Ten-Pound Pop (Part One)
by Dannielle Viera
When he was a little boy, Pop tried to run away to Australia. There were two problems with this. First, he lived in England, which is waaayyy on the other side of the world. And second, he was only six years old – he wasn’t even allowed to cross the road by himself.
Why would Pop want to leave his family and live in a whole other country? Well, it all started with a special present. For his birthday, someone gave him a book about Australia – and the pictures made his tummy ziiinnnggg. Kangaroos used their big feet to bound across endless grassy plains. Rainbow-coloured birds darted through the bluest sky he had ever seen. Giant lizards stood proud like real-life dragons. He had to view these wonders for himself.
He went to his room, pulled out his tiny suitcase and filled it with all his treasures (as well as a chunk of cheese, in case he got hungry later). Before anyone noticed, he slipped out of the front door and trotted along the street to the next corner. But then he was stuck. There weren’t any adults to help him get to the other side of the road.
Eventually, a policeman found Pop and took him to the police station. Boy, was his mum maaaddd when she found out what he’d done. The book soon disappeared, and Pop never saw it again.
Fifteen years later, Pop was working as a butcher in London. The city was dirty and crowded, and it was grey all the time. In winter, it snowed a lot and the sun went to bed in the middle of the afternoon. During summer, the sun stayed up longer, but the air was often so polluted that it choked you. Pop felt a strange sadness gnawing at him like a mouse.
One day during a break at work, Pop was reading the newspaper when he saw an amazing ad. The headline said: ‘Everyone can go to Australia for only £10’. He couldn’t believe it! There had to be a catch. He read the ad closely, but there were only two rules:
He had to remain in Australia for two years. After that, he could pay to go back to England if he chose.He had to have a place to stay in Australia.
Pop jumped up and down, shouting yaaahooo! The customers in the butcher shop thought he had gone crazy. But he was simply excited – he had more than ten pounds in his bank account. Images from his beloved book swirled around in his mind – the open spaces, the fantastic animals, the sunny skies.
For a moment, the little mouse of sadness stopped nibbling and looked up with bright eyes. Pop had heard that Aussies were friendly and welcoming, and he knew there would be plenty of job opportunities in this new country. Then the mouse inside him went squeeeaaak!