A Joey From 'Oz'
My Brother From ' Down Under'
All these years I thought I was an only child and when you are one it comes as a big shock to suddenly discover you have a brother – somewhere in Australia. On the coast; well it had to be on the coast didn’t it what with dad in the Merchant Navy and all. I'd never have known if it hadn’t been for the Internet.
It all happens so quickly Joey emails my cousin Michael, the sole possessor of my maiden name and then Michael rings me with that ever ubiquitous phrase and harbinger of a million revelations; ’I don’t know how to tell you this but...' He takes a sharp intake of breath before continuing: ’You’ve got a brother in OZ called Joey.’
It's Not a Budgie... It's Not a Kangaroo... It's My Brother Joey!
‘I’m flabbergasted. This is crazy. Immediately I think of 'Skippy'
the bush kangaroo, Fosters and an inexpensive supply of Shiraz. I also wonder if it’s April 1st. But no, it’s not and Michael has downloaded some photos to show me.
He’s just a few years younger than I am, so like me in his appearance and the spitting image of my dad when he was younger. Should I tell mum about this? There’s a whole cupboard full of skeletons all tumbling out at once. I’m sent photos of Joey growing up in Brisbane. And there’s me, the parallel in Portsmouth. He was just like the tomboy I was back in the sixties wanting to Join the Navy and see a bit of the world just like dad. But girls couldn’t do that in those days.
There might be other siblings too. ‘One in every port’ as the old saying goes - which describes my father perfectly.
Joey wants to meet me; has even invited me to Oz. Could we ever become part of each other’s lives? Why not? He looks so familiar in those photos. The same cheeky grin that I see in the mirror every day and the way he stands with his hands in his pockets. I’m glad; glad this all happens and glad that I’m not an only child anymore.
‘We’ve such a lot to catch up on,’ we say in unison as we meet at the airport and when he smiles I just know we’re going to get along just fine.
The above story is pure fiction. I'm an only child and to date, no other siblings have made their existence known. It's true that my father was in the Merchant Navy before he met my mother and he'd often joke that I had half-brothers and sisters dotted around the globe in various countries with coastline! That's what gave me the inspiration to write the above story.
As to Austrailia, I've always been fascinated with it and never known why. In the late 1960s, here in the UK, there was a government-backed scheme where families could emigrate for £10 each. I was only ten at the time and remember sending off for the information pack and pleading with my parents to emigrate but they didn't apply. To be honest, I don't think my father had the necessary skills anyway.
I also have an unquenchable thirst for Shiraz and whilst researching the history of this particular red wine, I recently discovered that a retired sea captain from Devon, UK set sail for Australia in 1893 and planted some of the first Shiraz vineyards there. Those vineyards remain to this day and are still producing fine wines. It turns out the captain had the same family name as me and not only that, but he came from my hometown of Plymouth. Maybe we're related and I suppose there's a strong likelihood as my maiden name isn't a common one. So there you have it, Shiraz is definitely in my blood and who knows - one day I might even get around to visiting Australia after all!
As to the captain himself, I was intrigued and tried to find out more about his life and times but sadly there wasn't much to be found on the Internet. I guess you could say I'd discovered a real family member from the past which in some ways was more satisfying than conjuring up my purely fictional character to write 'My Brother, Joey.'
Some of the Best Red Wines in the World Come From Australia
Facts about Australia
Finding Long-lost Siblings
Would you attempt to meet a newly discovered relative?
© 2014 Stella Kaye