Jinnie’s Story, Book Five – Chapter Twenty-One

A new Prime Minister

WorthingGooner, Going Postal

Jinnie was meeting Miranda in the Costa Coffee at Vauxhall station, 45 minutes before their meeting with Emma. The plan was to discuss ideas for the SIS Christmas parties and coordinate their presentation. Jinnie had seen the proposed menu and was happy with what she had seen. It was basically four courses but with options for veggies, and religious preferences and had been approved by Alberto. Jinnie was sipping a flat white made with whole milk when Miranda arrived lugging a big briefcase. Miranda also had a flat white and they laughed at all the woke milk options on the menu.

Jinnie was astonished when Miranda pulled two copies of the proposal document from her briefcase and she wanted to know if she had worked on it all night. Miranda said, “No, but it was a team effort. Mum was amazing, dropped everything and called Brian, Melissa, Andrew and Roger to help. Just wait until you see the rendered images that Melissa and Andrew have done, I think Emma won’t be able to resist them. Jinnie quickly read through the proposal document and realised the advantage of having an in-house team who were used to writing proposals.

The proposal was fully costed based on the numbers Jinnie had been given. Brian’s spreadsheet explained everything. Roger had written an excellent proposal, but just as Miranda had said, it was the drawings and rendered images that impressed Jinnie. The basic plan view and elevations of the restaurant showed the minor changes necessary to accommodate the stage and the Christmas tree, but it was the rendered images that showed the decorated room that Jinnie loved. Andrew had even added a pile of parcels under the tree! Having absorbed the proposal, Jinnie decided that Miranda should lead on the presentation and she would take a back seat, only speaking if she was needed.

Emma met them in reception and took them to a meeting room where the HR director and the chairman of the staff committee were waiting. Emma saw Jinnie looking at the room’s condition and said, “This is down to be done in phase three and by the looks of it none too soon.” Jinnie replied, “Actually, I know almost everywhere is still to be done, but I was thinking this shouldn’t be a meeting room, it has wonderful views over the river. It should be a senior manager’s office, it only needs new ceiling tiles, decent lighting, repainting, a decent carpet, a few extra power and data outlets and modern furniture.” The HR director nodded sagely and said, “I can see what you mean, I’m going to make a note of that and talk to Belinda when it comes to the phase three specification and negotiations.”

Miranda reached into her briefcase, pulled out the proposal documents and distributed one to each of the meeting. “Wow,” said Emma, “How on earth did you manage to produce this in such a short time?” Miranda simply replied “teamwork.” Then she went on and explained the document and what was included in the offer. The three SIS employees listened in silence, making the occasional note. Jinnie was impressed by Miranda’s presentation, she covered everything, from menus to the bar and how they proposed it would work. Then suggested using part of the servery, with a number of barmen serving the drinks, but, for speed have them paid for at the three existing tills.

However, as Jinnie expected, it was the rendered image that was the key to the bid. Jinnie watched Emma’s face as she folded the drawings out of the document and was delighted to see the smile spread across her face. “Oh I just love this,” said the HR director. “How long do think you will need to set up?” Miranda was ready for the question and said, “We will prepare as much as possible offsite and bring it in ready done directly after lunch service on the first day, we believe we can have it set up by 06:30 to open the doors and start serving the starters at seven. As you know Trattoria Trevi will be doing the actual cooking and it will be delivered in hot or chilled boxes and finished in your kitchen. As per the menu, we will serve mini hot dogs, burgers, veggie burgers and ice cream at eleven thirty. We will then clean the kitchen and servery down for your next day’s lunch service. We would like to leave the dias, trees and decorations in place for the next day, if possible. Finally, we would like to remove the trees and decorations on the Saturday morning after the last day.”

Emma and the HR director looked at each other, before Emma said, “I think we could accommodate that.” Then the staff representative said, “Can I ask for a bit more detail on the entertainment.” Miranda quickly replied, “I haven’t booked anything yet as we don’t have a contract, but I have had a chat with several people and I think we have a keyboard player and a decent singer from doors open until the end of the meal, during the meal I think we can supply two or three close up magicians, after the meal it will be a pair of girl acrobats who have just come off a cruise ship. Then it will be a DJ until midnight.”

After a few more questions the three SIS staff got into a little huddle. Under the desk Jinnie had her fingers crossed and Miranda’s foot was tapping nervously. Eventually Emma said, “We have decided we would like to go with your proposal. Can you go ahead and firm up on the entertainment and sort out the food? We see you have included an order form in the back of the proposal. We have to run it past procurement but it is a formality if we tell them that is what we want. Personally I am really looking forward to selecting my choice of menu.”


While Jinnie and Miranda were in the meeting room, Penny was welcoming Les to mission planning. Alan had suggested that wherever possible all planning for this mission should be done by the Sensitive Mission Group behind closed doors. The mission was quite straightforward to plan. Penny first looked at the train to Stranraer, ferry to Larne and train to Belfast, train to Dublin route but it took such a long time that it was discarded. Instead she decided that it would be much better to fly to Belfast and get the express train to Dublin. The flight to Belfast was a simple U.K. internal flight and the express to Dublin was a regular service running half a dozen times a day. They could use British passports to get to Dublin without any problems and the plan was for them to overnight in a city hotel.

They would then be supplied with a car by one of the resident agents and drive to Portmagee in Kerry, the nearest biggish place to the Taoiseach’s farm. Another agent had been detailed to rent them a house for as long as it was required. Penny required a sniper rifle and was told that wasn’t a problem, there were already several in the country and it and pistols would be delivered to the house. Penny’s thoughts then had turned to get away after the assassination. There was bound to be a major hue and cry and Penny started thinking about how they could they extract themselves. If they were to drop the word that it was a hit because the premier had been collaborating with the IRA then the heat would immediately go onto the Ulster Loyalists or the British and the border to Northern Ireland would become impossible. So they needed to leak a plausible story that put the blame elsewhere, but Penny was struggling to come up with anything.

Penny took her problem to her boss, Alan, and he too couldn’t come up with anything. It was him who gave her permission to approach Dirk. He was a deep thinker and perhaps he could come up with the solution. She rang Dirk on a scrambled line and asked if he could come into the Cross as she had something important to discuss. Without either being aware, Jinnie and Dirk missed meeting in reception by moments, Jinnie and Miranda being collected by Emma only seconds before Dirk arrived. Penny collected Dirk and took him to the SMG office where the mission was explained to him and the problem.

Dirk scratched his head and asked for a coffee while he sat in deep thought. Suddenly his face lit up and he said. “You are going in as Germans aren’t you?” And when Penny answered in the affirmative he continued, “Well why don’t we blame them?” Penny said, “OK, but what possible reason would they have to get rid of him, besides won’t it make it hard for us to get away?” “Not necessarily,” said Dirk, “you just reassume your British IDs, they will be looking for two Germans who rented a cottage. What if we make it look like the Taoiseach has been embezzling much of the money the Germans have been supplying? I doubt it would be very difficult for the forgers to make it appear that at least one of his properties were acquired with their money or that he had a hidden bank account stuffed with German money.”

“Now I rather like this idea,” said Penny, “it takes the heat off us, it puts blame’s the Germans and it exposes the Taoiseach who we know is dealing with them anyway. But we will have to be careful how we leak the story.” “I have an idea there too,” said Dirk. “Let’s make the Irish work for the information. I suggest you set fire to the cottage when you leave it, but either don’t make a very good job of it, or perhaps better would be the fire brigade getting a 999 call and putting it out quickly. We could plant something incriminating in the property, how about a cartridge case matching the bullet that killed him? I’m sure even the Irish investigate a fairly obvious arson. When they find the cartridge case they will link it to two Germans who rented it.”

“But how can we make them look at the Taoiseach‘s finances?” Les asked. “Easy,” said Dirk, “In another room the Garda find a scrap of paper with part of a bank account number on it. Or maybe a half-burnt bank transfer, something to make them look at him a bit deeper. You know what they say ‘follow the money’.” “You are devious,” said Penny, “I think you should work here full time.” “No thanks,” replied Dirk, “I rather like my position in Cambridge.”


Jinnie had caught the train into London, just like she had done when she worked full time at ‘The Cross’. So on her return she slid into her Lexus at Hadley Wood station and as she turned on the ignition, the radio leapt into life. As always Jinnie had left it tuned to a news station and it took her a few moments to work out what they were talking about. It finally registered in her brain that they were talking about the PM. No 10 had announced that he had done as he had announced a couple of months ago and resigned as leader of the party. Nigel was going to see the king at the palace in the morning and he was expected to call on the new party leader, Richard, to form a new government. The speculation was if the PM was going to go to the back benches or resign his Finchley and Golders Green seat and force a by-election.

Jinnie was almost home when the phone in her pocket rang, the car radio cut out and displayed ‘number withheld’ on its screen. Jinnie pressed the steering wheel button to accept the call and said, “Hello Nigel,” the PM said, “Good afternoon Jinnie, I am just ringing round a few friends explaining what’s happening. I have decided to give Richard a decent run at being PM before the general election. I am going to be a backbencher after a few weeks in Barbados to unwind. I am going to stay at Sandy Lane and just eat, drink and sleep and let Richard worry about matters of state. Belinda reckons the house is going to be another couple of months before I can move in, so I will be staying in a hotel until it is finished. I can’t be bothered with cooking and cleaning!”

“My local party have not yet started looking for my replacement,” continued Nigel, “I don’t suppose you have had second thoughts on standing in my place, because I can assure you that if you do you will get the nomination.” “Thank you Nigel,” Jinnie replied, “But I’m having far too much fun with my current jobs.” “So I hear,” said Nigel, “Congratulations on your latest venture and today’s big order.” Jinnie sighed, “Is nothing secret from you?” “Well, after tomorrow it might be,” chucked Nigel. “Oh, by the way, the king and queen are keeping a very close eye on your Windsor ventures. George and Charlotte insisted on trying your artisan sandwiches for tea and George ordered corn beef and Branston pickle while Charlotte asked for sliced hard-boiled egg and tomato. They both said they were ‘Scrummy’.”

Nigel continued, “There is one thing I feel a little bad about though. I my sending your sister on a mission and I won’t be around to officially thank her when she gets back. I wish I could tell you more, but as usual it’s all hush hush, I doubt even I’ll get to know what happens.” “Don’t give me that,” laughed Jinnie. “You will know, probably before Richard!”


Penny took the finished plan to Alan and he read it through quickly, then again more slowly asking questions which she answered without any hesitation. Finally he said, “Well, it looks good to me and I like the idea of setting up the Taoiseach to look like the Germans have done it. I wonder if we have a German sniper rifle we can get to Ireland, that would really be fun. I have to run it past ‘C’ and he will probably take it to the PM, if he can get a word tonight or early tomorrow I’m sure we will get the go-ahead. But if he has to speak to the next PM I can only hope he will give it the OK.” With that he pressed a button on his desk phone and heard Emma answer. Alan asked if ‘C’ was free as he had something he needed to run past him. Penny watched him slowly smile and then he said, “OK, I’m on my way up and I’m bringing Penny with me.”

‘C’ did exactly the same as Alan and quickly skim-read the plan before reading it through more slowly for a second time. His face didn’t give a clue to his thinking until finally he looked up and asked, “Do you propose using the same ID coming out as going in?” Penny answered “Yes, I think it’s sensible. If by any chance the Garda check us out we will appear to be just holidaymakers who have gone home.” “Alright,” said ‘C’, “but can I make a couple of suggestions, please shoot me down if you don’t like what I say. How about one of you has Irish roots in your cover story? Say your grandfather or the likes comes from say Cork and we build you a family tree you are seen looking at in the Dublin hotel. Then we get a look-a-like couple to stay in Cork and spend lots of time in their public records office or whatever it is called in Ireland. You could even have the hotel concierge get you train tickets to Cork.”

“I like it,” said Penny, “can I suggest that when in Ireland as British citizens we have a slight disguise, dyed hair or wigs and glasses, which we lose in Kerry? If the Garda are quick they will be looking for people with the wrong description.” “That sounds good,” said ‘C’. “It might be easier to make your look-a-likes look like you if you had something to attract attention like pink hair! OK, I think this is a goer but I need to run it past the PM as it’s basically his mission. I’ll ring him now and hopefully let you know shortly. If he says yes we have a lot to do arranging the scam.”

Alan invited Penny to join him in his office while waiting for the call from ‘C’. They had very nearly finished their coffee when Alan’s phone rang. Alan looked at the display and said, “Here we go,” and picked up the handset. Alan hardly said a word just interjecting the occasional “Yes” and “No”. Finally, he put the handset down, looked at Penny and said, “Good news, we’re on. The PM wants to leave this as his crowning glory, taking out a German agent and blaming the Germans, he thinks it’s excellent and says we have to make it work so that in 30 years when the Cabinet papers are released the papers will be full of the plan’s brilliance. Now we have a bit of preparation to do so let’s get on with it.”

Penny headed back into the SMG office and closed the door behind her before announcing, “Right my friends, it’s a go with a couple of minor tweaks.” “Great,” said Les, “but while you have been hobnobbing with the boss I have been thinking, how would the Germans get away, and I have come to the conclusion it would be by U-boat. So as a little tweak I think I might be able to arrange a diesel-electric submarine to be lurking off the Irish west coast and seen by fishermen. Then we’ll need a boat to be stolen from Portmagee.” “Can you arrange that with the Navy?” Asked Penny. “I can have a try,” Les replied.


Jinnie checked her email and found a load of emails. As usual a lot were junk but there were three she wanted to read. One was from Tony, the Trattoria Trevi project manager, headed ‘Windsor Update’, one from Belinda entitled ‘Construction Division Monthly Report’ and one from Guido headed ‘Possible Sandwich Outlet.’ Jinnie opened Tony’s email and was soon reading how the project was progressing well and was on or possibly slightly ahead of programme, all the demolition work was complete and a start had been made on new partitions and ceilings. Tony reported he had struck up an excellent relationship with Jason and that his only worry was reports that the company supplying the furniture were running a little late but thought they would catch up by doing a little overtime in the week between Christmas and the New Year. Jinnie made a note to speak to Belinda about pressuring the furniture supplier.

Next Jinnie opened Belinda’s monthly report. Belinda had, as usual, divided the main body of the report by completed project, ongoing projects and prospective projects. In completed projects, Belinda listed the sandwich outlet, phase one of Vauxhall Cross, the DKL HQ and kitchens in Manor Royal, the Streatham school toilets, and the small job in Redhill, all of which had been profitable. Under ongoing projects were Vauxhall Cross phase two, the PM’s house, Trattoria Trevi Windsor and DKL Potters Bar completion. Much to Jinnie’s surprise Belinda also listed three further projects which were noted as ordered but not yet started. Two were schools where classroom were to be refurbished over the schools’ Christmas holidays and the Home Office refurbishments which was to start in the spring.

Under future prospects, Belinda had listed the Windsor chemist conversion, an office fit-out in East Croydon that was being negotiated, a fit-out of a small central London office block that was still being constructed and all the partitions and decorations for the rebuild of a fire damaged school in Wimbledon. Belinda reported that for the last two projects, she was the only refurbishment contractor still talking with the builder following a number tendering. Under proposal activity, Belinda reported that in the month they had bid a total of six proposals and two had still been alive from previous months. During the month, two of the eight had been won, the Home office and a school, two had been lost and four were still undecided and would carry over to the next month.

An attached spreadsheet showed the division had made a £115,800 profit for the month after all expenses. It also showed that clients owed over £250,000 payable in stage and final payments which were due within one month. A footnote stated that in addition nearly £70,000 was being withheld against a previous job by a large construction company that Wright Refurbishment had completed work for several months previously. The problem was that another contractor hired by the construction company had not satisfactorily completed work. All the Wright Refurbishment work had been signed off as complete but the construction company claimed their contract allowed them to retain money from all contractors including those who were not at fault. Jinnie wondered if this was legal, before reading Belinda had taken legal advice that this was a wrong interpretation of the contract and a solicitor’s letter had gone to the construction company demanding the retention be paid immediately, with interest. However, the problem had apparently been fixed and the construction company was about to release the retentions. Jinnie made another note to speak to Belinda about the situation.

Finally Belinda noted that she had lost a senior member of staff who had left to set up her own business. The business was not in competition with Wright Refurbishment. Belinda said she had considered an internal promotion but none of the current employees had the necessary skills. Instead she had placed several press advertisements and had received a number of applications three of which seemed suitable. Belinda continued that she intended to interview all three.

Finally Jinnie read Guido’s email. He had identified a property in East Croydon that he thought worth investigating as a sandwich outlet. It had been a smallish French restaurant whose previous owners had returned to Lyon. Like the Windsor outlet it had space to eat in and sell takeaways as well as a decent kitchen that would not need much work. Jinnie decided to ring him immediately as it sounded ideal for their purposes. Guido explained that he had a friend who lived in the locality and had used the restaurant regularly. They had been chatting and the friend had suggested that Trattoria Trevi should take it on as a restaurant. Guido had said it was too small for them, they would require 200 covers minimum.

However, after thinking about it, Guido had realised that this was almost identical in size to the Windsor sandwich shop and that it was bang in the middle of a shopping and office area and close to East Croydon station. He had met his friend for a drink and they had had a look at the closed restaurant and at the surrounding area. The more he had seen the more he thought it was an excellent prospect. On what she was being told, Jinnie tended to agree but wanted to see the French restaurant for herself.

In Chapter 22 – Planning for Ireland

© WorthingGooner 2023