At first, Jinnie wondered how to tell Paolo that she had got a massive wage increase. She puzzled for half the journey home. After thinking about it deeply, she decided just to tell him straight out. As she had never told him about her inheritance it might be a good way of explaining why she was never short of money. In any case, he was on an excellent wage at the embassy, so there was no reason for him to be awkward about it. Just after the train emerged from the Hadley Wood tunnel her mobile rang. Her first thought was that it would be the PM, he always rang her while she was commuting. Looking at the display it said ‘Penny’.
Her sister said she was ringing to remind her she was moving in on Saturday and she intended to get there about noon, if that was OK. Jinnie said, “Of course, we can go for a pub lunch.” Penny said, “Great, I’m looking forward to it already. Love to Paolo and Larry.” Jinnie thought, “I must tell Paolo to remember to wear his pyjama trousers when wandering around the house in the morning.” On the way home from the station Jinnie thought about getting fish and chips for their evening meal but changed her mind and got a takeaway from the Toby Carvery. The chef filled the containers with roast beef, giant Yorkshire puddings, piles of roast potatoes cooked in beef dripping, six different sorts of vegetables including her favourite braised onions in gravy, an extra serving of pigs in blankets and a pot of beef gravy. She even got two servings of syrup sponge pudding and custard for dessert and at the last moment, she remembered to get a slice of turkey for Larry.
Paolo looked at the paper carrier bags with the Toby logo and asked what they were celebrating? Larry didn’t care, he could just smell delicious meat and walked in and out of her legs rubbing against her. Once Jinnie and Paolo had sat down to plates piled high with food and Larry was tucking into the huge slice of Turkey that Jinnie had chopped up for him and put gravy on, she told him he was right, she was celebrating a big wage increase. Paolo simply said, “Good, now we can afford for me to have driving lessons and buy a car when I pass my test.” Jinnie thought, “Why didn’t he say he wanted to learn to drive I could have easily paid for that?” Then she remembered she still hadn’t told him she was a millionaire. “Well,” she thought, “with Penny coming, she knows, and she doesn’t know that he doesn’t. Awkward, I must tell him.”
Jinnie collapsed on the sofa too full to move, Paolo joined her on one side and put on the TV, Larry joined them on the other side of Jinnie and rested his head in her lap. Jinnie said to Paolo, “I need to tell you something.” He looked at her and said, “You’re pregnant?” She replied, “God no. I have been not telling you that I inherited a lot of money and that I am worth over £1,000,000.” He said, “Is that all, I guessed you had money when I first saw this house. Now what car should I buy?” Larry kept his eyes closed pretending to be asleep but thought, “And you are getting my retirement pension.”
On the train into the office the next day Jinnie got the mobile phone call she had been expecting from the PM. As usual, he said good morning to her and asked after Larry. He then thanked her again for rescuing his wife and said she was in the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth and was rapidly improving. Now her malnutrition and dehydration were being treated, her weakness was easing and she was now being allowed to walk to the toilet on her own. She was beginning to talk about her imprisonment but with some difficulty. However, the more she spoke the easier she was finding it. He had spoken to her on the phone several times, but didn’t feel it was right to be seen visiting her. It might raise too many difficult questions at the moment. However, she had asked about her rescuer and had said that when she felt stronger, in a week or two, she would like to meet her and Steven. Jinnie said that she would love to chat to her as soon as she felt up to it. The PM said that at the moment their daughters were supporting Kirsten and that they were keeping him informed.
The PM then said he had read the report of the mission and seen the photos and needed to thank her once again. She thanked him for her new position and he said he was delighted to be able to put in a good word and wished her well with her latest mission. He then said I have another mission for you in my mind, but it is not going to happen any time soon. However, he told her, next time he was in Vauxhall Cross he would brief her on what he was mulling over.
Jinnie had been mulling over how she was going to talk to Jan. Was he even still associated with the Polish Resistance now that he was married to Simone, living in Nice and helping her run the local resistance unit? She could organise a trip to Nice but would the RN be happy for her to have use of a submarine to get her there. Also, now that Italy was no longer in the Third Reich, had Germany reinforced that section of the French Rivera as it was so close to the border? Were their other ways into France, maybe via Switzerland? She just had no idea. Did the SIS and/or the SAS have links to the French Resistance or would she have to go via the Liaison Group? Her head was full of questions.
The SMG spent Friday trying to find a way for Jinnie to contact Jan or Simone. Jinnie talked to the SAS and they confirmed that they didn’t have anyone embedded in the Nice group. The Liaison Group said that the Nice group were due to contact them over the weekend and they would pass the message on. Carole obtained some satellite photos of new defences being constructed in the South of France and Gretel had got hold of some recent French newspaper articles from the clipping library she was told by the librarian were relevant. Jinnie skim read them and they were about unrest among fishermen, especially those working out of Menton who were being told that port was no longer open to them.
The SIS employees tended to work late, without complaining, any day it was necessary, but in return it was accepted that on a quiet Friday everyone went home early. By four pm Jinnie was alone and just putting her coat on when her mobile rang. It was Dirk, following the normal pleasantries he said, “A little bird told me you want to talk to Jan or Simone. Well, unknown to the Liaison Group, I am in contact with them most Sunday evenings via the SAS network. They both still consider me more important than the SIS, but I am sure they will make an exception for you. If you come to my study at about seven on Sunday evening you will be able to chat to at least one of them. Oh, bring your sister with you. We can talk about her joining the OTC and I think her French is good enough for her to learn another language as well.” Jinnie said they would be there and Dirk was gone.
On the way home, Jinnie got a text from Paolo, “Cod or haddock tonight?” He was an hour behind her, and the unwritten rule was the last home got the Friday night fish. She texted back, “Scampi please and a small cod for Larry.” The message back said, “You spoil that cat.” Jinnie replied, “When you get to his age you might get spoiled.”
Larry wasn’t terribly happy. Jinnie was watching the TV news and he was hungry. She normally gave him his Felix as soon as she got home from London although she had made a fuss of him, the bowl was still empty. He had tried all his tricks, pushing the empty aluminium bowl so it clattered into the wall, nudging his head into her, meowing loudly, nothing worked, she just continued watching the news about a train that the German Resistance had attacked in Germany. At the end of the piece, the newsreader said there would be an interview with the first released prisoners to have made it to the UK on Newsnight that evening. He heard Jinnie say, “That’s what you think,” and wondered what she meant.
Paolo came in with a bundle of food in a big brown carrier bag. Larry’s nose told him it was fish. Jinnie dished up two plates and one bowl of food, while Paolo got a couple of bottles of Peroni Nastro Azzurro out of the fridge. One plateful of scampi and chips, one plateful of haddock and chips and cod for Larry which Jinnie took the batter off. She even cut up some big chips for Larry, he was partial to a few chips. Larry got stuck in, he liked a bit of cod now and then, not too often, but it made a change but he was really a meat-eater. Jinnie reminded Paolo that her sister was moving in tomorrow and he had to be on his best behaviour, not leaving whiskers in the basin after shaving. Larry was happy that Penny was coming, he liked Penny. Jinnie then told Paolo she was taking Penny to a meeting with Dirk on Sunday evening to talk about her university course and Paolo turned his nose up and suggested they meet him in the pub afterwards, he had got a couple of car magazines he want to read.
Jinnie was up early on Saturday morning, she wanted the house to be clean and tidy when her sister arrived. She had vacuumed and dusted everywhere by the time Paolo came downstairs looking for breakfast. A bacon roll and a cup of tea later Paolo helped Jinnie put clean bedding on Penny’s bed. Jinnie had decided that Penny should have the second biggest room as it was next to the bathroom and had a view over the rear garden. Jinnie checked her watch and thought, “Great, plenty of time to watch the interview on last night’s Newsnight.”
Jinnie skipped the recording to the start of the interview and backed off a few seconds. The interviewer introduced two men whom he told viewers had chosen to live in England because they spoke English and were the first prisoners released from the train to arrive in the UK. They explained how they had been arrested for publishing a leaflet criticising the Nazi Party. They had been taken to Gestapo Headquarters in Berlin and put in underground cells where they had been manacled to the wall. The Gestapo wanted to know who else was involved and had tortured them, using waterboarding, electric shock, beatings and drugs. They were fed a starvation diet and hardly given any water. Finally, they had been taken to a prison train in the middle of the night, where they were manacled and the chains fixed to the carriage floor. The armed guards in each carriage had moved up and down the gangway telling them that they were on their way to a concentration camp where they would be worked to death.
They said that the train had halted in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden all hell let loose. Carriage doors were blown off, windows were smashed and huge flashes and explosions were happening everywhere. All the occupants of the carriage were stunned. Large numbers of men wearing balaclavas had burst into the carriage at several points and the guards in their carriage had immediately surrendered. They had been handcuffed using what looked like plastic zip locks but they had learned they were called ‘Plasticuffs’. They heard some firing but very little. The Resistance had come armed with bolt cutters, jemmies, crowbars and hacksaws, they even saw a battery-powered angle grinder!
As the prisoners were released those that could walk were led up the embankments and those that couldn’t walk were carried up and they were placed in all sorts of transport and quickly left the scene. The two of them had been some of the last out of their carriage and on way up the embankment they had looked back and seen incendiary charges being set.
The interviewer wanted to know what happened next, but the interviewees said that with many of their fellow prisoners still spread across the Third Reich it was not safe for them to answer. The interviewer tried a different tack asking how they arrived in the UK, once again they refused to answer. They were then asked if they had seen any British forces in the attack. The escapees said no, they had only met German speakers. The interview ended with them thanking the Resistance for saving their lives and the UK for accepting them as refugees.
Jinnie turned the TV off and reflected on what she had just watched. Having been there she knew the account of the attack had been pretty accurate and she appreciated that the escaped prisoners had not wanted to put other escapees at risk, but had they come over as believable? For people who had supposedly been being tortured just a few days ago, they looked far too healthy, nothing like Kirsten. Jinnie thought, “Was I the only viewer who had been bothered by them being unconvincing? Surely not.” Jinnie wondered if they were really escapees or were they actors working to a script written by someone who had access to the SIS report of the attack? If she thought that, what had ordinary viewers thought? She had to talk to the PM, they needed better propaganda than that.
Penny arrived just after noon and was delighted with the room. Paolo carried her stuff up for her and Larry decided that he was going to welcome Penny by curling up and sleeping on her clean duvet. They decided to eat at the Mill, a pub by the river. It didn’t have an extensive menu, but the pies and burgers were all they wanted and were decent. A burger, a beer and a garden table by the river went down well. Jinnie asked Penny about Daniel, would he be visiting? Penny said she would love him to as they had got close over the summer, but he had gone to Edinburgh to read Business, so she didn’t expect to see him until Christmas.
Penny asked if they could visit the student bar as she wanted to try for a job before others got in. Jinnie said as she was no longer a student she and Paolo could only go as a guest and Penny probably wouldn’t be able to get in until she had a student ID card which she probably wouldn’t get until Monday. But why not go right now and ask the man on the door if she could speak to Steve the manager? Penny downed her drink and was gone. Thirty-five minutes later she was back with an ear to ear grin. Jinnie didn’t have to ask her if she had got a job, but she did anyway. She was going to do the same shifts as Jinnie used to work, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
At seven on Sunday evening, Jinnie and her sister were sitting in Dirk’s study chatting about the train attack. Jinnie was taking care not to say too much but Dirk didn’t seem to care. He was talking openly and said to Jinnie that Penny was now in the SIS, had signed the Official Secrets Act and had probably already guessed her sister was deeply involved. Dirk’s mobile rang and it was obviously Hereford, he pressed in a code and switched to talking in German and put it on speaker. After a few cryptic reports which meant nothing to Jinnie, she found herself talking to Jan. She told him she needed to meet him in person as she had something to discuss with him but the route she had previously used to get into France was impossible since Italy had fought its way out of the Third Reich.
Jan was quiet for a short while, making Jinnie wonder if the line had dropped, when suddenly he said talk to Dirk about how we got to your wedding. Dirk was nodding sagely and Jan was gone. Penny had sat quietly through the conversation in German, not understanding a word and Dirk said to her. “Your French is so good that I have been discussing with Vauxhall Cross as to whether we need to get you learning another language. Personally, I think it should be German, how do you feel about that?” Penny asked. “But how would that work with me doing a full-time French degree?” Dirk looked at Jinnie and they both laughed. Dirk said to Jinnie, “I think you ought to tell your sister about your Italian lessons.” So she explained to an open-mouthed Penny. Dirk then said, “I think we could change your official degree to French with German but we will find a one to one German tutor for you until you are in a position to join in the official course. In fact, if you can bear it, I think I will take the task on myself.” Then to Penny she said, “I think my German is quite good. In any case, when you go home at night you can practice with Jinnie and Paolo, their German is none too shabby!”
When they left Dirk’s study, Penny was on a different university course, she was going to get personal German lessons and she was to sign up for the CUOTC. While Jinnie was off to sort out a trip to Poland via Sweden. As a blue-eyed blonde, Dirk was confident that she could pass as a Swede but thought it might be best if she masqueraded as a German who had been working in neutral Sweden. Dirk was to sort out a visit to Poland for Jan, Simone and Baby Juliette.
In Chapter 10 – Planning for Poland.
© WorthingGooner 2022