Friday, 16 July 2010

The Great Fire Of London And How It Could Have Been Avoided






Thomas Faynor was still awake at midnight, banking the fire in the bread ovens, ready for rekindling in a few hours’ time for early morning baking. When he was finally done he went up the steep stairs to his  bed in the room above, which was the family’s living and sleeping quarters, disturbing his wife, who had turned in an hour earlier. On his way he stumbled over the baker’s boy’s pallet at the foot of the stairs, kicking it for good measure, making sure that Annie, the maid, was nowhere near the boy’s bed but that she was lying on her own straw pallet in the corner of the bakehouse, half hidden behind a makeshift curtain. The boy grunted, cursing his master under his breath for being late to bed. He would miss Annie tonight. Even on Sunday people wanted fresh bread and he was to rise first to see to the ovens, fanning the flames to bring them to the required temperature. Sleepily, he yawned and dug himself deeper into the straw.

It was Sunday, the 2nd September 1666.

The night was as silent as a night within the old Roman Walls of the City of London could be. A few revellers were still about, but here, on Pudding Lane, not far from St. Paul’s Cathedral, only a few taverns kept really late hours and soon the only noise in the bakery was the rustling of rats in the rushes, and the crackling of the fire in the ovens. 

The boy went back to sleep. The noise from the room above, where the baker had roughly woken his wife, had stopped. All was quiet. 

The boy dreamt. He dreamt that a fire was breaking out in the bakehouse. He dreamt that he was the only one awake and it was up to him to stop the blaze. It was almost as if he could feel the heat coming closer, sweeping across the rushes and licking the wattle and daub walls.  He rose from his pallet and there was a strange apparatus waiting for him. He bent to pick it up and lo and behold, the strange apparatus belched its white breath at the fire. The boy and the apparatus fought the fire, inch by inch, step by step, until they had vanquished it. In his dream he became a hero and the Mayor of London praised him in front of the multitudes and the King himself called him to the Palace of Westminster. Annie came to his bed every night. He could feel the heat of her body scorching his skin.

The boy awoke.  







                                

29 comments:

  1. now there's a great tale! Nice Magpie

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  2. Interesting take on what we were taught at school...Tramp

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  3. Friko - is this one from your own collections of writings? Brilliant story!

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  4. Is this your story? Great one.

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  5. Well, I suppose you know from my screen name that Annie is a gal after my own heart!

    The baker's boy should "mind the gap" between dreams and reality. Did I just say that? Did I really? Oh dear.

    Enjoyed this, Friko. :-)

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  6. I'm going to have to read about the Great Fire and then decide which version I'll believe!

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  7. I love your storytelling, Friko.

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  8. Now, I am left to wonder about the baker boy's dream night after night.

    Do they get more and more prophetic? Was he Nostradamus's unheard of great grandson?

    Or he would just continue to dream of Annie?

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  9. leider hatte ich immer überaus schlechte Lehrer in Geschichte und war auch deshalb nie daran interessiert und so kenne ich den Vorfall nicht. Auf alle Fälle bist Du als Schriftstellerin mehr als geeignet! Bis sehr bald! Renée

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  10. Sounds like Annie was the fire behind his dreams. Nice story.

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  11. Workman-like prose!

    Loved the 'multiple choice' post too :)



    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

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  12. Very clever, Friko! I think that's a terrific idea (I went to Mag 23 to take a look) and you took up the challenge brilliantly.

    Imagination is not something you lack, in the least. I thought the detail (Annie the maid, for one) was great - well done!

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  13. That's really cool, Friko. I enjoyed that.

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  14. Once again, this is really, really cool!

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  15. Love the story Friko, I like the fact that one tiny thing can change the course of history.
    Highly visual word-picture.
    XO
    WWW

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  16. I really like this story Friko, it is very realistic. I don’t remember much about the first time I went to London when I was 13 years old but we went somewhere where a big painting showing the great fire of London was exhibited. I can still see the red sky and the smoke from that painting. Your story would be a good prelude to that painting – good words then art – nice!

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  17. It seems that dreams of fire abound this week. But I like yours better than mine!

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  18. friko - sweet work!!! so tiny and perfect!!! steven

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  19. Good - looks like some people actually know their history.

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  20. Nicely told, a very enjoyable read.

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  21. Beautiful little piece, perfectly worked.

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  22. My first read from Friko - and I enjoyed it very much!

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  23. I thought I had left a comment but it appears not. i absolutely enjoyed this story - thanks so much, it's wonderful. I would love more of your stories!

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  24. A terrific read - talented writing.

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  25. what a marvelously spun magpie...great storytelling!

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  26. Dear Friko,

    I just want to let you know I love your blogs...you are pretty amazing!

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Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.