On the drive home from the barracks, Jinnie realised that she was hungry. “It must be all the nervous energy I’ve expended,” she thought. Up ahead was a PizzaExpress, one of the few fast-food chains that had been allowed under German rule. She started thinking about a classic Margherita and the pull was just too great, so she found a place to park. She popped in and purchased a takeaway. She placed the pizza box on the rubber mat in the passenger footwell, she didn’t want to mark her cream leather upholstery, and restarted her short journey back to the halls tortured by the aroma.
When Jinnie got there the flat was empty, she guessed Nigel was with Camilla and she knew Carol was having a trial for the college football club. Where Jason was she had no idea. So she started on the pizza and got the kettle on for a cuppa. That was another thing that was much improved since liberation. Tea was now coming in bulk from India and Kenya and was much tastier and half the price. Under the Germans, no one knew where the tea was grown and it was usually safer to drink coffee. Jinnie now liked an occasional mug of tea, but it had to be strong with a touch of milk and no sugar. Sugar in tea and coffee was a definite no.
She was on her second slice of the Margarita when she heard the front door open. Jason walked in accompanied by the unmistakable smell of fish and chips with loads of vinegar. He had been working out again at the gym and had passed a chippy on the way home. Fish and chip shops had thrived under the Nazis. The shops were nearly all individually owned, the potatoes were homegrown and the fish caught in English waters, all things approved of by the Nazis. Jason reboiled the kettle for instant coffee, put his cod and chips on a plate and joined her at the table to eat. Jinnie asked he would swap some of the enormous portions of chips for a slice of pizza and he said he thought she would never ask.
They chatted over their ad hoc meal and Jinnie was only a little surprised when Jason asked her if she thought Carol was pretty and had she mentioned a boyfriend. Jinnie had just told Jason she thought Carol was lovely when they heard the front door open. Carol bust into the Kitchen hauling a big sports bag, that she dumped on the floor with a thud. She was grinning from ear to ear and grabbed the best and biggest chip that Jinnie had noticed Jason was saving till last. Jason didn’t look happy, so she quickly offered Carol one of the two remaining slices of pizza which she quickly accepted saying that she would have to be careful of her weight now. Jinnie took the hint and asked her how her trial had gone. Carol’s grin got even wider and she explained there had been about 30 trialists and they had been divided into two groups light blues and reds. They were told that everyone would get an opportunity to play at least half a game and that the coaches were looking to grade peoples level as they ran five teams and as they had lost a lot of graduates at the end of the previous term they needed plenty of replacements.
Carol was delighted to be picked to play for the red team as they had old Arsenal shirts and she had trained and played with them from the age of 12. Carol was a right winger and there were two in the red group and she was told that if she would play on the left she could start from the kick-off otherwise they would bring her on the right wing for the second half. Playing as a right-footer on the left wing was something Carol had done several times as an Arsenal junior, so she agreed. The trial had gone better than she dreamed possible. She was up against a right back who was clearly nowhere near her level and went past her numerous times. However, her left foot crosses were not too good and came to nothing. She decided that next time she got a run at the fullback she would check back inside and put the ball over with her better right foot.
Carol told them that her first right foot cross had been a peach but the centre forward had headed a simple chance against the bar. A few minutes later she got a second opportunity and this time the defence opened up in front of her giving the chance of a shot at goal. She hit the ball as hard as she could and was delighted to see it curl across the keeper into the top right-hand corner of the goal. At halftime, she had been switched to her natural position on the right and had put over two crosses that the replacement centre forward buried past the keeper. The reds beat the blues 4 – 1.
The two teams were told to get a shower and change back into their street clothes. They were then to assemble in the gym where they would be told which squad they were allocated to. Carol was allocated to the first-team squad and told to turn up on Monday evening for training. The team for an inter-college match on Wednesday afternoon would be picked after training. Before she left one of the men she had noticed watching the game and taking notes approached her. He explained he was the first team manager and wanted to know where she had learnt to play. When she explained she had been with Arsenal from the age of 12 and had turned down an apprenticeship because she wanted a degree for a long term future, he asked if she would go back to Arsenal Women once she had a degree. She thought for a moment and said, “Yes if they’ll have me.” The manager mumbled, “They would be mad not too, I bet they have a scout at Wednesday’s game, just to keep an eye on you.”
The discussion turned to the evening ‘drinks’ invitation and what they thought Camilla would be like. Carol said with that name Daddy would own an estate in the Highlands, she would have been privately educated and have a job working as a receptionist for a London lawyer. Jason thought she would be a geek just like Nigel. Jinnie reminded him that Nigel was OK when he got to know you and Jason had got drunk with him. She went on saying she might be a romantic but she saw her as Nigel’s childhood sweetheart. That she would be very ordinary and would be something like a children’s nurse and obsessed with Nigel.
The University Arms Hotel was in the centre of Cambridge a good 35 mins walk from the halls so Jinnie said she would drive. She checked the route on Google Maps and it said 12 minutes by car but she didn’t want to be late so she suggested they should leave at six-thirty so that she would have plenty of time to find a parking spot. The weather was still warm and Jinnie decided that as it was one of Cambridge’s best hotels she had to look reasonable, so no jeans and a tee shirt tonight. She settled for a nice summery dress.
She came out her room a couple of minutes early and found Carol already waiting, dressed to kill. She really looked good with her hair freshly washed, low cut lightweight dress and high heels. It was the first time Jinnie had noticed Carol’s figure, she wasn’t tall, but the high heels enhanced her legs. Jinnie complimented her on her appearance and meant it. Then Jason arrived, he looked very smart in tailored black trousers and a white open neck shirt. He has even replaced his habitual trainers with a pair of black shoes that he had clearly just polished. He looked at the two girls and said “Don’t you ladies brush up well.” Jinnie said, “Thank you, kind sir.” But thought, “Carol has made a bit of an effort tonight though, she on the hunt?”
Jinnie led them to her Mini and unlocked it with her remote. Jason let out a low whistle and said, “This is yours?” Jinnie said simply replied, “Yes”. Jason continued, “I have admired it in the car park, but didn’t realise it was yours.” By this time Carol had got into the back and was stroking the leather saying, “This is really nice.” Jinnie was programming the destination into the Sat/Nat when Jason said, “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how come a student can afford a top of the range Mini.” Jinnie had been ready for that question and had worked out a reply. “I got an inheritance and decided to buy a nice car with it.” What she did not say was that the inheritance was worth way more than she had spent on the car.
As she drove to the hotel, Jinnie was aware that Jason was half turned to talk to Carol in the back. It didn’t take her long to realise that the attraction was Carol’s legs that were on display where her dress had ridden up a bit. Jinnie thought, “If Jason is the reason for her effort tonight, then she is pushing at an open door.” The Sat/Nav guided them to the hotel where Jinnie was told there was no parking, but the uniformed doorman directed them to nearby off-street parking only a few minutes walk away. They walked back to the hotel where the doorman opened the door for the group and directed them to the cocktail bar.
Entering the bar they immediately spotted Nigel and Camilla sitting on a sofa with a low table in front and three matching armchairs. They had no soon sat down than a waiter was hovering, waiting to take their orders. Camilla appeared to be drinking gin and tonic and Nigel had a bottled beer. Jason looked at Nigel’s beer and said he would have the same. Carol ordered a vodka and lemonade while Jinnie asked for a Pepsi Max explaining to Nigel and Camilla she was driving. When the waiter returned with the drinks on a silver tray Camilla waved her electronic key card at the waiter and told him to charge them to her room account.
Camilla turned out to be a mixture of all their guesses plus a bit none of them had anticipated. She was tall and slim and her glasses made her look a bit geeky. But she was warm and friendly and obviously used to good hotels. Just as Jinnie had predicted they had known each other for years. Both their fathers were senior RAF officers, Camilla’s was an air commodore and Nigel’s a group captain under him. Jinnie had no idea what RAF ranks meant and asked how they equated to the Army. Camilla explained an air commodore was equal to a brigadier and a group captain equal to a colonel. She was stunned Nigel’s dad was the same rank as the colonel who hadn’t believed she could shoot.
As they talked it emerged that Nigel and Camilla had known each other years. Their fathers were in the Logistics branch and whenever Camilla’s father had been moved around he requested Nigel’s father be posted as well as they worked as a team. Both Nigel and Camilla had been educated at private schools in Scotland and as their fathers spent a lot of time abroad the RAF had paid for it. Each holiday they had been reunited with their families wherever they were currently posted and of course with each other. Nigel explained that for years they had been like brother and sister but a couple of years ago, while spending the summer holidays with their parents at Moody USAF Base in Georgia, they had realised that they were in love. They had both wanted to do degrees and while Nigel had got into Cambridge to read Pure Mathematics, Camilla had got an offer to read for Biomedical Science at Oxford. “So much for working with children,” thought Jinnie.
Nigel and Camilla said once they had their degrees they were going to look for jobs and marry. Nigel thought he might like to take a PDGE and teach maths. That was the equivalent of getting a master’s degree. Jinnie thought little does Nigel know that Dirk already has his future planned. Suddenly Nigel remembered Jinnie had been off to the barracks, to show her shooting ability, when he had seen her that morning and he asked how she had got on. She told them about shooting for the sergeant and that it had gone very well. She failed to mention the colonel as it would mean explaining things she would rather not mention until Dirk had revealed his plans to them all. Jinnie got Carol to tell them about her trial for the college women’s football team and Jason chipped in with the news that he was to have a run out in the college rugby 3rds tomorrow as a trial.
They were just getting to chat freely when a waiter arrived and announced to Nigel and Camilla very pointedly that their table for two was ready. They picked up their drinks said their goodnights and were led off into the restaurant. Jason, Carol and Jinnie had a discussion as to whether they should have another drink but Jason said he was hungry, he was always hungry. So the discussion moved on to where and what to eat. It was finally decided they all liked Chinese and there was one quite near the halls of residence that had pushed a menu through their letterbox. It had a number set menus and plenty of individual dishes so that they could all find something they liked.
Jinnie drove back to the halls and parked in the car park. Once again she saw Jason looking at Carol’s legs. The Chinese was only a couple of minutes walk away and from the outside looked just like every other Chinese restaurant. Inside four people were waiting, but it turned out they were waiting for takeaways and they were taken straight to a table in a half-full restaurant. The waiter explained that it was early yet and the place would fill up as the evening went on. They were given three menus which were exactly the same as the one that had been put through their door. While discussing what they were going to eat they ordered drinks. Jason had a bottle of beer, Carol stuck to vodka and lemonade and Jinnie decided that as she was walking and it was Sunday tomorrow she would have a Bacardi and Pepsi Max. The other two were obviously working out what they could afford to eat so Jinnie said that this meal was on her. She told them she had some money left over from her legacy which they accepted and it quickly agreed that they would have set meal B for three. Chinese mixed hor’s d’oeuvres to start. Jinnie particularly loved the spare ribs, Jason wanted the chicken satay skewers, but Carol liked all the five items. Then came crispy aromatic duck. Next, the table was covered with dishes containing sizzling chicken, king prawns in chilly sauce, stir-fried vegetables and special fried rice. They finished off by ordering coffee and while waiting for it to arrive Jinnie nipped out to the toilet. When she got back Jason and Carol were sitting much closer together.
When the bill arrived Jinnie paid with her Black Visa debit card. The waiter suddenly became much more deferential and brought over a small tray of after eight mints. Jason clearly noticed the Black debit card but didn’t say anything. As they walked back to the apartment Jinnie noticed that Jason and Carol were holding hands. Entering the flat they all said good night and went to their rooms. Three-quarters of a hour later Jinnie was reading when she heard a door open and close followed by whispers. Jinnie went back to her reading and every so often there were more giggles, a few creaks and more whispers. Jinnie put down her book, turned off the bedside light and was just dropping off to sleep when Carol started groaning louder and louder. Well, she has certainly got what she was after, was the last thing Jinnie remembered thinking before dropping off to sleep and dreaming about Paolo.
In Chapter 8 – Lectures begin.
© WorthingGooner 2021
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file