Ritchie’s life is shadowed by the death of his wife, Cat, in a car accident twenty-two years previously. He was the driver. He loves his children – Nic, who is bi-polar and often impulsive, and Jack. Both are active in the campaign to welcome asylum-seekers and refugees to Britain. His life comes to a crisis as he realises how much his children despise his trade in advertising and how much the loss of Cat still means to them all.
Ritchie abandons his career but achieves new success in driving Britain’s treatment of refugees up the political agenda. This earns him the respect of his children but brings him to the attention of Makepeace, the populist Home Secretary. Nic, his daughter, strives to show she can overcome her disorder. She infiltrates a people-trafficking gang but is arrested as a criminal. Makepeace uses this to blackmail Ritchie to help him in his political schemes. Ritchie is horrified to discover that his task is to sell the reintroduction of forced labour, modern slavery, to the public. As a result he is once again rejected by his children.
Ritchie has reached rock bottom. He is desolate but believes he can outsmart Makepeace. Blood Ties shows how he finally resolves the situation, embraces the causes his children hold dear and reunites his family.
Peter Taylor-Gooby: Bio I enjoy talking to my children, holidays, hill-walking and riding my bike. I’ve worked on adventure playgrounds, as a teacher, as an antique dealer and in a social security office in Newcastle. Before that I spent a year on a Gandhian Ashram in Vijayawada, supporting myself as assistant editor on a local English-language newspaper. In my day job I’m an academic but I believe that you can only truly understand the issues that matter to people through your feelings, your imagination and your compassion. That’s why I write novels. My first novel, The Baby Auction, 2017, is a love story set in a fantasy world where the only rule is the law of the market. That someone should help another because they care for them simply doesn’t make sense to the citizens of Market World, any more that auctioning babies might to us. My second, Ardent Justice, 2018, is a crime story set in the world of high finance and city fat-cats, where money rules, but greed can trip even the most successful. My third, Blood Ties, 2020, is about the ties of love in a troubled family, and the bonds of debt that chain illegal immigrants to people-traffickers, and how they can be broken through self-sacrifice. I hope you enjoy them.
A Protest in Parliament Square
I wait by the crossing at the Parliament Square end of Whitehall. The sun’s hot on my neck. I lick my lips.
The lights change and the green figure strides forward. Jaunty bugger. I shuffle out, head down. The iron collar chafes at my neck, my arms stretch out to the cuffs that clamp my hands to the yoke and the chain between my legs clatters on the tarmac. People are already taking photos. A group of Americans, their backs to me, snap selfies with the weirdo. Performance art – you get a lot of that in London.
My knees are already bowing but I keep going, the breath harsh in my throat. The green man’s flashing and I know I’m not going to make it. I feel sweat running down my back. My trousers are sticking to my legs and my feet ache. The last of the crowd streams past, a woman in a yellow jacket drags a child who stares up at me, an ice-cream fast to his mouth.
Engines rev up and a motor-bike shoots in front of me, followed by three cyclists, two in pink and white lycra and one in a pinstripe suit, with the whirr of an electric motor.
‘On your bike,’ he mutters out of the side of his mouth.
I take another step and the iron ball on the chain between my legs rumbles after me, the anklets scraping at my skin. A car hoots and I catch the uneasy howl of a siren. I’m doing well, nearly half-way and the taste of rust in my mouth, but I’m still moving. Vehicles squeeze past in front of me, a taxi, a dustcart, a bus. The sweet smell of biodiesel keeps me going for another stride. On the other side of the road a man with a London Dungeon sandwich board cheers. People line the pavement, pointing at me, holding up mobile phones, laughing. They think the chains are plastic. They aren’t.
Big Ben chimes the hour and all the faces jerk upwards. Five pm on a Tuesday in early September. Rush hour, start of the parliamentary term – maximum impact. I catch sight of Nic in the crowd, a huge grin on her face, her hand raised in a thumbs up. I try to grin back, but it’s not Nic, it’s someone else, holding up a placard to the cameras:
“Kill the Bill. Welcome to the World”.
I drag myself forward another pace, lift my head up so everyone can see my face and fall to my knees and then flat out, my chains crashing onto the tarmac on both sides. For an instant I feel an immense luxury, lying there. The wrapper from a Paradise Bar blows past, right in front of me, absolute colours, black and white and red. I could do with one right now.
I force myself up off the road and start dragging my body forward, my knees scraping on the tarmac.
‘Stag night was it, sir? Don’t suppose you’ve got the key?’
I twist my head sideways. A helmet, blue eyes and a moustache. I shake my head and the iron collar bites at my neck.
‘Alright, get his other arm, someone take his legs. We’ll get you out of everyone’s way and then we can have a chat.’
More camera flashes, and the crowd makes way. About time someone showed up from
the real media. A woman I nearly recognise in a blue suit with neat blonde hair leans down towards me, holding a microphone.
‘Why are you doing this?’
A younger woman in jeans stands behind her, a TV camera clasped to her shoulder.
Brilliant! I told you I’ve still got contacts.
Another policeman in a flak jacket with a submachine gun slung across his chest is forcing his way through the crowd towards the camera. He’s not your ordinary copper and he’s going to slap his hand over the lens. One chance.
‘Britain needs immigrants!’ I shout and start coughing, my throat as sore as if I’d run five miles.
I spit. ‘Who’ll staff our care homes? Where will our nurses come from?’
Another officer, this one wearing a steel helmet, with goggles pushed up on it and a mask like a visor across his mouth, stands between me and the interviewer. He pulls the mask down under his chin with a gloved hand and grasps the interviewer by the elbow.
‘Madam, you are obstructing the pavement. There will be a statement later.’
Dave timed the call just right. They’ve sent the terrorism squad and Parliament’s in lockdown. My heart’s pounding but I haven’t blacked out. Everything is going splendidly.
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