‘Nipper’ Pearson (6) plays outdoors. Beside the Cut, the rut of towpath. The soft, oily mud. ‘Nipper’s holds his tools o’ trade a bit of frayed bow rope. He’s handy with his hands, quick-witted too. The rope becomes a fisher-for-eels – the monsters that his nan says slumber in the silt and will eat a babby. A lad passes – Eli (11). Familiars, they nod. Chapel brethren/Sunday schoolers. Eli drags a bit of iron plate. A drum, a mighty racket. “Hey, Nipper. I’m an iron man, a maker! One day I’ll build a ironboat – you’ll see!” Nipper nods and smiles. An idea forming. IronBoat!