Bridport museum is set to re-open on Saturday May 27th. After a really exciting refurb it now showcases a working ropewalk, which will be demonstrated regularly, and there will be lots of interactive items to entertain children of all ages.
In the lead up to the re-opening there is a busy programme of events celebrating the town's rope heritage.
The Rope Fair takes place on Sunday 14th May 10-4 on the Millenium Green, and on Saturday 13th May there is the Spirit of Bridport Parade.
Another, free event hosted by the writing group Story Traders, "Roped In". This is a collection of short stories and performance pieces inspired by photos and artefacts from Bridport's rope industry.
It takes place on 10th May at 7.30 at the Stables, behind the Bull Hotel in East Street.
This is a short story that I wrote, based on a photo of a homeworker making net, at Loders, just outside Bridport.
Run rabbit, run.
Why does it have to happen with Charlie Cope of all people?
Crimson red they must be. My cheeks. My whole face is prickin' and smartin' something fierce.
"Is he here? The Foreman?" I asked.
"What are you wanting him for?" Charlie replies.
"Who died and made you king of the hill?"
Oh no! Bad to worse. I sound like Auntie Vi, when her lumbago's playing up, and she's got a "cob on."
That was so much meaner than I meant it to be. I rub at my face crossly and find myself looking at my hands, as if the red would come off - ha! Better than looking at Charlie's crumpled noggin. I try again.
"Sorry, that came out all...,I just meant..., how long have you been at Gundry's anyhow?"
I change the subject.
"Oh, 'bout six months now. Brings in a bit extra, and I like it right enough, although you can't hear yourself think in the machine room."
Charlie was in the class above me at school. Me and Cissy used to chase him around the yard playing tag. Don't know why he put up with us.
"Ma's run out of twine. Cart didn't come today, on account of Mr Sewell is laid up with bronchitis. So she's sent me to get it direct like."
Why am I blathering on? If I don't hurry my piece of pie will be getting all dry in the oven. Thinkin' about it's makin' my mouth water now. Grandad caught a couple of rabbits last night, and was skinning them this morning before I went to school. Hard to eat my porridge, but Grandad's used to it. He was singin' that song that I like:
"Run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run.
Don't give the farmer his fun,fun,fun..."
I love watching Ganny tucking the pastry blanket over the meat in the dish, and pushing the blackbird through the middle. "Does it sing?" I asked when I was little.
"No, silly, it's to let the steam escape and make the pastry crisp up."
"Do you want a drink Rose? I can fetch some water from the back tap," Charlie asks.
I swallow as if I'm already drinking it. My mouth is dry and I'm hot and sticky. It's 'bout two miles across the field s from the village into Bridport, and I was luggin' the heavy net, to get paid. I got a stitch and had to slow right down. I want to say no, I haven't time, but my body betrays me and I nod keenly.
Charlie disappears into a shed, and I jiggle up and down impatiently. Eventually he comes back with a pewter mug, dripping water. I snatch it off him and down it in a single go. The water tastes a bit metallic, but it is cold and liquid, and it all goes down the same way.
"Thought your Ma was working on the farm."
"Oh yes, she is, early milking and sortin' the land girls out. Afternoons she and Ganny work the lines. I usually end up filling the braiding needles from the ran. There's not much money now that Dad's..."
Actually, not a good idea that. Charlie left school cos' his Dad was killed in France, One of the first. People were really kind to Charlie's Mum, but that don't put food on the table, as my Grandad says.
Eventually Charlie finds the Foreman, and I'm off again, back across town and over to Happy Island Way. 'Cept it's dark now, and hard to see. I know I'm not near the bomb pits from last month's incendiaries, but what if Gerry comes over here again? Nearest shelter is back at St Andrew's Road, long way if they come before the siren sounds. So, I sing to myself, and then a breathy voice joins in,
"He'll get by, without his rabbit pie
So run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run."
"It's just me, Charlie. Don't be scared. They let me go early. Thought I'd keep you company."
I found out later that he'd skipped off early. He could have got into a lot of trouble. Five years later Charlie and I were married. We both worked at Gundry's for another forty years.
Karen lives and works in Bridport Dorset. She is currently working on her third book in the Abbotsbury Series, books for children aged 8-12.