Friday, 8 May 2015

VE Day

There bis a great deal of publicity about the seventieth anniversary of VE Day. The serving military and merchant navy personnel returned home as heroes and happy. This might be the official propaganda but it is not a true picture. Many returned home traumatised and effected deeply by the friends they had seen killed. Then many found that they had fought for country only to find when they returned as heroes that all the best jobs had gone to those who stayed behind sitting out the war returning home each night. Having saved the world they found the country no longer wanted them. This happened to my father. When he returned i was four and I could not accept him in my home. His medals were sent to him in a brown envelop without even a thank you. What happened has stayed burnt in my mind and I used this incident in my novel An Ordinary Life.

 What follows are the relevent paragraphs.
“ This is one of my legitimate enterprises,” Mr. Hunter replied smiling and spreading his hands on the desktop. “ You go ahead and declare it. The fee will appear in the books of Hunt Enterprises as a legitimate payment. Any future advice I might ask you to give will go through the books no matter what the subject. Changing the subject. Why does your father not come to the remembrance day parade?”
Tom was taken by surprise by the change of subject and he felt his anger rising. “ That is none of your business.”
Tom was about to stand up but Mr. Hunt waved him back into his chair.
“ It was meant as a civil question,” Mr. Hunt stated bluntly. “ I know your father was in the army during the war. He was a gunner in Italy and fought at Monti Casino very bravely from what I gather.”
“ How do you know this?” Tom asked equally bluntly.
“ You are an intelligent man, Tom Houseman,” Mr. Hunt’s expression was bland. “ In my line of business, do you think I would let anybody into my organisation without trying to find out something of their background? Why does your father not come to the Remembrance Day parade or to the Legion Club? “
“ I don’t really know,” Tom observed choosing his word carefully. “ All I do know is that when he came home, I was five years old and could not really remember him. To me, our family was my mum, my brother and I. All I had ever seen was a photo of my dad on the mantle piece. My mum used to sigh every time she cleaned it and tell me it was my father. When dad came home, I hid myself in the toilet and would not come out. He had to break the lock in the end to get me out. For years I never got on with my father and even now we are a bit distant to each other. I think part of the reason why he never goes near other service people was his resentment at missing his boys growing up. Then there was the work. He went away, fought in the war and watched his friends all die outside Monti Casino when his gun was blown up. He was in hospital for six months after the war and could not have any more children. When he finally got back, all the best jobs were taken up by those who had stayed behind. He was in and out of work for a while after the war until he found a job in the docks. Finally, I can still remember this although at the time I did not take too much notice of it. They sent his medals to him in a brown paper envelope with out even a thank you note. He threw them into the fire and swore that he would have nothing to do with them ever again. Mum fetched them out and keeps them hidden in her jewellery case.”
Mr. Hunter was silent for quite a while after that. “ I know how he felt,” he said in a quiet voice. “ That is one of the reasons why I ended up doing what I did. I was in the Royal Navy during the war. When it was all over, I took up this line of work because I was good at organising things. Getting back to my look into your background. I know you were recommended by Derek but even the most sophisticated of us can be fooled. Lets face it, Derek is not the most cultured or sophisticated of men. A very loyal and competent man but not cultured. Have you ever been to the opera?”

An Ordinary Life by Edmund Gubbins

Money laundering is illegal. Even Tom Houseman knows that. He, as an academic, makes a distinction between helping somebody to set up legitimate business and the source of the money.
The novel follows the life of Tom Houseman. From his early childhood on the edge of a hard council estate to eminent Professor with a worldwide reputation and great wealth. The story explores the manner in which most people regard themselves as honest and law abiding although there are times and circumstances when they ignore the rules of behaviour or of some moral code. These people justify their actions by ignoring their conscience or making excuses for their behaviour. In extreme cases they give the impression that morality is not an issue in their case.
Tom Houseman has a boyhood friend called Derek from the council estate and, though their paths diverge after junior school, he stays loyal to his friend. Derek becomes the right hand man of the criminal Mr. Big and introduces Edward. During his life, Edward accepts opportunities presented by his friends and his brother. These enhance both his standing in society and his wealth. All the time, he ignores and denies the moral and legal implications of taking advantage of these offers. As time passes, he has to accept the implications of his choices.
Will he finally have to face these hard decisions or will he sail serenely on living, to him, this ordinary life?

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