Jinnie’s Story – Book Six, Chapter Thirty-One

Another Inheritance

WorthingGooner, Going Postal

For the second day running, Jinnie woke with a feeling of trepidation. Yesterday, although sad, had gone wonderfully and even the weather had played its part. After the King and Queen had left, she had tried to follow Kate’s example and chat to as many people as possible. Everyone she spoke with said how wonderful and unexpected it was for the King and Queen to come to the funeral. Many of them thanked her for not forgetting the three old men and how they were always talking about her and ‘the old days’. One old lady said that the oldies thought of her as the daughter they never had and were always talking about her business prowess and her beautiful twins.

On the short drive back to Hadley, Nigel had said, “I have had the most amazing day. In the future I think I will try to visit as often as I can. Some of the stories I heard today were fascinating. When I am no longer capable of living alone, I think I would like to live in a home like that. I could bore everyone with my stories.” “I’ll remind you when you start getting senile,” Jinnie had replied.

Jinnie breakfasted with Izzy and the twins, Paolo having already left for work. Izzy took the children to school, but not before they had made their mother promise to collect them, because they wanted her to tell Miss Evans she had been at a funeral with the King and Queen yesterday. Miss Evans had not believed them when they told her why Izzy was collecting them after school. Jinnie had wondered when she had said the King and Queen were going to the funeral in front of the children, she would have to be more careful what she said when little ears were around.

Jinnie had loaded the dishwasher and the washing machine when Izzy got back and was pottering around wasting time until it was time for her eleven o’clock meeting with Mr Mann. Izzy got fed up with Jinnie wandering around as she was trying to hoover and suggested she go and read the papers in the TV room. Jinnie sat down with the morning paper and before she had read the front-page headline, Larry was beside her with his head in her lap. She said, “Hello, my friend,” and gently rubbed his left ear, and Larry purred loudly.

Jinnie read the lead story about the government ordering yet another nuclear aircraft carrier, the country’s eleventh, before turning to page three where she immediately saw a photo of the King and Queen entering King Charles the Martyr Church. The accompanying story was bylined Bill Furr, credited to the Potters Bar Press and told of the royal couple’s unexpected appearance at the funeral of three residents of the Green Acres care home. It explained that the three had been in the same Resistance group, had all died within days of each other and went on to say how they had been buried alongside their old Resistance leader. It mentioned how the Queen had visited the old men previously and revealed that Green Acres had been the first retirement home in the country to benefit from the restaurant industry’s annual scheme to treat the residents of a home to a high-class lunch when the famous Potters Bar, two Michelin Star restaurant, Trattoria Trevi had supplied lunch to its residents and staff. Jinnie was happy that Bill had faithfully reported what they had talked about the previous afternoon.

Bill continued saying that the original event had been the idea of the Trattoria Trevi’s CEO, Dame Jinnie De Luca and chairman Alberto Conti and had been attended by the then prime minister Nigel Farage. The story concluded by saying both Dame Jinnie and Mr Farage had attended the funeral, and the buffet after the interment had been provided by the Trattoria Trevi group who had a growing reputation for its charitable work. Jinnie quietly sobbed, it was a lovely piece, and she was delighted with the story, not because it showed her and the restaurant group in a good light, but because it honoured her old friends. Larry meowed and rubbed his head against her as if he too had read the story and approved.


It was never easy parking near the offices of Mann, Coombes and Company in Potters Bar High Street but today it was rendered impossible by road works, so she decided to park in the Trattoria Trevi’s staff car park and walk to the solicitors. As she got out of the Lexus, Alberto, under a large TT Group umbrella, was crossing the service road between the dark kitchen building and the staff entrance to the restaurant. As she got out of the car, into the cold rain, he called out to her and walked over smiling broadly and held the umbrella over her. He said “Hello” and asked if she had seen the article in the Daily Mail. She replied ‘yes,’ and he asked if she had the news on the car radio. Jinnie replied, “No, I was listening to some music. I have an appointment at the old people’s solicitor so I can’t stop and chat now. Can I pop in, and we’ll chat and have coffee when I have finished. I doubt I will be long.”

Alberto indicated Jinnie should take a shortcut by walking through the restaurant and out onto the High Street. As he let her out of the front door, he handed her a promotional TT Group umbrella from behind the reception desk. Then he said, “I’ll have the coffee ready for when you come back, ring the doorbell and cut through the restaurant, I’ll be back in my office over the road.” Jinnie hurried down the rainswept High Street and, not for the first time, wondered why Potters Bar had developed two main shopping streets, Darkes Lane and the High Street that ran parallel to each other half a mile apart. She crossed to the other side of the road, into the solicitor’s door and up the bland stairs. The offices were located over a parade of at least ten shops and, climbing the stairs, Jinnie thought, ‘This place could really do with one of Belinda’s make overs.’

There were two receptionists behind the desk, one was busy with a client and the other looked up from her computer, smiled and said, “Good morning, welcome to Mann, Coombes and Company. How can I help you?” Jinnie smiled back and replied, “I have a 10:30 appointment meeting with Mr Mann, my name is Jinnie De Luca.” The receptionist tapped on the computer keyboard and said, “If you would like to take a seat in reception, I’ll let his secretary know you are here.” Jinnie reluctantly sat down on one of the reception sofas, which were shabby and as uncomfortable as they looked. She scanned the reception and thought, ‘If the stairwell and this reception reflect the rest of the offices, they look like they haven’t been renovated for many years.’

Jinnie was intrigued by the family tree on one wall of the reception area. At the top were Mr. Mann and Mr Coombes, the senior partners and below them were their personal secretaries, at least a dozen junior partners, another dozen legal executives, more personal secretaries, then research assistants and support staff. Jinnie started counting employees and had reached 52 when she was interrupted in her count by Mr Mann opening a door in the metal partition wall and saying, “Good morning Dame Jinnie, I have reserved the big meeting room for us this morning. Please follow me.”

Mr Mann led Jinnie past the large meeting room she had met him in after Ethel’s death and into an even larger room. Jinnie’s first impression was that it was another room that needed refurbishing, especially it could do with a new carpet and curtains. Jinnie was invited to take a seat on one side of the massive meeting table and Mr Mann introduced her first to his secretary and then to two junior partners who he said were assisting with the wills. Mr Mann explained what Jinnie already knew. When Bert had died his will split his estate 50/50 between Jimmy and Fred. Under the terms of Jimmy’s will, he left his estate to Fred and when he died just a short while later, the final clause in his will was activated, and she and the twins inherited Fred’s estate that was in effect three estates. Mr Mann then said that Jinnie was to get 80% of Fred’s residual estate, and the twins 20% between them, which the will decreed was to be placed in trust until they were 18. He then explained that the will appointed him and Jinnie as trustees and that they would be able to authorise payments from the trusts for educational purposes.

Jinnie already knew and understood this and wondered what the purpose of the meeting really was. Mr Mann stroked his Father Christmas beard before continuing, “David Julian here is working on Bert’s will, while David Rothman is working on Jimmy’s will and I’m on Fred’s Will. But the Inheritance Tax is going to be strange, Bert’s estate will be paying it, then Jimmy’s estate will be paying more and finally Fred’s estate will be paying more, and all of this has to be agreed with HMRC before we can sort out probate. We have six months to pay the tax from when it the amount agreed, but we must pay a percentage before we are granted probate so this could take some time to sort out. Firstly, we have your old identity documents on file but they are all in your maiden name, so we need to see and copy some up-to-date ID before we can go much further with your inheritance.”

Jinnie replied, “I guessed that might happen, so I’ve brought mine and the children’s passports, my driving license and the twin’s birth certificates.” “Excellent,” said Mr Mann. “We’ll get them photocopied before you go. Now moving on, all three gentlemen had fairly complex estates, which can be treated in several ways.” ‘Ah,’ thought Jinnie, ‘now we are getting down to the nitty-gritty.’ Mr Mann continued, “All three owned their apartments at Green Acres, many antiques, and all three had life insurance in the government’s ‘German Scheme’. But to confuse things a bit more, between them the owned about 60% of the company that runs Green Acres.” “Really?” said Jinnie. “But it gets worse,” explained Mr Mann. “If we just deal with their properties, between them they own the freehold on flats, houses and shops, some of which are leased out and some are rented out. Then they have quite large investments in quite a few FTSE 100 companies, like BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, British Petroleum, National Grid and Tesco. But I suspect that most interesting to you will be that between them they own nearly 15% of SuperBurger.”

“Oh, I nearly forgot,” added Mr Mann, “they each had fairly large current accounts and we are still looking through paperwork, but we have found some paperwork relating to investment trusts and at least one building society account. Now we are going to have to liquidate some items to pay Inheritance Tax and this is why we need to talk to you. Doing a quick look at things as the number currently stands after tax and expenses, I think the twins will inherit a minimum of £8 million each and…” “What?” interrupted Jinnie. “That means I would get £64 million.” “Precisely,” said Mr Mann. “And that is a minimum based on what we know, but we have quite a way to go. I understand that Fred has a safety deposit box we haven’t opened yet and we need to properly value the flats, their contents and all properties they own. In addition, we need to quantify just what the life insurance is going to pay out.”

“We would like to know if you have any preferences as to how we go about raising the money to pay the tax and set up the trusts as at the moment the cash we have found is insufficient. Do we sell the retirement apartments, some of the shares or some of the other properties? In other words, what do you want to inherit?” Jinnie was confused, how could she make such a decision instantly? She decided that she needed to talk to Paolo and their financial adviser before she made a decision. So, she explained she needed financial advice before making such a monumental decision and although she had taken some scribbled notes, could she have a list of what was likely to be held in Fred’s estate?


Jinnie sat in her car and rang Paolo. Fortunately, he could talk, so she went through what she had learnt from Mr Mann. Paolo listened in stunned silence, finally saying, “And you had no idea they were this wealthy.” “No,” said Jinnie. “I knew they had no money worries and owned their apartments. I had admired some of the artwork and furnishings in their apartments and I remember Jimmy owned a transport company that he sold when he retired. When I told them I was taking up the position of managing director of DKL and that it was jointly owned by SuperBurger and Trattoria Trevi, Fred said he was going to buy more of their shares. I didn’t release they all owned them or just how many. I can only think that they saved all their lives and invested wisely.”

Paolo said, “I don’t know the tax position, you will need to talk to our financial advisor for that, but personally I would hang on to the SuperBurger shares. Can you imagine turning up at an AGM! I think I might get rid of the domestic properties and have a look at the commercial ones, you never know you could have a new sandwich or chicken shop there. Do you know how much they need in cash?” “I have no idea, and I don’t think they do yet,” said Jinnie. “I think it will depend on what else they find. Do you think we could build an extension? I would like a couple of visitors’ extra en-suite bedrooms and a huge kitchen with an island and a utility room.”

“I’m sure we could afford that,” said Paolo. “In fact, I think we could probably afford that without your new inheritance. I fancy a second home in Barbados like Brian and Belinda.” “I had thought of that,” said Jinnie. “We could use it for all the school and summer holidays. The twins would love that.”


Jinnie tapped on Alberto’s door and he waved her in. Jinnie sat down and Alberto said, “Are you OK? You look rather white, like you’ve had a shock.” “I have,” replied Jinnie. “I can’t talk about it at the moment, but I really could do with that coffee you offered earlier.” Alberto poured a mug from the filter machine in the corner of his office, added a dash of milk and handed it to Jinnie. She took a sip and then another, before saying, “That is good, just how I like it, you know me too well.” One of the things that Jinnie liked about Alberto was that if she told him she didn’t want to talk about something, he didn’t push the subject but moved on.

Alberto said, “I wanted to talk about a couple of things. I expect you saw the article in this morning’s Mail. Well, it was lifted straight from the Potters Bar Press website. The rest of the media have gone with the story, and it has been chaos on the phone. I have put up a recorded message on the answer phone, but the reception staff are going to get it when they come in. I was pondering a joint statement from us, nothing much, just saying how we had got to know the three quite well since we first produced a special lunch and we’re sorry to hear of their passing. How they had given great service to the nation and would be badly missed.” “Please do it,” said Jinnie. “I’m happy to put my name to something like that.”

“I also wanted to talk about business,” added Alberto, “as we seem to be going from strength to strength. As you know, the latest kitchens in Edgbaston opened last week, and I have been looking at the figures and this last weekend they were doing as much business as some of the established kitchens. In fact, the Italian kitchen is almost running at full capacity and the English is not far behind. Now I have noticed that at peak times our computer system is struggling. It’s OK right now when it’s quiet and I can get data back almost instantly, but in the middle of a busy service it visibly slows, and on Saturday night I was afraid it was going to crash. I spoke to Brian, as he is nominally in charge of company IT, and he says he has reached the extent of his computer knowledge. We really need to separate finance and IT and bring in an expert IT director to overhaul our system.”

Jinnie remembered the recent conversation with Nigel about an ERP system and how Brian was thinking about the TT system. Jinnie replied, “I have only recently had a similar conversation with the DKL IT director, Nigel. He wants to move over to a new integrated system in the cloud and Brian has put money aside in the accounts to do so. But the DKL system is really struggling. We always knew we had invented the software by lashing together various systems and it would have to be replaced by an enterprise system at some stage. The overseas business we have been testing out over the past month have shown up the system problems and we are currently talking to potential software suppliers.”

“Interesting,” replied Alberto. “Brian didn’t mention this to me when we talked.” “He wouldn’t,” said Jinnie. “He’s much too discrete to mix the two businesses, but I wonder how much the TT system is being affected by the DKL system. We have numerous interfaces around the dark kitchens where the DKL ordering system sends data to the kitchens and takes the money and sends our portion to our bank and data to our servers. I’m beginning to think that it might make sense to talk to Nigel about the need to update our system or if he thinks it will improve once the DKL system is sorted out. But I am inclined to agree with you I think the time has come to hire our own IT director. We have grown so fast over the last couple of years that I think it would make a lot of sense.”


Jinnie was back in Hadley in time to have a snack lunch with Izzy, before heading to her garden office alone as Larry was nowhere to be seen. Izzy said, “When you’re out, he tends to spend a lot of time next door. I think Nigel is his second favourite person after you, and the twins are equal third. He only likes me because I usually feed him.” Jinnie was forming a plan about the Trattoria Trevi IT system in her head, but she wanted to sound out Brian before taking it any further.

Brian answered his mobile on the third ring and said, “Hello Jinnie, I’ve just been reading about you over my lunch. The Daily Telegraph website says in its report on yesterday’s funeral that you are a close friend of the Queen. It has also started a campaign for your three old friends to be awarded posthumous knighthoods.” “That’s nice,” said Jinnie, “but wouldn’t it have been better if they had campaigned while they were still alive? Now then Brian, I understand that you and Alberto have been talking about the TT IT system. I quite agree we are fast approaching the time we are going to need to do something. I have been wondering how you would feel if we had a reshuffle and we brought in a full-time IT director? With your two finance directors jobs it can’t be easy to have responsibility for the Trattoria Trevi IT system as well.”

“To tell you the truth, relieved,” said Brian. “It’s not been easy this past year, what with the Trattoria Trevi empire growing so fast. I have had to spend a lot of time bending Nigel’s ear and without his help and advice, I don’t think I could have managed. I would be delighted to give up the position. But we will need a good IT director.” “I know, I have someone in mind,” replied Jinnie.

Jinnie’s next call was to Nigel. He answered, and after saying ‘hello’, he asked, “Are you chasing the report on ERP or the polished version of the Brixton website?” “Neither,” said Jinnie. “It’s advice I am after, you know the Trattoria Trevi IT system better than anyone, I am being told that at peak times it is slowing down, do you think it is a problem with the TT system or the interface with the DKL system?” “That’s easy, it’s both. It has clearly been struggling with the interconnections with the DKL system and if we install ERP, it will clearly help, but the TT group has expanded so fast the system is trying to cope with things it just wasn’t designed to do, besides you now have a sandwich business, a fried chicken business, overseas businesses, and I nearly forgot, a thriving events business. It’s no wonder it slows down. If I were their IT director, I would be recommending the same solution as DKL, an ERP system. And it is an even better fit with the business because TT operates so many companies, they can all be siloed within a single database.”

“What do you mean ‘siloed’?” asked Jinnie. “Well,” said Nigel, “think of the ERP system as like a huge honeycomb made up of loads of cells. Together they make one thing, but you can allocate any number into a ‘silo’ that represents one company but some of these cells can be in multiple silos. It’s ideal for companies with lots of divisions or subsidiaries like TT (Holdings). For example, the individual restaurants can each have its own area for its own financial data which is shared with (Holdings) accounts. But the HR data is shared centrally but accessed locally, so each restaurant can enter things like holiday days used. It sounds complicated but really means that data is never duplicated as it is only held in one place and used by anyone who needs it.”

“That’s amazing,” said Jinnie. “But it sounds expensive.” “It is initially,” said Nigel, “but once set up it saves pots of money and makes it easy to use. When someone puts a bit of data into the system, it becomes available to anyone authorised to see it or use it.” “Thank you for explaining,” said Jinnie. “Now I have a big question for you: Do you think Jed is ready to step up and become an IT Director?” “Absolutely yes,” said Nigel. “You could do a lot worse than hire him. It is an exciting position in a very fast-growing company and setting up all those overseas companies will be amazing. I will be sorry to see him leave here but I wouldn’t stand in his way, he deserves the step up.” “Good,” replied Jinnie, “but that’s not quite what I had in mind. What I want is for him to step up to DKL IT director and for you to become the Trattoria Trevi Group IT director and set up the IT department. It would mean you and Camilla moving somewhere up near Potters Bar but the commute for her to the Francis Crick Institute would be less than a third of her current journey time. Isn’t it a short stroll from St Pancras? And there are direct trains from Potters Bar that do it in 25 minutes.”

“When do I start?” asked Nigel.


Armed with the advice of her financial advisor, Jinnie again met with Mr Mann but this time she had Paolo at her side for moral support. As they sat in the reception area, she said to him, “What is your first impression of these offices?” “Pretty grotty,” replied Paolo. “If I was looking for a solicitor, I would think again if I saw this. They could do the most fantastic legal work, but this place looks like it has been neglected and a prospective customer doesn’t see a prosperous legal practice. I don’t want luxury, that would indicate high charges. I want clean, fresh and modern.” “My thoughts entirely,” said Jinnie. “I don’t think it has been decorated since I was here when dear old Ethel Jennings died. According to that family tree over there, they employ over 60 people, so they clearly do a lot of business, but I think they could do a lot more if they tarted up the customer-facing areas. I might have a word with Mr Mann and recommend Belinda, but I’m going to have to tread very carefully.”

In the meeting, Jinnie explained what her financial advisor and accountants had advised. But she now clearly understood that whatever she asked for might not happen. The advisers had said that, basically, whatever she did once the estate had paid the Inheritance Tax and outstanding Income Tax and settled all the other bills, she was going to inherit a very large sum tax-free. But it was what she did with the inheritance then that counted. They could advise her and Paolo on effective tax and inheritance planning once they had the money in their hands but whatever they suggested, it was only a suggestion and Mann, Coombe and Company had a legal duty to the estate and would ultimately do their best for the estate.

Consequently, Jinnie suggested that her preferred order for raising cash to pay the tax etc., was first to sell the three retirement apartments, their contents, then the domestic properties, the commercial properties, then she listed the shareholdings in order of sale priority and finally retirement home holding and the lastly the shares in SuperBurgers. She didn’t tell Mr Mann that both her financial adviser and accountant had mentioned that with 15% of the shares she should push for a seat on the board, and she rather fancied that. Mr Mann’s secretary carefully noted Jinnie’s preferences before Mr Mann said, “We now have accessed the safe deposit box we located and we have found a number of National Saving bonds, for rather a large amount of money. Although they add to the estate and the amount tax payable, our preliminary calculations and discussions with HMRC indicate we will probably be able to pay the Inheritance Tax with the cash and bonds. That leaves our fees and the twin’s trusts. As a trustee, I would want to spread the trusts over various investments like shares, property, bonds and cash. I think it would save fees if we could just transfer some of the estate into the trusts and to you rather than liquidating it.” “I like that,” said Jinnie.

In Chapter 32 – A New IT Director Times Two

© WorthingGooner 2024