An Olympic Challenge
Philip Bradbury, May 11, 2011 - 288 pages
To escape the relentless tedium of his insurance job, his marriage and his do-nothing life, Arthur Bayly retreats into his imaginary world of James Bond, KGB agents and exotic scenes of eternal sunshine. Mary Collins left the grinding poverty of her Scottish home with high hopes of wealth, love and beauty. That hope quietly, slowly died as she climbed the ladder of success in the insurance industry. Feeling lost, she returns home to realise she doesn't belong there either.She's then hired by Sam Lord who she gradually falls in love with, despite her uncertainties about him. Sam's world is one of plush, comfortable chats over expensive dinners in exclusive clubs and where nods and winks from the right person can change lives, and often does.Arthur then discovers that a case he is working on is linked to the dubious activities of a wealthy politician, Lord Atkinson, who is to be investigated by England's Financial Services Authority (FSA) and, perhaps, MI5. Arthur's safe and boring life suddenly becomes unsafe and unpredictable.Arthur, Mary and an unlikely cast of English, Scottish, Pakistani, Maori and other characters are thrown into the fearful world of international espionage, the politics of greed and the Olympics. Inspired by A Course in Miracles, they move from hopelessness to hope.While investigating Lord Atkinson's burglary, Arthur tries to avoid the FSA investigation and a group of thugs hired by a senior member of the Metropolitan Police Force. Arthur is held up at knife-point and plunged into a world of intrigue and conspiracy. Arthur finds the 007 life is not that much fun after all.A radical invention in New Zealand, pilfered from the inventor by the NZ government and oil industry interests, finds its way to England, into the dubious hands of Lord Atkinson. Then Sam Lord, Atkinson's friend, goes missing; kidnap suspected.Arthur is summoned to the Atkinson's Surrey mansion to complete his investigation and returns home to find his wife and neighbour are tied up. Arthur's son is soon involved and an unlikely group go to the mansion, are pursued by hired thugs and Arthur meets an unexpected end. Lord Atkinson's daughter and son-in-law (a NZ publisher) have their car stolen in Scotland, Lord Atkinson illegally circumvents a government aid agency to acquire funds, and some British banks exercise undue and secret control over the British government. Meanwhile, an attempt is made to bring free-energy technology to the 2012 Olympic Games and to developing nations, while a group of international companies strive to stop this technology seeing the light of day, in less than savoury ways. Members of the British police are found to be in the pay of international corporations and linked to industrial espionage.At the same time, a Maori tribe launches an attempt to reclaim sacred items stolen from them, long ago, by a peer of the realm.With a mix of personalities from several countries, cultures, religions and organisations, there is conflict and romance, brutality and gentleness, fear and hope.Despite (or because of) the fear, uncertainty and physical danger in which they find themselves, they eventually, in their very individual ways, find release from boredom and discover love and a totally new way of being and living. They also discover the futility of trying to be someone else (e.g. James Bond or Andrew Carnegie) and the importance of being themselves ... an Olympic challenge for anyone.The story is inspired by the disappearance of a free-energy machine in New Zealand, the author's experience in the London banking scene, his shock at the daily drudgery of commuters to London - and their belief in the inevitability of their dismal existences - and by A Course in Miracles. The book is an attempt to show people that there is always hope for a less dismal life.
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