Great Grandparents Clark had an intriguing entry in a London Baptism register for July 1655. The new parents were “Souldiers” in Cromwell’s New Model Army. 

It wasn’t long before a ballad was sung about the wife who cross-dressed to be a man and be revealed as the “Famous Woman Drummer”. How did this happen? Wasn’t it a hanging offence? 

My Great Grandmother 12 generations past.

THOU SHALT NOT KILL said the God of Abraham, but DEATH and DYING, AND BRUTAL MURDER WAS ALL AROUND. EVERYWHERE THE CHILD WALKED WITH OR WITHOUT HER MOTHER there was usually heads of traitors atop pikes at the different Gates around the city of London walls, and Bridge.

The twin girls’ mother, would introduce herself to strangers as Goody Thomasine Cannaday , wife of a Wapping Mariner, going on to explain how clever he was with his hands. It had only taken a morning to build the twins a push-cart so they could all get out of the house, see the sights of London.

Dutifully she would never fail to inform her three year old twin daughters under the gruesome faces of men, this is what happens to you if you’re caught murdering and pillaging and raping and spying, and rebelling.

If you stay out of trouble from God and King life wouldn’t be so bad living in the best city and country of the world. It was a bit alarming when she saw how her borough was changing day by day.

The Tower Hamlets was semi-rural, so the family could walk around the corner and find a milk dairy, and horses being shoed, fishing boats traffic and the increasing wonder of sailing ships bringing in cargo from foreign and newly discovered countries.

Blessed to be born, Praise the Lord! and they would all laugh, and she would shed a tear. Thomasine had it on good authority – her Father, Thomas Bond a Victualler of Gracechurch Street would send a message when their Royal Majesties Charles 1  and retinue had planned to Parade the regular route between the White Tower and Whitehall.

Crowds of thousands would witness pomp and tragedy along the way to the Tower gates.

Roaming animals were part of the throng of daily Life on a diet of unwanted scraps of butchered flesh and gristle. There was no waste left when dogs cleaned up body bits and pieces of  an unforgivable noble whose head was severed by the axe man at Tower Hill.

Thomasine senior was doing her motherly duty showing the raw facts of Life in it’s Judgemental element. The girl’s mother would counteract this dark side with the experience of watching the magnificence of a Royal entourage. It was always a spectacle, from the glorious white horses with shiny reins to the splendid military uniforms flash with feathers.

Even her mother’s delight failed to quell the moans about her  husband, HUGH when he was off sailing the ocean, fearful of him finding somebody he liked to fuck better than she.

Her daughter  also named Thomasine  reminded her of how she complained when there was no ship and he took on jobs as a Roper, and they saw each other every day she was not entirely happy. Thomasine the younger had worked out why she was unhappy with most things – it was her baby’s dying. Her mother’s desire to bear sons, and the loss of her favourite daughter, Tabitha, twin to Thomasine, her beautiful, graceful sister who should have lived instead of her.

God had visited the plague on their house, taken the most important thing a woman could give her husband, a son. And she did, but then the Lord took them away? Why would HE do this to her?  It was hard to suppress her tears.

Mummy can be a cry-baby, he had said one day when she was taking a piss outside. The Rector at St. Dunstans suggested prayers but Thomasine had a better idea. She would be healed by the King.

TO TAKE HER MIND OFF HIS ABSENCE THERE WAS ALWAYS THE LONELY BUT FAITHFUL MARINER’S WIVES OF THE THE TOWER HAMLETS.

They met in a different Tavern each week, sometimes twice, bring the kids to share stories, sing ballads and support each others grievances and oft times, grief.

Bills of Mortality

THOU SHALT NOT STEAL was the next COMMANDMENT, but at the Stepney Parish Sunday school Thomasine and her twin sister Tabitha said they knew Godly people who stole stuff all the time.

My ancestors are recorded in the registers of St. Dunstan Stepney East in the 1600’s. Puritan Preacher William Greenhill was the preacher aswell as active with the Independent Meeting House, non-conformist and attracted people like Oliver Cromwell.

Stepney Meeting House was an independent church in Stepney, East London, founded in 1644 by Henry Barton and his wife, William Parker, John Odinsell, William Greenhill, and John Pococke, in the presence …Wikipedia

It was true said Rev. Burroughs, but if they were not caught, hung by the Law, or transported as white slaves to the NEW WORLD, there was no escaping the real torment of HELL.

God of course in the body of Jesus Christ our Saviour on the Cross would see into the SOUL of the person and forgive them for what they did.

secretlondonexecutiondock3

CHAPTER 1. THE KING THREATENED HIS OWN PEOPLE, HIS CAVALIERS WERE GOING TO RIDE DOWN FROM THE ROYAL BASE AT OXFORD, AND MURDER HIS OWN SUBJECTS FOR SIDING WITH PARLIAMENT.

THOMASINE Cannaday is TWELVE, yet her father allows her to dons the clothes of her dead brother to dig the fortifications commissioned by Parliament to protect the Tower Hamlets against the King.

On 7th March 1643 the people of Stepney Parish pray to God to protect them against the crazy, stubborn, selfish, Stuart King, Charles 1st who is threatening his subjects a bloody attack by his Cavalliers coming from the Royal base at Oxford.

During this great anxiety and shock, Thomasine is made aware of her destiny. John Clark appears by her side and their souls fate become intertwined. God is Love.

Forts 1642

My journey writing is a long journey, with many diversions, like today  I’ve been cleaning out the pantry because a mouse died in it…pong, leaving its shit everywhere..I think about the filthy hovels and slum tenements which my ancestors survive, and those who don’t.

I clean and disinfect then find a wonderful article about early modern vermin! It’s not the mouse shit the people are so concerned about, but the competition for their scarce food! The Details are important. It is the real truth revealed, physical, political, spiritual.

My 17th century Tom-boy is part of my inner-life, has been for at least 3 years now. I see her like in a movie at the end of Gun Alley opposite Wapping Wall with her Mother, Thomasine (popular Christian name in East London).

I’m hooked in to imagining and re-creating their working-class drama because it has all the topics I love and my Nan didn’t – Religion and Politics!

When she was a child Tom would go down to EXECUTION DOCK to see the Pirate hanging over the river. If the tide was out she’d sit under the body, thinking.

The neighbourhood was always out in force, for the Parade – cheering as the High Court Admiralty Marshall approached on a beautiful, majestic horse along the narrow street front of the River Thames. He held a tall silver oar, symbol of the Sea where crimes were committed by the prisoner – a pirate – made to stand aboard a cart.

There were hisses, and boos, and mad cheers.  Old rubbish was flung at him for a laugh. Dogs barked. Tom studied it all; to from the hooves to the tail to the Pirate standing proud as he can before he is hung by a short rope.

Mongrel dogs take part, wagging tails, sniffing bystanders, scrounging for edible scraps. Vermin rats and mice were part of the scenery, and they were hard to catch too.

Wappinglink to all about Fortifying London
Wapping Warehouses, 17th century view.

 

Hill of Tara, County Meath, Republic of Ireland

THE COST OF LIVING

nr Telford/Iron Bridge

Addicted to geneological research  I went with my husband to Europe for their Summer 2010 forming this poem after visits to  cemeteries where ancestors were buried. 

Hardly enough to live on, 

Nothing left to rot with;

No sword or jewel of infinite

Value – our commoners of

England, Ireland, Scotland, 

Are one of many paupers after

Another; piled in layers

Of dirt, after a shitty life.  

Agricultural Labourers of Worcestershire

Nearby, deliveries came in a black glass

Carriage, emptied and covered, a standing

Stone Mason has inscribed  the name of a

Citizen who lived once beneath the stars,

Under  the influence of a Celtic Cross;

Intricate, masterfully chiselled and

Paid for with a tidy sum before

Meeting their Maker.

Celtic Cross


Ornate marble tablets quarried

From the mountain tops proclaim

A devoted wife, husband, a child

Called to Heaven above the dismal clouds.

 

Will this class of  ancestor be equal

In eternity with my own dear departed?

Unable to inherit success or rise above

The Gutter;

Salvation came much

Later with the biological sciences.


Within the subsidised grassy spaces

 Layers of my blood and bone

Peasants,  Nailers, Miners of coal

And limestone, brickies labourers,

Even British Imperial soldiers…

Occupy my thoughts.

Hill of Tara, County Meath, Republic of Ireland
 

Generally illiterate, sometimes called

‘Illegitimate’

 Wives were burdened and bloody

Infected by birthing,  dirt and soldiers

Syphillis  and beatings with booze;

Left  behind Wards of State and

Church ‘bastards’,  survived to earn

A crust, however they could.

I have no fantastic psychic impressions

Of past lives as a Klimt-like Austrian

Princess or Harem dancer as a Medium

Once claimed!

My inner Shaman is un-spooked  treading

By Regency damp and mossy tombs in

Gothic Romanticism, searching for

 Surnames in vain.

Memorials

 Having acquired the generational

Narrative which casts my proletariat

 Indistinguishable,

I create a cast of characters to a virtual

fate; in blogs and bricks of words –

This family’s  black sheep grazing around

Their burial plots.

The Pub's still standing

 Irish republicans and suffragettes are

Remembered at Glasnevin

For heroism in the fight for  democratic

Secularity, and though the parades

Long gone, further afield from the

Dead and buried slum dwellers – 

Chief  Daniel O’Connell and the

Executed Independence martyrs still

Attract  sorrow and gratitude graveside.

Impressive........

Free from the mad and mean world, the

Collective of  Celtic kin under the grass

Are strangers, political and spiritually

 Yet I find comfort in thinking their

 Last gasp or TB cough was  

Optimistic!

 

Finally liberated from death-bed agonies,

The verses rote learned in lines of  Holy

Scriptures will sound like poetry, along

The kids playing outside. 

The promise of an after-life free from

Bacterial battling, and oppression

In hovels of working-class containment

Or Asylum, is a blessed sigh of relief ,

Giving up the  ghost in a society 

Of sadness and shame.

 

Body snatchers sneaked over nameless

Dens, searching for valuable

Corpses; their human remains hidden,

No contribution to medical science.

 My generation’s  Scientists  find markers,

Not by stone and marble to connect us, 

But the trace of  a Double Helix. 

We  join scholars to trace geneology

Before  the days of  St.Patrick and Bede

Self-learners on a sojourner’s stay in  

Ui Niall’s territory  entering

Passage-ways and tombs to the 

 Underworld dug into the Hill of Tara.

Breaking bread beside the erect penis

Of Celtic destiny

Reflecting  on our mothers and fathers,

Whose  DNA travels with us and through

 Into our off-spring, we silently breath

The sacred air;  a brief resting

Spot on the planet.

Procreation of Celtic genes

Hill of Tara, Navan, Ireland

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The Cost of Living by Julie McNeill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.