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


WorthingGooner, Going Postal

It was a bright sunny Saturday morning and Jinnie’s first thought on waking was wondering if Lucia felt as nervous as she had been on her wedding day. Jinnie’s mind went back to the mad rush that had been the last six or seven weeks. How she had managed to squeeze Lucia’s parents on an EasyJet flight from Rome to Luton for the next weekend. It being New Year that hadn’t been simple and nor had getting a hotel reservation for them. But they had finally been booked into one at South Mimms not too far away. Paolo had driven Lucia up to Luton on the day before New Year’s Eve to meet them at the airport and as they spoke only a tiny amount of English they were delighted to find he was Italian.

Jinnie had invited them to Hadley for dinner that first evening and while Lucia drove the faithful old mini to collect them, she and Paolo put the twins to bed, laid the table and ordered a typical Italian meal from the Trattoria Trevi dark kitchen. Once again Lucia’s parents were delighted to be speaking Italian and eating Italian food. Lucia had told them about the twins and they had to peep at them from the doorway. Of course they were sound asleep and looked angelic. Jinnie and Paolo got on extremely well with Lucia’s parents as did Larry.

Earlier in the week Miranda had driven Melissa, Andrew and Elspeth around the motorway and had initially sat down with Lucia and Vincenzo to plan the wedding and then Paolo had taken him home while the others started planning the dress. Lucia had asked Jinnie to be her matron of honour so that was easy to sort out her dress, but she really wanted her two oldest friends as bridesmaids. In the end Elspeth had devised some sketches with dimensions to be filled in which Lucia emailed to them. The idea was the dresses would be made to the dimensions and the girls would arrive a few days before the wedding so they could be properly fitted and finished.

Of course the Bridal gown was white and lacy but because it was winter Melissa suggested a high back and long sleeves. Jinnie rather approved of the finished design and Lucia loved it. The first fitting was arranged while Lucia’s parents were visiting as Lucia wanted her mother to see what was being made. Lucia had chosen pale lilac for the matron of honour and the bridesmaids.


Jinnie had phoned Izzy the Norland Nanny she had met at Melissa and Steven’s engagement party. After a chat Jinnie had asked if Norland had found her a permanent position yet and she said No and explained that the problem was Norland just charged to much. Izzy said she was afraid she was going to have to leave them and look for a post herself. She simply couldn’t afford to live on the money from the one or two days a week she was getting from Norland. She would be better off taking a full time post at half the Norland rate. This was music to Jinnie’s ear and she invited her to come around to the house to see the set up and the room that could be hers if they could come to a financial agreement.


New Year’s Eve had initially set a small problem as it was the grand opening of the Trattoria Trevi Windsor and most of the Trattoria Trevi directors were to be there with their wives or on Jinnie’s part, husband. Jinnie had already included Lucia as Penny was babysitting on the proviso that she and Dan could order in a posh meal from the Trattoria Trevi English menu. Dan was already licking his lips at the prospect of a medium rare 14oz rib eye steak and chunky chips. Jinnie learnt that Nigel had booked a table for the grand opening and was taking his soon-to-be new PA Emma and her husband Freddie. With a little bit of table juggling, a big table had been put together and Lucia’s parents were accommodated together with Vincenzo and his parents and Nigel and his guests.

Fortunately, the two sets of parents got on famously and Lucia’s parents were astonished to be dining in the company of an ex-prime minister. The food was as good as the other Trattoria Trevi offerings, the service excellent and the restaurant packed. Alberto was hovering, keeping a restauranteur’s eye on the new manager and staff but he told Jinnie he had little to complain about. Jinnie asked how bookings were looking and to Jinnie’s delight he answered, “Fantastico”. The table was enjoying coffee and liquors when Alberto called for quiet as he had an announcement to make. He explained that tomorrow being New Year’s Day it was traditional for the New Year’s Honours list to be announced a little early so that it could be included in the next day’s newspapers. He said, “I am absolutely delighted to be able to tell everyone that two of tonight’s guests have appeared on the list. Firstly my great friend and fellow director Mrs De Luca has been appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire for services to the catering industry.” When the applause died down Nigel whispered to her, “You kept that quiet!” Emma whispered to her, “That’s really for your work at the Cross, David recommended you.” Alberto then continued, “It can hardly be a surprise to hear that my friend and our distinguished ex-prime minister has been appointed Knight Grand Cross of the British Empire for services to the nation. May I offer my hearty congratulations to Dame Jinnie and Sir Nigel.” “And you kept that quiet,” whispered Jinnie back to Nigel.


New Year’s Day was bedlam in Hadley. Lucia and Vincenzo were taking her parents sightseeing in London. It seemed a pity for them to come to Britain and not see all the famous buildings, take a trip on the river, ride on the top deck of a red London bus and on the underground. Lucia and considered taking them to a West End show matinee, but decided that they wouldn’t understand so booked on the London Eye and Madam Tussauds, where the collection of ex-prime ministers already said ‘Sir Nigel Farage’. That evening they were invited to eat with Vincenzo’s family and to meet more of the family.

Jinnie’s house phone had hardly stopped ringing all morning with requests for interviews. Jinnie had only granted two. Both to people who had helped her in the past. She did a radio interview with Mike Graham that went out live on his morning programme and she chatted for a long time with Bill Furr, for a written piece in the Potters Bar Press, which it was agreed could be syndicated only 12 hours after the press had published it. After that Paolo took the phone off the hook knowing that anyone they would want to talk to had Jinnie’s mobile number.

Of course she had been congratulated by all the Trattoria Trevi directors the previous evening but this morning it was the turn of the DKL directors but they were all beaten by Ro who asked if she had to call her ‘Dame Jinnie’ now. Then she spoke to Belinda & Brian, Jerry and all the others. Eventually the calls dried up and just before noon Emma and Freddie arrived with a big bottle of Champagne. They had only just opened it when Jinnie’s mobile rang and Nigel asked if they minded if he popped around. He was fed up answering the phone to the press and wanted to talk to someone ‘normal’ for a while!

Nigel had brought another bottle of Champagne with him and Jinnie raided the fridge where she found smoked salmon and cream cheese leftovers and so everyone had smoked salmon and cream cheese on bagels with Champagne for lunch. Just before going home, Nigel announced he had just hired Freddie as his driver and general factotum and they would all be travelling to New York in February where Nigel had been invited to give several speeches to industry and to the UN, was being paid a fortune and had free travel and accommodation thrown in.


The following day was the official first day back at work, Lucia got the twins up, washed, dressed and fed while Jinnie had checked her work emails and sent a few. Jinnie noted that someone in IT had already updated her email signature so it now said Dame Jinnie De Luca DBE. She didn’t have the heart to tell them it should say GM, DBE or maybe it should be DBE, GM she wasn’t sure and was dammed if she knew who to ask about the order and if the GM was still secret now she no longer worked for the SIS.

Lucia had an appointment for her first at Wedding Dress Bargains and she, her mother and Jinnie were heading there while Mrs Walsh babysat. Paolo had got tickets in the Embassy’s box at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and was taking her father. The game had been swapped by the TV broadcaster from New Year’s Day and they were to be there early as a three-course meal was to be served before the early evening kick-off.

Lucia’s dress was coming along beautifully and was everything she wanted and while Elspeth made a few very minor changes to make it a perfect fit and her mother fussed around crying at the dress, Jinnie took the opportunity to chat to Miranda and look around the new outlet. Once again it was lovely with huge pictures of Melissa and Ro in their gowns on the walls. Miranda said, “Those pictures might look amazing, but what you can’t see is that both are only half finished and the dresses are held together with pins and sticky tape!”

Miranda told Jinnie that they had a lot of appointments booked and thought they were looking good. The business was meshing well with the ‘events’ business and they had been able to push girls interested in dresses in the direction of the events business and vice versa. The hair and makeup side was proving popular and Melissa was trying to step back a bit and use her friends in her place. Andrew was now under pressure because he was proving both a talented dress designer and office interior designer. Fortunately, with the two businesses so close together he could rush from one to another.

With the wedding dress fitting over it was time for Jinnie to have a fitting of the maid of honour’s dress. Jinnie just loved it. The dress had only been tacked in case it needed altering but apart from a minor change to the hem it was perfect and was to join Lucia’s dress to be finished. The dimensions for the bridesmaid’s dress were back and the cutting of them was starting the next day. Elspeth made another appointment for a fortnight when the wedding dress and the maid of honour’s dresses should be complete and ready to take away. Jinnie drove them back around the motorway and all the chat had been about the beautiful dresses.

Mrs Walsh greeted them home and with the twins tiring fast Jinnie suggested that while Lucia bathed them and put them to bed she would order in dinner for the four of them as she couldn’t be bothered cooking. She asked Lucia’s mother if there was anything she would really like before they went back to Italy in the morning and she said she wanted to try roast beef and Yorkshire puddings. Before she could order it Jinnie got a call from Nigel saying he was on his way round as he had just thought of something. Jinnie said that was OK but would he like to join them for dinner. It was going to be Trattoria Trevi English roast beef and Yorkshire puddings and apple pie with custard for dessert. He jumped at the opportunity and asked if it came with horseradish or mustard, Jinnie said both if you wish.

Nigel’s bright idea was that when Lucia’s parents came back for the wedding they should stay in one of his spare bedrooms as he had five that were not being used and all were en-suite. He once again surprised Jinnie by revealing he knew about Izzy, saying that someone potentially living next door had been checked out by security and had passed with flying colours. He then asked how Jinnie was going to manage the change over between the au pair and the nanny when she only had one spare bedroom. Nigel said that was the second part of his plan. If Lucia temporarily moved into another of his spare rooms a week before the wedding she could translate for her parents and Jinnie could get Izzy ensconced a week before the wedding.

Once that was agreed Lucia said, “But of course you must come to the wedding, you are one of the few people in England who I know well.” And he readily agreed. The dinner was a huge success with Lucia’s mother declaring that English food was good, and that she particularly liked the cooked breakfast in the hotel.


At the final fitting Lucia and Jinnie’s dresses were perfect and were placed in special bags to take home. The bridesmaids’ dresses were all but finished and Elspeth was confident that provided the measurements she had been sent were accurate and no one had put on a lot of weight they would be finished well in time for the wedding. The arrangements were for the two girls to fly into Gatwick on the Wednesday before the wedding. Miranda would meet them and drive them the few miles to Wedding Dress Bargains for their fittings before Lucia collected them and drove them to their South Mimms hotel.

As the wedding got nearer Miranda was able to firm up on the plans, the church had been booked, cars and flowers organised, photographer booked, invitations printed, sent out and the RSVPs returned. A present list had been drawn up but as they were immediately moving to Barbados an arrangement had been struck with a Bridgetown department store. The menu was sorted out as were wines with the meal. Miranda was confident that everything was in hand even a marquee had been found for Guido’s garden for the evening party and heaters hired.

Lucia had moved out and Izzy had moved in. The twins had quickly accepted Izzy but obviously missed Lucia who they asked for when they were very tired. Izzy had her own car but it was quite old and plans were in hand to use the DKL lease scheme to get her a Citroen C3, that was now the company car for lower-level employees. In the meantime, Lucia still had use of the Mini but as much as she loved that car it’s practical use in the De Luca household had reached an end and it was time for it to go when Lucia left.


Jinnie dressed leaving Paolo asleep and went down to the kitchen where Izzy was getting the twins’ breakfast ready. The twins were developing fast and now both had seven or eight teeth and were learning to use a spoon. Both were happy to climb the stairs when holding a hand and roll a ball to Izzy. Although they only said about 15 words each they knew them in both English and Italian and had learnt to point at things they wanted. Jinnie thought they did something new every day and loved spending time with them.

Izzy was fitting in wonderfully and was already part of the family. Today she was going to be looking after the twins while Jinnie and Paolo were at Lucia’s wedding, the reception and the evening party and Jinnie knew her little ones were in good hands. Jinnie got bacon out of the fridge knowing that the smell of frying bacon would get Paolo out of bed. The wedding service was at midday and Melissa, her friend and Miranda were coming at 10 to do the hair and makeup for Lucia, her mother, the two bridesmaids and herself as they were all leaving from her house

The bacon did the trick and Paolo emerged still half asleep. Jinnie made bacon sandwiches and they all tucked in. Willie and Millie held their hands out for some and Jinnie tore a small piece from the middle of her sandwich (carefully avoiding the crust), cut the bit in half and handed half to each of them. Millie shoved hers straight in her mouth and started chewing while Willie was a bit more suspicious and took the meat out, ate that first and then the bread, but it wasn’t long before both were saying, “More.”

Miranda, Melissa, her helper and to Jinnie’s surprise Andrew, arrived early saying that for once the motorway had been good. Miranda explained that Andrew was there to photograph the dresses for advertising, apparently he had taken the pictures Jinnie had so admired in Unit 14. Melissa and her friend had set up in Jinnie’s bedroom before Lucia and her mother arrived. After helping Lucia into her dress, Melissa set about doing her hair and makeup with a big towel around Lucia’s shoulders to protect the dress. At the same time Melissa’s friend started on the mother of the bride. Jinnie watched in amazement, she remembered how good her own hair and makeup had been on her own wedding day, but this was different, she could see just how skilled Melissa and her friend were.

The bridesmaids arrived and were helped into their dresses. Then it was Jinnie’s turn for the makeover and as Melissa applied makeup Jinnie asked her, “If you are still in the country when I get called to the Palace for my investiture please can you do my hair and makeup.” “I’d love to,” replied Melissa. The two bridesmaids watched in stunned silence as Jinnie was transformed and then explained to them in Italian that Melissa and her friend Caroline were trained beauty therapists who would now do their hair and makeup. As they worked they explained to the two bridesmaids what they were doing and why and gave them tips on what shades best suited their skin tones which Jinnie and Lucia translated. At the end they were both astonished by their stunning new looks.

Andrew quickly stepped in and took individual photos of the bride, bridesmaids and matron of honour and flower girls, before taking a couple of group shots. Jinnie had a quick look at the images on the camera and was delighted they showed the dresses off to perfection. The pictures would make wonderful additions to the shots that adorned the Unit 14 walls.

The car to take the bride’s mother, the bridesmaids and Jinnie arrived and she explained to the Italians that it was British tradition for them to be at the church waiting when the bride and her father arrived. The other guests, the groom and the best man, would be in the church waiting for them. They would follow the bride down the aisle and then slip into one of the front pews where a space will have been saved for them. Melissa had sped to the church with her makeup case and met them outside just in case anyone’s makeup needed touching up but everyone was fine. As they had their pictures taken by the official photographer in the sun outside the church Jinnie couldn’t help but hope the bride was on time as even in the weak sunshine it was a little chilly.

Jinnie got the wish, the bride and her father arrived on time. As she stepped out of the car and the photographer captured the moment Jinnie couldn’t help thinking that she looked fabulous and if this didn’t sell a few dresses nothing would. The photographer was very quick and Jinnie was soon in the church walking down the aisle behind Lucia on the arm of her father. Jinnie slid in next to Paolo and Nigel on the bride’s side of the church which was sparsely occupied compared to the groom’s side as not a huge number of guests had come from Italy. Jinnie wondered how many on the bride’s side were Nigel’s security guards.

The service passed very quickly and they were back out in the cold for more photos which thankfully were soon over. Next stop was the Trattoria Trevi which had been decked out in green, red and white, the colours of the Italian flag, for the occasion. Miranda was hanging around directing things and Jinnie had arranged for her, Melissa and Caroline to have a meal as they were staying on to ensure the hair and makeup was good for the evening party. Lucia looked radiant and her parents were in their element, eating an Italian meal, in an Italian restaurant where nearly everyone spoke Italian.

As was often the case the guests at the evening party were generally younger, with the older friends and relatives going home after the reception. Lucia changed out of her wedding dress into a warmer dress for the party but the gas heaters kept the marquee warm. Melissa had redone her makeup and restyled her hair into something more suitable for the evening. At nine pm the happy couple’s hire car took them to Heathrow where they were staying in the Hilton before crossing, the following morning, to Terminal 3 for their Virgin Upper Class flight to Bridgetown.

Before she left the party Lucia came over to Jinnie and thanked her for everything, saying if it had not been for her and Paolo she would not have come to England, perfected her English, met Vincenzo, been married and setting out on a new life. She made Jinnie and Paolo promise to bring the twins out to Barbados in the summer to stay with them, saying she was really going to miss them. Then as a second thought she added, “And you must bring Izzy, we will have room, I understand the bank has leased a huge house with massive ground and a swimming pool for us. I bet the twins will be swimming like fishes by then.”

Jinnie and Paolo left the party shortly after the newlyweds, and as Paolo drove home Jinnie reflected on her life. She had a husband and twins she adored, numerous businesses most of which were highly successful and making good money. The two new businesses were both off to good starts but would need careful nurturing for a while. Her home and garden were lovely, she had wonderful friends and neighbours. She and Paolo were earning substantially more than their outgoings. Life was marvellous, just what could go wrong?

That concludes Book Five of Jinnie’s Story

© WorthingGooner 2023