Jinnie was sat at her desk in the garden office reading emails and reports. Although it had only been in use a short while the garden office was proving to be just what Jinnie needed. The twins were in the safe hands of Lucia and after breakfast she had taken to kissing them goodbye and heading down the path to the office. The air conditioning was timed to come on an hour before she started work and it proved to be nice and cosy. As had become normal, Larry had been in his basket waiting for her, the Wendy house had been abandoned for the pleasantly warm garden office.
Jinnie read her DKL emails with some satisfaction, Belinda had reported construction of the new Crawley head office and kitchen were now over four days ahead of schedule and she believed the core team would be able to move into their offices at least a week early. The first three kitchens were well advanced and the structure of the mezzanine was fully up and the floor fully boarded. The electrical contractor had run the cable trays under the mezzanine and installed power cables in them for the kitchen equipment although only the first three kitchens had been terminated and tested. Richard had started on the ceilings under the mezzanine and the partitions that formed their storage areas. The refrigeration contractor had just started on kitchen number one and Belinda reported he had started installing the walls and insulation for the walk-in cool store and freezer.
On the mezzanine level, the ceiling grid was in over kitchen numbers one and two and within a day of being in for number three. The electricians were installing cable trays for lighting cables and data and Richard’s crew were starting on the mezzanine level partitions. The lift and lean lift contractors were due on site to start erecting their equipment while the mezzanine contractor was installing several sets of stairs. The air conditioning contractor had installed over 75% of ducting for the office area and the equipment compound for their compressors and fans, which was near the director’s car parking area which was nearing completion. The air conditioning ducting for the kitchen had to be separate from the office system because of the compartment firewall and its equipment compound which was at the opposite side of the building. This was behind the office installation but on schedule.
Nigel reported that the computer room was progressing well and should be ready for when the core team moved in. He was impressed by Belinda’s chosen data contractor and how neat and tidy their cabling work was. Nigel further reported that data cabling was being run from the server room to the directors’ offices and was confident it would be ready in time. He also reported that the company supplying the desktop computers for the general offices was saying they could deliver when requested.
Another report from Belinda said that she had been selected as the preferred contractor for the SIS job at Vauxhall Cross and that she had been asked to prepare to come to a series of meetings to discuss finalising the contract details and costing. The discussions were to include selection of colours, styles, equipment and final cost and timetable. She had been asked to ensure that people at the final meeting were able to sign off on the contract. Belinda suggested that they should go to the meeting mob handed. She was happy she could handle technical questions, Melissa and Andrew could cover colours and designs, Brian could handle financial questions and as directors of Dark Kitchens Limited she and Brian could sign off the contract, but she wanted to put the SIS team on the back foot, so she asked if Jinnie could make herself available for the final meeting. Jinnie thought about it for a moment and then thought it would be nice to go back to the old offices for a visit.
An email from Brian said that the financial position was still good and that a little extra income had been received from deposit on the first three kitchens, one from Super Burgers and two from Trattoria Trevi. That the next report was from Jerry saying he had signed agreements with Super Burgers and two with Trattoria Trevi came as no surprise! He was also in discussions with all the Potters Bar leasers and several other companies.
The next email was again from Jerry who had identified two potential HR directors and wanted to know when Jinnie was next going to be in Manor Royal so that they could jointly interview them. The final DKL email was from Alberto with the date and preliminary agenda of the next monthly board meeting. Jinnie thought it may be a good idea to combine the interviews with the board meeting, but she really wanted another site visit. Would she have time for all three she wondered?
Jinnie decided that before looking at her Trattoria Trevi emails she would make coffee. She walked into the kitchen area, filled the electric kettle and switched it on. While it was coming to the boil she set up the filter machine, putting a fresh filter paper in the funnel, grinding fresh beans and putting the resulting powder into the paper. Larry knew what was coming next, and rubbed himself around Jinnie’s legs while she got the Hobnobs out of the cupboard. Larry rather liked Hobnobs.
Just after the kettle boiled and Jinnie had filled the filter funnel her mobile rang with Lucia’s name on the display. Hoping there wasn’t a problem with the twins, Jinnie said, “Hi Lucia, what’s up?” Lucia said, “There is a man at the front door, he says he is a friend called ‘Nigel’, but there are men with guns with him.” Jinnie laughed saying, “Don’t you recognise the prime minister?” “Oh,” said Lucia, “I don’t know him. What should I do?” “Call him sir, invite him in and bring him down the garden to me.” Jinnie looked down at Larry and said, “We are about to have a visit from a friend of yours.”
Lucia walked down the covered path with Nigel and Larry sensing him coming jumped up on Jinnie’s desk to get a good look back up the garden. Larry rushed to the door, meowing loudly and was quick to greet his old friend. Lucia stood watching in amazement and said to Jinnie, “They know each other?” Jinnie said, “Yes, before he retired and came to live with me, Larry was the government’s ‘chief mouser’ and lived with Nigel in Downing Street.” Nigel’s bodyguard was left outside the office while the PM took a visitor chair and accepted a mug of freshly brewed coffee and a couple of Hobnobs, saying he had timed his visit perfectly.
While feeding Larry bits of a Nobnob, Nigel explained that he had been in the area on a bit of private business and that it was too good an opportunity to miss seeing his two friends. Nigel looked around the garden office and said, “But I really wanted to see what kind of a job Belinda had done for you. I must say I am impressed.” Jinnie looked at Nigel and said, “Why am I not surprised you knew Belinda had built my home office.” Nigel winked and said, “I like to keep an eye on what my friends are doing, like I hear your new project in Crawley is coming along famously.” Jinnie said, “I get regular reports from the directors and yes it seems to be going well.”
“OK,” said the PM, “We are alone here so I will explain that I really want to ask you a couple of favours, well really it’s one related thing. Firstly, can I ask, have you organised an official opening ceremony for your new complex on the Manor Royal?” “Jinnie said, “No, it hasn’t even crossed my mind.” “Good,” said Nigel, “Would it be too much for you to put on a bit of a do and invite me to do the opening, I have a little surprise announcement I want to make and if I called a press conference there would be loads of speculation for days ahead.” Jinnie laughed and said, “I know how you like your secrets, so OK I will go along with your plan and not ask why.”
“Great,” replied Nigel, “But on this occasion I think I can let you in on the secret as it’s going to affect you, and,” bending down to pick up the cat, “Larry.” He paused to tickle Larry under the chin before continuing, “It looks like I am going to be your new next-door neighbour!” Jinnie exclaimed, “What!” Nigel explained, “The very first time I visited your house I thought ‘what a lovely setting’, the village feeling on the edge of London, a common, woodland, shops nearby, oh and some lovely pubs with good draught beer and my favourite restaurant just up the road. Well, I have been keeping my eye on property in the area for a retirement house and nothing I fancied has come on the market until now. You obviously know the golf course has applied for planning permission to build four houses on the patch of land next to you because you have objected on the grounds of overdevelopment.”
“I am delighted to tell you,” Nigel continued, “The planning office agree. I had a word with them and they said they would be much more amenable to a single large house. I had plans drawn up ages ago for a six-bedroom, six-bathroom detached house with a large office for me and a smaller office for a PA and a swimming pool. I showed the plans to the planners and they said it was just what they had in mind for this prestigious area. Anyway, I have just come from a meeting with the golf club secretary and he has agreed to sell me the land.” “Really,” said Jinnie, “Yes,” said Nigel, “Now I need someone to look after the project for me. Someone who can plan everything. Someone who can supervise a builder. Someone whose designers have good taste. Someone who knows how to fit out an office with all the up-to-date technology. I think you know who I have in mind.”
Nigel then added, “It’s my intention to announce my retirement at your opening, saying I will officially stand down at the autumn conference and hand over to Richard the deputy PM. He is a good chap and will easily win next year’s general election, the Tories might gain a few seats from that stupid woman north of the border and from the left-wing Labour lot, but our vote is extremely solid. Now Larry, how would you like that, me coming to live next door, you could come and see me every day and I promise you I will have a stock of Dreamies for you. I intend to write my autobiography and lunch in the local pubs, dine regularly in the Trattoria Trevi and have dinner parties where I either get them to deliver or use the posh in-home service. I will take long holidays to places where they will pay me a fortune to give after-dinner speeches. In fact, I am already looking forward to a new life.”
Jinnie thought for a moment and then asked, “How long have you been planning this?” “Well as I said,” replied the PM, “ever since I first visited your house. That was when I knew this was the area I wanted to retire to, but it has taken a while for it all to come together.” Ever practical Jinnie asked, “What about security?” “Everyone round here has been checked out,” said Nigel. “Of course, one or two households were very easy either having worked for or working for the SIS. But we had already checked out most of them for your housewarming party. Apart from all the alarms, security lights and fences, Six want me to have two armed officers in the house at all times and more on standby in an on-site office. That’s why I wanted to see what Belinda has produced for you here. Something similar would make a great on-site office for them.”
“The only problem I have run into,” said Nigel, “is the lack of ultra high-speed broadband in this area. But being the PM has advantages, I think you will find that Sky will be installing it down this street in the next month. It might come in handy for your businesses.” “We were considering a burglar alarm when high-speed broadband was installed,” said Jinne, “but with all that security about I think this will be the safest street in Greater London!” Nigel nodded and said, “Yes, that might be an advantage, but I will insist they try not to be intrusive. Now before I head back to No.10, any chance I can see the twins?”
Eventually the Prime Minister left saying he was going to get the driver to stop so that he could buy a pint and a ploughman’s in a ‘decent’ pub on the way back to No. 10. Jinnie got back to work and checked her Trattoria Trevi computer for correspondence. Brian had sent a message to the board saying that, as agreed, he had signed the company up for two kitchens and the delivery service in Crawley and recommended that they start staff recruitment immediately. There were also reports on three restaurants that were available in the target area, two in Windsor and one in Ascot. There was a big old pub, that had sold meals, on the outskirts of Windsor and an existing restaurant that was up for sale in the middle of Windsor. Jinnie clicked on the links to the agent’s details and read through them. She dismissed the restaurant in Ascot, it was in a nice location but was not very big and there appeared to be no room for expansion. The restaurant in Windsor was fairly larger but was in Thames Street where there were a number of existing chain restaurants and takeaways. That meant a lot of passing trade, but she was worried that it wasn’t quite big enough for the place to attract the higher-class trade they wanted to attract. It was worth a look though.
The final details were for the old pub. It had been closed six months and the paperwork was suggesting it would make a good medium size supermarket. Jinnie thought ‘that means it has a big car park,’ good for a destination restaurant. It was over two floors with a more modern single-storey kitchen block at the rear and a big cellar. It was on the outskirts of Windsor and Jinnie guessed that was its problem, it didn’t attract enough passing trade. Not a problem for a destination restaurant, the Turners Hill restaurant was a destination restaurant. The pictures of the inside showed it was dark and grotty but she know Belinda could easily sort that out. Now that was also worth a look.
The DKL PC pinged with an incoming email. Jinnie opened it and read that Jerry was reporting that he had been over the road to see the site and was impressed with progress. He attached a few photos that showed how things were moving on. The boardroom was likely to be ready at the same time as or even before the core team offices and he said the Storagewall housing a big screen TV that people could share their laptop displays on was inspired. There was also an email from Belinda with a specification and costing for the Potters Bar kitchen completion. Jinnie decided it was time to put out an email to the board asking for a few amendments to Alberto’s draft board meeting agenda. She wanted to add to the discussion, the new HR director, the SIS contract, the new Potters Bar project and an official opening ceremony.
In Chapter 8 – Trattoria Trevi Windsor
© WorthingGooner 2023