On Thursday the weather was still excellent, if anything it was a little warmer than the day before and once again Jinnie woke up just in time for the seven o’clock news. The media was getting twitchy because there was another opinion poll out and this had the Reform Party on 20% with most of its increase at the expense of the Labour Party. The media were panicking because they assumed that the contest would be a straight fight between Labour and Conservatives. Jinnie again thought she should look at their manifesto and wondered if Reform had a stall at the Freshers week. Perhaps she would look later.
Jinnie decided that she really needed to get to a better level of fitness, so it was another run before breakfast. This time when she went into the kitchen/diner for a bottle of water it was empty so she closed the front door quietly. When she returned she crept in, had her shower and wandered through to the kitchen/diner for her egg. All three of the others were sat at the table. Carol looked happy but the other two looked a bit worse for wear. Carol explained that the boys had escorted her to the bar last night and while she had been working they had been joined by Nigel’s mathematics acquaintance and they had both drunk a bit too much.
Carol wanted to know how Jinnie had got on at the OTC. Jinnie told them about Abel Section and how well they had got on. She pushed hard on some of the social activities and suggested that they might come along to some of them. Carol was up for a quiz night and wanted to know if any of the boys were ‘fit’. Jason perked up when he heard about the subsidised bar. Carol wanted to know what Jinnie was going to do for the day and Jinnie said she was doing to the park to read in the morning then she thought she would try the uni gym in the afternoon and she was working in the bar in the evening. Carol sighed and said she supposed she ought to join her in the gym and would she collect her when she went. Nigel grunted and said he was going back to bed.
Jinnie was trying to read Le Misanthrope by Moliere, but finding it hard going. It was one of several Moliere books on her reading list and she had taken the precaution of also buying an English translation. The main problem was that it was written in 17th Century verse, but her GCSE French was coming back slowly. As she pondered whether she should persist or try something else her mobile phone rang. She fished it out of her bag and saw her mum’s number on the display. As soon as she answered she became aware of the sound of children playing in the background. She guessed it was playtime and her mum was on playground duty. After asking how she was getting on, her mum got around to the point of her call, the postman had delivered an OHMS envelope. Should she send it on or should she open it and read it to her? She knew that her mum was itching to know when Jinnie’s secret investiture was going to be so she told her to open it and to read it to her. The ceremony was to be on the Tuesday of election week, which was handy as it coincided with the special half term. It would take place at Windsor Castle as Buckingham Palace was still being refurbished after the Germans had half wrecked it. The media said it looked OK externally, but was a mess internally, with many ceilings held up by Acrow props.
Jinnie was entitled to take three guests to the ceremony and she had already told her mother, father and sister, Penny, they were to be her guests. The running joke was her mum had to wear a hat. She never normally wore one and during the summer she must have tried on hundreds but didn’t like anything. Jinnie and Penny had chosen their outfits in the first shop they had visited in Potters Bar’s Darkes Lane, but Mum was more fussy and they kidded her she had visited every dress shop and hat shop between Stevenage and Oxford Street. So she asked her mum if she had got her outfit yet, expecting her to say no. To her surprise, her mum said she had got a two-piece and a local shop was making her a matching hat. As they chatted Jinnie heard a whistle blow indicating the end of playtime and her mother broke off to shout, “Lizzie Smith, stop running”. Her mum said, “Before I go, do you want to drive to Windsor or should I ask your Father”. Without hesitation, Jinnie said, “I’ll drive”. She knew her dad was not happy diving long distances in his left-hand drive car now that England had switched to driving on the left. He was looking for a replacement car, but decent second-hand right-hand drive cars were hard to come by. She made up her mind to take her dad new car shopping when she was home. She could afford it.
Jinnie had just dropped her mobile back into her bag when it rang again. “What’s Mum forgotten?” She thought as she reached in to retrieve the phone for a second time. She looked at the display but it was a number she didn’t recognise. But she recognised the caller as soon as they spoke, it was Dirk and he wondered if she would like to pop by his study sometime this afternoon he had a bit of news he wanted to discuss with her. Jinnie said she was going to use the uni gym that afternoon but she could make 16:00 if that was alright with him. He said ‘yes’ and rang off. Jinnie thought to herself how can such a nice bloke be so abrupt.
Jinnie struggled on with the French classic book and was delighted to see it was time to get some lunch. She had the makings of a cheese and tomato sandwich in the fridge and that would go down nicely with a cup of coffee. If she was going to use some of the machines in the gym she didn’t want to eat much beforehand. Carol’s door was shut so she guessed she was in so she knocked. Carol opened it quickly and Jinnie told her she was going to grab a sandwich and make coffee and would leave for the gym in about twenty minutes. Carol said, “Great. That will give me just enough time to get my gym gear together and finish the bit of work I am doing,” and nodded at the laptop on her work desk. Jinnie and Carol walked to the gym, showed their university passes and headed for the women’s changing rooms.
Jinnie and Carol made for the bank of cross trainers and both picked a machine and got down to working out. After a few minutes, Carol asked Jinnie if she had spotted Jason lifting weights. Jinnie couldn’t see him but realised that Carol was looking in a mirror and her own angle on it gave a different view that missed him. She moved around a bit so she could see him and realised that his upper body was heavily muscled. It must come from him being a rugby player. Carol moved on to a running machine, she told Jinnie she needed to get her legs moving as she was playing in a trial football match on Saturday afternoon and wanted to be at her best. Jinnie replied that she was taking a shooting test on Saturday and needed to go a bit of work on her arm strength so she moved on to a rowing machine.
Jinnie arranged to meet Carol in the coffee room at 17:00 and set off to find Dirk’s study. She knew it was room 252 and that meant it was the 52nd room on the second floor. Fortunately, she found a porter who pointed her in the right direction and she found the room just before 16:00. Dirk pointed to a chair and launched straight into his news. The head of his department at the SIS had been in touch to warn Dirk that a colonel from the Anglian Regiment had been onto the intelligence services asking questions about a Miss Jinnie Walsh. He wanted to know if she had been in the ERA as they were doubting that someone so young, and a girl, could have done half the things she had told them about. In fact, the colonel was suggesting she was a fantasist.
Jinnie bristled with indignation. She explained to Dirk that she had deliberately held back on lots of things she had been involved in as they still had friends in Berlin and she didn’t know if any of the people she was talking to were Nazi sympathisers. Dirk chuckled and said he had told his boss that Jinnie wasn’t stupid and that she wouldn’t have told the Army anything that was sensitive. Dirk’s boss said he was going back to the colonel to tell him that Jinnie had a higher security clearance than him, was a decorated war hero and almost certainly a better shot than he was. He was going to tell the colonel she had only joined the COTU because the SIS had plans for her and that if he caused any problems he would find himself cleaning toilets in a barrack block on the Outer Hebrides or the Falkland Isles.
Jinnie didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She told Dirk about her invitation to shoot on Saturday and Dirk told her to “knock’em dead”. But there was something Dirk had said that was rumbling around her brain and she couldn’t quite put a finger on it. Then she remembered “a decorated war hero”. She hadn’t told anyone except her family, so she asked Dirk if it was him who had put her name forward. Dirk said, “Yes sort of, I was approached, but it had initially all been put forward and confirmed by others before I was spoken to and the award was made”. Jinnie said, “I suppose I can’t keep it quiet now, I’m going to have to sew my medal ribbon on my uniform or get into trouble.” As she left Dirk’s study she swore she heard him say, “See you in Windsor”. Halfway down the corridor she suddenly realised that Dirk must have also been awarded a medal too.
On Saturday morning Jinnie awoke feeling quite uneasy. At first, she couldn’t understand why, then remembered that she was supposed to be demonstrating her shooting skills to Sergeant Thompson. She lay quietly and practised her breathing technique to get her heart rate back to normal. This helped her feel more at ease so got into the shower, helping her relax further. To her surprise, Nigel was in the kitchen when she got there and had a jug of filter coffee half made. He explained he was up early as his girlfriend was coming to visit for the weekend and was booked into a hotel for that night. Jinnie was shocked, but tried not to show it, he had never mentioned a girl before and she had secretly wondered if he was gay. Nigel asked if Jinnie was doing anything that evening as Camilla had asked if he could arrange for her to meet his flatmates. He told her Carol and Jason had already agreed to pre-dinner drinks at her hotel. She had a booking at the University Arms Hotel and would love Jinnie to join them in the bar at seven. Jinnie said of course she would, she would be delighted.
Jinnie arrived at the barracks at around 09:45 for a 10:00 start. She managed to park in the barracks car park, it was busy and she saw several cadets in their uniforms milling around. Then she spotted a staff car parked near the main entrance and wondered who was visiting. The sergeant was waiting for her and told her to put on her combats as they would be easier to shoot in and to meet him in the butts as soon as she was changed. Five minutes later she was at the butts where the sergeant was ready for her with a Glock 17. This was an upgrade from the Glocks she had used in Berlin and although she knew of it she had never actually held one. She did however know it was very similar to the earlier model she was used to and that this one had a 17 round magazine.
The sergeant explained that he just wanted to see how she shot and this was not a test, there was no pass or fail. That was definitely not how she felt. Sergeant Thompson went on saying that when she gave the word he would trigger the first target, there were 3 in the range two that would turn and one pop up. She was to put one round into each target as it was revealed until she had emptied the magazine. He then placed the pistol, magazine and box of 9mm ammunition on the shelf at the small shelf at her side and asked if she had any questions. She asked if down range was safe and was told yes. She took a few deep breaths to steady herself and slow her heart and asked for permission to proceed. The Sergeant nearly smiled and replied, “Carry on Cadet Walsh.”
Jinnie went through all the procedures she had been taught checking that the safety was on and the gun was unloaded and pointed down the range. She then checked the magazine was empty and loaded it with 17 rounds. She picked up the pistol and adopted a ready pose calmed herself and called ready. The nearest target turned revealing the image of a soldier heading towards her with a target on his chest. She aimed and fired and was happy to see the pistol hit where she aimed, straight in middle of target. The target flipped back and another turned, same result. Suddenly she felt more confident and was ready when target three popped up, another bull.
She counted the rounds and after the 17th she released the magazine, checked it was empty, that the gun was also empty, its safety was on, placed it back on the shelf pointing downrange and called “clear”. The Sergeant appeared and said quietly, “Not Bad, could you repeat that just to prove it wasn’t a fluke?” Jinnie replied, “Yes Sergeant”. The range orderly was ordered to retrieve the targets and set up fresh ones. While the new targets were being mounted Jinnie had a quick look at her efforts and saw one shot, although scoring a 10, had clipped the ring. She determined to do better now she was more relaxed.
She went through the same procedures for the fresh targets and after three shots, when the same target turned twice in a row, she realised they were turning more quickly, were visible for a shorter time and were now moving in a different random pattern. She definitely was being tested. On her calling “clear” Sergeant Thompson had the range orderly retrieve the targets. This time Jinnie was released to see that all the shots were clear 10s.
The now smiling Sergeant Thompson said, “Thank you Cadet Walsh. I think you have proved your ability with a pistol. I don’t think there’s much I can teach you other than army range craft, rather than your civilian version perfect though it was.” He continued, “In a fortnight there is a trip to Bisley for second-year cadets, I think we should join them and I can show you the SA80 and the Sharpshooter rifle. They are too powerful for our butts here. If you are any good we might even be able to borrow a long-range sniper rifle, I know the armourer.” He added, “On Wednesday it’s back to number 13s. Dismiss.”
Jinnie was making her way to the locker room when she was stopped in her tracks by a colonel of the Anglian regiment. He looked her over and said, “Ah, the famous Cadet Walsh. So you can shoot then, it isn’t all BS?” He looked at her hard and added, “Why aren’t you wearing your medal ribbon?” She answered, “Because it hasn’t been formally presented yet, sir.” The colonel grunted and walk off to his staff car. Jinnie thought well at least the Sergeant was happy.
In Chapter 7 – Nigel’s Girlfriend.
© WorthingGooner 2021
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file