Grace Backer had a life full of tragedy. But despite everything, she raised her son, Tom, with her secret intact. Tom is a prodigal child, destined to escape the slums of the East End of London for a better life; circumstances will make him flee his loving mother and their home much sooner than expected. Tom starts a new life in Odessa, Russia, and with the help of new-found friends starts a business. At last, he is finally accepted into a new and loving family, but one which holds its own dark secrets. A chance meeting with the son of a duke of the realm leads to close friendship and a new business partnership. When Tom decides to move his company to London and have his regal new friend run it, the firm thrives. However, not everything is as it seems, and Tom?s business soon conceals dangerous secrets of its own. Years later, when Tom finally decides to return to London, he is a wanted man, one hunted by the intelligence agencies. If he is finally to be reunited with his beloved mother and his best friend, he must fight to put the past behind him. But keeping secrets is never easy.
Grace had always encouraged Tom to be inquisitive about his surroundings and life in general, she would always answer his questions to the best of her abilities never tiring from his incessant asking. When Tom finds the sheet of newspaper from the cupboard Grace realises that Tom requires more stimulus for his enquiring mind that she can offer, so she decides to enrol him in the local school, for Grace this is a big decision, to finally share the boy she had brought up and nurtured on her own all this time, to finally set him free to follow his own path and find guidance from others.
When Tom was very young, his mother used to sit and tell him stories before Tom fell asleep and Tom would dream of faraway kingdoms, always lost in a world full of wondrous things.
Tom recalled the exact moment he saw printed words for the first time, his mother had asked him to go into the cupboard in the kitchen and fetch her a bar of soap, it was on the second shelf so Tom realised a chair would be needed to reach such a height, so dragging a chair over and climbing up Tom peeked over the shelf lip searching for the soap, it was hard not to miss the large block of pink smelling stuff, as he reached he noticed the items on the shelf were all resting on something covered in blank ink, as Tom tugged at the paper all the shelf items moves as well, and before he knew it he was sitting on the kitchen floor with various items, scattered about him but in his hand he was clutching what he later learned was a sheet of newspaper.
His mother came in to see what all the noise was, but far from being cross, she looked into his face and realised Tom wanted to understand what he had found, so from that night on instead of make believe stories his mother would teach him words form the printed page.
That Tom realised was the defining moment of his childhood, Tom had moved from a curious mind to a mind hungry for knowledge.
It was not long after that, his mother realised that she was unable to keep up with his constant demand for fresh knowledge so she decided to send Tom to the local school thinking that this would satisfy his thirst for knowledge.
No one in particular was close to Tom, as up to now, his mother was all he needed in companionship. So came the day of the first day of school Tom had woken early with a belly full of butterfly’s, apprehensive yet excited, Tom hardly noticed eating his breakfast, or leaving the house clutching his mother’s hand, this was more for her than him, Tom would have rather skipped ahead eager to arrive.
The sight of the big black iron gates of the school grounds made him feel less excited but the butterflies were still dancing about.
The air was filled with the sound of laughter and children shrieking voices, what seemed to him like every kid in the neighbourhood and more were there, the noise was deafening and quite intimidating, but still Tom was not going to let anything lessen the experience of this day, his mother nodded to a few others standing around, as Tom looked up he was not sure the smile on her face was of pride for him, or for her, but she squeezed, his hand tightly all the same.
A loud bell sounded, most of the kids stopped what they were doing and turned slowly and walked towards two large doors with the words “School Entrance” over the lintel. There were only a few kids who had not moved most were with a grown up and stood unsure what to do next.
Once all the kids has entered through the large school doors there standing alone was a tall lady dressed in a black gown, holding a large clip board.
About Andy Blackman
After serving in the British Army for over twenty-five years in the Parachute Regiment, Andy Blackman today lives in Bedworth, Warwickshire and works within in the IT sector. In his spare time he can be found visiting his three daughters and grandchildren.