Jinnie woke with a start and looking round the bedroom it took her a moment or two to remember where she was. She leant over to the bedside table and put on her new digital radio. It was just before seven and the radio was tuned to one of the new commercial talk radio stations. Commercial radio and television were just some of the changes since “liberation”. The Army Council were basically running England while waiting for the general and local elections that were still scheduled for the 3rd Thursday in November. But the generals were making a pretty good job of things and some people had been on the TV political programs suggesting that another couple of years under a benevolent military rule might be a good thing. Jinnie was sure that wasn’t going happen. The generals she had seen on TV were only too eager to stand down, in fact most of the innovations they had brought in only echoed what the Conservative/Labour coalition government north of the border had already introduced
Jinnie snuggled down under her summer weight duvet in its new butterfly pattern cover that her mum had insisted she take to uni with her. Checking the time again she decided she had plenty of time to listen to the news on the hour before getting out of bed. The lead story was the same this morning as it had been nearly every day since the old King’s announcement, back on her birthday, the elections. The General Election was too close to call between Labour and the Conservatives for the Commons where the real power was. The Liberals were a distant third. No one was bothered about the new upper house as it designed to have no real power, just oversight of legislation where they could only suggest changes.
But today the lead story had a new twist. The Daily Mail had published an opinion poll that had the new Reform party on 15% and that put them ahead of the Liberals. The radio stations’ political editor pondered on whether it was a rogue poll or were the population up for something new. The editor concluded his report saying that one poll was not enough to identify a trend, more polls were due out later in the week and several on Sunday, they would help sort things out. Jinnie was taking her new position as a first-time voter seriously and had been reading the various party manifestos. She hadn’t made her mind up whether to vote Conservative or Labour, she liked parts of both their manifestos and disliked other parts. One thing she had made her mind up about was that she wasn’t voting Liberal, they had a policy of appeasement with Germany and that was not for her. Now she would have to pick up the Reform party manifesto and see what they were offering.
The news bulletin had moved on to the old King’s health, it appeared to be deteriorating rapidly and the speculation was that he would be lucky to make the weekend. King William had made a speech urging everyone to make use of their new rights and to be sure to vote. He was very careful to remain neutral and he was just encouraging people to turn out and vote. The new election rules meant that everyone had to be registered to vote and had to vote in person unless infirm or overseas on business. You also had to produce your UK Photo ID card, which had replaced the Greater Germany one in the summer, and you had to vote at your home address. Consequently, the uni was going to close for half term in election week, so that students could head home to vote. This meant that Jinnie would have to vote for her dad who was standing as an independent for Potters Bar town council. Then there was the county council to consider.
The next news item was on the remains of the war. The British and Germans were still, with the help of the UN, trying to establish just where the border should be in Libya. Sporadic fighting was still going on in Spain. The whole of the South, Central and Northwest was firmly under the control of troops loyal to the Spanish King and the Allied troops together with the Portuguese were steadily withdrawing in favour of the Spanish military. The area close to the French border was supposedly under the control of Spain but the Germans were still occasionally shelling Spanish troops and towns and the Spanish were retaliating by returning firing on German positions. When the cease-fire had been agreed in England, fighting had continued in Spain and the Germans had been pushed back to the French Border. The Spanish had not wanted to pursue the Germans into France and a stalemate had developed, once again the UN were trying to negotiate.
The final report came from a neutral Swiss reporter who was in Berlin. He reported on a series of bombs that had gone off in major railway stations all over Germany and Greater Germany. The Germans were blaming “Spanish terrorists” but the reporter said her sources said it was the “Resistance” and that the bombs had clearly been aimed at causing disruption rather than injuries as every single one had been proceeded by a coded warning to the Railway Police. Jinnie couldn’t help wondering if her old cell had been involved.
Jinnie had a quick shower and walked through to the Kitchen to make herself her favourite breakfast of a bowl of cereals followed by a boiled egg and soldiers. For the second time in a quarter of an hour it reminded her of Simone, her flatmate in Germany, who just couldn’t understand dipping bread soldiers into a runny egg yolk. Nigel was sat at the breakfast bar tucking into a bowl of microwave porridge. Jinnie said, “Good morning,” to Nigel who managed a smile and replied, “Morning.”
While she was waiting for her egg to boil Jinnie decided she needed a mug of coffee and out of politeness asked Nigel if he would like one. He looked surprised but managed to reply, “Yes please”. “How do you take it?” Jinnie asked. “A little milk and no sugar, thanks,” Nigel replied. In for a penny in for a pound, Jinnie thought and said. “You disappeared suddenly last night. I came to check if you wanted another drink and were gone.” “Well,” he replied, “I didn’t know anyone and it was boring sitting at the bar on my own. You were the only person I chatted to all night.” “Oh, what a pity” Jinnie replied. “Carol, Jason and I were about to ask you if you wanted to come to the bar with us but you left moments before we had the chance. Then I got offered a bar job and left the others on their own. You could have got to know them.” She continued, “I’m working again tonight and I’ve promised to put a good word in for Carol for a bar job. If you are there tonight maybe you could give us a safe escort back here. I am not too happy walking the streets of Cambridge late at night.”
“I might see you there,” Nigel said and disappeared back into his room.
First Carol and a few minutes later Jason arrived and made themselves breakfast. They decided to walk to the college together as they were all due to meet their lecturers. Carol was reading straight Spanish, while Jason was reading Mechanical Engineering, so they were all heading to different lecture theatres for their introduction sessions. They agreed to meet for lunch in the refectory and waited for Nigel to reappear to see if he wanted to walk over with them. However just before they were to leave, they heard the front door bang shut again.
Jinnie’s meet the lecturers session reminded her of her time in Berlin and once again Dirk went through the same procedure of asking his students to meet him one on one at the end of the session. This time she knew that with the surname of Walsh she would have a while to wait before he got to her so she popped out to the corridor and got a coffee and a Twix from the vending machines. She had just finished the coffee when a boy came out of the lecture room and asked if she was Jinnie Walsh as Professor Scholz was ready for her. Dirk had a dark-haired, middle-aged woman with him and as always he spoke to Jinnie in German introducing the woman as Professor Carracci who was going to teach her Italian. The plan was that whenever Jennie had a German lecture she was instead to meet Professor Carracci. Dirk would ensure that her German grades were covered and her degree would ultimately be in German with French. Although her lectures would only be the French ones, the one to one Italian lessons would be to degree standard but as they were unofficial there would be no Italian exams. Dirk told Jinnie that he would like to meet her weekly so that they could have a chat about how things were progressing and to try to sort out any worries she might have. Jinnie was now a little worried her French was only GCSE level, she had only used it occasionally when talking with Simone and she only knew a few words of Italian that she had picked up from Paolo. She might be able to order a meal in a restaurant but that was about as far as she could manage. She knew she could manage in German but it seemed she wasn’t going to use that at all.
That evening Jason said he would skip the student bar as he wanted to do a bit of reading to try to get a head start in his engineering course. Carol and Jinnie got themselves ready to go, shouted their goodbyes and to their astonishment Nigel’s bedroom door opened and he joined them. As they walked to the bar Jinnie tried her best to engage Nigel in conversation but it was a struggle. She thought of the expression ‘it was like pulling teeth’ and realised it had never been truer.
Carol took a stool at the bar and tried to make small talk with Nigel while Jinnie spoke to Steve. It only took a few minutes before Jinnie joined them and told Carol to get round to the other side of the bar as she was on for a trial. Nigel withdrew to the stool in the corner and Jinnie gave Carol her first lesson in pulling a pint of Doom Bar for him. Carol proved to be a quick learner and picked up the how to use the till, pull a pint using a hand pump, pour a pint with a reasonable head, pour a bottle of beer properly, although she did have to find Jinnie when a customer asked for a Snakebite and Black. Carol also proved popular with the customers as she was polite, quick and pleasant. Before long Carol was asking Jinnie what she should do when someone bought a round and told her to get one for herself at the same time. Jinnie told her that if she wanted a drink it was a good idea to add a soft drink like a bitter lemon or an orange juice to the bill as drinking lots of alcohol while working was not a good idea. If she didn’t want a drink she could always say she had one but would put the money aside to buy one later and put the money in her pocket.
All evening Jinnie had been asking anyone who ordered Doom Bar if they would have bought a craft beer if one had been available and the majority had said yes. When she approached Steve with the result of her informal survey he had listened and said he would think about it, but he had no idea what people liked. Nigel had stuck in his corner all evening, nursing a pint or two of Doom Bar and Jinnie pointed Steve in his direction, saying he was a customer who had been disappointed that there wasn’t a craft beer on offer. Steve went and had a chat with Nigel and came back to Jinnie saying that he had recommended he should serve “Hooky” but he had never heard of it. Jinnie told him to look up the Hook Norton brewery on the Internet. She did like it when a plan came together.
When Steve called “last orders” Carol had really got into the swing of things, had pocketed nearly £10 in “drinks” money and was proving nearly as popular with customers as Jinnie. She was delighted when Steve offered her a job, the only problem was he wanted her to work different sessions to Jinnie as he considered it wasteful to have two pretty barmaids working at the same time. She accepted as the money would be useful to supplement her grant.
Nigel was waiting for them to walk them back to the flat. This time he couldn’t stop talking. He told them how Steve had consulted him on craft beer and had told him that he would investigate getting his favourite “Hooky” in. He then told them that another student had been listening and had started talking to him about craft beer when Steve had left him. Better still student had been a maths student like him and was in his group. Jinnie went to bed that night grinning from ear to ear.
In Chapter 5 – Jinnie meets her fellow officer cadets.
© WorthingGooner 2021
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file