The Brennan family silently drive away from Mumbilli in the early hours of the morning. Although they were once respected in the town, they must depart quietly so that they could leave without fear of abuse from some of the town members who are angry with the family because of the irresponsible action of eldest son Daniel Brennan. There is no doubt that as a family they are feeling ashamed and anguished. ‘In a couple of hours they would wake and find us gone, far away, so as not to remind them of their pain and what our family now meant to this town.’ (p. 2) Activities:
• In a small group write the conversation that you think might have taken place among some people in the town when they realised the Brennans had left. • Write the conversation that would have taken place in the Brennans’ car after they have left Mumbilli behind.
The family are settling into their grandmother’s house, which they are finding intolerable. Gran is devoutly religious and Tom and Kylie resent her interference in their lives. Moreover, because Gran has had to overcome family problems in the past, she has little time for the way Tom’s mother, Theresa or Tess, is behaving – Tess has withdrawn from her family and prefers to stay in bed. Gran is also a dreadful cook and the food is difficult to consume. The family is eating an Australia Day lunch. Gran makes Tom say grace and she invites Father Vincent to join them unannounced. This chapter also introduces Tom’s prowess at rugby as a focal point, as this sport has always been an important component in the life of the Brennan family.
‘Pray for them, Father Vincent, pray for them – and while you’re there, pray for the soul of their son Daniel.’ (p. 12)
‘You know it’s been a while since Bennie’s had a half-back with your speed and pass … Maybe you can teach the boys a thing or two.’ (p. 9)
‘I hadn’t decided if I was playing rugby this year. In fact, I hadn’t decided if I was playing ever again. I didn’t know if I could without my brother. Things just weren’t that simple anymore.’ (p. 10)
• Tom is keeping a diary. Write his first entry.
• Using the internet, find out as much as you can about rugby and in particular the role of the half-back.
Tom and Kylie share their unhappiness at being uprooted from everything they once enjoyed and how much they hate having to live at their grandmother’s house. Sadly, they 8
have not been drawn closer by the tragedy. In addition Tom’s mother has now become almost catatonic and does not answer Tom when he talks to her. Kylie, Dad, Uncle Brendan, Gran and Tom visit Burger King. Tom is afraid the townspeople will recognise who they are but instead Brendan’s friend Shorty only comments on Tom’s rugby skills. In flashback, Tom remembers the day of the Mumbilli team’s ‘sudden death’ match, which they won.
Tom plays a friendly game with Brendan and his friends.
‘Tell someone who cares, Tom.’ (Kylie, p. 15)
• Have a class forum where students can offer reasons why Kylie should react in this way. Is she simply being uncaring, or are there more reasons why she would say this to Tom? How would those in the class feel?
Both Kylie and Tom are nervous at starting a new school. Although Kylie puts on a tough stance, she nevertheless is deeply affected as she has to hold back her tears. Tom has been allocated to Harvey the football coach’s home room and this provides him with an emotional advantage as his dad told him Harvey knows about the accident. There is no doubt that having someone of Tom’s rugby calibre at St Bennie’s has created a favourable entry into the school, even though Tom is still afraid of public opinion after being so burnt by those in Mumbilli.
In flashback, Tom remembers Daniel’s relationship with his girlfriend Claire. There are hints at Daniel’s moods: ‘There were times I thought the oldies were scared of him or didn’t know how do deal with him. So he just got away...