Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Remembrance

After attending the Remembrance service, I started to think about all those who survived the fighting and came home at the end. To many who came home the experience was depressing. Take my father as an example. He went off to fight being assured that there would be jobs when he returned. When he did come home, he could not find a job and for spells he was out of work. They did not line him up and present his medals but sent them in a brown parcel through the post. I can still see him throwing them into the fire.He contracted malaria but did not get any help from the government or the British Legion.
I used this in my novel An Ordinary Life. It occurred when Tom Houseman is asked to see Mr Hunt the Mr Big of the criminal world by his friend Derek who works for Mr Hunt. Though Tom does not want to get mixed up in his friend Derek's criminal activities, Mr Hunt is offering him a chance to make some money through consultancy.

“ 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."

An Ordinary Life by Edmund Gubbins can be downloaded as an ebook from Amazon or www.smashwords.com or as a paperback from Amazon, www.createspace.com
1st edition                                                                                         2nd edition