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

A Wedding dress designed

WorthingGooner, Going Postal

A rather tense Ro parked her second-hand Ford Focus behind a brand new Citroën C3 and walked up the garden path past another C3. She was still looking at the shiny new car on the hard standing in front of the garage when the front door opened and a man said, “Hello, you must be Ro, I’m Andrew, Melissa is just tucking her kids up in bed. I see you’re looking at Melissa’s new car, Belinda’s got some sort of a deal going with the local Citroën dealership and all the Wright Refurbishment company cars, except Belinda’s own, are Citroën. It’s a good deal because we get a new car every year.”

“I guess that’s your car out front then” said Ro, “Yes,” replied Andrew, “we are always visiting clients, or prospective clients and without a car it wouldn’t be very easy. Come on in, Mel will be back down in a minute and we can get started. Elspeth won’t be here for a bit, she’s cooking her husband’s tea, so the thing to do is have a chat about what you are looking for in your dress and what you would like your bridesmaids to wear. Now can I get you a drink while we wait for Mel? Tea or coffee or alcohol? I’m going to have a G&T, my boyfriend says I make a mean G&T, Bombay Sapphire, loads of ice and a slice of lime, so much nicer than lemon. Ro relaxed and accepted a perfect G&T.

Five minutes later Melissa breezed into the comfortable lounge where Ro and Andrew were getting on like a house on fire. “That little brat knew I had a visitor and was deliberately being extra slow,” she muttered. Andrew chuckled and said, “You should have called me, you know he does what I say, you are too soft with him. Anyway meet Ro, as you know she is Jinnie’s personal assistant and right-hand girl.” Melissa and Ro shook hands and Ro couldn’t help thinking how much she took after her mother, slim, blonde hair, blue eyes and perfect makeup while Miranda was dark-haired with brown eyes and more heavily built. ‘I wonder if she takes after her father?’ she thought.

Melissa said, “I see you have got G&T’s, Andrew would you mind making me one while I get to know Ro and what she wants? Melissa tells me you would like a church wedding in a beautiful old church. I took the liberty of looking it up on the on the internet and on a sunny June Saturday I think we can make this really special. The only thing is that by then I will be married again and living in Madrid. But the team will make sure everything is just perfect and the main reason you are here now, the dresses will be ready ages before I leave the U.K.”

“Now then,” Melissa continued, “my guess is that you want something floating and romantic to suit the church.” “Exactly,” replied Ro, and Melissa started sketching on a big A3 pad. Andrew and Ro made the occasional comment and Andrew asked questions like how long the train was to be and did she want a vail. Pretty soon the dress of Ro’s dreams was taking shape on the pad. While Melissa went to the kitchen for more ice for fresh drinks, Andrew picked up the pad and said, “I love this but we need to add some details like the cuffs, the neckline and most importantly the back.” And started sketching little details in the corners of the page and on a fresh sheet.

Watching him draw, Ro was unsure which of them was the most talented designer as an absolutely stunning design was emerging. It was almost completely finished when the doorbell rang announcing the arrival of Elspeth. Ro was a little surprised when she walked into the room, she was nothing like she had expected. Elspeth stood 6’ 2” in her flat shoes and was a very jolly Scot from Edinburgh. Melissa said, “I know it’s pointless offering you a G&T, Bell’s and a drop of water?” “Aye,” she replied with a twinkle in her eye, “It looks like I’ve timed my arrival perfectly and you two have excelled yourselves. That dress you have drawn would grace a princess.” Ro felt a million dollars.

Melissa said, “I think I have the perfect material for this dress up in the spare bedroom,” and while she went to fetch the samples, Elspeth got out her tape measure and Andrew flipped over to a clean sheet of A3. “Have you thought about bridesmaids’ dresses?” he asked. “Well, not so much as my dress,” replied Ro, “I think something plain but elegant, in perhaps a pale lemon with a simple, slim and floor length, but as we plan on having two bridesmaids and two flower girls (one will be six and one five and a half in June) I’m not sure that will suit both. Andrew sketched on and suddenly said, “I know we use the same basic design and material for all four but the flower girls have shorter skirts with lots of frills so they stand out, matched with white tights that could look stunning and the little ones could reuse them as party dresses.”

Ro loved the materials Melissa returned with. A cream satin underskirt and bodice was paired with a beautifully patterned silk top skirt and bodice that went together perfectly. Andrew suggested some little pearl buttons at the cuffs and back and the main design was done. Elspeth said, “This design is inspired, I just love it, it will photograph magically and with such a pretty bride this is going to look fabulous in our brochure and on the website.”

Melissa went to make tea while Andrew carried on with the design of the bridesmaids’ dresses. Elspeth refused tea and said she needed to get home to her husband but said she would drop the wedding dress design, samples and dimensions into Natalie on her way home. As the materials had to be ordered in and Christmas was coming it was agreed that the next meeting would be on the first Saturday afternoon of the New Year in Unit 14. It would be a first fitting for Ro, a measure for the bridesmaids and flower girls and a first chance to select the pale lemon material. Ro asked if she could bring her mum and the answer was an emphatic ‘yes’.

Ro’s head was spinning, she was so happy she could burst. She just loved the wedding dress design, Andrew had interpreted the bridesmaids’ dress just perfectly and she wanted to get home to tell her mum. But Melissa wasn’t finished with her yet. She put Ro’s long blonde hair in an elegant high bun and redid her makeup with a coloured eye shadow, hi-lites on her cheekbones and heaven knows what else, giving her makeup tips the whole time. When Melissa handed her a mirror, Ro was amazed she had been transformed. On the way home Ro was so happy she was close to tears but she knew if she cried she would spoil the makeover over and she wanted to show her mum and dad just what a professional could do.


Jinnie, Paolo, Lucia and Vincenzo arrived at the Show Ground a little early. They were all in Paolo’s car and having lost the toss for the designated driver, he was on soft drinks for the evening. As they were coming around the M25, Paolo had wanted to allow plenty of time as the motorway was notorious for holdups. As luck would have it the motorway was clear but the roads nearer to the Show Ground were narrow, twisty and unlit. Thank God for the Sat Nav thought Jinnie. There were loads of marshals in hi-vis jackets directing arrivals to parking slots and being early Paolo was directed to a space that was under cover which was ideal as it was trying to drizzle.

The small group found their way to the main entrance, showed their ticket and were directed to their tables, which were labelled DKL. As promised they were close to the stage and four tables labelled Wright Refurbishment where one or two people were seated, none that Jinnie recognised. Jinnie said, “Come on let’s get a drink at the bar and I can organise putting some money behind the bar for the DKL tab.” As they approached the bar Jinnie felt a tap on her shoulder and a voice said, “Hello, I’m delighted you’re here.” Turning, Jinnie was facing Miranda who continued, “I have something special for you at the bar.”

Seeing Miranda approaching, a barman hurried over and said, “Are these some of your special guests Ma’am?” When Miranda said, “Yes,” he placed five Champagne flutes on the counter and opened a bottle of Champagne. Paolo quickly said, “Not for me thanks, I’m driving, do you have a none alcoholic beer please>” The Barman said, “Of course Sir, we also offer non-alcoholic red and white wine and cider.” Clutching their drinks, Jinnie had a chance to take in the surroundings. The hall was enormous, decorated with twinkling lights and Christmas trees and Jinnie said to Miranda, “This is fabulous and you are selling out most nights?” “Yes,” she replied, “So far we are doing very well, tonight all 250 tickets are sold, there are a few available for tomorrow but Friday and Saturday are sold out. It is a fantastic success and the Show Ground owners are already talking about next year. They reckon that if they remove the wall between this and the small hall next door they could get 350 in. I am worried that we couldn’t cope but if I don’t say yes I bet someone else will.”

The place was beginning to fill up and the noise level was rising. Miranda said, “I can see Mum and Brian over there. I’ll bring them over as soon as I have got them their Champagne and found out why the Christmas music is not on yet.” Jinnie asked Lucia what she thought and she explained she had never seen anything like it, she and Vincenzo were quite overwhelmed. Belinda and Brian arrived clutching their Champagne and they had only just said, “Hello,” when the Christmas music started with ‘Driving Home for Christmas.’

Belinda spoke into Jinnie’s ear and asked if she had seen the armed police outside. Jinnie said, “No, they weren’t there when we arrived 15 minutes ago.” Before she could say anymore Ro arrived with Jed in tow. She threw her arms around Jinnie and said, “Thank you, thank you and thank you again.” She then turned to Belinda and Brian and said the same thing over again. Before saying, “I hope you will all be coming to our wedding, thanks to you all it is going to be fabulous, you are on the top of the list for invitations.”

Jinnie asked Ro if there were armed police outside when the coach had arrived. She said, “Yes they were stopping everyone where you turn in off the road and checking tickets. I don’t know what’s going on, one even got on the coach and counted us all.”

Suddenly the music stopped and Miranda was on the stage with a microphone saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are almost ready to serve you dinner, so please make your way to your tables. Service begins in five minutes and while you eat our house band will be playing a selection of popular carols starting with ‘Away in a Manger’ and if you want to sing along please do.”

Jinnie and her party made their way to their table and took a seat. When everyone was seated there were two empty chairs on her table. She was just trying to work out who was missing when Dirk slid into one of the seats and sat down saying, “Gosh that was fun!” But before before Jinnie could ask what was fun the music died and Miranda was back on the stage. “Ladies and gentlemen I am delighted to announce that much to everyone’s surprise we are privileged to have a very special guest with us tonight. Out ex-prime minister Mr Nigel Farage.” Nigel appeared from near the bar and made his way to the spare seat between Jinnie and Dirk. He sat down and waved to everyone and to huge cheers accepted a pint of bitter from a waiter.

Miranda announced, “Now we are all here, your Christmas dinner is served.” Waiters and waitresses poured out of the kitchen bearing trays laden with starters; pate, soup or prawn cocktails. Crackers were being pulled and paper hats donned. From the corner of her eye Jinnie saw Miranda slip into a seat next to her mother and glance across to Nigel who gave her a thumbs up before he attacked his prawn cocktail. Jinnie said to Dirk, “Why didn’t you tell me who you were bringing?” “I did,” he replied, “I told you I was bringing a mutual friend.” “But I thought you meant Big Willie,” Jinnie said. “No way,” said Dirk, “he is to busy with his lady friend.”

By the time the Christmas dinner and Christmas puddings had gone and they were on the coffee, Nigel was on first-name terms with everyone on the table, many of whom knew him anyway. He had table hopped to chat to Belinda and Jason and shaken hands and had a friendly word with at least 50 people. Dirk told Jinnie he had caught the train from Cambridge to Potters Bar and the PM had a taxi meet him at the station and drive him to the PM’s house where he was staying in one of the guest rooms that night. He had started to worry they were cutting things very tight for driving around the M25, even with a police escort, when a helicopter landed on the rear lawn and whizzed them across London and put them down in one of the car parks that wasn’t in use tonight. The helicopter had nipped off to Redhill to refuel and would be back to pick them up just after midnight.

The magician who visited their table had been brilliant. His close-up card tricks had amazed them all, and Lucia had been astonished when he appeared to pull a red silk handkerchief out of her left ear and a blue one out of her right ear. Jinnie was watching closely and had no idea how he did it. A fifty-pence piece came out of Penny’s nose and a ten-pound note with Nigel’s signature on it was set alight, but was in an envelope he placed in Ro’s handbag which everyone swore had contained a blank piece of paper at the start of the trick.

Nigel and Jinnie chatted for a while as the acrobats set up on stage with a strange mechanism that looked like a collection of scaffold poles. Nigel explained that while PM he had rarely been able to be with the British people and that tonight was one of his first opportunities since retiring to mix with ordinary people. He asked when Jinnie was going to bring the twins around for a swimming lesson as the pool was underused. He swam every day before breakfast but it was then available all day. He talked of his difficulty in recruiting a personal assistant, how almost impossible it was to advertise the post and the only person he had liked had failed the security vetting when it was revealed that her father had been a secret member of the Communist Party.

Jinnie asked what he was doing for Christmas and he said that he was going to his ex-wife’s for lunch as he got on better with her now than when they were married but more importantly both his daughters would be there. His son would be away. He would be driven there after breakfast and would return after high tea and planned to watch TV. He had no plans for Boxing Day. Jinnie said that on Christmas Eve she would be hosting a small drinks party for some of the neighbours, her parents and her sister and her husband. It would be rather nice if he could come round. If he used the door in the wall the press hanging about outside his house would be none the wiser and he could meet some of the community. Nigel said he’d love to meet the neighbours and Jinnie said, “Come around about eight and I will make sure we have a good single Malt in especially for you.”

Then she suddenly thought about their Boxing Day trip to football and dinner in the Trattoria Trevi and asked if he would like to join them. He smiled and said, “I haven’t been to a live match in years, I think I would love that. Do they still sell Bovril and steak pies?” When Jinnie said yes he replied, “Count me in. The security won’t like it but if it’s our secret and no one knows I’m going until I get there what could be more secure.”

The acrobats were superb just as Miranda promised and the diners clapped and cheered loudly. The DJ played a lot of old favourites pitching the music just right so everyone joined in. Jinnie danced with her husband, Jed, Vincenzo, Dan and finally she jived with Nigel before collapsing in her seat shattered. But Nigel was only just warming up, he danced with Belinda, Miranda and Ro but the star turn were Melissa and Andrew. Paolo whispered to Jinnie, “Don’t they make a wonderful couple.” Jinnie whispered back, “They’re just good friends, Melissa is in love with and engaged to a soldier who is currently training to be an officer and Andrew is gay.”

After the 11:30 snacks had been consumed, Miranda came over and had a brief chat with Nigel who nodded along and clearly agreed to something. At eleven-fifty-five the music stopped and Miranda was back on the stage with a microphone. She said she hoped everyone had enjoyed their evening and the entertainment. When the applause died down she said their special guest was going to say a few words and then the evening would conclude with Auld Lang Syne. Nigel came on stage and said he couldn’t remember when he had enjoyed himself so much, he thanked Jinnie and DKL for inviting him and he especially thanked Miranda and all the TTEvents team for a wonderful evening and finally the entertainers, especially the magician who had totally baffled him. As he stepped down from the stage the strains of Auld Lang Syne wafted from the speakers.

As Jinnie and her party watched the flashing lights of Nigel’s helicopter disappearing into the night sky, the other Nigel and Camilla slid in beside her and thanked her for a wonderful evening. Jinnie replied she had only purchased the ticket, the person who they should really thank was Miranda whose idea the parties had been and who had worked extremely hard to put them on. After chatting for a short time with Camilla, who she had not seen in ages, Camilla suddenly said, “Has Nigel told you we think we have found our ‘forever house’? Our offer has been accepted and there is no chain, it’s just down to the solicitors now.” “No, he hasn’t mentioned a thing,” replied Jinnie, “Where is it?” “In a private road over towards Haywards Heath. It’s close to Sienna Woods,” answered Camilla

“There are some beautiful houses down the road and some have acres and acres of land,” added Nigel. “One even has peacocks, a paddock and a swimming pool, but ours is only five bedrooms and about an acre of garden. It needs a lot of work doing to it but once it is finished we are going to throw a massive housewarming party and invite all our friends and fellow directors.” “Jinnie couldn’t stop herself laughing. When she had composed herself she said, “Have you mentioned this to Belinda yet? Hers is the house with the peacocks, massive garden, paddock and swimming pool!”

In Chapter 30 – A Christmas Surprise

© WorthingGooner 2023