Tuesday, 8 September 2009

MULTIPLY United Friends Challeng #177: The Great Fire of London 1666

Sassyangelac's Challenge

Write a narrative of an event of historical significance from the perspective of a disabled witness.
The significance can be real or imagined as long as it is explained.
The disability should not be imagined but must also be explained.

Extracts from Josephine Fitzpatrick’s diary September 1666

Day 1
As I sit here at the window I can see the fire raging on the North bank of the River Thames. My beloved London is one sea of flames. The smell of burnt wood is in the air and there are showers of glimmering ashes falling on the roof tops. My mother has told me to shut the window as the smoke and fumes are causing a greater irritation to my throat. If I were not confined to my bed I would be able to see more. My father is preparing to go to London. His warehouses on the river are being threatened by the fire and he must see what he can save. I can only hope that the fire will spare him and that he returns home safe and well.

Day 2
The sky was illuminated throughout the night from the flames of the buildings burning in the city. My father has returned, but tells us that all is lost. He was not able to reach our property due to the heat of the fire. All buildings on the North central bank of the River Thames have been destroyed as well as the merchandise in the warehouses. They were wooden buildings, as all buildings in that part of London and there was no chance of rescue. He tells us that there are rumours circulating that the whole fire began in one of the King’s bakeries in Pudding Lane and spread with great ferocity throughout the night. My father said that efforts were being made to stop the fire with buckets of water, but the fire was so great this was not possible. Even blowing up buildings with gunpowder in its path helped very little. It seems there have been luckily very few casualties, thanks to God. I look again from the window, but I still see flames licking their way to the sky. When will this fire end?

Day 3
I had a troubled night. Partly because of the worry of the fire, and my cough was a great disturbance. Mother told me that if this cough continues, she will send me to Aunt Betty in the country. I have now been confined for the past week to my bed due to this cough. It seems that I have a constant irritation in my throat and now the smoke and fumes that have been carried by the winds, have caused it to increase. As I look through the window I can see that the flames are no longer so strong. My mother said that the high winds we had have receded and are no longer giving food to the flames. My father has again departed to see if he can now take measure of the damage to our property.

Day 4
Good news at last. London is no longer burning, but my father tells us that the core of London town is no longer and through the heat radiating from the remains of the wooden buildings it is not possible to near the damage. Even our St. Pauls cathedral has become a victim to the flames. He had a meeting with some of the town clerks and they are already discussing steps on how the damaged part of London can be rebuilt. This will be an enormous task. I overheard my mother and father talking about the thousands of burnt bodies of rats that were to be seen. Many rats were seen pouring into the river Thames from the burning banks of the river. This may be one positive result of the fire; one of the reasons I always hated visiting London. There were always so many rats crawling along the sides of the streets and in the ditches.

Day 5
It is now decided. I am to spend some time with Aunt Betty accompanied by my mother. The coach will leave today. Father will now have to stay away from the family. There is nothing more left to rescue from the cinders of the warehouses, but he expects a ship tomorrow bringing some goods. He will have to travel further down the stream of the river as there is no possibility of the goods entering the port of London, everything has been destroyed. Life must go on and I am sure our London will be rebuilt some day.

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