Mary Elizabeth Briggs

 

My Great Grand Aunt

Chesterfield, Derbyshire

1880 – 1958

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My Lady of the Cut

A force is pulling me to seek the source of my blood, to rediscover the earth from which my bones were carved. A face appears from the stack of old photographs my Uncle passes to me.

Elizabeth Barnes, Lady of the Cut, Bargee, Boat-person, narrowboat dweller, Mercian, East Midlander.
My Great Great Grandmother.

I stare at the photo. Her clothes are so old fashioned, so typical of boat folk. Simple. Plain. Hardworking, rough around the edges, no messing, survivors. I remember a tale that my Nan once told me about borrowing her own Nan’s bargees bonnet for a play at school. She had pride in her voice as she told me, but there was sadness there too, perhaps the sadness that I feel now. Its our history. These moments have been banished to memory. We cannot go back. But they are calling me to remember them. And that I will for as long as I am able.

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