Overview

First book of the Michael Baker series, A Boy Off The Bank tells a story of England's canals in wartime, of the pressure and pain, the humour and resilience of the boating people. Both tragic and heart-warming, it charts the progress of an arduous and difficult job against the broader panorama of worldwide events, seen from a narrowboat's back cabin through the eyes of a young boy:

Ten-year-old Michael has had enough - mentally and physically abused by his drunken father, ...

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A Boy Off The Bank

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Overview

First book of the Michael Baker series, A Boy Off The Bank tells a story of England's canals in wartime, of the pressure and pain, the humour and resilience of the boating people. Both tragic and heart-warming, it charts the progress of an arduous and difficult job against the broader panorama of worldwide events, seen from a narrowboat's back cabin through the eyes of a young boy:

Ten-year-old Michael has had enough - mentally and physically abused by his drunken father, treated as a skivvy by his hard-pressed mother, he's taken all that his miserable life can throw at him. The final blow falls when his pet dog is taken away as well; on a January night in 1940 he sets out to commit suicide. But all does not go according to plan...

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781909551046
  • Publisher: SGM Publishing
  • Publication date: 7/1/2006
  • Series: Michael Baker Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • File size: 722 KB

Meet the Author

S G Miles (Geoffrey Lewis) was born in Oxford in 1947. educated at the City High School and Hatfield University, he has followed a varied career including spells as a research chemist, professional photographer, security guard and parts specialist in the motor trade. After eight years as owner and captain of a canal-based passenger boat, he is now retired and concentrating upon writing.
After a childhood spent close to the Oxford Canal, his love of the waterways led him to live aboard a narrowboat for sixteen years. Now back on dry land, he lives in Milton Keynes, but is now deeply involved with a charity which owns and operates a pair of historic ex-cargo boats based at Braunston on the Grand Union Canal.
Photographer, Bell-ringer and American car enthusiast, he is currently engaged upon a number of new writing projects including a children's fantasy trilogy, collections of short stories and of course more tales set on England's canals.
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Read an Excerpt

Down in the confines of the cabin, Bill sat on the sidebed,

reached forward to riddle the fire, threw on a couple more lumps

of coal. The little range was almost glowing, the kettle singing

merrily on its top-plate; golden light from the oil-lamps gleamed

on the brass of the fiddle-rails, the polished knobs and handles of

the drawers and the table-cupboard, made the gold edging of the

hanging-up plates sparkle. A feeling of deep contentment filled

the boater: Folks on the bank could keep their fancy houses, their

upstairs and downstairs rooms, their electric light; all he and his

kind needed was a good boat, a cosy cabin, and a steady flow of

orders to keep them loaded and travelling, to keep the money

coming in.

In the hatches, Little Bill leant on the slide with one arm, the

tiller tucked under the other, peering forward into the bright gloom

of the winter night. They hadn’t lit the headlamp – with so much

light coming from the fields under the moon, there was no need

for it – and he steered to follow the gleam of water, under Black

Horse Bridge and out around the hill at Stantonbury, round Target

Turn, by the old army firing range, and on, under the turnpike

road again to pass the old derelict windmill on its hilltop at

Bradwell. A brief stretch of open countryside, and then they were

skirting behind the railway works of Wolverton, the glow and

clamour of the night shift shattering the peace of the canal, all but

drowning out the Bolinder’s steady beat.

-

"Few works of fiction are reviewed in waterways magazines, but this book certainly deserves notice. The novel follows the fortunes of a lad as he adjusts to a completely different kind of life that he has – quite literally – tumbled into by accident. Readers of the book might find it overpoweringly moving in parts – you have been warned, keep your hankies ready!

This is a story that involves canals and the lives of the boat people around the time of the Second World War. The author was able to draw on his own experience of the canals and his knowledge of the working methods, traditions and manners of the men and women who lived and worked on the boats.

The story unfolds through the experiences of this young boy as he learns about life on the cut; he learns a whole new vocabulary along with new skills, and shares in the joys and sorrows of the boat people’s life. Real events are woven in, such as the sinking of HMS Hood and the bombing of the Fazeley Street Wharf, and the descriptions of their various journeys are impressive.

Sit back with your hanky ready, and let the story flow over you. It is a tale to melt all hearts".

Stanley Holland

Reprinted from Canals & Rivers, March 2008.

"In this, his sixth published novel, Geoffrey Lewis takes us back to the canals in wartime as seen through the eyes of a growing boy discovering both the waterways and his own place in the world. Michael Thompson runs away from home as a ten-year-old and re-learns trust and affection as part of the working boat community, accurately drawn by the author from his own wide experience over many years. Historic events of the 1940’s are woven into this tale of tragedy and joy".

Martin Ludgate

Reprinted from Canal Boat, September 2006.

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