Over the next two weeks I am going to share excerpts from my novels about Thomas Radwinter; he starts by tracing his own family history, and then later investigates other people’s stories, and not just genealogical ones, but mysteries in their everyday lives.
Each of the four novels starts with an introduction from Thomas which is amended in each novel as his personal life changes.
His story starts in the autumn of 2013:
My name is Thomas Radwinter; I’m just really ordinary, and nobody would really notice me… I’m about five foot ten… well, maybe five foot nine, reddy-brown hair, and hazel eyes. I’ve grown a beard because everyone said I was baby-faced and when you’re thirty-two and look like a giant baby it’s a bit ridiculous.
Apart from my brothers and my cousins, I don’t know anyone else called Radwinter, but I’d never really thought about that until my brother Paul unexpectedly rang me. He’s invited me and Rebecca round to meet his new fiancée. I hadn’t even realised he was going out with anyone… I know he has girlfriends but I didn’t think he was interested in anyone in particular. He has four boys, the oldest is eighteen and the youngest, Tom, is twelve. I’m his godfather; I was really pleased when Paul asked me, even though I had to tone it down because Rebecca was put out that she wasn’t asked to be god-mother. I wasn’t surprised about it… we weren’t married at the time; she was my girl-friend, that was all.
I have three brothers, Marcus who’s the oldest and a bit scary; he brought me up really because my dad disappeared, when I was about four I think. He’s fifty-four, so a lot older than me. Paul is forty-eight, and John is forty, so I’m the baby by quite a bit.
I‘m always criticised for being absent-minded and forgetting things, which is why I write everything down… except I don’t write things down, I start writing but then wander off into writing something else and get involved in what I’m writing, not what I was trying to remember.
I’m writing this down because Paul wants us to meet Ruthie, his fiancée, and also he wants to find out about the family tree… he’s asked me to make some notes about it… I don’t know what he means because I don’t know anything, so I started with writing about me and the family, but I’ve wandered off a bit.
My father’s name is or maybe was, Edward, I don’t remember him, and my mum was Sylvia; she died when I was eighteen, just before I went to University. I went to Strand Uni because that’s all we could afford, so I lived at home with Marcus and his wife; my two other brothers had left by then. I know my mum had two sisters, and my dad had a brother and a sister so I have some Radwinter cousins, but I don’t know any more. Maybe Paul will ask them about the family… they’re bound to know more than me. I don’t understand why he’s asked me anyway.
Friday, September 27th 2013, evening
I knocked on Paul’s door and I must admit I felt rather glum; I shouldn’t have been surprised that Rebecca had something else to which involved the car, so I’d had to catch the bus. I’d asked if she could drop me off, but she said as we live on one side of Strand and Paul lives on the other, it wasn’t convenient as she was going in the other direction. I was so cross I didn’t even ask where she was going, and it was only as I sat on the number 403 that I wondered.
We live in one of the flats near the sea; from the upper floors you can either look out over the sea, or look inland towards the hills. We live on the first floor, so we see the hedge of larches out of the bedroom windows, and the road and houses from the front room and kitchen. The larches do look lovely when they change colour in the autumn, but I’d rather see the sea… and I would quite like a garden, although Rebecca says she’s glad we haven’t got one because I’m so lazy I would never cut the grass.
Paul’s front door is set under an arched porchway, and as usual there were football boots, and wellies and stuff piled on one side. I had my hand up to knock again, wondering if I’d got the day wrong, when the door was flung open by Tom.
“Thomas!” he cried as if he was delighted to see me. “It’s Thomas!” he yelled back into the house.
I stepped inside and he flung his arms round my waist and hugged me. What a nice boy he is! I hugged him back and said how much he’d grown, and he had, I didn’t have to bend to him even though he’s still smaller than me. I expect he’ll grow tall like his father and Marcus. He asked to take my coat, so grown up, and as I rescued my wallet I found a fiver which I slipped to him. I was rewarded by a beaming grin and another hug.
“I’m off to Scouts now,” he said. There was a knock at the door and he opened it to a boy about the same age. Thomas grabbed his jacket, gave me a wave and disappeared. “Tell Dad I’ve gone with Sam!” he called then the door slammed and I was alone in the hall.
The hall is large and well-lit and despite being an all-male household, Paul manages to keep it neat. He has a cleaner who comes in several times a week, but Paul is just a neat bloke. Everything he does is precise, and he always looks tidy, unlike me. Rebecca told me I just look like a bundle of clothes, well, a fat bundle of clothes she said to be precise. Considering she buys all my things that’s hardly my fault… but she says I’m fat so maybe that’s my fault… but then she moans if I don’t eat what she’s cooked… and she is a very good cook so I like eating her meals…
I stood in the hall not quite knowing what to do, dithering, Rebecca would say; the house was quiet although there was music coming from somewhere, and the sound of a guitar being played from somewhere else, and what sounded like gun fire from someone playing a computer game.
Should I knock on the sitting room door? But that would be silly, knocking in my own brother’s house. Or maybe they were eating a late dinner, there was a sweet caramelly smell…unless it was an air-freshener, Rebecca had one once that smelt like strawberry bootlaces… the long sweetie things which I still sometimes secretly buy…
Or maybe they were in the kitchen… what to do? I stood dithering and suddenly the kitchen door was flung open… Paul’s family do a lot of door flinging, they are always so cheerful and exuberant… very different from Marcus’s two.
“Tommy!” only Paul calls me that, well, John does too sometimes. He looked pleased to see me, well, he looked delighted which always surprises me when anyone does and why anyone should. “What are you doing, lurking here?! Come through to the kitchen, we’re in here.”
My hair colour has been described as mouse, and when Rebecca is cross with me and I don’t answer back, she calls me a mouse… I guess it’s being brought up by Marcus which has made me restrained… inside I feel like yelling at her, bellowing at the top of my voice, shouting at her to shut the fuck, shut the fucking fuck up… but something about this restrained violence almost frightens me, so I button it down.
I received a second hug, bone-crunching and unusually I also got a smacking kiss on my cheek. Paul looked very well; he’s taller than me, and big too, but unlike me he doesn’t look fat. Maybe it’s the clothes he wears, he always looks smart and modern, and fashionable, which considering he’s nearly fifty and a single dad who has to work hard is a lesson to me, when I’m younger and married with no children… children… that’s another story…
If you would like to find out what happens to Thomas, here is a link to my book:
… and here is a link to my other e-books: