Two Words on Cambridge

Franz Wertvollen


England, 1932

You’re seventeen. You’re the heir of a wealthy aristocratic Austrian family with mines, factories, and financial structures. That’s your first year in Cambridge. Would it be about night follies? Certainly. About responsibilities? And how one should approach them so that they don’t crush you when you’re only seventeen, but you’re well aware that all the mines, and factories, and their workers, and their future with all the decisions to take, soon are to be on your shoulders. Maybe about love? A bit. About Irish gangsters helping you with the discovery of the words “work” and “loyal”? Yes, definitely. And about music.

First young Franz meets Jesse, another student: “I love God, music, and Ireland. And I hate boring arseholes” – that’s a nice start. That’s the shortest and the most complete way to introduce oneself Franz ever saw up to that moment. Jesse is a genius in music.

Then Franz meets Mr. O’Leary or Colin the Butcher, one of the biggest gangsters (if not the biggest) who made his fortune on prohibition but is not officially an out-law anymore (in England never was). Colin “clears up” his funds and works hard on growing his structure further.

There’s also the “Cavendish viper” – lord’s Cavendish daughter, who took a vivid interest in the young Austrian everyone was talking about. For her it’s mostly a question of trophy and pride.        

And then there are expectations: family’s expectations, people expectations, you own expectations of yourself.

How will it all play out?

Meet the heroes...


17 years old

By the end of October, he finally arrived to Cambridge. He left Vienna before the beginning of the college year but took his time in Paris. “Paying Parisian prostitutes” – were gossiping in Vienna, – “crushing cars, living orgies”. It wasn’t absolutely untrue, but the absolute truth was: Franz was eschewing Cambridge because why living a life where every of your step was so meticulously written down that it wasn’t worth living it anymore – why bother, if one could already write your posthumous biography?

Cambridge didn’t feel right, because the night before the travel, on the last supper in Vienna Rudolf, Franz’s father, described to Franz his whole life. You go to Cambridge and no matter what discipline you take, you finish it, come back, and work for one of your older brothers. You marry, assure descendants, and somehow try to shorten this foreign to you life of yours with expensive tobacco and alcohol.

Franz knew that one day he eventually would marry and have children, but the problem with the whole Rudolf’s scheme was its precision. You don’t eventually marry, you marry at a precise age choosing a girl from a precise circle of candidates, in a precise place at a precise date. And that’s precisely what all his older siblings did. The only problem with this scheme – with it you didn’t need to launch your brain even once. You could get through your whole life being just plankton going with the flow. And you’ll shape nothing, control nothing, live nothing, feel nothing. Just a nothing. No, Cambridge didn’t feel right. And knowing that the major part of your life, according to this plan, you’ll desperately try to shorten your life with expensive things bad for your health, why not skipping right to that point, but deeply disliking tobacco and alcohol, why not opting instead for drugs, music… and Irish gangsters?


18 years old

Another heir of an old aristocratic family, this time from Ireland. Genius. Pure genius in music. No matter what Jesse studied, he had a bright mind and could be good at anything… if It wasn’t for drugs. The drugs he used as a pain-killer (because humans), an anxiety-killer (because himself), and a excitement booster (because to achieve things in life you need to be involved in life, to be excited by it).

Jesse didn’t have mines and major factories on his inheritance list but had enough for some careless 70 years or more. Some of his British relatives saw him as a hooligan, some as a particularly gifted musician, and very few, like Franz, saw an exceptional mind and a valiant heart by lack of will hiding behind the music, not wishing to interact with the world in any other way but music.

Franz had enough of will for both, Jesse shared his lightness, they enjoyed their time together.


18 years old

With her two older brothers dead – one of sickness, the other by accident, she’s the only child in the Cavendish family. Rotten spoiled perhaps, but smart and strong-willed, nevertheless. No, Alice is not waiting for the world on a golden plate, early in her childhood she understood – you get those things you fought for.

She has a big ego, but she can, as she thinks, back it up.

Those intimidated by her and those trampled by her called her the Cavendish viper, not that this affectionate nickname was unknown to Alice, she even licked it. After all vipers are beautiful and deadly, and occasionally play with their prey.

Who’s that Austrian everyone keeps talking about?    

No way a game between a viper and the “golden boy of Vienna” could be long, right?


in his forties

The son of a fisherman in Northern Ireland, a ten years old Colin swore: he will be one of those gentlemen walking with sticks, exiting big hotels, driving fancy cars, and he’ll never know despair anymore. He’ll never be afraid for people will be afraid of him.

It was a long way to go but he got there.

Prohibition, prostitution, cargos – anything bringing money in was good enough.

But now the States are thinking to abolish the alcohol laws, transatlantic logistics are more and more a thing to own.

A gangster? No. He might have started as a certain Colin the Butcher, but now it’s Mr. Colin O’Leary, Esq. A wealthy man owning distilleries, ships, real estate, and aiming higher.