On Sunday morning Jinnie awoke at her normal time of just before seven the flat was quiet with none of the grunts and groans of last night so she assumed Carol and Jason were still sleeping. She leant over to her bedside table and put her radio on, with the volume turned down low, for the news. The lead story was of more United States forces being withdrawn and how domestic recruitment into the armed forces was higher than expected. The next story was how British shipbuilding was having a renaissance. Before the recent fighting, the Navy had been building ships in Scotland and Belfast and had even commissioned some in Canada, Australia and New Zealand to secretly build up the fleet before liberation. An order had now been announced for 2 more nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, 10 frigates, 5 destroyers and 6 more nuclear submarines. The surface ships were to be built in the existing yards in Scotland and Belfast and a newly refurbished yard on the Tyne. The submarine order was to be split 50/50 between Faslane and the old German submarine factory in Barrow. Then came the news that in this mornings papers there were 5 different opinions polls all putting the new Reform Party neck and neck with the Conservatives and the Labour vote slipping further. Jinnie decided it was time to start looking at the manifesto she had picked up at the Freshers week stall.
Jinnie read that Reform Party was very much in favour of what the temporary Military Government were doing, getting the British economy moving by investing in anything and everything. Building roads, railways, airports and docks. Designing and building our own cars, trains and ships. Power it all by a mixture of coal, fracked oil & gas and nuclear. Where possible make it or grow it in the UK. Failing that source things from the Commonwealth or failing that a friendly nation like the US, Portugal or Mexico who had been on our side or even Spain who were now one of the allies. When hiring it should always be the best British national applicant first. Immigration to be limited to those who were needed to perform a task no British national was available to do. They wanted friendly relations with nations who supported the recent “Liberation” and they promised to support resistance groups fighting to free their countries from the Third Reich.
It was the final promise that did it for Jinnie. The Reform Party recovery plan was much like the other three main parties. However, the Liberals wanted to build thousands of windmills and acres of solar panels for a “Green” future and to enter into immediate negotiations with the Third Reich on a trade deal. The Labour Party wanted to rebuild the economy but they were all in favour of worker councils, bring thousands of cheap labourers from Africa and the Middle East saying that cheap labour would help the factories grow and something they called the National Health Service which would give everyone “free treatment” that had to be paid for by increasing taxes. Jinnie failed to see how something was “free” if you paid for it in taxes. What was wrong with the competitive insurance based system that had been inherited from the Nazis? It worked well and there was a special fund for those who couldn’t afford insurance. The closest to the Reform ideas were the Conservatives but they were edging towards some “Green” things and weren’t quite so clear on immigration. But it was the thought of helping her friends in occupied countries that swung it for her she was going to vote Reform.
Having decided that, she jumped out of bed and into the shower. Making her way to the kitchen for breakfast Jinnie bumped into Jason coming out of Carol’s room, he was wearing only a pair of boxers and looked a little sheepish when he saw her. Jinnie said a cheery “good morning” and carried on to the kitchen. She was washing up her breakfast things when Carol and Jason appeared. Jinnie said she was delighted they had finally got together but perhaps they might make a bit less noise in future. She was beginning to feel a bit like a spare wheel now that Carol and Jason had paired up and Nigel had introduced Camilla and hadn’t come back last night. Jinnie asked them if they had any plans for their last day before lectures started. Carol said she thought she might watch Jason play rugby that afternoon and would Jinnie like to come with her to keep her company. Jinnie had totally forgotten Jason was playing for the thirds that afternoon and secretly hoped he hadn’t worn himself out last night. She told Carol she knew nothing about rugby but would be happy to keep her company. Carol replied that made two of them.
The match started at two that afternoon and the girls joined around a dozen other wives and girlfriends from both teams on what someone told her was called the touchline. None of the spectators had the faintest idea of the rules or what the final score was but Jason appeared to do well and flattened several of the other team. At the final whistle, some of his teammates congratulated him but the girls had no idea why. Before going for a shower Jason came over to them and said that everyone was going to the bar for a post match pint and he would meet them there.
Most of the spectators gathered in the bar and Steve was getting rushed off his feet as the supporters from a couple of other teams arrived. Carol and Jinnie found a table and started to talk with some of the other WAGs as they told them they were known. It soon emerged that no one really understood the rules but the after match drinks in the bar was the reason they came to games. Steve caught Jinnie’s eye and called her over. He asked if she and Carol would help out for an hour or two. The players would start arriving in a few minutes and the guy who was meant to be working had failed to turn up.
When Jason arrived Carol and Jinnie were behind the bar serving and he took the opportunity to join some of his new teammates in a very noisy table football contest. A blushing Carol said to Jinnie, “He is rather noisy isn’t he?” In a quite spell Steve spoke to Jinnie telling her that he had spoken with the Hook Norton rep and that a trial delivery of Hooky was due Tuesday. It would need to settle for a few days but he would definitely have it on for the weekend. When they did get to speak to Jason it seemed he had played well and would be in the team for the next game, away to Downing College the following Wednesday afternoon. People started to drift away in the early evening and the evening shift arrived so Carol and Jinnie were stood down. They dragged a merry Jason back to the flat where he collapsed on his bed and started snoring. Jinnie and Carol were hungry so they made scrambled eggs on toast. Carol wanted to talk about Jason and also was worried that Jinnie didn’t have a boyfriend. Jinnie said not to worry about her and showed her the engraved pendant from Paolo. That seemed to satisfy her.
Monday was the first day of lectures and all four flatmates walked together, the short distance from the halls of residence to the college where they split up for their individual lectures. Jinnie had two French classes before lunch and a German lecture after lunch. In the first class, the assistant professor launched into a lecture discussing a modern French language novel and took Jinnie totally by surprise. She had never heard of this book or author and it certainly wasn’t on the published reading list. According to the timetable, this lecture was on the first six chapters of Le Misanthrope and something seemed to have gone wrong. There was an outbreak of shrugging and odd looks amongst the students. After a few minutes, a student near the front of the lecture hall asked the lecturer what had happened to the scheduled lecture and was told this was it. There was an outcry from the assembled students who pointed out their printed schedules and the professor looked stunned. Something, she said, seems to have gone wrong your list and my list are very different, I need to talk to the department head. She then disappeared off the stage.
Chaos broke out in the lecture hall. Jinnie got chatting to the girl sat next to her and they spent the whole of the hour talking. When the lecturer hadn’t returned they went off together for a coffee before their conversational French lecture. Jinnie discovered that Maggie was in most of the same French lectures as her, Jinnie didn’t ask if she was also reading German as it would have been hard to explain why she was not in class. The second French lecture went much better for Jinnie as she realised that living with and talking with Simone had raised her ability to understand and converse in French considerably. In fact, she came out of the lecture feeling happy that her French language skills were much better than she realised.
Jinnie met Carol in the refectory for lunch and she had enjoyed her first two lectures. Carol said she had been thinking about Nigel and Camilla and if they were going to be going to see each other regularly at weekends should they consider telling them to save money on hotels by inviting her to stay in the flat. Jinnie said it was OK with her, provided she didn’t make as much noise as Carol who gave her a friendly shove.
As she left the refectory Jinnie found Professor Carracci waiting for her. The professor suggested that they stroll back to her study. As they walked she explained to Jinnie that she was in totally different position to almost any other student studying Italian at the university in that she wouldn’t be facing any exams. As she simply had to learn to read, write and speak Italian like a native she was going to be taught in a different way. The professor explained that she was a native Italian who had escaped the Third Reich via North Africa to the USA where she had been recruited by the SIS. She was actually a Professor of Art History but had been brought in because MI6 wanted Jinnie to be able to pass as an Italian, preferably from Rome, and she had a typical Roman accent.
The professor said that she had heard how the British Foreign Office and big businesses taught a new language to a diplomat or executive being posted to a non-English speaking country. They immersed them into an intensive six week course where that spent every working day one to one with a teacher and they only conversed in the new language. If they went out shopping the student would tell the teacher what to purchase in the new language and the teacher would talk to shop assistant, taxi driver, traffic warden, etc. in English. They were going to try something similar with Jinnie initially she was going to get a similar crash course in spoken Italian and when she was judged able to converse adequately reading and writing would be introduced. The professor said that she was sure that she would have Jinnie able to converse as a native of Rome by the next summer. Then adding that the following years she would be concentrating on raising reading and writing skills to the same levels. Of course, things might move more slowly, but they could also move more quickly, it all depended on Jinnie’s ability to learn.
As they arrived at the professors’ study she told Jinnie that over the course of the next three years she hoped they would become friends and perhaps they should start using Christian names, she explained she was Caterina, but her friends called her Cate. Entering the study, Cate started speaking to Jinnie in Italian, slowly and deliberately, picking up items or pointing at things and naming them and getting Jinnie to repeat the word. Jinnie wondered if this was how a two-year-old felt when their parents were teaching them the names of things. When the session ended Jinnie felt quite mentally exhausted but she felt she was making progress as she could name most of the object in the room and even some of the colours. She was quite looking forward to the following morning when her timetable showed two German lectures and French in the afternoon. Then she remembered she was supposed to be working in the student bar that evening.
Steve sorted Jinnie out as soon as she arrived for work. He wanted to show her the two beer engines that had been installed that afternoon. He said that he had been asking around and had found most of the students were enthusiastic when told he was going to test a craft beer. Consequently he thought that be might as well have two beer engines installed because if it all went well he might offer two craft beers and anyway it was only a little more expensive to have two beer engines installed at the same time as just one. From being sceptical Steve had changed, in less than a week, to being excited about his new venture.
In Chapter 9 – The Cambridge OTC.
© WorthingGooner 2021
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file