1872 Thomas Barnardo

dr-barnardoThomas Barnado is Irish and this pub is Irish. The songs and the music spilling out from the doors of the formidable looking Edinburgh Castle make this clear. It looks like one of those places where the fiddler stops and all heads turn when a stranger walks in the door. But Thomas is sure his own immigrant brogue will quickly win him a hundred thousand welcomes from the navvies and dockers within.

He pushes open the door. There is a hush. “So. Who wants to buy a Bible?” he says.

A few minutes later Thomas is hiding under a table, but the table is turned upside down and the dockers are dancing on it. As he is pressed to the floor, navvy boots beat out a jig upon the young missionary who was trying to raise some money for his school. “But I’m Irish too!” he pleads, drowned out by this devils tattoo.

Thomas vows that one way he will return here, buy this pub and force it to dry out, but first he has to find a way home. Back at his school there are ragged children he has to make look more ragged for the photographer who is coming tomorrow. If selling bibles in pubs won’t support his orphans then perhaps a more modern method will.

ALAN GILBEY

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