Jinnie and her father arrived at the front of the church with her head in turmoil. It was when she saw the best man with a huge smirk on his face she knew that he was behind getting Jan and Simone into England. The service passed so quickly it was a blur and she kept thinking how glad she was they had arranged to have a video made of the whole day. Really it was for the benefit of Paolo’s relations who couldn’t make it to England, but it would give her something to look back on and see what had actually occurred. It was only when she and Paolo were signing the register that she got to speak to Dirk and ask him how he had organised her old friends from Berlin to attend. He said simply said, “Not now, they can explain later.”
While the photos were being taken in the churchyard, Jinnie asked her father how they were going to manage the extra people at the reception. He said not to worry, it had all been sorted out and the restaurant manager had been able to squeeze in the extras especially when he heard that one was to be the PM. He was imagining the free publicity he could generate with both the PM and the Italian ambassador gracing his establishment. Jinnie looked at her dad quizzically, “You knew,” she said. “Of course,” he replied. “But it wasn’t easy keeping it from you and Paolo.”
Jinnie and Paolo got a few minutes alone in the limousine from the church to the reception. Their car took a bit of a detour so that the guests could all be there when Jinnie and Paolo arrived. Jinnie told Paolo of her shock at first seeing the PM and then their friends and baby. Paolo said he hadn’t recognised the PM, Dirk had explained who he was, but he too had been surprised to see Jan and Simone, let alone that they had a baby. He had managed to snatch a brief word with them while Jinnie was being posed, by the photographer, with the bridesmaids and the baby was a girl called Juliette.
When they arrived at the restaurant it was already full and as they came in the door Jinnie heard Dirk announce, “Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and show your appreciation for Mr and Mrs De Luca,” and they entered on a wave of applause. The meal was excellent, a mix of Italian and British food, a Caprese salad starter, followed by a chicken, in white wine creamy mushroom sauce, main course and zabaglione for dessert. The PM had been placed on the head table but right on one end, where the restaurant had stretched the table, next to Jinnie’s mum who was worried about what to talk about. She need not have worried, he immediately put her at ease, told her to call him Nigel and asked for a beer instead of the wine chosen to accompany the meal. The Italian ambassador and his wife and the first secretary and his wife were seated together with Cate and her husband. As best man, the fell duty to Dirk to read out special messages and cards from absent friends and relatives. There were several, mostly from Paolo’s absent Italian relatives. On finishing the last Dirk sat down and as if by arrangement the PM stood up and pulled a card from his inside pocket explaining that he had a special message from someone whom Jinnie had greatly impressed. He then proceeded to read out a good luck message from Princess Charlotte, at the end of which were a few words of congratulations from King William and Queen Catherine.
It was only when the meal was over and a space was cleared for dancing that Jinnie finally managed to get to sit down and talk with Jan and Simone and to meet Juliette who was a beautiful baby with blue eyes and blonde hair just like her mother. Simone explained that like Paolo, Jan had graduated the previous summer and they had married shortly after. Jan had got a job in Berlin until Simone had graduated and then they moved to Nice to be close to the resistance cell Simone had created. When the message had come through from Dirk that Jinnie and Paolo were to marry they asked him when, as Simone was due in late June and they would love to be there. Dirk had replied late August and to give him a while to see if he could arrange something.
Dirk’s plan involved Mr and Mrs Dudek visiting the Dudek family home near Gdansk. The new baby made a perfect excuse if questions were asked. In Gdańsk they would be furnished with new passports in a different name and would travel, as holidaymakers, on the daily ferry from Gdańsk, across the Baltic to Nynashamn, the port for Stockholm in neutral Sweden. Another change of passport would allow them to fly from Stockholm to London as Swedish citizens. Simone had been a little worried about making such a roundabout journey with a young baby but they had stayed a few days in Gdańsk, had a cabin on the long sea crossing, and had been in a local Potters Bar hotel for a few days before the marriage and all the arrangements had worked perfectly. Paolo asked which hotel and it happened to be the same one at South Mimms services that as he and Jinnie were booked into for that night, before they departed on their honeymoon the next day. He had been careful to book his parents and sister into the other large hotel at South Mimms. Despite being pressed Paolo still refused to reveal the honeymoon destination.
The PM made an excuse and left while the reception was still in full swing, saying to the De Luca’s that unfortunately a phone call was booked with the American president that could not be ignored. At ten that evening the serving of hot dogs and burgers indicted the evening was coming to an end and Jinnie and Paolo were able to slip off to their hotel. The following morning the De Luca’s bumped into the Dudak’s over breakfast. Jan and Simone had one more day in Britain before commencing the roundabout journey home and Dirk had arranged to pick them up in his car and take them to see all the London sights they had heard of, Trafalgar Square, The Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, Tower Bridge and The Tower of London where Simone particularly wanted to see the Crown Jewels. She explained to Jinnie that she would probably never get the chance to visit London again and she wanted to make the most of it.
The taxi to Heathrow dropped Paolo and Jinnie outside the British Airways terminal. Paolo checked his watch and declared they were in plenty of time for their flight and perhaps they should get a coffee. Jinnie knew he was trying to wind her up as she was itching to know where they were going. In the end, he lead her to a check-in desk signed Naples. Once again his diplomatic passport worked wonders and their seats were upgraded. Paolo explained he wanted her to see the wonders of his native land and they were to have a leisurely tour of Italy taking in much of its history and beauty. The first few days were to be spent in Positano on the Amalfi coast.
Jinnie adored the Amalfi coast, they visited Sorrento, the Isle of Capri and the ruins of Pompei, before moving on by train to Livorno so that Paolo could introduce his new bride to her new Italian relations at a huge family party. It was here that Paolo got his orange scooter out of storage and they visited Pisa, Florence and Siena. Then it was another train trip to Bologna, Venice and a couple of days in a wonderful hotel in the pretty town of Garda on Lake Garda. Jinnie loved all the history, the wonderful architecture and the museums but was getting tired of living out of a suitcase, she wanted a rest in the sunshine. Paolo’s next stop on his tour of Italy he explained was an old fashioned Italian seaside resort that his parents had taken him to as a boy and he had booked them into a small family-run hotel that specialised in Italian home cooking. It wasn’t as palatial as the hotels they had been staying in but he thought she would like it.
Diano Marina was on the Ligurian coast and everything Paolo said. It was pretty, unspoilt, with a long beach and a massive promenade. They arrived on a Saturday and were booked into the small hotel for a week and then to fly home from Genoa. The first evening Jinnie was surprised that the evening meal starter was a single pasta dish, there was no choice other than take it or leave it, but it was delicious. For the main course, they were offered meat or fish. She choose meat and was served a massive steak with all the trimmings. The dessert actually had a choice gelato or sbrisolona, a crumbly cake made with almonds. The simple meal was beautifully cooked and the hotel owner had his own way of serving. There was one sitting for dinner at seven in the evening Paolo explained that the restaurant doors were closed at five past seven and if you weren’t seated by then tough.
As soon as the restaurant doors were closed the owner clapped his hands and two waitresses came out of the kitchen carrying trays loaded with starters. While they were eating the owner approached them and explained that he normally took preferences for fish or meat at breakfast so that he knew what to buy that morning at the market but today he had got extra portions of both so they, as new guests, had a choice. When everyone had finished eating he again clapped his hands and the girls re-appeared and took away the dirty plates. The dining room and kitchen ran like clockwork and all dishes appeared at the clap of hands, not a word was spoken.
Jinnie and Paolo went for a stroll along the prom before bed, had a cold beer in a little bar and sat watching the lights of the twinkling lights of the fishermen’s boats out in the bay. Next to the bar was a gelateria selling what was advertised as gelato made on the premises. Jinnie made up her mind she was going to return for a homemade lemon ice cream the following day when she was not so full!
The hotel had a large seawater swimming pool built out over its section of beach and Jinnie got her wish of a relaxing week in the sun, eating brilliant home cooking in the slightly eccentric hotel, enjoying homemade gelato every afternoon, sipping cold beer and speaking Italian so well that no one had any idea she was English.
Mr & Mrs De Luca picked up Larry, a load of wedding presents and the wedding album and video on their way to the Cambridge house. Penny was to join them when it was time for the new university year to start and to bring up more of the wedding presents. On the couple’s first commute into Kings Cross Jinnie’s phone rang with a withheld number. Only one person regularly phoned her at this time of day from a withheld number. Jinnie answered the phone saying, “Good morning Prime Minister.” He chuckled and replied, “Good morning Jinnie, I trust you enjoyed Italy. My people reported that you appeared to.” He continued, “It was good to meet you and your family at the wedding, but I wonder if you would mind coming to see me this afternoon at 2:30 in Downing Street. We have another little project we think you would like to be involved in.”