The second extract from Jennifer Kabat's immersive narrative that journeys through space and time to rediscover forgotten histories, urban myths and Bristol's architectural legacy. Part of The Promise.
Most jumpers statistically are men. Why is that?
The two children are girls. They don’t jump. They are thrown. Their names? Elsie and Ruby Brown, ages three and twelve. Their father Charles Brown is bankrupt, perhaps insane. His grocery store is failing. He has five kids but only tries to kill two. We can deduce that the others are boys. The older daughter, Ruby, at her father’s trial talks of being soaked wet by the rain and crying, forced to walk up and back across the bridge: “Father caught hold of me and I began to scream. He lifted me up on the side of the bridge and put me over.” His business is going under; he pushes his daughters over.
The girls are saved by a boat captain and two police officers. Postcards are sold of the five of them together afterwards.
Enslaved to a Past
This is a ghost story with doublings and hauntings. I look at Bristol and feel the frisson of history, a cold breath at my back, as if something is always there over my shoulder. Perhaps it’s because, as one friend puts, a friend who doesn’t like Bristol, the city feels haunted by its past, though maybe haunted isn’t the word. Maybe it’s more inescapable than that. She calls it: “slavery”. The slave trade is the dark past that marks the city.
This is the second extract of The Place of The BRidge by Jennifer Kabat. Read Part 1 here.
The Place of The Bridge is part of The Promise and is available as a free publication from the gallery spaces. The Promise focuses on the relationship between a city’s design and the hopes and ambitions of its residents. Exhibitions and events will take place in the Arnolfini galleries and across the city of Bristol throughout the summer.