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

Planning for Ireland

WorthingGooner, Going Postal

Alan called the SMG team together to brief them on the updated plan for the Irish mission. After explaining the new cover story he asked if anyone had experience in researching their family tree. Carole said she had been doing it on her computer for years and had built up a substantial tree. She explained how researching British ancestors was easy as far back as the beginning of birth, death and marriage registration in June 1837 in England and the first modern census in 1841. Earlier censuses were only partial and difficult to work with. She said she liked the idea of either Penny or Les looking for their Irish roots was good because, unlike British records, not many Irish records were online. In fact many of them were like English parish records and you needed to look at the local church records.

Carole suggested that it might be better to have Penny have the Irish roots as it would make sense for her to have lost her Irish surname on marriage. They had already started to build the ‘legend’ and paperwork was already being prepared for James and Kathleen Weekes. Carole added Kathleen had been a fortunate choice of cover name as it was a good Irish name and the passport being prepared wouldn’t need amending. Alan asked Carole if she felt qualified to produce ‘Kathleen’s’ tree and she said definitely not. She had no Irish ancestors and no experience with Irish trees. She suggested that they talk to the two big companies in the online tree business in the U.K., Ancestry and MyFamily. Alan thanked the group and said he would contact the companies immediately and ask for their recommendations for an Irish family tree expert.

The following day an Oxford professor, Dr Milton Smith joined the SMG. On his first morning he had hardened up the plan. He had knowledge of a family of mother, father and six children called O’Sullivan from Cork all of whom were dead. The youngest child, Thomas, had emigrated to the U.K. and had died in the 1970s. Tom O’Sullivan became ‘Kathleen’s’ grandfather and the SIS hacked into the National Records Office to set up a robust legend that would stand interrogation. Tom had married Maria O’Brian, who also came from Cork, in London and they had lived in Finchley, where they had two Children Michael and Kathleen’s mother Orla. Michael had died in a road traffic accident without marrying and the inquest was fabricated and made available online.

Penny rather liked this legend so far it could be checked online but led to a lot of dead ends where it was impossible to talk to living people to confirm things. Anyone checking online would find plenty of information on Thomas, even his will had been thought about, as well as an obituary in Construction News giving the story of Thomas O’Sullivan coming to England and working as a Labourer in the road building business. Thomas had saved and with his good friend Paddy Byrne had set up a civil engineering company called Byrne and O’Sullivan which had been so successful that it had been purchased by Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons and disappeared leaving the owners wealthy and with well-paid nothing jobs in McAlpine until retirement.

Orla had inherited a four-bedroom semi-detached house in Finchley, where Kathleen had been raised, and a healthy inheritance. Orla had been a devout Catholic and had her only child educated at a local convent school and later at the girl’s Catholic grammar school. Kathleen had gone to university in Bristol and had trained to be a PE teacher. While at Bristol she had met James. Shortly after their marriage Orla had died and the house and inheritance had passed to Orla’s only surviving child Kathleen. The couple had already purchased a new build house in Flitwick where they both had teaching jobs and were amazed when the Finchley house sold for £1.3 million and Kathleen inherited a further £2.4 million in cash and shares from her mother. Having become a rich young couple they had decided to take a years sabbatical from teaching and go in search of Kathleen’s Irish roots as she had none in England.

The SMG worked hard on this legend and within a week were confident it was watertight. A house had been purchased in Flitwick, the purchase date ‘adjusted’ in the Land Registry, and the neighbours briefed on ‘the nice young couple from next door’ who had received a big inheritance and gone travelling. The headmaster, at ‘their school’ also helped with the story when told it was in the national interest, but Penny thought it was the promise of a large donation to school funds that really made the difference.


Jinnie, Alberto and Brian accompanied Guido on a visit to East Croydon. It was a nice simple journey for Jinnie, Alberto and Guido as they could use the Thameslink train from Potters Bar to Moorgate and change at Finsbury Park for another Thameslink train direct to East Croydon. Brian left his car at Three Bridges and he and Belinda also caught the Thameslink to meet the others at East Croydon and arrive at almost exactly the same time. Together they strolled to the restaurant where the commercial estate agent was waiting for them on the pavement outside.

As they approached, Jinnie looked around at the number of surrounding high-rise office buildings and the number of cranes building new blocks and had a good feeling, this was a busy area. Belinda pointed at a curiously shaped building that looked like a pile of old three-penny bits and said, “I once refurbished two floors in that building. There are a load of companies in there.” They had deliberately not told the agent they were from Trattoria Trevi as they were sure that would push the price up. All contact had been through Guido as his name was not widely associated with the chain.

The agent took a key out of his pocket and opened the door, before nipping inside quickly to turn the alarm off before it sounded. The party followed the agent inside and were delighted when he switched the lights on to reveal a large open area completely devoid of any furniture. However the vinyl floor looked new and the space had been recently decorated, even the ceiling tiles looked new. Belinda whispered in Jinnie’s ear, ‘The landlord has recently done dilapidations in here and on the cheap by the looks of it. The paint job is awful, just look at that cutting-in and the splash on the vinyl and window frames. I would need to get Gary to check out the electrics, and the alarms.”

Turning to the agent, Belinda said, “I thought the restaurant was for sale, but it’s clear the place has been under lease and the Landlord has done cheap dilapidations. Is it for sale, lease or rent?” The agent replied, “I understand it was on leased to the last tenants, but the landlord has decided to sell, I think they want to reinvest in Dockland. The wages are higher there and people spend more in the restaurants.” “Okay,” Belinda said, “but if we were to buy this we would need to redecorate, re-floor and thoroughly check the electrics in here and God knows what we will find in the kitchen.”

The group wandered into the kitchen and although it was neat, tidy and clean, Belinda said to Jinnie, “Another cheap do, the ceiling tiles are new but should be plastic-coated, the lights are wrong for a kitchen, they should be sealed and the flooring should really be tiles. I wouldn’t mind betting there are tiles under this vinyl but the floor needs repairing and the landlord has done this on the cheap.” Alberto and Guido had been having a poke around the kitchen equipment and while Belinda and Brian set about sketching the rooms and adding dimensions taken by a laser measure, Alberto cornered Jinnie. He said, “It’s fitted out quite nicely for a restaurant but for a sandwich shop we need to add bread ovens and more worktops. However, they seem to have a section that was devoted to making soup and that has given me an idea. Takeaway homemade soup on a cold day could be a new line.”

Following the viewing the party had a wander around and found a county court, a business school and numerous office blocks, all within a few minutes walk of the proposed sandwich shop. They then got together in the buffet on the Brighton mainline platform at East Croydon Station to discuss what they thought while waiting for their trains. Belinda said she had been deliberately hard on the agent, the building itself looked solid and much of the work was only superficial and there was hardly any strip-out work necessary. She would get Gary to have a quick look at the electrics but the agent had shown her the signed-off electrical certificates for power and lighting.

Jinnie said she thought the place was about the right size and in an excellent location. The others all agreed with her and after a short discussion and Belinda’s assurance that the cost of this shop would be considerably less than Windsor, they decided to put it to the board with the recommendation to make it their second sandwich shop. Belinda promised them a priced estimate within a week and further promised she had the manpower to start the job as soon as they had cleared the planning permission and building regulations hurdles.


Penny’s mission planning was going well but slowly. The problem was getting all the paperwork printed, ensuring that the information available to someone searching the internet was correctly set up and finally Richard, the new PM, had taken an interest and was demanding to be kept in the loop at all times. ‘C’ called Penny and Les to his office to discuss if there was a way to stop the new PM from slowing them up. They sat for half an hour, scratching their heads, and dismissing suggestions before Les suddenly said to Penny, “I think the only person Richard would listen to is the Mr Farage.” Turning to Penny he said, “You know him, could you ring him and get him to have a word?” Jinnie said, “I don’t have his mobile number, but I know someone who does, my sister.”

‘C’ said, “I think the idea is sound in principle, but I’m reluctant to bring in anyone else, I know Jinnie is still subject to the Official Secrets Act, but she’s an outsider these days. I only gave permission to bring in Dirk because he is still on the books.” Penny laughed, “You realise you have just sorted the problem, Dirk is sure to have Nigel’s ear.” “You better talk to him then,” said ‘C’.

Dirk listened to Penny and when she stopped talking he said, “I understand, Richard is very new at the job and doesn’t want to put a foot wrong, but it must be hard to work under such conditions. I suppose you know Nigel is on holiday in the Caribbean. However, I can’t phone him as I don’t have his new number. I had his old number but he changed phones when the number leaked to the press. The only person I know who seems to be able to contact him by phone is your sister.”

Reluctantly ‘C’ gave Penny permission to talk to her sister on the strict basis that she was only told that the SIS needed to talk to him. Penny rang her sister, who knew better than to ask what it was all about, but explained that she only had his old number. However, if she rang it, she would normally get a call back from the ex-PM as the old number was monitored. Jinnie promised to call Nigel immediately and ask him to phone Penny ASAP, on important SIS business.

Penny’s desk scrambler phone rang and glancing at the display she was surprised to see it was blank, that just never normally happened. She said a cautious “Hello” and was only half surprised to hear the ex-PM say, “Good afternoon Penny, I understand you want to chat on important SIS business”. “That’s right,” replied Penny, “We have a little problem with the prime minister. We are almost ready to launch the mission you gave us before you retired, but he is sitting on giving us the go. From what I hear, he is very reluctant to make a decision and would rather procrastinate. We wondered if you could have a word, I understand you are the only person he might listen to.” “I understand,” said Nigel, “He was always a bit reluctant to commit and often wanted to delay and see how things were going. I will have a word with him and I think you will have the ‘Go’ soon, it’s important as we are losing good men in the North. I will ring him immediately, then I can get back to my sun lounger by the pool. Oh, one other thing if you ring my old number, which ‘C’ will have, I have told them to let me know and I will ring back, we can’t have you having to go through your sister as much as I love talking to her and hearing about Larry.”


Jinnie was in an exceedingly good mood. The Trattoria Trevi board had read Belinda’s quotation, seen Gary the electrician’s report, looked at all the photographs Alberto and Guido had taken and voted unanimously to purchase the property and give the order to Belinda to refurbish it. Of course the first month’s accounts from the Windsor sandwich business helped, it was way ahead of predictions. Brian had negotiated a reduction in the new sandwich shop’s purchase price and it looked like they didn’t need planning permission only building regulations.

Brian was confident that they were going to exchange contracts on the business on Friday and if that happened Belinda’s team would start three weeks work on Monday. The team would then move onto the Windsor pharmacy conversion, the sale had gone through, the old couple were delighted and had retired to a cottage by the sea in Devon. Planning permission for change of use had been granted and the only hold-up was building regulations checking the structural calculations for the works to the adjoining wall.

Belinda’s report on progress at Trattoria Trevi Windsor was good, she was now nearly a week ahead of programme and under cost. Brian had been working on the company structure and Windsor was going to be added to the Trattoria Trevi (Restaurants) portfolio while Trattoria Trevi (Event Management) had been set up as a subsidiary of Trattoria Trevi (Holdings) Ltd, the master company who held 60% of the company. The remaining 40% was held 10% each by Jinnie, Brian and Miranda and 5% each by Mr Walsh and his business studies lecturer colleague.

Miranda’s monthly report explained that sales for the Winery Christmas parties were very nearly sold out. The Vauxhall Cross party planning was going really well, the entertainment had been booked and the staff had been canvassed for their meal choices. The temporary stage had been commissioned and decorations sourced. Uncle Neal had been delighted to supply temporary staff and it was looking good. Miranda then said she and Brian had finalised the deal with the county showgrounds and had started to advertise it mainly on the internet with pop-up advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, Google and Discus and she was amazed at the interest that had been generated. She had also created a website which allowed online bookings for the showground and the winery. It also had a section dedicated to the everyday business of weddings, dinner parties and the like, which Miranda reported had already managed to take a booking for a June wedding for 150.

Jinnie then turned her attention to the DKL reports. Of course top of the pile was Belinda’s report. The SIS contract was going well, Phase 2 was about 50% complete and should be completed by Christmas. Phase 3 was in the final stage of negotiations on the specification and looked to be ready to start in the new year. Her report on Trattoria Trevi work was interesting as it was from the DKL point of view and mainly reporting that things were going well and were to budget. She also reported that she had secured two additional small projects for Trattoria Trevi on a decent profit margin. The ex-prime minister’s house was expected to be watertight in a week and her team would then begin the fit-out. The aim was for completion by the end of January.

Much to Jinnie’s surprise Belinda also reported that the Potter Bar DKL project would be completed before Christmas. She then reported that she was in final negotiations to refurbish the London offices of an insurance company and that it should be a £3.5 million job. Finally, she added that at long last the Home Office job was looking like starting in February. There was a passage at the end of the report that pointed out that two leading members of staff had tendered their resignations. One was marrying a soldier and moving to Madrid and the other had set up their own business unrelated to the refurbishment business. Jinnie looked at Belinda’s accounting spreadsheet for the month and saw she had received the retained payment of £70,000 pushing up the monthly profit to just under £200,000.

Satisfied that all was well at Wright Refurbishment Jinnie turned to the reports of other DKL Directors and noted how much many of them overlapped. The HR director commented on losing the company’s media specialist and how they would need to recruit a replacement. The sales director reported that four of the six new kitchens at Potters Bar had been taken and the other two were under offer. Brian reported that they had made about £200,000 profit on the month. Jinnie chuckled then thought, ‘Once again it’s thanks to Belinda.’ What took her interest was that the COO reported that his team had identified two possible sites for dark kitchens, one in Stratford and one in Wood Green.

Jinnie made herself a cup of coffee and settled back in the garden office’s comfy chair. She sat thinking about what she could do to help her businesses grow and be more profitable, when Larry landed in her lap and rubbed himself around her. Suddenly, into her mind jumped the phrase ‘radio advertising’. Where had that come from she asked herself and Larry meowed loudly. Jinnie looked at him carefully and said aloud, “Was that you?” and Larry meowed again and sat grinning like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, purring loudly.

In Chapter 23 – Penny goes to Ireland

© WorthingGooner 2023