Place Mouse OR Touch Screen to stop scrolling.
ALL STORIES are Copyright.
Here is part of the stories that you can find in this book
Four - The Start of Birmingham
It was late afternoon, when they arrived at a tunnel at the beginning of Lea End, which takes a twisted turn by going under Headley Heath, south part of Birmingham. Before, they’ve emerged again in Kings Norton at bridge 70, right in the middle of a housing estate. The weather was still unsettled, while they were heading towards Birmingham, with tall trees on both sides. They slowly travelled upwards, towards a split in the canal before reaching bridge number 72. The other canal was the North Stratford Canal, which branched off towards an easterly direction.
“Which way, do you want to go Jester…? William said looking at Jester yawning.
“Meow…!” Jester replied before he curled up into a fluffy ball on the top of the barge, going back to sleep, with the wind causing his ears to flicker slightly.
“Great…! I think it’s better to carry on down this Canal towards the end to see what we’ll find…?” William muttered slightly, before carrying on past the bridge number 72.
The barge went over the River Rea; somehow William could smell the freshness and dampness in the breeze. He could tell it wasn’t the River, because it was so dense and it was different texture from the wind breeze. So he carried on and that’s when it hit him, the cold dampness of the breeze brushed against his face. William turned his face towards the right and felt the full effect, when he noticed it was the Lifford Reservoir. The water surface was churning up against the strong winds coming from the east.
“Love the smell of fresh water mixing with the breeze in the air…! It gives that freshness you need, time after time…!” William muttered while sniffing the moist air into his lungs.
William carried on with Industrial Estate on his right with the house on the left. When, he heard a whistle sound coming from the distance above him. He looked up and he was getting near the Bournville Railway Station, at Bridge Number 76. It wasn’t long, before he reached the bridge and notices; some people were looking down at him waving.
“Afternoon…captain…?” one of the people shouted down, with the others screaming towards him and kids waving with smiles on their faces.
“LOOK, a cat on the boat…?” the children were shouting and smiling.
“Afternoon, people…!” William shouted back, before he slowly went under the bridge.
William carried on up the canal heading towards another station, Selly Oaks. Finally the sun manages to break through, shining beams of light across the area through the grey clouds. William could hear the heavy machinery on his left and the trains stopping on his right. He knew that he was heading towards Selly Oak Industrial Estate and Selly Oak Railway Line that carried the London Midland trains on. The noise was so loud that it woke up Jester from his deep sleep and yawned again.
“Finally…! You’ve woken up then, Jester…?” William said looking at Jester standing stretching on his tip of his claws.
“Mew…!” Jester replied back before sitting down facing down the canal, with his ears pointing backwards, trying to hide some of the noises.
William stroked Jester on his back, while he stayed sitting down, with the industrial noises slowly fading behind them. The cloud starting’s to break up on the horizon, bringing the warmth from the sun for the long journey ahead. They could hear the birds chirping in the trees. But it wasn’t long, before the birds sounds were replaced by the noise of people again. They were coming towards the University bridge number 84A, with the University of Birmingham on the right with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on the left. William could see the students and the Junior Doctors, enjoying the freshness from the canal, while basking in the sun.
“Look…! There’s a barge coming…? And, there’s a white cat with black patches on top…?” one of the students shouted.
“Oh, no…! Not now…!” William muttered, knowing when Jester heard the children shouting from the bridge.
Jester’s ear flicked up when he heard the children were talking about him. He looked up and suddenly he sat on his hind legs and started waving towards the students and the Junior Doctors with his paws. They were amazed at what Jester was doing and started taking photos with their mobile cameras.
“Look at that cat; it’s waving at us…? WOW…! That is so cool…!” Students shouted from the bridge, while they were taking photos and laughing at the sight.
“Meow…! Mew…!” Jester replied still waving, while he stood on his hind legs.
“You’re such a show off…Jester…!” William said looking at Jester, before starting chuckling again.
“Meow…! Mew…o…? Jester replied, before sitting back down again, as they went under the bridge.
“One of these days…you’re going to do something stupid…?” William replied back warning Jester, but Jester just lifted his nose up back at William and enjoying this moment.
They carried on and went under a long bridge before they reached the Salvage Bridge, and it was a sharp turning right. With the noise getting louder and louder, Jester went back inside the barge, leaving William to carry on taking the barge up a new route called Birmingham Canal Old Line.
William slowed the barge down, as they came across a busy intersection of different barges passing one another. With different barges coming and going, with people shouting ‘Afternoon’ or just nodding their heads, William saw a gap and went for it and just made it. Years ago, it was used for the local coasting or river craft, but the Birmingham Canals were only 7ft wide and was then, only used only for the narrowboats.
The journey was a slow one with the amount of barges, going along this narrow man-made concrete canal in one direction. William looked ahead and for some reason he started to sing again, with the other people listening to what he was singing. William started to sing the old famous song from years ago called ‘Birmingham-on-sea’.
“#I sing the song of Birmingham, of Birmingham-on-Sea…#” William started singing the song, while looking at the line of barges in front of him, along the narrow canal.
And before you know it, someone was starting singing with him, behind him on another barge. And it wasn’t long before the other barges started singing along with the song, while traveling through Ladywood.
Jester heard the singing and came out and looked through the cat-flap before jumping onto the roof. He sat there wagging his tail, with his ears twitching in every direction to pick up the sounds from the song. And it wasn’t long before Jester started to join in with his meowing.
“Meow…Mew…Meo…w….Mew…!” Jester said, sitting on the roof with his eyes half closed, enjoying this moment.
#I sing the song of Birmingham, of Birmingham-on-Sea.
For that they say is what she is, in days to come to be
the times are bad; the riddle is, when better shall we see
Canal locks have been picked and so let’s hope we’ll get a quay.
Rejoice, rejoice ye unemployed, there soon will be a glut
of brand new trades for Birmingham, although ’twill be through cut.
The shortest cut to seaboard is our old canal, of course
the stake is there, it only wants a little Worcester source.
The question really is not more than one of willing banks
that must give rise to enterprise the age is one of cranks.
And cranks and cogs must supercede the bargee’s horse and whip
and Birmingham in launching out of course must launch her ship.
For months and months she suffered from depression she can’t hide
and hide with her means seek and so she wants a turn of tide.
In Worcester Walk we’ll have a beach as good as that of Wales
they weave our beach in Temple Row, of course a beach with sails.
A cliff we’ve got in Bennett’s Hill, a cave is there as well
and daily if you care to look you’ll see the New Street swell.
The gas department breezes finds as fresh as those of Rhyll
and as for shingle put your hand into the borough till.
Time will provide the sand and shells the guardians keep in stock
that folk may snug at anchor ride within the Witton dock.
I sing the song of Birmingham, of Birmingham-on-Sea
for that they say is what she is, in days to come to be. #
When the song finally finished, everybody was cheering themselves and started clapping towards William, they knew he’d had made their day. William smiled and nodded his head with their thankful gesture.
“That’s…a job well done…! Well Jester…that was fun…enjoyed yourself then…?” William said, looking at Jester, who was still moving his head from side to side, still continuing with the song inside his head.
“Meow…Mew…Meo…w….Mew…!” Jester replied softly, mewing along to the song.
William chuckled slightly before continuing down the canal. Travelling slowly past the houses and the Industrial Estates until he could smell a faint smell of freshness in the breeze, mixing with the smells from the factories. It wasn’t long before there was a curving bend he had to travel along before reaching the Edgbaston Reservoir on his left. The damp smell in the air, always gave William some comfort before carrying along the winding canal. He went under the railway line bridge before joining the Soho Loop that surrounds the Birmingham City Hospital.
“It’s going to be…a long journey…Jester…?” William said enjoying the slight breeze, against the warm muggy air.
“Meow…!” Jester replied back, sitting looking at the people running around like little ants to their nest.
William carried on down the Soho Loop before re-joining the Birmingham Canal Old Line again. William carried on up the canal, until he came across another junction on the canal. It was two choices, either the Old Main Line or the New Main Line canals. The canals were saturated by the Middlemore Industrial Estate in Smethwick, outside of Birmingham.
“Which way…Jester…? One meow for the Old Main Line…! Or two meows for the New Main Line…!” William said looking at Jester, who was having a wash.
“Meow…!” Jester replied back, looking at him.
“Ok then…here we go Jester. Down the Old Main Line, we go…?” William said looking forward and steered the canal boat to his right.
William knew that they both needed a rest soon; it’s been a long day navigating the canal boat nearly all day, but it’s all worth it. William just joined the start of the Old main Line canal, hoping to find somewhere, where they can rest for the night.
William carried on steering the barge passing along the way, going over on the water bridge, over the New Main Line Canal. It wasn’t long after that, they’ve reached yet another split in the canal, with the Titford Canal on his left, but William decided to carry on, on this route. Jester settled down again, after the singing and somehow it lifted their spirit, even though it started to spit with rain.
They’ve just started to travel through Oldbury, heading towards Gower Branch Canal on the left, William looked across and it’s seems empty, even though it was very late afternoon. While the drizzle carried on dropping from the skies, William travelled past the Dudley Port on his left. William had enough of the city, houses and offices along the canals; he just wanted to go back towards the country side.
“Love the city….but it’s too much for me…!” William muttered, while steering the barge towards another section of another Canal on his left, the Dudley Canal.
“Nope…! I’m going straight ahead…? I’m not stopping now…!” William raised his voice slightly; determine to reach the country side, which suited him best.
“Meo…w…?” Jester replied when he jumped down, when the rain started to get a little heavier for him.
“Great…! Just what I needed…More BLOODY RAIN…!” William yelled quickly, before he started to look around for his jacket to put on.
“There…found you…?” William responded frustratingly, after finding his jacket under the pile of rope.
He carried on until he joined the end of the New Main Line Canal, past under a few bridges until he’d reached the Coseley Tunnel. He felt a sense of relief from not getting wet from the rain, while steering through the tunnel.
“Thank GOD…! Some dryness for once…? Bloody English weather…never gets enough sunshine in the late summer anymore…?” William said, tensing his hands on the rudder of the barge, steering it through the tunnel, until he could see a speck of light at the end of the tunnel.
“Finally, some light…!” It looks like the weather is clearing…Jester…?” William shouted slightly, with a tone of happiness in his voice.
But when he’d reached the end of the tunnel, something dropped from a height into the water, causing a loud splashing noise travelling through the tunnel. William looked quickly towards the end of the tunnel; he could see a bag of some sort.
“What was that…? Looks like people are throwing rubbish into the canal again…!” William said reacting angrily, while he was looking for the bag.
While he was searching along the dark tunnel with his torch, something caught his eye. He looked up and there in front of the opening was the end of the rainbow, shining right on top of the black bag. William looked with awe, not because he’d seen a rainbow before, but never seen a rainbow’s end landing on the canal itself.
“WOW…! JESTER…! LOOK AT THIS…?” William shouted, with his voice travailing along the tunnel, echoing the same words.
“Mew…Meow…?” Jester replied, sticking his head out the cat-flap and looked at the end of the tunnel.
Jester jumped up and he was transfixed towards the rainbow, with his eyes widening even more. Until, he sensed something in the water and rushed along the top, towards the front of the barge. And there, Jester started meowing loudly, enough for William to hear him and stopped the barge straight away.
“What’s wrong Jester…?” William looked at Jester, and jumped along the top towards the front of the barge.
William reached the front and noticed that Jester was looking at the black bag at the end of the tunnel. William was only a few yards from the end of the tunnel when he stopped, so he went back inside the barge to get a net. He looked over and noticed that the black bag was moving, so in an instance, William put the net in the canal and fished out the black bag.
“What’s in here Jester…? I can feel something inside…?” William gasped in horror, when he opened the black bag it had seven little kittens inside; they were not meowing at all.
“Let’s get these inside…? Jester, well done for stopping me…!” William said urgently, and carried all seven kittens inside the barge, filled with rage that someone could do this to any living creatures.
Between the living room quarters and the bedroom, was the area where William did his veterinary work. It had everything he needed, a metal table with his equipment underneath, a wash bowl to wash the animals, a bright celling lamp above the table in case of any operations. Needles and medication were locked up in a secret hidden compartment on the side, just in case people tried to break in to get drugs.
William carried the kittens and placed them on the metal table, they all looked frightened, and they were soaked because the bag had small holes punched in it. The kittens never moved at all, they just laid there motionless, struggling to breathe. William knew that he had to act quickly to save these little ones lives, but kept his anger out of the way to concentrate on saving these kittens.
“Right…Think…Man…! Need to get the water out of their lungs quickly…?” William muttered, and rushed over to get a round pump mouth piece with a tube fitted on the end.
William slowly and carefully laid each kitten on its side; before putting the tube inside the kitten’s mouth, but not too far down their throat. William pressed the round pump a couple of times, before pressing on the ribcage area, to try and move the water towards the opening of the mouth. William could see that it was working, with the water coming out and was pleased to hear the first kitten meowing softly.
“Good…? One down six to go…?” William whispered before starting on the next one and so on, until he reached the last one.
William carried on pressing the pump and the ribcage, he’d notices some water but there was no noise, no movement. William knew that he was too late to save this little kitten and stopped. The other kittens slowly started to move, before they all got up and started shaking themselves dry. They all walked towards the one kitten that didn’t make it and started meowing at the lifeless kitten.
When all of a sudden, Jester jumped up and approached the lifeless kitten, and started rubbing his head on the kitten’s head, and meowing softly towards it. William looked and he could feel himself bubbling up, with a tear rolling down his cheek, before turning around to get a box to put the lifeless kitten inside.
“Meo…w..! Meow…! Me…w…!” Jester said over and over again, sitting next to the kitten.
“I know Jester…? I’ve tried to bring the little one back…!” William replied back sniffing.
“MEOW…!” Jester replied back even louder, trying to get his attention.
“Jester…Please Sto-…?” William said turning around, and realised that the chest of the seventh kitten was moving very slightly, but enough for William to take notice.
“WELL DONE JESTER…?” William yelled with delight, and quickly moved towards the metal table and grabbed the hand pump and put it inside the kitten’s mouth to help it to breathe.
“That’s it…little one…keep breathing…!” William whispered towards the kitten, with the other kittens and jester just sat there looking at William trying to help the kitten again.
After a couple of minutes, the seventh kitten finally managed to move and slowly stood up on its legs. Jester walked up to the kitten and rubbed his head on the kittens head, just to say ‘welcome’ before walking up to William and rubbing against his face and arms.
“Right, what shall we do with these kittens…? What names shall we call them…?” William said, looking at the seven kittens, walking along the table and started playing.
“Meow…? Meo…w…?” Jester said, looking towards the rainbow at the end of the tunnel, before it slowly starting to disappear.
“That is a clever idea…Jester…!” William replied back laughing, before he checked what sex they were before naming them all.
“Three boys and four girls…Jester…!” William said looking at Jester, after checking them out before he started naming them.
The male kittens were all black, while the females were all white, black, and brown in different coloured patches.
“How about flower names….Jester…?” William said looking at Jester, who just hissed back at him.
“Ok…That’s a no then…! How about names after gemstones…! YES…! That’s IT…! William shouted, with all the kittens fur just stood on end, looking like fluff balls looking at William with fright.
“I need to remember names of special stones…to name these special kittens…! What do you think Jester…?” William said looking at Jester.
“Meow….?” Jester replied back, looking puzzled.
“The first boy is called…Orange Ethiopian Opal? No, no, no, too long…Opal…! After the orange in the rainbow…?” William said shaking his head, looking at Jester, who meowed once.
“The first girl is called…Ruby…! After the red…?” William said before looking at the third one.
“The second boy is called…Emerald…! After the green…?” William said looking at the kitten, and it meowed back at him.
“The second girl is called…Amber…! After the Yellow…?” William said looking at Jester, who just lifted his paw up at him.
“The third female will be called…Sapphire…! After the blue…?” William said looking at the kitten before smiling.
“The third final boy is called…Lolite…! After the violet…?” William said looking at Jester, and the rest of the kittens.
“The Last, but a very special female cat is called…Azurite…! After the indigo in the rainbow…! But the colour, also symbolizing the bridge between the finite and infinity…?” William said finally, after naming each one, before finishing each one with a special name tag shaped like a half moon rainbow.
“Well…Jester…! That’s a job well done…!” William said to Jester, before stoking Jester and the kittens, with all of them looking and purring at him.
It was a good hour, before William, Jester and the seven kittens, finally left the tunnel without being disturbed by other barges. With the kittens enjoying a lease of life running around inside the barge, with Jester and William carried on with the journey up the Old Main Line, to find a place to rest and most importantly to find homes for the kittens of the rainbow. They still carried on with their journey along the Old Main Line Canal, passing the Bradley Arm Canal on the right, heading upwards Ettingshall in Wolverhampton. The weather still stayed dry after half a day of drizzle from the heavens. William carried on up the canal, with Jester sitting on the roof soaking up the late evening sun, when they heard noises from inside the barge. Jester looked at William, with his ears pointed backwards and started to twitch from the sounds below, before jumping back down and went through the cat-flap.
“Meo…w..! H.i.s.s., meow..!” Jester said inside the barge, with William wondering what the hell is going on.
“Think it’s time…to stop the barge…!” William muttered, sighed with frustration, stopping at the Dixon Street Bridge at Monmore Green.
William walked in and looked in horror, after seeing everything was tipped upside down. Medical books, all on the floor everywhere, with pages eaten at the corners. Bits of half eaten food on the floor, bread, cakes, biscuits and even packets of cat-food, shredded to pieces with bits of cat-food scattered everywhere.
“What the hell…is going on around here…kittens?” William said out loud, before sighing again, while looking to find out where the kittens are in the living room area.
“That’s strange…they’re not here…?” William muttered.
“I can hear them…but where can they be…?” William whispered looking worried, thinking that something bad could have happened to them.
So he carried on walking down the corridor, past the door of the vet area towards the bedroom. William noticed that the door was open and popped his head around the corner, just to see what’s inside. He looked in horror to see the bedding was all on the floor, with the kittens weeing and pooing on the pillow using it as a litter tray.
“Great…! Time, to change the bedding and get out a new set of pillows…!” William muttered while sighing, before shaking his head.
“Meow….mew…me…ow…!” the kittens meowing out loudly, nearby.
“That doesn’t sound like…it’s coming from here…?” William whispered, after hearing the meowing sound coming from nearby.
William turned his head, listening carefully to where the sound was coming from. So he walked back down the corridor and there in front of the glass shower door in the tiny bathroom was Jester. Jester looked up at William with his chest puffed out with proudness, William noticed some shadowy movements inside the shower.
“What did you do Jester…?” William said looking down at him.
“Meow…mew…!” Jester replied back, before getting up and weaved around William’s legs.
William looked through the glass door and noticed seven little figures standing up, with their front paws pressing against the plane glass. He could hear the meowing coming from inside the shower cubical, before opening the glass door. All of the seven kittens slipped forward before jumping over the basin of the shower.
“So…Jester…did you carry them in here…?” William said looking at Jester, who just sat down and started licking himself clean.
“Jester…!” William said a little firmer, before Jesters ears started to flick backwards.
“Meow…!” Jester replied back quickly and sharply, before looking up at William.
“Right…kittens…have you learnt a lesson today…! If you carry on…Jester will put you all back inside here...?” William said pointing at the glass door while looking at the tiny little faces, looking up at him.
“Hiss…!” Jester said to the kittens.
“Meow…Meow…!” the kittens replied back, trembling a little on the floor, before William picked them all up and carried them outside, despite the mess inside.
‘I’ll clean up tomorrow morning at first light…?’ William thought, with the kittens looking up at him.
“Right, from now on…you will use the new litter tray in the kitchen next to Jester’s. And…and if you are bored, you can come through here…?” William said to them in his arms, before putting them down on the floor outside at the helm of the barge.
William knelt down and with Jester’s help, showed the kittens, how to use the cat-flap, by popping in and out. Then they all got tired and cuddled up in the corner together. Jester jumped back up on the roof with William stroking his thick fur, to say thank you for sorting out the kittens. William started the engine, and looked down and he could hear, all seven kittens purring to the sound of the engine. He chuckled slightly, before steering the barge up the canal, past the Wyrley and Essington Canal on his right hand side. Finally steering and stopping the barge past the Board Street Tunnel, with the Mander Centre on the left, and the Wolverhampton Railway Station on the right.
William knew it was getting late, so he decided to steer the barge towards the side of the canal, and tied the barge on the poles before jumping back on. He looked down and lifted kittens at a time and placed them on the bedroom floor. After collecting all of the seven kittens’s, William went to the toilet first before putting on his night clothing, and then Jester and William finally settled for the night and went to sleep.
When William and Jester sounded fast asleep, all seven kittens crawled up the bed covering that was hanging over the bed. And they all snuggled next to William’s body, sleeping in different places. On his head, next to his nose, on his chest, two next to his ears, and one even slept next to William’s bum under the covers, just to feel the warmth of his body. While, the last Kitten Azurite curled up next to Jester, with William, Jester and all the kittens, snoring the night away in harmony.
With the city, buzzing outside with night life, the people were cheering and getting drunk. A different kind of wildlife, ranging from rats, badgers, weasel, and foxes, hunted along the sidewalk of the canal, looking for food. While these creatures making vivid, strange and weird noises in the deep of the night, all synchronising in harmony with the sounds of the winds, howling along the stillness of the canal.
The story is about a vet called William Walters always had an interest in animals since a child, from his first experience at the age of five, saving a frog, from drowning by giving it a kiss of life by breathing down its mouth by a small pond at his parents back garden.
After kissing the frog, he had a nickname after him called Froggy, since then, he’s been interested in animals by reading and learning by going to his local vet’s time after time.
After 30 years from that first experience, he’s now an experienced qualified vet that has his own private veterinary businesses, with a difference.
It’s not in a house or a rented place, but on a barge called Froggy Vet’s with his companion, a white cat with black patches called Jester.
This is their journey around the Worcester and Birmingham Canal in the summer time, whilst work on farms and the canal systerm, but it also involves their special spare time together that can end up in more harm than good.