NOTES FOR READING GROUPS: ROUGH CUT
WARNING: The following Notes contain Spoilers. Please do not read unless you have already read Rough Cut
Rough Cut is primarily a tale about the main character’s dogged persistence in overcoming great tragedy and powerful enemies to prove himself worthy – to his family and friends, to his dead mother, to his wife who dies in childbirth, but most importantly to himself.
Hatton Garden, London 1980. Businessman Charlie Robertson is savagely beaten up. He fades into a coma but can hear the sirens of the ambulance coming to his rescue. He drifts even deeper into the blackness but can still hear the sirens. He forces his eyes open to find he’s in an Anderson air raid shelter next to his dead mother, and the sirens are warning against yet another Luftwaffe bombing raid.
The first half of Rough Cut is told as two storylines. The first is told where Charlie is in the coma but is remembering his life. Everything from being a seven year old boy in an air raid shelter in 1940, right up to events that led to him being beaten up. The second storyline is told where Charlie Robertson is in a coma in St Thomas’s Hospital and is the reaction of people around him - doctors, nurses, family, friends, employees. Will he die? Will he stay in the coma? Who beat him up and why? How can his friends and family get revenge? The two storylines run concurrently then come together when Charlie finally wakes up. The overall story is:
In 1940, a ten year old boy, Charlie Robertson the main character, is growing up in working class South London with his stressed mother. Her husband has abused her for years, but thankfully is now in a military hospital in Woolwich after having his leg blown off at Dunkirk. Charlie is smart and street-wise and quickly learns how to make a few shillings by trading Woodbines, and by even pinching lead from the roof of the Town Hall. He can run rings around most of his contemporaries. So, although he is poor he is happy.
But Charlie’s world is turned upside down when his mother tells him she is sending him away to Australia to escape the Nazi bombing raids. He doesn’t want to go and pleads with his mother to stay, but he can see she is exhausted, and to save her from more anguish, Charlie leaves for Freemantle in 1940.
Charlie believes that it is his snobbish mother’s sister, Aunt Hett, who is behind sending him away and he blames her. Deep down Charlie feels that even his mother is abandoning him.
On the long sea voyage to Perth, he helps the other boys avoid the sadistic first mate, and makes two lifelong friends, Jack Foster and Tommy Anderson. He moves to a boarding school in Perth Western Australia but always writes to his mum wanting to return to England, but his mother always tells him to stay, even after the war has ended. A few years later he is told that his mother has died. Again, Charlie feels all alone and is determined to make something of himself, and one day to confront Aunt Hett, the person he believes sent him away.
After years of hard work in the goldfields of Kalgoorlie, where he fails to make his fortune, he moves to the north to the rapidly expanding iron ore mines in the Pilbara and gets a job as a construction foremen building a new mining town. He learns new skills and the importance of heavy machinery in mining and construction. He meets a nurse, Rebecca, and falls in love and subsequently marries her.
Charlie also buys a block of land ostensibly in the middle of nowhere, but Charlie realises that the land is in a strategic location where the future railway for the iron ore mine must cross to get to Port. This subsequently gives Charlie a large royalty income from a ‘Right of Way’ Agreement with the Iron Ore Company.
Rebecca has a son Andrew, and Charlie, Rebecca and Andrew explore their large block of land in the Pilbara and Andrew finds a pink stone that turns out to be a flawless, rough pink diamond. But then tragedy strikes when Rebecca dies in childbirth with her new baby, Sarah. Charlie is shattered, and it takes years for him to recover.
Later, when he finally explores his block of land with exploration drilling, he discovers a volcanic pipe with probably the world’s largest source of pink diamonds, but finding the diamonds turns out to be the easy part. Getting them onto the world market is a much more difficult problem with the huge South African Diamond Corporation, De Vries, having an almost complete monopolistic control of the diamond market.
The Minister for Mines in Western Australia, Damien Reynolds, and the Director of the Mines Department, Richard Pratt, are both corrupt and in De Vries pocket. Charlie outplays them, and forces them to give him mining approvals. Pratt & Reynolds are subsequently murdered by two killers from De Vries, Jan Kruger and Marius Botha, for granting Charlie’s approvals.
Charlie travels back to London for the first time since he was a boy to try and buy a diamond cutting and selling operation, Groots & Co, the best diamond cutting operation in Hatton Garden but it’s been squeezed by De Vries, so the bank has called in its loans and is now selling it. He also confronts his Aunt Hett now living in Hampshire, and the truth finally comes out about his mother. She had been beaten up and abused for years by her husband, so she’d found solace with another man, and he was Charlie’s real father. Her husband had found out, and wanted to kill her and Charlie. That’s why he was sent away. Charlie is devastated that his mother had to put up with so much, and he never knew.
He meets the glamorous Catherine Walker, the Chief Concierge at the Savoy Hotel where he is staying, and a spark occurs, but he has self-doubts – whether Catherine really likes him or not.
Charlie also has to overcome the corrupt Jeremy Braithwaite & Sebastian Smyth, the CEO and CFO of the bank. Charlie outplays Braithwaite & Smyth and buys Groots & Co, which subsequently results in Braithwaite & Smyth being sacked by the Bank’s Board. In revenge, Braithwaite & Smyth have Charlie severely beaten up by two East German thugs and he nearly dies and is in a coma. Eventually, he wakes up but is left with a permanent limp. It brings home to Charlie what is important in life and also reinforces his determination to get the people responsible.
Charlie knows Braithwaite was behind having him beaten up, and gets his lifelong friend and Head of Security, Jack Foster, as well as his Head of Groots & Co, Sir Alan Kingston, to devise an elaborate ‘Russian Sting’ operation to make Braithwaite & Smyth penniless. Braithwaite & Smyth borrow £2 million for a ‘deal they can’t refuse’, but it’s all part of the sting operation. They borrow the money from Konrad Lubbe, an ex-Stasi Colonel now a serious criminal living in London, but of course, they lose the money in the sting. Braithwaite & Smyth then try and get the two East German thugs who beat up Charlie, to kill Lubbe. Lubbe gets to them first and kills the two thugs along with Braithwaite & Smyth.
Charlie has self-doubts about whether Catherine will want to marry him, now he has a limp, but she does. Charlie feels a very lucky man with his two wonderful children, Andrew and Sarah, his beautiful wife, Catherine, and now he’s worth over £500 million. Maybe at long last he feels worthy, and his mother would be proud of him.