Being Johnny

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 34

It was something of a surprise when we pulled into the yard at the Priory to see Leni polishing what looked like a brand-new Jaguar XJ. What was more surprising was that Uncle Ben's Maserati was parked next to it.

"New car?" I asked as I climbed out of the Land Rover.

"Yes, the boss got it for me last week," Leni replied. "First chance I've had to take her on a good run."

"Which one?" I asked, wondering which of my uncles had bought it.

"Phil," Leni replied.

I wondered what he meant by a good run but really did not have the time to find out. Joseph and I had to get our bikes out of the back of the Land Rover, and then we had to get indoors. I had a feeling that this was going to be one of those days when Mum would tell me to hurry up, get cleaned up and get changed. I was not wrong.

In the kitchen, I found Grandma busy staking out her claim to the stove. I asked where Granddad was.

"He's gone up to the nursery to see how the lads are doing. Told him not to be long," Grandma said.

"You two don't have time to talk; get upstairs and get cleaned up and changed. Bernard is due here for one," Mum said.

We did as instructed. When we got down, Uncle Bernard was in the kitchen enjoying a mug of tea. I noted we had not been offered one. Steve sat across from him, also with a mug of tea.

"So, everything is in place?" Steve asked.

"Yes. There are a few formalities to be sorted, but everything is in place," Uncle Bernard informed him.

The back door opened, and Granddad came in.

Uncle Bernard turned and looked at him.

"Now everyone is here, we can proceed with the formalities. Where are you putting us, Anne?" Uncle Bernard asked.

"Mike suggested the dining room; there's plenty of table space for all your papers."

"We'll probably need it. Is Mike in there?"

"Should be. He took Phil and Ben through about twenty minutes ago."

Uncle Bernard arose from the table, took his case and shoved it at Joseph. "Here, carry this. You might as well come in and hear what's going on; saves Johnny having to tell you afterwards."

A procession started in the direction of the dining room, led by Uncle Bernard. He was followed by Granddad and Grandma, then came Steve with Joseph, and me bringing up the rear. Uncle Ben and Uncle Phil were in the dining room. That was expected. What I had not expected was the presence of Lee. I know he is Dad's PA, but I was sure that we would be discussing things concerning my trusts, and I was not sure how comfortable I was with Lee knowing the details about them.

We took our seats around the dining-room table. Dad indicated that I should take the seat next to him. Uncle Bernard sat on the other side of Dad, with Joseph next to him. Uncle Bernard said something to Dad, who replied he had no objection; I think it was about Joseph being there.

When everybody was seated, Uncle Bernard looked around the room. "Right, I will try to be as brief as I can because we have a lot to get through this afternoon. I know some of you have other things to get on with while parts of this meeting are going on.

"First of all, Lee, you were asked to be present as Mr. Carlton intends to sign a power of attorney for you to act in certain circumstance relating both to the Priory and Mike Carlton Productions. To know what to do, you need the background to some things."

Now, that did surprise me. What was Dad up to?

Uncle Bernard continued. "A lot of what you are going to hear today and in the future is extremely confidential. Therefore, I have to ask you to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Mike tells me has spoken to you about this."

"Yes, he did," Lee answered. "We discussed it last week while in Holland."

"Did he give you the draft to read through?"

"Yes, Mr. LeBrun, and I got my solicitor to check it."

"That's good. Now perhaps you would be so good as to sign it. There are two documents, one relating to the Priory and Green Farm estates and the other for Mike Carlton Productions. I need you to sign both."

Uncle Bernard passed the papers over to Lee, who read them, then signed them.

"Phil, Ben, would you be so kind as to witness the signature?" Uncle Bernard asked. He passed them the signed papers, then gave another set of papers to Lee. "These are copies of what you signed." Lee just nodded and then put them in the attaché case he nearly always carried when with Dad.

"Next, we come to the control of the trusts," Uncle Bernard stated. "We've got all the court approvals, so now we only have to do the final handover. Jack, Flora, are you still of a mind to pass control of Johnny's trust funds to Mike and me?"

"Bloody right, we are," Granddad said. "Where do we sign? The quicker we be free of that responsibility the quicker I'll sleep well at night, and no doubt Flora will as well."

"I'll sleep well if you do something about your ruddy snoring."

"That's fine. I have three copies of the handover agreement. They need to be signed where indicated by Mike, me, you, Jack and Flora. I'll sign each copy first, then pass it to Mike to sign. Then Mike can you pass it to Jack and so on. Steve and Lee, can you witness these, please?"

Uncle Phil looked a bit surprised at that request, a look that Uncle Bernard must have seen.

"Sorry, Phil, you're a residual beneficiary under the trust, so you can't be a witness; neither can Ben as he is your civil partner." Uncle Phil nodded at the news but looked surprised. Well, I was surprised as well. What was a residual beneficiary? I would have to ask Uncle Bernard when all this was finished.

Once everything was signed and witnessed, Uncle Bernard collected the papers and put them in his case. "I'll file the required copies with the appropriate authorities and let you all have copies for your files in due course. Jack, Flora, thank you for coming down. Sorting this out now is going to make the rest of the day's business a lot easier. Now, Jack, Flora, I think there is something that Phil and Ben want to show you.

I noticed that Lee left with them. I was about to say something when Dad spoke.

"The next bit does not concern the estate or MCP, so there is no need for Lee to know about it. I told him to leave when Flora and Jack did. He'll come back when we send for Gert."

I had forgotten about Gert and Luuk and wondered where they were. However, that was soon addressed when Dad informed me that they were over with Arthur having their computers linked to the MCP network.

"Sorry about all that Steve," Uncle Bernard said, "but we're going to have to have some documents signed on behalf of the trust, and the way things were, I would have had to take Jack and Flora through everything. They would have agreed, but they would have wanted to know all the details. So, I wanted to get the transfer of the trust finalised before we got onto the next stage.

"Now, to recap on where everything is, and, by the way, some of this did not fall into place till yesterday afternoon. First, as you know the Elmchurch Estate has gone into administrationi. George Junior had borrowed quite a bit on the basis of carrying out two housing developments, one on the High Marsh, the other on the Southmead airfield. He was refused outline-planning permission for the airfield and for High Marsh. He put in an appeal on both, which was turned down. When the banks found out why the permissions had been refused and it became clear that they would never be granted, they pulled the plug on his funding.

"The administrators were not prepared to continue the case in the courts that contested both George Hamden's will and the agreement with you, Steve, to sell you shares in the yard at a fixed price. As a result, I obtained on your behalf twenty percent of the shares in the Hamden yard at the price set in the agreement you had with George Hamden. That, Steve, gives you fifty-five percent of the yard.

"Once you had control of the yard and it was no longer possible for the administrators to sell the business with its associated land and no one else could get control, I made them an offer from the trust for the remaining shares in the business at a price based on the valuation we had done. As a result, Johnny, on Wednesday your trust acquired the remaining forty-five percent of the Hamden Yard for some forty thousand pounds."

"So, I own forty-five percent of it?" I asked.

"Yes, you do, Johnny, but remember, the chandlery and all the new equipment in the yard belongs to Steve. It is not part of Hamden Yards, Limited.

"To continue, on Friday we were able to complete on the purchase of the Peters Yard. The yard was purchased by Mike through a discretionary deed of trust in favour of Johnny. Steve, I have asked Mr. Peters to let you have his keys on Monday. So, the position is now that among the parties at this table you own the majority of the working yards on the High Marsh."

"I wish we could have got the Lees' yard," Steve said.

"Give it time," Uncle Bernard told him. "The administrators are looking to sell it, but at the moment, they do not know about the right-of-way issue."

"What is the issue?" Steve asked.

"Well, High Marsh Lane actually belongs to the Nase, which has right of way along it. The Hamden Yard and the Peters Yard have an easement in their deeds granting them limited rights of way along it."

"What does that mean?" Steve asked.

"It means that you only have right of way when using it in connection with the conduct of the business of boatbuilding. If the property is used for anything else, there is no right of way. The Lees' yard had the same relief in their lease."

"So, whoever takes on the yard will have the same right of way?"

"No," Uncle Bernard said. "The relief for the right of way was in the lease; when the lease was terminated, the relief ceased. The Elmchurch Estate do not own the right of way so cannot grant a new relief; only the owner of the Nase can do that, and that, Steve, is you."

"But that means—"

"Yes, to put it in the best legal jargon, they're fucked. Without the right of way, the property is worthless. By the way, the same applies to all the other properties the estate owns along the High Marsh. I suspect it will take them a few months to work out exactly what a mess they are in, but when they do, I suggest we offer them twenty thousand pounds for the lot."

"Is that legal?" Steve asked.

"Oh yes, perfectly," Uncle Bernard replied, with a satisfied smile.

"In the meantime," he continued, "we need to sort out how to manage the yards as a single entity. The proposal is that the businesses of Peters Yard, the Salvage Yard, the Hamden Yard and the Hamden Chandlery should be merged to form a new company, Long Creek Boats and Services Limited. Steve will also put in the new equipment that he owns that is located at the Hamden Yard as an additional contribution to the company also. This has been valued separate from the Hamden Yard. It is proposed that Steve should become the managing director of the new company on the same terms as he is employed by Hamden Yard, Limited. Now, only the working assets of the yards are being transferred to the new company, not the real estate. Also, Johnny, we are excluding the store units at the Salvage Yard from the deal as well, as we do not know what is there.

"Taking in the value of the goodwill Steve holds in the Hamden Yard, together with the new equipment and his 55% interest in the Hamden Yard, I have come up with a share split for the new company, which is: Steve gets fifty-one percent subject to a buyout option, Johnny gets forty percent, also subject to a buyout option, and, Mike, you get the other nine percent."

"What's the buyout option?" Steve asked.

"It is simple on both sides. If either you or Johnny decide to sell your shares, you first have to offer them to the other side at a price to be determined by an independent valuer. The other party can then buy as few or as many of the offered shares as they like before the rest of the shares, if there are any, are offered on the open market."

"This is basically what we discussed before I went to the Netherlands?" Dad asked.

"Yes, it is," Uncle Bernard confirmed.

"Then, I have no problems," Dad said.

"I'm in agreement. I suppose the breakup clauses are as agreed?" Steve responded.

"Yes, the land the yards stand on will remain in the possession of its current owners. However, the new company will take over responsibility for all charges and taxes related to the property. In the event of the liquidation or break up of the company, the usage of the land will revert back to the current owners," Uncle Bernard explained.

"Then I have no problems," Steve stated.

"Are you OK with this, Johnny," Uncle Bernard asked.

"I think so, though I am not totally sure what we are doing," I told him.

"Essentially, we are merging the three trading businesses into one company but leaving the ownership of the land and a few other things, like the storage sheds at the Salvage Yard, where it is at the moment."

"I think I understand," I told him. "It makes sense, so go ahead."

Uncle Bernard asked Dad if he could get Lee back in. It seemed a second witness was required. Dad called Lee, who came back to the room about two minutes later. Then there was a round of form signing, some of which had to be witnessed, which was done by Uncle Bernard and Lee.

Once that was done, Uncle Bernard said it would take a couple of weeks to sort out all the administrative issues behind the deal, so he suggested we do not start trading as the new business until the first of June. Steve pointed out it would take at least till then to get the required stationery printed and signs made.

That agreed, Steve thanked Uncle Bernard and Dad for sorting it all out, then he left.

Dad asked Lee if Gert and Luuk were back. Lee informed him that they were still over with Arthur. He told Dad that he had checked with Arthur and had been told they would be at least another half-hour.

"He also told me to tell you he's just spent fifteen-hundred pounds of your money."

"How?" Dad asked.

"As far as I was able to ascertain in the phone call, the laptops that Gert and Luuk had were not fit for the purpose. He has replaced them with upgraded laptops. I think the delay in them getting finished is due to him having to move all their software and data to the new computers," Lee informed Dad.

"He warned me that might be the case," Dad stated. "Make sure he charges it to MCP and not my private account, can you, Lee?"

"I will."

"And could you ask Anne if she could organise some drinks, please?"

"I will." With that, Lee left the room.

"One thing," I said. "Uncle Bernard, you mentioned that Dad had bought the Peters Yard through a discretionary trust. What does that mean?"

"Right, Johnny. Your father used some funds from the insurance on your mother to buy the yard," Uncle Bernard informed me. "He wanted to buy it for you. However, if he had purchased it in your name, that would have amounted to a gift that would have been subject to gift tax."

I nodded; that made sense.

Uncle Bernard continued. "Your father, therefore, purchased the yard through a trust set up under a deed of trust, of which you are the named beneficiary. It is unlike a normal trust where control of the asset cannot be handed over until a certain event takes place and the trust terminates. In this case, though, your father has the discretion to hand control of the trust over to you at any time he chooses. You will get control of the assets when you reach thirty, in any case."

"And what is the benefit of this?" I asked.

"Gift tax is not payable until the asset is actually transferred to you, which will be in thirteen years. However, the amount due will be based on the value of the gift at the time that the trust was formed — now. That is one-hundred-and-fifty thousand pounds. Allowing for inflation over the time period, the true tax hit will have a much lower value than it would have today."

"So basically, we still have to pay the same amount of tax, but because the money will be worth less in real terms, the net impact is less," I summarized.

"That, Johnny, is correct, unless, of course, we hit a long period of deflation, but I can't see that happening."

"Another thing, Uncle Bernard, what was that about Uncle Phil being a secondary beneficiary?"

"It is normal in most trusts to state what should happen to the funds in the trust if the beneficiary dies before the trust matures. In this case, your mother stated that if you died before the trust reached maturity, your Uncle Phil would become the beneficiary. As such, he is the second beneficiary on the trust."

Lee returned with a tray of mugs, sugar and milk. Mum followed him in carrying a tray with a teapot and a coffee pot. They were put on the table.

"I've spoken with Arthur," Lee told Dad. "He says they will be finished in about ten minutes."

"Good," Dad replied. "Lee, when Gert and Luuk come over, you'd better stay. I know you are not needed for what we are discussing at the moment, but you will be interacting with Gert mostly, so you need to know what is going on once they get here."

Lee nodded. He then left.

We chatted, mostly about how Joseph and I were getting on with revision, over mugs of tea and coffee. Dad also wanted to know how my driving lessons were going. I told him that I was surprised how much the car changed in width between lessons. He laughed at that.

Lee came in and told Dad that Gert and Luuk were on their way over, so he was going to make some fresh tea and coffee.

"That's considerate of you," Dad said.

"Only because I want some myself," Lee replied.

Dad laughed.

Lee returned about ten minutes later with a tray holding the tea and coffee pots plus some more mugs. Gert and Luuk followed him in. Dad told them to take a seat and introduced Uncle Bernard to them, informing them that Uncle Bernard was the lawyer to both the family and his business. He also told them that Uncle Bernard was Joseph's father.

Uncle Bernard then informed them that a limited company, Unheard Productions, had been set up specifically for the production of The Unheard. That company, as had been agreed, was owned eighty-five percent by Mike Carlton Productions and ten percent by Gert van Lottum. The remaining five percent went to Lee. The directors of the company were my father, Gert and Lee.

"Now, Gert, this is a contract between you and Unheard Productions," Uncle Bernard said, passing him a sheaf of papers and another to Dad. "It guarantees one-thousand hours of work at fifty Euros per hour. That total does include, however, the hours you have already put in. Is that acceptable?"

"I presume this is the same as was emailed to me?"

"It is, Gert," Dad stated.

"In that case, I'm fine with it."

Uncle Bernard asked Gert to sign it, then, and Dad signed the counter-copy. They then swapped their copies and signed the new one they had before them. Dad gave the copy he had, which was signed by him and Gert, to Lee, who placed it in his folder for filing.

"Now, Luuk, this is a contract for you," Uncle Bernard stated, this time passing papers to Luuk and Dad. "It will pay you twenty-five Euros an hour for any work you do on the production of The Unheard. However, there is no guarantee of the number of hours you will be doing. Is that acceptable?"

Luuk confirmed it was, and then both he and Dad went through the signing process.

That done, there was some discussion about what the next steps would be in the production process. Gert confirmed he had a rough initial cut done of what they had filmed to date. Dad said they would look at it after dinner with Uncles Phil and Ben. Something that Luuk said made me realise that they had not yet met my other uncles.

"The next point is about the value-added tax," Uncle Bernard announced. "There are going to be a lot of expenditures made in the Netherlands, and the company will be incurring VAT on them. Gert, I've been told the best way would be for us to register the UK company to trade in the Netherlands. Do you have any thoughts on that?"

Gert looked a bit surprised to be asked but then thought about it. "Well, you could register the UK company or set up a Netherlands subsidiary. That, though, will cost, so registering the UK company to trade is probably the simpler method. You will need to register the company with the Kamer van Koopenhandel, the KVK, for the area where you have your trading address."

That started a discussion about various options, getting an office, having a service office, having a virtual office address and so on. From what I could understand, nobody seemed to have an idea what should be done. Then I had a thought.

"How about using the Herengracht house for the address?" I asked.

"What house?" Dad asked.

"The house I own, or at least the trust owns, on the Herengracht in Amsterdam. The uncles use it for the address of their CGI business over there."

"You own a house in Amsterdam?" Dad asked. "Bernard, did you know this?"

"Oh, yes. Johnny's trust owns a townhouse on the Herengracht. Phil and Ben got it as part of the business when they purchased the Dutch CGI company so they could get the software licences they required. It's got a commercial office on the ground floor and holiday apartments on the five floors above."

There was a bit of discussion, but it was agreed that Luuk would look at the place, and if we could sort out the collection of mail, we could use it. There was not much that could be done on that until Luuk returned to Amsterdam. I remembered that I meant to ask Luuk to find out what the problem was with changing the use from holiday let, but I had not done so. When I mentioned it, Luuk said he would investigate it, but it would be a couple of weeks before he would have time to do anything.

"Got a couple of heavy weeks at university coming up," he informed us.

"There's no urgency," Dad stated. "We'll be over in three weeks; it can be looked into then. It would probably be best if you and Johnny look at it together."

Mum came in and told us she needed to get the room ready for dinner. Dad said that, as all the paperwork was done, we should decamp to the library. We had been in the library about twenty minutes when Uncles Ben and Phil came in. I know I had mentioned that they were my uncles when we were having lunch in Amsterdam, but Luuk had clearly not made the connection. I do not know if Gert knew, at all. What was clear was they were both somewhat overwhelmed being introduced to film stars.

No matter. They quickly recovered, and Gert and Ben were soon discussing the technicalities of film production. They did not have long. Mum came in and told us dinner would be in ten minutes. I went through to the kitchen to see if I could give Mum a hand, but she said she did not need one.

"How come we're eating so early?" I asked. It was only just gone five.

"Leni is taking your grandparents to your great aunt's in Southport. They do not want to get there too late, and I thought they'd better have a meal before they left."

"Great aunt?" I asked. "I did not know I had a great aunt."

"Actually, she is your great aunt by marriage. She is the widow of your grandmother's brother. Though you have another great aunt that is your grandfather's sister, though those two have not spoken to each other since the miner's strike."

"Which one?" I quipped. She threw the tea towel at me.

"Will you need help serving?" I asked.

"Yes, but that'll be in a good fifteen minutes," Mum replied.

"You said ten minutes five minutes ago," I pointed out.

"I know. Had to get your father moving, didn't I?"

I left Mum to it and went looking for Joseph. However, I spotted Dad and Uncle Bernard in the study, so I went in. There was something I needed to ask.

"Dad, what was that about giving Lee power of attorney?" I asked. I was worried about that; power of attorney could very easily be misused.

"Johnny, I'm going to be away a lot of the time later this year. Somebody needs to be here who is authorised to act for me with respect to the estate. It's a limited power of attorney. It just gives him the right to deal with management issues with respect to the buildings for when things need repaired and such like. Like this morning. We found the tap in the yard was dripping. I had to phone a plumber to come in and fix it. Lee needs to be able to authorise things like that."

"But I could have done that," I pointed out.

"Technically, you couldn't, Johnny," Uncle Bernard said. "You're still a minor, and as such, if it was a problem that would not have endangered you or your ability of residence, so it would not be classed as a necessity, that means you could not have entered into the contract. With the limited power of attorney, Lee can."

"What about when I turn eighteen?"

"Well, then you'll be going away to the International Boatbuilding School and then to University," Dad pointed out. "I still need somebody who is here on a day-to-day basis to manage the property."

When he put it like that, it made sense.

I went looking for Joseph and found him in the library talking to Luuk and Gert, more to Luuk. I suggested we should move to the dining room. When we got there, Arthur, Trevor and Colin were already present.

"Your mum told us to come over for dinner," Colin informed me as we came in. It was clear that Gert and Luuk had already met Trevor. Then I remembered they had spent part of the afternoon over with Arthur, and Trevor no doubt would have been there.

We all stood around chatting for a bit until Mum sounded the tam-tam. I told the others to take their seats for dinner. I told Joseph he could give me a hand bringing the dishes through from the kitchen.

Dinner was good, simple but good. The dessert was fantastic, toffee-apple sticky toffee pudding. One day I am going to have to get Mum to give me the recipe for it.

Dinner over, Grandma announced that they needed to leave.

"We promised Joyce we were be there before nine," she stated. I presumed Joyce was my great aunt. "She goes to bed early."

"Don't we all?" muttered Granddad.

"You need your sleep, you oaf," Grandma said, swiping at her husband playfully with her handbag. I would hate to see her use it for real.

I helped Mum clear the table and fill the dishwasher, then went to find Joseph. Dad, however, intercepted me and called me into the study. All three uncles were there. I mentioned that I was looking for Joseph.

"I asked him to entertain Luuk for a bit," Dad said. "Gert and Lee are setting up the living room for the show."

"What show?" I asked.

"You'll see," Dad replied. "However, first, I think we need to get an update on the sidings. Bernard, what's the position with the purchase?"

"The outline-planning permission and change-of-use permission were granted last night. I arranged to meet with the vendor's solicitors this morning, and we did a formal exchange of contracts. Completion is in two weeks."

"How did things go with Jack and Flora?" Dad asked Uncle Phil.

"Good. We met up with Matt, and he explained his ideas to them. They like what he was suggesting, though Flora wanted a bigger kitchen."

"She would," Dad commented. Uncle Ben laughed.

"So, what's the outcome?" Uncle Bernard asked.

"Well, we've lost a single-bedroom apartment on the ground floor," Uncle Phil said. "There are now two, two-bedroom apartments, each with a large kitchen and bigger bathroom. That was Jack's requirement."

"Makes sense," Dad stated. "At their age they are probably starting to think about disability issues.

"Probably, but do not mention it to Jack," Uncle Ben said.

Uncle Phil continued. "On the second floor, we have two, two-bedroom apartments and a single, one-bedroom apartment. Then, on the top floor we will have our penthouse suite, which will have three bedrooms and two bathrooms."

"What about the other building?" I asked.

"There is not much to do there," Uncle Ben said. "It's already been used as a martial-arts centre, so we just need it modernised and have a mezzanine put in on the first floor so I can have somewhere for an office. We will put the new changing rooms under the mezzanine. Fortunately, when they put the first floor in after they stopped using the place as an engine shed, they put it in fairly high; there is a good sixteen feet below it."

"You also need to put a lift in," Uncle Phil reminded him.

"Yes, forgot about that."

There was a bit more discussion about things, then Dad said we should get over to the living room. When we got there, there was a large screen erected in front of the fireplace. Across the other side of the room was a table on which stood a projector and what I assumed was Gert's new laptop. Gert was busy entering things into it.

Dad asked him if he was ready. Gert said he was. Dad went out into the hall and called Mum, Joseph and Luuk. Before we all got comfortable, Dad asked if any of us would like a drink. I opted for a beer, as did Joseph, Lee and Luuk. Guess who was sent to the kitchen to get them. Everybody else went for wine or sherry, which Dad had in the drinks cabinet.

The drinks sorted and everybody seated, Dad closed the curtains and explained what we were about to see what the first rushes of a documentary that he was putting together with the help of Gert, Luuk and Lee. Then he switched off the light. A rather out-of-focus image appeared on the screen that slowly resolved itself into a picture of an old man climbing slowly down the steps of the Homomonument. I recognised the picture of Henk, then I saw Joseph and me on the monument. The film showed us helping Henk back up the steps, then him turning towards the Westermarkt. At that point, the image zoomed in on his face, losing resolution as it did so. Then a sharp image of Henk appeared.

"My name is Henk de Groot; I was born in 1926, and I will soon turn 83. You have just seen me laying flowers on the Homomonument at the Westermarkt in Amsterdam. I do this on the seventeenth of April every year. Let me tell you why."

Henk then proceeded to tell the story he had told us in Apeldoorn. At times, colourized, still images were shown of the camps and the inmates wearing the pink triangle. Henk was followed by somebody I did not know but who introduced himself as Ralf. He spoke in Dutch; Gert supplied a translation. Ralf told of watching his lover being strung up by his thumbs, then being whipped to death. The final interview was with a woman, who I guessed was about fortyish. She introduced herself as a psychologist who specialised in the problems of the camp survivors.

Towards the end she said, "The big problem is they feel forgotten. People remember the Jews — and with good reason. They forget about the others. Their stories are not being listened to; they are unheard."

With that the film finished.

Dad switched on the lights, then opened the curtain. There was silence in the room.

"What do you think?" he asked, looking at Uncles Ben and Phil, who were sitting on the sofa holding hands. I realised I had never seen overt displays of affection between them before.

"It is powerful," Uncle Phil said. "I don't know where it can be shown, but it needs to be shown. How much more have you got?"

"Gert?" Dad asked.

"That's all the material that we have at the moment. Luuk has identified seven more survivors. Three are prepared to talk on camera; the other four will not, but they will tell their stories. We also have about two-thousand still images that Luuk has found."

"And there's Kurt," Luuk stated.

"Kurt?" Uncle Ben asked.

"The resistance member who was Henk's lover. Henk tried to trace him after the war but had no success. He presumed that Kurt had died in the camps. However, I found that he had survived. He now lives in New York. I've spoken to him on the phone; he's 87 and disabled, but he is willing to take part. The problem is getting a camera crew to New York."

"It's not a problem," Uncle Phil said. "We're over there regularly, and we know film crews there. Who does your interviews?"

"Luuk's done them," Dad stated.

"Well, next time we're in New York, fly Luuk over; we'll sort out the rest."

"Max Ableholm!" Uncle Ben exclaimed. We all looked at him.

"Max who?" Dad asked.

"Max Ableholm. He's a chap we know in New York. He acquires product for the cable channels across the States; he is also working with some of the streaming services that are setting up. He'd know how to place this. Any chance you could let me have a copy that I could show him next time we are going over?"

"How are you funding its production?" Uncle Phil asked.

"At the moment, we have fifty thousand start-up funding, I think I need to raise about three hundred to get it made," Dad said. I noticed he did not say where the fifty had come from."

Uncle Phil looked at Uncle Ben. Uncle Ben nodded.

"We'll put in a hundred K," Uncle Phil said.

"I'll do the same," Uncle Bernard said. "This story needs to be told before it is totally forgotten." He then looked at me; I nodded. "And there will be another fifty thousand from the same source as the start-up funding came from."

"Where did that footage of Henk, me and Joseph on the Homomonument come from?" I asked Gert.

"That was from Luuk's friends."

I looked over at Luuk.

"Remember when we crossed the bridge at Westermarkt, I saw those three I knew from university. They were doing some videography." I nodded; I did remember. "Well, I mentioned them to Gert, and he asked me to check if they had any video of the monument. When we looked at what they sent, we realised they had filmed Henk. I asked them about it, and they said they had seen him walking down from Damraak and thought he was visually interesting. An old man walking with two sticks, carrying flowers, so they had filmed him. We asked if we could have anything they had got of him. If we use it, we'll have to pay for it."

"Don't worry about that; it would be worth it," Uncle Phil stated.

"It was lucky they did the zoom onto his face," I commented.

"Oh, they did not shoot that. I did it digitally using a frame from what they shot when he turned and looked back down the Westermarkt," Gert stated.

"What did you use?" Uncle Ben asked.

"Did it on the laptop using Gimp and Blender," Gert replied.

"Well, when you have finished making this, come and talk to me. We have a CGI company and could probably use you."

"I really can't leave the Netherlands until Luuk has finished his architecture course."

"Not a problem; we have offices in Hilversum," Uncle Ben said.

"Oy, no pinching my staff. I found him first," Dad warned.

Uncle Ben laughed.

Uncles Ben and Phil had to leave to get back to Town. Uncle Bernard also had to make a move, which meant that Joseph left with him. Mother went off to the snug with her knitting and a good book, saying she did not want to see a textbook till Monday. Dad suggested I get some more beers from the fridge, which I did.

Gert, Luuk and Dad talked about what Luuk had found in his research. It appeared, at least from what I could make out, that there was a lot of information out there. You just had to look for it. The thing was, people were not looking for it. The story it told was not the story they wanted to hear. It was better left to gather dust in the forgotten corners of the archives.

Sunday morning, I slightly regretted the amount of beer I had drunk the night before. It was a good job that Steve had told me not to go into the yard. He admitted he was somewhat overstaffed due to getting the timetables wrong. It turned out that none of the staff had a day off that day.

"There's going to be so many that there won't be room to turn round," Steve had told me Saturday morning when he realised his mistake.

Not having to be in the yard, I decided to use the excuse of the aftereffects of the beer to have a lie-in. Unfortunately, it was not to be. I had just got my duvet nicely wrapped around me when there was a knock on my door.

"Go away, I'm having a lie-in," I responded to the irritating sound.

"Sorry, Johnny, I need some help," Dad said, pushing the door open a few inches so I could hear him clearly. He did not, though, put his head around the door.


"Can you entertain Luuk for a couple of hours. I have to go out, and I'm taking Gert with me."

"Why not take Luuk as well?"

"I'm taking the Morgan," Dad replied.

'Show off!' I thought.

"OK, I'll be down in a bit."

"Make it a short bit. I need to get off."

"What's the rush?"

"Your uncle Ben phoned; he's given me a lead on some kit which will save having to hire it from Tyler. The thing is, it's in Aylesbury and I need to get there before the bailiffs do."

Somehow, I thought it was not likely that bailiffs would turn up on a Sunday. That, though, was beside the point. I dragged myself out of bed, across the room, into my bathroom and into the shower. Some ten minutes later, I was downstairs in the kitchen, showered, dressed and wishing I was back in bed. Mum, clearly sensing my desperate need, placed a mug of black coffee before me.

I was nibbling away on a piece of toast when Dad came into the room followed by Gert, both clearly ready to be on their way.

"Where's Luuk?" I asked.

"Oh, he's not got up yet," Gert informed me. "He's suffering from all the beer last night and is still in bed."

"But you will look after him when he gets up," Dad said. "Won't you?"

There are times when patricide seems a perfectly reasonable course of action. I then decided to spend the next hour or so planning it.

Unfortunately, I did not have that hour or so; I did not even get fifteen minutes. I do not think Dad and Gert got out of the yard before Luuk stumbled into the room. He looked worse than I felt, so I poured him a coffee, black and sweet.

"Too much beer," Luuk said by way of explanation.

"It was Dutch beer," I pointed out. It had been Grolsch.

"That makes no difference. I'm not used to drinking that much. Can't afford to."

That made some sense. Luuk was, after all, a poor student in the truest sense and probably could not afford to drink that often.

About half an hour later, both Luuk and I had achieved some level of humanity that allowed us to function. Mum had pushed more coffee and toast at both of us. I do not know about Luuk, but I needed some fresh air, so suggested a walk in the grounds. Luuk readily agreed.

It was bright and sunny outside, but there was a slight chill in the air with the wind blowing in from the North Sea. Fortunately, somebody must have warned Luuk about bringing warm clothes to England; he had a quilted parka which looked really warm. When I mentioned it, he reminded me that Amsterdam also was close to the North Sea. You could have a brilliant sunny day and still be freezing in the middle of summer.

Luuk asked if it was possible to see the tithe barn. "Joseph was telling me about it. I would be interested in seeing how it was constructed."

I was not sure how much Luuk would actually be able to see, as I knew Matt's people had started working on it. However, when we got there, it was clear that at the moment, they were working on the connection to the Crooked Man. There was some scaffolding erected inside the barn, but not so much as to obscure the construction.

The moment we were inside, Luuk pulled his camera out of his pocket and started taking photos. He reminded me of Joseph in the way he took photos of all the little details of the place, a fact that I commented on.

"I suppose it's because we have so much in common," Luuk said. "We're both interested in architecture. To be honest, I think Joseph is more into it than I was at his age. I sort of fell into it when I finished school. Joseph already knows what he wants to do. I wish I had been that lucky when I was his age."

There was a moment of sadness in Luuk's voice. I realised that he must have been about Joseph's age when his parents were killed.

We left the tithe barn and made our way back to the main complex of buildings on the estate. I showed Luuk the nursery but did not introduce him to Jim and Steven; they were clearly rushed off their feet dealing with customers. If Luuk had not been with me, I would have offered to give them a hand. As it was, it was best to just keep out of their way.

I wanted to show Luuk the dojo, but there was quite a crowd of people visiting the various studios of the art centre. Rather than try to make our way through them, I led Luuk out of the nursery by the bottom gate in the garden wall, the one marked, 'Staff Only'. Then we went around the cottage and along the bottom wall of the nursery and then up the side of its far wall. As we came to the top end of the path along the wall, I was surprised to see Lee talking to two women. They were standing by the old forge. Lee saw me and waved me over.

"Johnny, these are Marion Collins and Jessie Long," Lee said introducing me to the women. "They are interested in the forge. Jessie, Marion, this is Johnny Carlton-Smith — his father owns this place — and Luuk van Lottum, who is working with us on a film we are making."

We chatted for a bit. It turned out that both women were blacksmiths and part of a co-operative of blacksmiths who had shared use of a forge just outside of Dagenham. However, they really wanted a forge of their own so they could do more of their own work.

"Too much of the stuff we do at the moment is fulfilling work taken on by the co-operative. It's not really stuff we would like to be doing?" Jesse said. "So, we've been looking for a forge of our own."

"Matt told us about this forge ages ago, but we were just off on a working tour of the States so did not get a chance to look at it," Marion informed us. "This is the first chance we've had to get over here since we got back. We were hoping to see your father, but Lee told us he had to go out. Unfortunately, we have to be in Chelmsford by noon. Don't know when we will be able to get back this way this month."

"What do you think of it?" I asked.

"It's a nice forge, though it is going to take a lot of work to get it back working and get it tooled up," Jesse responded.

"What do you mean tooled up?" Luuk asked. I was wondering the same and glad he had asked.

"Blacksmiths all have their own basic set of tools. However, the main tools you use belong to the forge where you are working. When you rent or buy a forge, you rent or buy the tools that come with it. This forge has been stripped of its tools. Before it can become a working smithy again, whoever takes it on will have to make all the tools that the forge will need."

"You make them; you don't buy them?" I asked.

"Well, you can buy them, but it is a matter of pride to most blacksmiths to make their own. Also, most commercially made equipment, like tongs, come in a standard size. For tongs, that is usually three- or four-hundred mil. If you look at the gap between the forge and the quenching trough it is about two metres. Now, with four-hundred-mil tongs, there is no way I can take something out from the fire and put it in the quenching trough in one move. I would have to take at least one, maybe two steps to do it. However, if I make a pair of tongs that are six- or seven-hundred mil in length, I could stand between the two and take an item from the fire and place it in the trough without having to take a step. If I don't have to move, there is no chance of me tripping and falling with a red-hot piece of metal in front of me. It's a safety issue. That's why tools are made to fit the forge, to make working in a particular forge easier and safer," Jesse informed us.

"We would like to take on the forge," Marion stated. "But the upfront costs and the amount of time it would take to get it working is a bit off-putting."

I could understand that. Then I had an idea.

"Lee, can you spare me a moment?" I asked. "Sorry, ladies and Luuk, but I have just thought of something, and I need to speak with Lee about it."

We left the ladies and Luuk at the forge and walked a bit away.

"Lee, do you know the details of the deal that Dad did with the nursery boys and with Tyler?"

"Yes, they took on the refurbishment of the property but got a rent-free period," Lee responded.

"The how about offering the ladies the same?"

"Shouldn't I discuss it with you father?"

"Lee, he gave you the power of attorney for situations like this. Dad's not here, and I do not think the two ladies can hang about all day for him to get back. If you want to, call him, but I think he would say to do it. The important thing is to get someone to take on the forge."

"I've tried calling him, and it goes straight to voicemail," Lee informed me.

"He's probably forgot to charge it or switch it on," I posited. I tried myself, and Lee was right; it went straight to voicemail. Then I remembered Gert was with him and I had Gert's number. I called Gert, who answered and told me that Dad was driving. I explained to Gert what the situation was; he passed the information to Dad. The message came back: tell Lee to sort it out; he has the authority. So, I did.

We returned to the ladies.

"How long will it take you to get the forge up and running?" Lee asked.

"Probably a couple of months to clean and repair; it would be less if we could do it fulltime, but we will have to keep working where we are to bring in some income," Jesse said. "Then we would need at least two months to get it fully working. We'll have to make the forge tools and get used to how this forge works. Every forge is different."

"Is the rent we discussed acceptable to you?" Lee asked.

"Yes, once everything is up and running fully," Marion replied.

"Well, how about if we give you six months from today rent-free and then six months at half rent? That should compensate you for the time and effort to get this place back in running order. What do you think?" Lee asked.

"Are you serious?" Jesse asked. "Don't you have to ask the boss."

"No, as the real boss has pointed out, I am authorised to act regarding the estate." As Lee said this, he looked directly at me.

I left him with it and took Luuk to see the dojo, only to find the small barn was locked. Then I realised I should have asked Lee for the key. We walked along the row of workshop/studios. Most of them had been occupied over the Easter weekend. However, I had not been around much since then, so not had chance to look at them.

The majority of the workshop/studios were occupied. The couple that were not had signs in them saying that somebody was moving into them soon. There seemed to be a lot of people around, looking in them and buying stuff. About halfway along the first row of workshops was a pottery. A large, redheaded man was seated at a potter's wheel placed near the window, throwing pots. On the side of the workshop opposite him were shelves full of brightly coloured earthenware. Luuk wanted go in and have a closer look at them. I followed him.

Luuk spent a bit of time looking at the pots. A youngish woman who had been serving a couple when we came in, came over to talk to us when she had finished serving. She asked if she could help us. Luuk informed her we were just looking. He said he liked the work but would not be able to get it in his bag to fly home.

"That's as good an excuse as any," the man at the wheel said. He had clearly been listening to the conversation. He then looked at me. "You're Johnny, aren't you? Seen you walking around the estate a couple of times and helping the nursery boys."

I admitted I was.

"I'm Marius Colberg, and that's my sister Irene. I won't offer to shake hands." He raised his clay covered hands to show why. "I'm sure Irene will." She did. I was a bit surprised by the firmness of her grip.

"As you know the estate, you may be able to answer a puzzle," Marius said.

"What is that?"

"At the moment, we are living in the apartment above the studio," he stated by way of an explanation. "We noticed some evenings a number of people going into the small building at the end of the row of workshops. We were wondering what they were doing."

"You mean going into the dojo," I said.

"Dojo!" Marius exclaimed. "You have a dojo here?"

"Yes," I replied. "Lee, my dad's assistant, teaches Aiki-Jujitsu, and my uncle uses it to teach courses, though the place is only temporary as it will be moving to new premises soon."

"I wonder if Lee would mind my sister and me using it sometime. We are both trained in martial arts but don't get the practice we would like."

"You would need to talk to Lee about that," I told him.

We left the pottery and walked along, looking at the other studios, then started to walk back to the house. Luuk seemed a bit quiet and somewhat puzzled.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing, it's just…"

"Just what?" I asked.

"It's that potter; it just does not seem right."

"What's not right?" I asked.

"His pottery; it does not look professional. He's good but more a gifted amateur than a professional potter," Luuk said.

"Why do you think that?"

"Did you look at that coffee set that was on the side, the one with the black-and-gold glaze on it?" I nodded, confirming that I had. "Well, the thing is, Johnny, the cups were not consistent in size. There was nearly a five-millimetre height difference between some cups and others."

"He is hand throwing," I pointed out.

"Yes, but even a competent, amateur hand thrower can produce things to within a couple of mil of each other. I know I could. A professional potter should be able to produce cups that are within half a millimetre of each other in size."

"What do you mean 'you could'?" I asked.

"Well, I used to do a lot of pottery at school. My art teacher wanted me to go on and do ceramics and design at art school, but I went for architecture in the end. So, I know a bit about pottery.

"That's another thing. A lot of the stuff he had in the studio was not thrown; it was moulded. If you knew what to look for, you could tell," Luuk stated.

Now that was interesting. If Marius was not a professional potter, what was he?"

i This is a process of financial administration similar to Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the United States.

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