Jinnie’s Story – Book Five, Chapter Four

Construction begins

WorthingGooner, Going Postal

Larry lay in the Wendy house watching the workmen through the part open door. He was not sure if he would be welcomed by the workers if he went for a closer look, as he had accidentally left some paw prints in the concrete slab. Jinnie had found it funny and had said to Paolo that he was making sure he left them a legacy. Larry wasn’t so sure, he hadn’t realised the concrete was soft. The electricians and the plumbers had completed the “first fit” yesterday and this morning Jason had filled in the trench and his men had wheelbarrowed the leftover earth to the skips. He had heard the workers saying that they hoped the builder’s merchants delivered the gravel soon, as they were running out of things to do!

Jason’s team were enjoying yet another mug of tea when the lorry arrived and craned off a number of builders’ bags of gravel and self-binding gravel. As soon as they had finished their tea they started moving the gravel to form the path’s base. Once it had been levelled off they moved on to the bags of self-binding gravel and started spreading it on top of the base. Jason went off to the van and came back with what Larry learnt was called a ‘wacker plate’. Jason started up the motor and slid it over the path where it left a lovely smooth surface. Larry was impressed.

On Friday morning a lorry turned up very early, even before Jason arrived, unloaded the triple-glazing panels and laid them flat on the lawn. The panels for the office building, including the roof shingles, arrived ten minutes after Jason and his men and were quickly moved around to the site. But Jason and his men had to have a mug of tea before starting to put it together.

While Jinnie was boiling the kettle for the men’s tea her mobile phone rang. Glancing at the screen she saw it said Ro. Jinnie had updated her contacts list as soon as she had been able to and now had all the ‘Dark Kitchen Limited’ directors listed. Ro said she was ringing to update her on progress. She and the COO had looked at several serviced offices and she had compiled a spreadsheet that she would send shortly. She said they both liked a place almost opposite the site, it was reasonably priced by comparison to some they had seen and nicely furnished. They had plenty of office space to rent and a manned reception desk that served the whole building.

Ro then said that Aimee was not very happy she was moving to be Jinnie’s PA and according to a friend in Super Burgers HR department was trying to get the HR director to make her serve a month’s notice. Jinnie decided she was going to have to confront Aimee. She was either going to have to support DKL or she would have her voted off the board and she could go back to Super Burgers. Ro said that she and Mick, the COO, got on famously and that he wanted to recommend Paul Smith, a junior manager from Super Burgers purchasing department, as the purchasing manager.

Ro said she knew Paul slightly and that he had a reputation of being a hard worker and as straight as they came. Jinnie told Ro that she had no objection to the man joining the core team on trial as they really needed to get on and place some orders, particularly buying the site, placing an order with Belinda and paying for a month’s office rental upfront. She suggested Ro should tell Mick her decision and put him in contact with Brian who had a spare company chequebook.

Once Jinnie had supplied the tea to Jason’s team she rang Brian to warn him what was heading his way. Brian said he knew the serviced office being suggested and it was probably as good as anything and better than most. He was delighted to meet with the trial purchasing manager and would add his signature to the list but he was itching to get electronic banking set up and Nigel to get some computer systems set up so he could get a proper accounting system up and running. Jinnie asked if he had seen that Nigel had already got an email system running on an ISP’s server. Brian admitted that he hadn’t looked at this personal email in days but he would now.

Brian said Belinda had taken a flyer and had already applied for building control approval. For a job of this size you should “officially” not commence work before you received permission and this normally took Crawley Council five weeks to turn around. Belinda had a good relationship with the Council Building Control and had put the notice in immediately after the board meeting. The inspector had indicated he would turn a blind eye to her starting early provided any changes that Building Control wanted were incorporated in the final construction. She had also been talking to the company who had originally roofed the building, had got a groundwork company ready to dig extra foundations for the mezzanine, goods lifts and lean lifts. The mezzanine manufacturer was set to cut steel and Peter had a crew ready to start ripping out the interior of the office accommodation.

Brian went on listing many more things Belinda had lined up ready to go just as soon as she had an order and deposit. To Jinnie the list seemed endless and she wondered aloud how Belinda knew what to do and in what order. Brian explained, years of experience and project planning software, plus a close-knit team who knew exactly what Belinda wanted. Jinnie asked Brian, “How soon after she gets an order will Belinda have people on site?” “07:30 the next morning,” replied Brian.

Jinnie had time to collect the empty tea mugs and put them in the dishwasher before the front doorbell rang. As the twins were sleeping, she hurried to open the door before the bell rang a second time. On the step stood Nigel and a young lad who he introduced as Jed. He explained they had been in the London GCHQ office when the broadband supplier had rung to say they would be installing between 12 and 2. They thought it too good an opportunity to miss and had called in on the off chance that they could temporarily set up the PC equipment somewhere in the house before moving it to the completed office at a future date.

Jinnie thought quickly and decided that it couldn’t go in the spare en-suite as Lucia was arriving the next day and it was all ready for her. As it was only going to be for a week or so Jinnie agreed that it should go into what was going to be Millie’s room. Nigel had a quick look around, pulled out his phone and started tapping away. Handing his car keys to Jed, Nigel asked if he knew how to use the satnav as he was to pick up a computer desk, a small table, an operators chair, a rack-mountable surge and spike-protected power bar and reams of A4 and A3 paper from the nearest Argos in Barnet. Jinnie ask how he expected to get that lot in his car and Nigel said, “It’s a company Land Rover Discovery!”

As soon as the lad had gone, Nigel got down to work lugging the boxes upstairs and unpacking them, stopping only to discuss with Jinnie where the broadband was in the house. Jinnie showed him the Sky wireless router next to the TV and he said, “Excellent, I have gone with Sky Business Broadband so they will just use the existing cabling and replace the router with their broadband offering. I’ll run a fibre cable from the router to the server and young Jed can practice his jointing when he gets back with the gear.”

Sky turned up just after lunch, and just as Nigel had said, the installer swapped the box over and got on his mobile phone. Ten minutes later he had done his testing and said to Nigel that he was reading 155 Mbs, which satisfied him. Nigel got Jed to set up the TV and Jinnie’s laptop to the new router and test download a film. The TV was on an ethernet cable and Jinnie was amazed when the film downloaded in seconds, but the laptop was on Wi-Fi and although quicker than the previous set up was nothing like as fast as the TV.

Nigel plugged in the cable he had installed for the home set-up and disappeared upstairs to finish installing the system. Thirty minutes later he called Jinnie and explained that everything was up and running. She had high-speed internet access and he had configured the server to act as a temporary server for the whole company. If she checked she would see several additional drives on her PC, ‘G’ was the server and her PC would automatically back up to it each evening. There were other drives but she would not see them as there was no need, but the intention was to back up the core team’s PCs to it until the server room was ready. He also recommended that he should immediately order 12 desktop PCs, a print server and several printers for the core team. He pointed out that using a PC from the leased office company could be dangerous, as you never knew what might be lurking on it or how suitable it was and in any case, they were their asset and could be moved over to the new offices when they were ready.

With Jed busy tidying up the packaging Nigel confided in Jinnie that he hadn’t had so much fun in ages. He had discussed it with Camilla and had decided that if it was OK with Jinnie he was going to resign from the SIS and work full-time for the Dark Kitchen. He thought it would test him much more and if it was OK he wanted to employ Jed full-time as his assistant. He said he saw a young him in Jed and he sopped up computing like a sponge. Jinnie asked what Camilla was going to do? Nigel said, “Nothing different, she enjoys her current job, she has been seconded to the Francis Crick Institute in London for an extended period and has been stuck in a hotel four nights a week. We see this as an ideal opportunity to sort out our lives. We have a lovely house to sell and would love to buy something in a village near Crawley, she can easily commute into London and it will be easy for me. Jed is currently looking for a flat, he might as well do that near Crawley.”

When Nigel and Jed left, Jinnie strolled down the new path to see how things were going with the office and see if more tea was required. Jason was just adjusting the doors to ensure they shut properly and the multi-point lock was effective. One of the other two men was finishing off the roof while the third was clearing up and dumping the rubbish in yet another skip. Jason for once refused the offer of tea, explaining that there was nothing left for them to do that day and they would be on the road home in ten minutes. They would be getting more materials delivered first drop on Monday morning and while the electrician and plumber were doing the first fit inside the office his team would make a start on the canopy over the path.

With Jinnie being present, Larry was more brave and had a look inside the office. It was huge and he was impressed but he wondered where the cat flap was going to be. Jinnie felt him rubbing himself around her leg and bent down to him. “What do you think my friend?” Jinnie asked while stoking him. Larry meowed and Jinnie said, “I understand the cat flap is going to be under that window so you can walk straight down the path under the canopy. I will have to get you another cat basket so you can keep me company while I am working.” Larry meowed his approval.


Early on Saturday morning Paolo drove around the M25 to Heathrow and collected his cousin. Jinnie didn’t really know what to expect, was she going to be a glamorous Italian girl or a village mouse? When Paolo got back, out of his car climbed a dark-haired girl about 1.8 metres tall, Jinnie didn’t think she was a beauty but she was far from plain. When she said hello to Jinnie her English was good, but quite accented. Jinnie welcomed her in Italian and Lucia smiled and said, “If you don’t mind, please can we speak in English I think mine needs improvement.” Jinnie said, “OK, I’ll do a deal with you. I’ll talk to you in English and help you with your accent if you will talk to the twins in Italian, I want them to grow up bilingual. We already have days when we talk to them solely in Italian and I think they are beginning to recognise words like bottle and bath.

Jinnie took Lucia up to see her room while Paolo brought up her luggage. Before she unpacked Lucia asked to meet the twins who she had to hold and talk to, saying they were gorgeous. Jinnie smiled to herself and thought, ‘we might have just landed lucky here.’ Jinnie and Paolo normally only had a snack on Saturday lunchtime and had a full meal in the evening. Lucia said she was happy to fall in with that and they all had a cheese and tomato sandwich which Lucia looked at suspiciously but actually enjoyed. Jinnie made them all coffee and showed Lucia the filter machine and where she kept the grinder and the beans. Lucia said the coffee was good and Jinnie explained that it was the beans she got from a specialist in Barnet High Street.

On Saturday afternoon Paolo looked after the twins while Jinnie took Lucia out in her trusty Mini. Despite it getting old it was still immaculate and drove well. Jinnie backed it out of the garage and turned it on the drive before handing Lucia the keys and swapping to the passenger seat. Lucia took a few minutes to familiarise herself with the controls explaining to Jinnie that at home she often drove her mother’s Fiat 500, but she said this was different, the gearstick was on the other side and, of course, you drive on the other side of the road to Italy.

Lucia drove up and down the quiet road a few times before Jinnie suggested they go a bit further afield and directed her first to Barnet where the nearest shops were located and then to Potters Bar High Street where she pointed out the Trattoria Trevi to her. Lucia said, “But surely that is a ristorante?” Jinnie said, “Well yes, but when it started the Italian owners cooked good homely food and as it evolved the name was never changed. Only an Italian speaker would know the difference.” Jinnie took her on a loop around the back of Potters Bar, past the home where the oldies lived and back down Darkes Lane passing Sainsbury’s and then up Mutton Lane past the new Tesco Extra before getting back on the A1000 to Hadley and home. Lucia had proved to be a competent driver and Jinnie told her that on Monday she would have her added to her insurance and then she could use the car for the duration of her stay. Lucia was delighted.

After a short discussion, Paolo drove the twins to ‘Auntie Penny’s’ for lunch while Jinnie drove Lucia in the SIS Jaguar, there simply wasn’t room in a single car for three adults with two baby seats in the back. Mr and Mrs Walsh were waiting for them when they arrived and after a quick introduction Lucia helped get the twins indoors. No smell of cooking in the house reminded Jinnie that her sister had ordered Sunday lunch from the Trattoria Trevi’s English delivery service. She only hoped Lucia liked roast gammon!

Jinnie need not have worried as Lucia tucked into the honey roast gammon, roast potatoes, peas, carrots, green beans and broccoli, although she wasn’t sure about the English mustard Penny encouraged her to try. When Penny brought in jam roly poly and custard for dessert Mr Walsh was ecstatic, but both Paolo and Lucia weren’t so sure as they had both never seen it before. But both tried it and liked it. While Penny, Jinnie and Mrs Walsh cleared up and stacked the dishwasher, Lucia volunteered to change Millie. Mrs Walsh whispered to Jinnie, “Looks like you have a winner there.”


On Monday Jinnie started to compose an email to Aimee politely informing her that she had appointed Ro as her personal assistant, explaining the terms and conditions and that she expected her to make every effort to ensure the appointment went smoothly when her PC played a chord making her jump. Looking at her second screen a message had popped up inviting her to a Teams meeting with Ro. Jinnie clicked on ‘accept’, followed some on-screen instructions and found herself talking to her PA.

Ro explained that she had her own laptop that she was using at the moment, as she didn’t want to use a SuperBurgers PC. She said Mick had just signed for 12 offices and a meeting room for two months and she and many of the core team would be moving in tomorrow. Mick had spoken to the Super Burgers HR director who had agreed to release anyone who was in the core team. She said Aimee had pushed for her to have worked a month’s notice but Mick had said in that case Aimee should give three months’ notice! Jinnie told her that Nigel would need an office for him and Jed and that he was sorting out computers for them all. Ro told her most people had a laptop and the serviced office had Wi-Fi in every office so at least they could communicate with each other but printing might be a problem. Jinnie said if it proved to be a problem, buy a wireless printer from Argos and put it on expenses!

Ro then told her that Paul, the purchasing manager, had amended a Super Burgers purchase order template and then cannibalised their order terms and conditions and was ready to finalise the orders for the building and, with Belinda for its refurbishment, he just needed the go from the COO and Jinnie. Jinnie said she would email him immediately she finished the call and she was sure that Mick would endorse it.

Jinnie scrapped the email to Aimee, but decided that when she had time, to send one to the whole core team announcing the appointment of Ro. Instead, she emailed Paul giving her consent to place the two orders. Then she rang Brian and told him what was happening. He said he would talk to the bank’s business manager, just to tell him two big cheques were being written and to make sure they weren’t sat on. He said he would pick up the order and deposit and take it to Belinda so that she could set everything in motion for tomorrow.

Jinnie next rang Nigel to ask about the PC order. He confirmed he had placed the order verbally, the supplier had the hardware in stock and would deliver it on the receipt of a purchase order and then invoice for payment. Jinnie told him to talk to Paul and that an office would be available to him the next morning. Nigel said good, he just put his notice in and had accrued holiday to set against his notice period so he was technically unemployed at 5 pm that evening.

Jinnie headed down the garden to check on the office. Jason had got a number of oak columns up and a few connecting beams were in place, but his men were busy inside the office putting up large slabs of insulation and tacking board over it. Jinnie watched for a moment before her mobile range. It was Ro. “I just tried to get you on Teams,” she said. Jinnie explained she had popped out to check on her home office progress. Ro continued, “I thought I had better let you know, Hatfield Lexus will be delivering your LS this afternoon, did you realise it’s a self-charging hybrid?”

In Chapter 5 – A Trattoria Trevi expansion plan

© WorthingGooner 2023