Opening of Sequel to “Nor the Years Condemn” – NOW AVAILABLE in Print-on-Demand Paperback at Amazon & at DYMOCKS!
Enter “MICK O’REGAN”…
This is the opening of my just-published Sequel to Nor the Years Condemn, NOW PUBLISHED in Paperback & Kindle formats at Amazon with great Reviews, also at DYMOCKS BOOKSTORES, GLEEBOOKS, BERKELOUW BOOKS, ABBEY’S BOOKSHOP and the AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL. In the UK at WATERSTONES and WH SMITH.
The title for this, my latest book, is “GHOSTS OF THE EMPIRE”. FIRST RAVE REVIEW HERE!
Its main character is ‘Mick O’Regan’, who features in Nor the Years Condemn from 1/3 thru till towards the end of the narrative as a WW2 character of the Empire Air Training Scheme who, against all odds, survives and thrives, or so it seems by the end of Nor the Years Condemn. Mick O’Regan is a working-class pilot hero following on from the private school main character of Nor the Years Condemn, Daniel Quinn – though completely historically accurate and representative of the ‘university type’ intake of the Empire Air Training Scheme, WW2. The pics below are of the WW1 Memorial, Camperdown Park, Sydney, NSW, as per the story text.
GHOSTS OF THE EMPIRE
Mick didn’t make the slender bi-plane turn; he simply did turn. The Tiger Moth needed only the slightest touch on its controls, and it obeyed Mick’s touch instantly, precisely. With its wooden joystick handle between his right thumb and forefinger, Mick guided the yellow craft through the narrow gap between two cumulus clouds in the early morning sun. Fluffy gold and whiteness whipping past as he flew between them, he came out the other side – into infinite open space.
In the clear silvery blue ahead of him now he saw a ‘thermal’: a column of hot air rising – becoming visible as it hit higher, cooler air and turned to cloud. A giant pillar of white in the sky, he skirted closely round it, feeling for long moments like a race car on some vast showground corner. He grinned at the notion; he’d never driven a car…
Mick felt beyond comfortable in the cockpit seat, way beyond: With the gravitational forces of the curving bank through which he flew, he felt pressed down so sweetly, so reassuringly in his seat and within the aircraft. He felt he wanted to curve, and curve, and curve, a slight shudder in the airframe now and then, but that only kept things fun.
Collossal in the western distance, a cumulus massif beamed back the eastern light of morning as brilliantly as if beaming its own. Mick straightened towards it.
He wasn’t alone, a voice still so very pleasantly in his ears. It had never left him…
Spare a thought, Michael… Spare a thought for the countless millions. Who’ll only ever either in their wildest dreams or in the next world get to do what you are about to.
In the front bar of the Lewisham Hotel, Pat O’Regan sat waiting for his son. He did every Friday afternoon, after knock-off from the railyards. Payable dues of the young blokes to stay back and sweep up, Mick’d be along any minute now.
Pat looked forward to this moment every week. He’d always got along with his eldest of seven, but since their mother had died a few years back, the lad had become a real good mate to his old dad: pretty much always cheerful, never whinging when times were hard, getting the tea on for the littlies when Mrs Plunket from next door got rotten too early…
No error, Pat was proud of his eldest. A few blokes said young Mick was wasted at the yards; should be at the University. Yeah. Right where Pat couldn’t afford to send him: A man with a stable job through the Depression, as Foreman of Carpentry at the Everleigh Carriage Workshops Pat O’Regan had the respect of his street, also seven mouths to feed. Without the pay packet Mick brought in they’d go barefoot. So instead of Engineering, or some such discipline befitting his brains – the uni just a few bloody blocks away, it fairly stung Pat and daily – the lad would have to be content with Foreman of Carpentry, with a bit of luck, when his old man retired. And Mick had never whinged about that prospect neither.
Still, Friday night was usually a happy one at the O’Regan place; father and eldest brought home fish and chips – mainly chips. Then the littlies’d clear up and all eight of them would sit together by the wireless. The wireless that a week ago had declared War.
Pat hadn’t touched his beer. Just this morning he’d heard the news from Harry in Payroll: Mick had requested the New South Wales Government Railways release chit he needed to go and sign up. For the bloody Air Force. Pat had seen it coming: Mick had long said rail was a technology of the past, aviation the way of the future. Probably on the money too – lad usually was – but all Pat saw in aviation was his son’s way to War. And all while he could stay safely and honourably at home: Essential Personnel: The Railways would be integral to the local ‘war effort’, also Mick’s ticket to a nice, steady future. A plodding sort of future, perhaps, but better than no bloody future at all…
Most of Pat’s memories of France had faded in the years since 1918…
Once he’d thought it’d never stop, his waking bolt upright every morning about 3 to the sight of Jacko Morgan standing there with his arms freshly blown off – the uncomprehending look on his face. Yet it stopped. About a decade after Pat got home. So too, though Pat never imagined the thunder of the artillery bombardments would fade in his ears, it had. Albeit having left him partially deaf, in one ear nigh on completely.
Though one memory stayed with Pat. A vision clear as yesterday. Not one of his time in the trenches, but of the first night he’d ever headed toward them: the long line of blokes in front of him, and behind, the twin glass disks of their gas-masks reflecting the green parachute flares that floated in the sky up ahead. The men said nothing, just tramped steadily, mutely onwards in the green-illuminated fog, passing here and there some poor bastard without his mask – one running around mad, screaming like a pig getting butchered alive.
Only reason Pat had ever made Foreman, or so he had always assumed these long years since, was that so many lads from the yards had joined up on that day back in 1914. So often since had he passed their names carved in stone in the parks of Lewisham, Stanmore, Newtown, Redfern, Waterloo: names that once belonged to faces, workmates. Friends…
Jacko had lived in Camperdown. The figure in white marble had stood in Camperdown Park since 1920: Slouch-hatted. Sided rifle. Looking straight ahead, upright and fit. Not standing there with its arms off. Eyes turning to horrified agony… The moment in time clawed Pat anew as the rabbitoh man’s donkey and cart clattered past the open doorway of the pub.
Yet up the pub step from the street now climbed a black-haired figure – work boots, overalls, slightly frayed jacket, his usual smile: the one that made the whole front bar want to smile also, these blokes with the seats outta their pants. That look in those green eyes of his as if sly to something really quite promising on the cards y’haven’t heard of yet but y’soon will…
Mick didn’t speak. He took off his cap, brushed a stray wood shaving off it, and sat at the bar by his dad. The publican edged the new arrival a just-drawn middy of beer across the counter, also without a word.
Pat, too, only sipped his beer. Until his son was 21, the New South Wales Government Railways release chit needed his old man’s signature, didn’t it. Lad was only turning 20 next month, wasn’t he…
The whole front bar heard Pat’s whisper to his son. It was Pat’s ears, they all knew: Sometimes Pat didn’t think you could hear him.
‘No. Fucken. Way.’
* * *
Ghosts of the Empire available at Amazon in paperback & Kindle formats and at Dymocks Bookstores. For full bookstore availability, click HERE. Book Launch PICS HERE.
NOR THE YEARS COMDEMN & GHOSTS OF THE EMPIRE NOW AVAILABLE AT DYMOCKS BOOKSTORES, ABBEY’S BOOKSHOP, GLEEBOOKS, BERKELOUW BOOKS & THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL. AND INTERNATIONALLY AT WATERSTONES AND WH SMITH.
To Read Another Excerpt from “Ghosts of the Empire”, click HERE.
(Thanks to David Lowy of the Temora Aviation Museum who is flying the Tiger Moth pictured, and for all the T.A.M. does for the remembrance of our war & aviation history.)