Friday, June 5, 2015
Spoils of the Moon
1967, St Ann's Nottingham, a typical late Victorian, working class, neighbourhood in acute decline, alarming poverty, a slum. Three hundred of Nottingham's dirtiest acres.
This is the time and place Brendan and Pauline's son was born, emigration the only option. They were called Ten pound pommes.
The journey on the ship, SS Canberra, was as frightening and exhilarating as the first year shacked up in the Nissan hut at the hostel, Adelaide, Southern Australia.
Years before, Brendan's parents and sister, Beanie, had moved there after buying a farm in the outback.
Brendan and Pauline settled into a new home in the satellite town of Elizabeth. Brendan only had one question on signing at the labour exchange: does the section about National Service apply to him? -- he was soon to find out.
Pauline suffered bouts of homesickness, fuelled by Brendan's prolonged absences of long working hours. A new mother, she soon became depressed. It wasn't long before Brendan was called up for National Service.
The year is 1969, a global celebration of the moon landings. President Nixon, in commemoration bestowed a hundred and thirty-five gifts of lunar rocks to friendly foreign governments. In 1970, Adelaide museum was proud to display a plaque containing two lunar rocks.
Nobody thought they would be worth stealing, until Brendan, Beanie's boyfriend, Troy, and his mate, Brian, on finishing basic training did just that, with the military precision they had recently learned.
Brendan hides the rocks and is forced to ask his sister, Beanie, to collect them. They end up in the police cells after a drunken brawl, hours after the hoist. The judge orders no custodial sentences because he was told, unbeknown to these men, that effective immediately they will be impressed into overseas service.
Brendan is killed saving some villagers in Vietnam. Troy and Brian disappear - things happen when you steal lunar rocks from the government and embarrass them. The Americans want them back.
The news of her husband's death sends Pauline into a mental institute, leaving Beanie with her son. Beanie recently gave birth also to a son. She takes both of the boys back to the UK.
This is the story of those two boys, Jordi and Greg - now men.
The family business model, started by their mum, Beanie, was to buy handmade crafts from Asia, repair what gets damaged in shipping, and then sell them from their market stall in Camden, London.
Beanie died, leaving them clues to the past and circumstances that cause both men to go to Asia to buy more products for their business before the programmed road works cut their access off and potentially ruins their product-hungry business.
It's not long before one of them is hanging upside down naked in a small Vietnamese village near the Cambodian border, tortured by a man with an American accent. He wants the lunar rocks.
The American, who has been on their trail since London, chose the wrong village and was chased off in a hale of bullets. Ordered by an old villager, one of the men Brendan saved in the war. A translator shows them a picture of two baby boys. She also hands over Brendan's identification documents with the same surname as them and various other personal belongings, along with the story of how he saved some of the villagers.
The clock is ticking now and they are on a collision course with others, tracking down their true family roots and the whereabouts of the lunar rocks - now valued in millions.
In Australia, they encounter Brian and Troy, and are helped by Brian's daughter who is tough, beautiful, and vulnerable to Jordi's charms. But who is whose son? Only Pauline has the answer back at the family farm in the outback -- their final destination. They are not the only ones who turned up looking for answers. The end gives us some shocking surprises and personal growth.