From the Guide To Pointe Botham 2015 : Pointe Botham’s history stems right back to the original puritan landings. Peter Botham left the earliest settlement on the Cromwell River at Redemption and moved down to the point where he established a subsidiary settlement. Initially supported by the parent settlement, it rapidly grew to be independent and successful.
Peter was not happy, he was sorting the library books. A seventeen year old’s simple prank, that’s all it had been, just a prank. He got caught, his friends didn’t and he didn’t squeal. Because he wouldn’t identify the others, the usual punishment would have been a rap on the knuckles, he was given two weeks community service helping in the library. The librarian, Miss Tony, was okay; the assistant, a real looker, blonde, big tits, great legs, and a right bitch. Marianne Longtemps kept telling him how he was doing it wrong, ‘it’ could be anything from making the tea to arranging the books. She had a degree in History and an unexamined qualification in being a complete cow.
Books, books, books, books; all bloody books. All boring bloody books. “Boring bloody books” he said out loud.
“Boring? Mr Hapgood? Boring? Have you ever looked at a book? Have you read Hardy describing the internal desires and distresses of Jude as he struggles to better himself? Have you not tried to read Phillip Roth? Or, oh I don’t know, wait a minute...” Miss Tony went off and came back with a ‘Lifeblood’ from the ‘adult’ section. “read the third chapter, forget the books for a minute”
He sat down, nearly told Marianne to ‘fuck off’ but modified it to explain he had been told to read this book. She looked at it, rolled her eyes and went off. He read, his eyes opened, this was a sex scene! Bloody hell, it was of such graphic intensity that he couldn’t avoid getting hot. And Miss Tony told him to read this! The sex was hot, steamy, detailed, dirty, but not gynaecological. In short it was very good, very well written as well as being erotic (though he would have used a more basic word). Then the chapter started to change, it got violent; he was taken by surprise, what was going one, why was she... ? The story grew darker. By the end of the chapter he was horrified, dreading what the next sentence would bring, unable to stop himself because of a desperate need to discover what would happen.
“Why did you make me read this?” he demanded
“What did you make of it?”
“It started well and then...”
“And then you were dragged down an unexpected road. That’s what books can do, take you to unexpected places”
He wasn’t necessary convinced, though he did make a note of the author, to look up other works by him, or her; it was a name that could be either.
Then it was back to the books. It carried on raining. It had rained all day yesterday and then was still raining this morning. The river was rising.
The Cromwell River was originally called the Henrietta Maria but when the king was executed the Puritans changed the name to Cromwell. In an unusual expression of independence they refused to change back when King Charles II came to the throne. They expressed their admiration for ‘an godly and devoute leader of the saints of heven’
At 3 pm Miss Tony looked out and saw the river at the top of the bank; she rang the council; there was no answer. She rang the police; there was no answer. She rang the Fire and Rescue; there was an answerphone explain that the call was important to then but all their lines were busy. “I have to go and get help. If the river floods we will need to get the books to a safe place. I’ll go to the police.” She rushed out and into her Skoda, clattering off to find help for a load of books when people’s houses were at risk. She was dedicated and perhaps just a little unwordly. Fifteen minutes of arguing with officials was enough, the river lapped over the bank and then Groynes Dip filled with water.
Groynes Dip, or Groins Dip as it was called until the 1890s, when the council opted for a less salacious name, was believed to be named after the first boat builder. By 1600 two small ship building businesses were trading in the inlet known. Archeological investigations suggest the small brook was steadily expanded and excavated as the ships became larger. In 1901 the small inlet could no longer cope and the ship builders moved elsewhere. The brook was culverted and the ground built up over time, but a visible dip remains.
Now the road from the town was impassable, the alternative entailed a 4 mile circular route. By the time she was approaching the river from below the library, the river was too high and the library was surrounded by 3 or 4 feet of water rising to the mound on which the library was built. The mound was known as Bottom’s Fort until 1950 when the library was built.
Bottom’s Fort was where Peter Botham (pronounced Bottom in Yorkshire) established his first dwelling. It was never a fort as he remained on good terms with the indigenous residents – the Native Americans – for 50 years.
The two looked out at the water and jointly realised they had to do something. Together they started moving books upstairs. At first it was random, but they realised they could not move all the books in time, they had to be selective. Miss Tony rang at that opportune moment “No one will help. They say they are stretched moving the old folks from Bide a Wee Rest Home and the sick from the Hospital. God! Do they really think some old git is more important than knowledge? No, no, I’m sorry, that sounds awful. I can’t get back. Look, there are keys in my drawer. There is a room at the back. Those books MUST be moved upstairs. Please, try. Thank you, thank you. But ... stay safe. Oh, the chocolate machine in the foyer. Horrible thing, chocolate on the books, stupid. Anyway, take what you want. I’ll make it okay. You may be stuck for a while”
Marianne did a good job of reassuring her and then relayed the information to Peter as if it was her idea. They opened the back room and there was a trove of early documents relating to the establishment of the town. Water appeared at the front door. They had to move fast and efficiently, carrying armfuls of documents and early books up the flight of steps to the small office that perched on top of the single storey building. It had been added as an afterthought and made an ugly building even uglier. No expense had been spared on the building, no wait, all expense had been spared on the building of the library. But it did mean that Miss Tony’s office was likely to remain above the water; it had never in 100 years reached that height. They piled the books up and put the documents in the bin, in the cupboard; anywhere they would be safe. The waters moved in through the door.
“We’re going to be here for a while, Miss Tony said we could get chocolate out of the machine, but, I don’t have much change. I – what’s that smile for?”
He went down the stairs, picking up the fire extinguisher at the bottom and walked knee-deep through the water to the machine. SMASH! The front of the machine shattered “What would you like? Or shall I get a selection?”
He took armfuls of chips, chocolate, and coke. They found a kettle and filled that. Coffee from the cupboard, creamer, biscuits. “My diet is ruined” moaned Marianne “and what the heck are ‘CrinkoNuts’?”
“I think the name speaks for itself – crinkly nut niblets in a chocolate flavour coating with raspberry moose filling – possibly the most disgusting confectionary known to man”
“Well, why bring them up then?”
“If we end up eating them then we know how desperate things have become.”
The telephone rang again. Miss Tony was asking if they were safe, then if the books were safe. At least the books came second to their safety this time. Reassured, she started to explain that there would be little chance of a rescue that day, they should ring home. She was very apologetic. Peter saw it as, at last, a bit of excitement. Marianne was more concerned, but there was little to do. They were trapped; water now extended in all directions at least half a mile. The shops were flooded, the information centre was letting a slow stream of leaflets extolling ‘the untold beauties of this less-well-known settler’s cove’ float out of an open window and down the river. The water was moving fast, a large log floated by, followed by a dead sheep. If any reminder was needed, that was it. This was a dangerous situation, they must sit tight and wait.
Peter telephoned and his mother immediately went into over-drive distraught mode “But what if the waters rise, you must be hungry, I’ll bring some sandwiches”
“Mum, if you can bring us sandwiches, then we could escape. Don’t even think about it”
“Who are you with? Is she nice? Don’t forget to be polite”
“What? Mum! It isn’t a date! We’re fine, I’ll probably see you tomorrow”
Marianne had an easier phone call as her flat mates were half-stoned. Her home was in Lower Manxtown; she rang and simply said she was fine. That was easier than telling the truth; with luck they would never know.
Then they settled down to a three course meal of onion rings as a starter, barbecue beef flavour chipsticks as main course and Reese peanut butter cups as dessert. “The wine is a cheeky little affair with flavours of cola, probably grown on the southern slopes I think. I’m getting cherries, I’m getting sugar, I’m getting an effervescence” Peter reviewed the Cherry Coke, Marianne actually smiled.
“You’re quite funny, aren’t you even a little worried?”
.... There is more of this story ...