In my mind I gave the New Future capital letters since it sounded like a Government-funded program to end homelessness or something. Idealistic and well-intended yet destined for failure. But I was wrong about it being destined for failure. At least I was in the beginning.
My advance guard reconnaissance mission to the UK lasted just over three months. It was fun staying with my sister and I experienced my first winter Christmas since leaving England when I was five. I had been working in the shipping industry since I was eighteen and fairly quickly got myself a job with P&O in Leadenhall Street, right in the City of London. I was living in Sutton so the travelling was lengthy and problematic and after becoming embroiled in an IRA bomb attack at a train station at peak hour, I began to suspect that London might not be the ideal place to bring up a child. At the same time that I came to this realisation my husband was offered a job on the Gold Coast. It was time to come home and start our new future in Australia.
We arrived on the Gold Coast in June 1992 and it was the beginning of a very happy time for me. Our twelfth-floor apartment on Main Beach looked out over a golden beach and even in the middle of winter the weather was simply glorious. Our son was enrolled at one of the local schools, and my husband had a steady job as a management consultant. His job was to travel the country giving advice to retailers on how to grow their margins, train staff, maintain optimum stock levels and systemise their business to the best of their advantage. More and more however, he had evolved into a personal development coach and had begun to train his clients on a more personal level, giving instructional sessions on personal development and motivation. I too had become interested in the whole personal development movement and would read inspirational and motivational books and listen to tapes on the subject, however my interest was directed more toward the spiritual insights, rather than the sales and business aspects. He travelled a lot and although I always looked forward to his return, I found I quite liked having my own space and started doing a writing course.
Later that year we received the welcome news that I was pregnant again and in July 1993 we were both delighted when I gave birth to a lovely baby girl. Just two weeks later we moved out of the apartment and into a palatial home which we rented from one of the directors of the company that my husband worked for. Located on the waterfront, it had all the trappings you’d expect in a million-dollar property: swimming pool, spa, more bedrooms and bathrooms than I could ever hope to clean and even had its own private jetty. Since it was fully furnished and being rented at much reduced rate, we considered ourselves very fortunate to be living in such opulence.
We stayed in that house for a year before taking out a sizeable mortgage to buy a home of our own. Set on just under an acre of land it had a semi-rural quality, away from the artificial lifestyle seekers that flocked to the Gold Coast to claim their piece of paradise. The house wasn’t surrounded by tall concrete fortifications and had no complicated screening device to interrogate visitors on arrival. In fact, it was a far cry from the expansive luxuriant house we had been renting but it was home, and the kids and I loved it.
Although I still liked the Gold Coast, my initial cloud-nine euphoria about the place was beginning to diminish. I was finding there was a definite falseness about the much-vaunted Gold Coast Lifestyle and in my view, the place lacked soul. It had a very transient population and it was highly unusual to meet anyone over the age of twelve who had actually been born there. It seemed to me that most people had packed up their troubles and moved to the Gold Coast for the warm weather and lifestyle but nearly all of them had brought their troubles along with them. I wondered whether I should be including ourselves in this group of unfortunates as a pattern from the past began to emerge that left me with a deep sense of unease.
My husband had a habit of collecting these big shot influencers and one of the more dangerous of these characters was an acquaintance he’d met through work and who in my opinion, was a thoroughly nasty piece of work. He had suffered a stroke at an early age and his subsequent insurance claim had enabled him to start his own retail business, dabble in property development and become a general wheeler dealer. To say that he was full of himself would be an understatement. He could be gregarious one minute and moody the next but most of the time he was just an annoyingly mouthy Australian. My husband however became so captivated by this revolting entrepreneur that he would spend entire evenings talking with him on the phone and to my mind the whole peculiar relationship was more than a little unhealthy.
Four months after my mother’s death my husband flew to New Zealand to celebrate his father’s seventieth birthday. After he’d gone I phoned Mum’s solicitor in New Zealand to ask about her estate which was due to be passed through probate in the next few days. As executor of her will, I needed to make sure the proceeds were distributed evenly between my sisters and me. I was taken rather aback when he said that he’d just been speaking to my husband. I wondered if they’d run into each other by chance in Christchurch, but he went on to say he’d phoned several times asking when the funds would be available. I knew nothing of these calls, but the revelation left me in no doubt that he was devising a scheme to channel the money into some venture with that odious colleague of his. This was money that my mother and father had worked hard for all their lives and I had to stop that happening.
All the old negative emotions began to well up inside me as he gradually returned to his default position of Entrepreneur Businessman again. And as soon as that happened I knew that I was once again fighting a battle I was destined to lose.