Jinnie’s Story- Book Six, Chapter Twenty-Eight

A trip to the Palace.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal

On Wednesday Jinnie dropped the twins at school before heading to Potters Bar station to pick up the train to Finsbury Park and then the Tube to Brixton. There was an icy drizzle in the air as she hurried to the first U.K. branch of Aunty JoJo’s Chicken Shack. She stopped outside to admire the illuminated sign and the bright yellow and blue paint job. Inside she found Jason and Patricia with mugs of builder’s tea. Jinnie was warming her hands on a mug when Belinda arrived and Jason called out to one of his team for another tea, no sugar. “I can’t understand you ladies not taking sugar,” Jason muttered. Patrica said, “I never drink tea at home, it is not very good in the restaurants.”

Belinda said, “I have to say I love the outside, it’s really eye-catching, just what is needed in a crowded market and the illuminated sign looks good, I need to see it on but I’m satisfied so far.” As Belinda finished speaking, the door opened and Chef Blake walked in. Patricia introduced him to the others, and he said, “Good morning everyone, I must say I had no problem finding the place, it really stands out.” “I was just saying the same,” said Belinda.

After a few minutes getting acquainted, they started their tour in the kitchen. It had changed since Jinnie’s last visit and now had the proper ceiling, lighting and flooring installed. Belinda asked Jason, “Has the building inspector been in since this was finished?” “Yes,” replied Jason, “He was in yesterday and said he was happy with everything except it needed cleaning.” Belinda huffed and said, “That’s nothing to do with him, that’s health and safety and it will be deep cleaned before they set foot in here.” To Jinnie it looked fine, but Belinda pointed out where building dust had settled. Chef Blake ran a finger over a surface and said, “Yes, it needs a good clean before we start cooking, when will it be done?” “Tomorrow,” answered Jason, just as Brooke puffed in to join them. “Sorry I’m a bit late, I had trouble parking.”

Chef Blake walked round looking at all the kitchen equipment, opening every cupboard and drawer. Finally, he said, “I approve, this is pretty good. When can I get my brigade in, when will we be getting deliveries, when do we open?” Belinda said, “This is my final snagging round so far, I have nothing on my list that’s external and kitchen. I hope to hand the keys to Brooke on Friday morning after Thursday’s deep clean then it’s up to you guys when to open but we’ll be out a week early.”

Brooke and Patrica put their heads together for a minute before Brooke said “When you get your brigade in chef is up to you once we have the keys. We can get the deliveries in from first thing Monday, so I suggest you and the manager get together and sort out training. As I said, any time after we have the keys on Friday morning. All the crockery and flatware is here, the menus are due first thing Monday and the software people can be here 9 o’clock Monday morning to do the training, it shouldn’t take more than an hour. How about we open for breakfast at 8 o’clock a week on Monday? I have a short, sharp advertising campaign lined up in the local papers and local commercial radio. I think I will start it on radio this coming weekend and in the Evening Standard and other papers on Monday.”

Of course, Belinda found a couple of tiny things she wasn’t happy with, a bit of patchy painting and a missing cap on a screw holding a full-length mirror to the wall in the Ladies. Once again Jinnie who had tried her best to spot things just hadn’t seen them, which reminded her to ask Belinda if Ro had spoken to her about snagging her new house. Belinda confirmed that she had and would go around with her and the builder. Belinda joked, “I have bought a new A4 pad in anticipation”.


On Friday Jinnie dropped the twins off for school and had a quick word with Miss Evans, explaining that when she picked them up after school they really were invited to the Palace for tea. They were sure to be telling their friends about it and it wasn’t in their imagination. Miss Evans asked what time they had to be there and Jinnie said 4:30 so it was going to be a rush to get them home, changed and to the Palace on time. Miss Evans said, “Would you like to pick them up 30 minutes early, I’ll put them down as having a dental appointment?”

On the way back home, her phone rang and announced, “Brooke is calling,” through the car’s radio. Jinnie pressed the ‘answer’ button and said, “Morning Brooke, is everything OK?” “Yes, boss,” Brooke replied, “We have the keys, and the place looks fantastic. Jason has put up the wall-mounted menus and the big advertising pictures. The manager has got the front-of-house people in sorting out the tables and chairs and we have salt and pepper and sauce on the tables already. Chef Blake has his brigade in and is explaining the equipment and menus. Patricia is ecstatic, she strolled in after breakfast in the hotel and said it looked ready to open. I told her it might look ready physically, but the staff are raw, but she, the manager and chef are already talking about opening tomorrow week when there are lots of people out shopping.”

Jinnie thought for a moment and said, “Brooke it’s really up to you, this branch falls under your division. If you think they are ready, then OK, but if you want to leave it until the Monday then I’ll go with you. There is no pressure from me.” “Thanks boss,” replied Brooke, “I would like to leave it until, say Wednesday, to make a decision and then if we do go for Saturday. I think it should be a soft launch. We just unlock the door and turn the signs to open, if people come in great but we still go for the ribbon cutting on Monday with the press presence.” “Now that makes a lot of sense to me,” said Jinnie.

“One other thing while we are chatting,” said Brooke, “Have you given any thought to where the next Chicken Shacks are going to be?” Jinnie laughed out loud and answered, “I have some general ideas, but I really wanted to see how this branch bedded in first.” “I was driving down Ladbroke Grove on my way home from a possible sandwich shop and there it was a double-fronted closed-down burger joint. I parked and walked back; through the glass it looked perfect. It’s just south of the elevated section of the M4 on a run of shops and pubs. I noted down the estate agent’s number, and they are e-mailing the details. I’ll forward them to you, but I would like to see it this week while Patricia is still here.” “OK,” said Jinnie, “I’ll look at the details and let you know what I think, but I hadn’t considered Ladbroke Grove, I was thinking Tottenham, Harlesden or Wood Green.” “I’ll have a look there too,” said Brooke, “I have a really good feeling about this project.”


At 2:29 Jinnie pulled up outside the twin’s school and saw Miss Evans in the doorway telling them to run across the playground to mummy. The twins climbed into their booster seats and as Jinnie belted them in Millie said, “Mummy, I thought we were going to Buckingham Palace for tea. Miss Evans told class we were leaving early because we are going to the dentist.” Jinnie said, “Miss Evans told the class a white lie because she didn’t want to have to let them all out early. Now we don’t have to rush quite so much. Izzy has your jeans, tee shirts, pullovers and best trainers on your beds ready to change and as soon as you are ready, we are off the Palace for tea, I hope you are hungry.” “I hope Izzy has put out the white trainers with the big blue tick,” said Willie “They are ace.”

Fifteen minutes later they set off for the Palace with the twins in their best casual clothes and with their hair brushed. The twins liked travelling in the Lexus as it had TV screens in the backs of the front seats so they could either watch TV or plug in their tablets and play games or watch videos, so journeys went quickly. Jinnie had all the paperwork and the car pass was stuck to the windscreen. The invitation said to approach the North Central gate, it would be opened to let them in, and a policeman would direct them to their allocated parking.

Without being asked, the twins turned off their TVs as Jinnie drove down the Mall. Millie asked, “Is that the Palace where the King and Queen live in front?” “Yes,” said Izzy as Jinnie tackled the roundabout with the statue of Queen Victoria in front of the Palace. Izzy continued, “When the Germans were in charge, before the War of Liberation, they took that statue down and hid it. Nigel, your godfather, organised a big search for it, soldiers found it in a warehouse in Portsmouth and Nigel had it restored.” “Gosh,” said Willie, “Was the King pleased?” “He was delighted,” replied Izzy.

The twins looked on in amazement as a policeman with an iPad talked to their mother through the open window. After clicking on several buttons, the gates opened, and he directed them around the north side of the Palace to a parking spot where a uniformed footman was waiting. After the footman had guided them into their parking place, he led them in through a side door, down a couple of corridors and up in an old lift to the second floor. He then said, “The Queen is waiting for you in the children’s accommodation. Please follow me, it is in another wing and some bits of this wing are still to be refurbished.” The footman eventually opened a door to a large room overlooking the gardens at the rear of the Palace where the Queen sat watching the Princes and Princess playing tennis on a Nintendo Switch.

Then Queen Kate got up and said to her children, “Come and say hello to your guests.” Izzy had taught Willie to bow and Millie to curtsy, which they did to perfection. The children all gathered round the Nintendo and chatted while the Queen said, “Hello,” to Jinnie and was introduced to Izzy. After a few minutes she said, “Come on children, it’s time to eat and I think Nanny has got some treats for you today,” before leading everyone through double doors into what she told Jinnie was the children’s dining room. Nanny was standing by the table that was laden with plates of sandwiches, biscuits and cakes and jugs of juice. Kate said, “I sent a footman down to the nearest Artisan Sandwich Shop and all the sandwiches and cakes and Bakewell tarts come from there. I’m sorry but the biscuits are from Fortnum and Mason’s selection tins. The children love the chocolate ones, but I prefer the more sophisticated ones like the lemon curd and the stem ginger.” “They all sound wonderful,” replied Jinnie, “Perhaps we should try baking biscuits, they could be our next big thing!”

The queen waved the royal children to sit down and put freshly starched napkins on their laps. Jinnie was pleased to see the twins follow suit and thought, ‘At least they don’t need prompting with the serviettes.’ Queen Kate said, “Nanny, Jinnie and I can take it from here. Why don’t you and Izzy withdraw to your parlour.” Turning to Jinnie she said, “I want to hear all about your Caribbean cruise. It’s something I have always wanted to do, but I won’t ever get the chance now I’m queen. Then I want to hear about your new venture, Nigel tells me you are about to open a ‘Chicken Shack’ in Brixton. You do these interesting things, things I would have loved to do but can’t. When we first met, I thought you were doing things I might’ve done if I hadn’t met William at university.”

As the twins and the royal children tucked into the sandwiches and the Queen poured the Juice for them, Jinnie talked about the cruise, the flight out, joining the ship, the cabins, the entertainment, the food and the islands. Kate said, “You know I can have wonderful food and attend massive events in expensive clothes, but I would love to be able to do what you did, to take the children away into the sun and enjoy a couple of weeks not being in the public eye. But it is impossible we are recognised everywhere.”

“That’s so sad,” said Jinnie, “You can never really know what it’s like to have friends just turn up and order a takeaway. Or to decide to go to the beach on the spur of the moment. You can’t do what most of your subjects do every day.” “That’s not entirely true,” replied Kate, “When we are in Norfolk in the summer, we can just wander on the estate, but I know there is always a close protection man round the corner. We do have the occasional meal delivered to the back door, a burger and chips is a huge relief from formal dinner and reminds us of our student days. The old Queen used to ask the kitchen for a poached egg on toast, but she complained they cut the crust off the toast and put a half tomato on the side to ‘posh it up’. She said if she asked for a boiled egg and soldiers she wouldn’t have been surprised if the household cavalry delivered it.”

“Now tell me how your Chicken Shack is going I remember you telling Charlie about it,” said Kate, “Am I going to be able to get it delivered.” “Well, it’s not open yet, we only have one branch in the U.K. at the moment and we haven’t yet sorted out deliveries. It’s too early yet, but when we have been open a while, delivery is something I fully intend to look at, but it’s a long way from Brixton to Buckingham Palace and it would be cold by the time it got here.” Kate and Jinnie chuckled over that and Jinnie explained how she had firstly found and bought the TT Continental restaurant and had then seen the queues outside Aunty JoJo’s Chicken Shack, just how good the food was and how it was killing the KFC over the road. She explained how they had launched a joint venture with the owner, the daughter of the original Aunty JoJo and quickly opened a second outlet. How when the KFC over the road had closed down, they had moved Aunty JoJo’s into the much bigger premises. How they had opened two more branches, then an airport branch and more recently another branch in Bridgetown with another opening any day.

“Nigel told me the business was growing in the Caribbean, but I didn’t realise just how fast,” the Queen said. By now the children had moved on the cakes and biscuits and Willie had a smear of chocolate on his cheek. Kate produced a wet wipe and handed it to Jinnie saying, “I always keep them handy, with my three, I get through a lot.” Once the children had finished, Kate told them to go back into the next-door room while she and Jinnie finished chatting over another cup of tea. Jinnie continued telling Kate about her plans for Trinidad and then said that Brixton was only to test the British market. If it made money she intended to expand the chain in the U.K. and her fast food division director had already earmarked a second site.

They continued chatting until the door opened and King William entered. He apologised for missing tea but said he had been busy on the phone to the US president. Reaching out he grabbed a sliced boiled egg and tomato sandwich on crusty white bread and bit into it, before exclaiming, “This is really good, have we got a new chef?” Kate laughed and said, “That is your daughter’s favourite sandwich and it comes from one of Jinnie’s shops, as does that chocolate cake you are eyeing up.” “If this is a sample of the quality no wonder Nigel tells me the business is booming,” said William.

Kate said to Jinnie, “When Nigel retired, we decided to keep in touch, the children love him and we often talk on the phone. He doesn’t get here so often now but he seems to have his finger on the pulse of the nation so much better than Richard. Don’t get me wrong, Richard is a very good prime minister, but he is not Nigel, with Richard it’s all business there’s no gossip like with Nigel.”

Jinnie replied, “I know exactly what you mean, Nigel is the twins’ godfather, they adore him and are always in his pool. Besides he spoils them something rotten.” Kate said, “I understand his house is lovely, but we won’t ever see it, it would be inappropriate for us to be seen with the ex-PM. We are supposed to be politically neutral, hence why we only see him occasionally when he creeps in the back entrance for a visit or at some of the official dinners when we can invite him.”

“I have an idea,” said Jinnie, “How would it be if you secretly came to my house for dinner one evening, we can get it catered by Trattoria Trevi and Nigel can come round. Better still come after lunch and the children can all go swimming in Nigel’s pool, in fact we all can. We have a gate in the garden wall, and we can visit without anyone knowing.” William looked at Kate who nodded and said, “I’d love that and so would the children, but just one thing. If you have Trattoria Trevi cater the dinner it will be just like any other posh dinner. I crave something ordinary. How about you order a delivery meal for us all, something we all like. I know what I would like, and the kids would love it. Tomato soup to start, we always have something fancy I want plain cream of tomato, maybe with basil. Then I want sausage toad and baked beans with HP sauce to dip the sausages in, just like we used to when we were in uni. Finally, I want raspberry jam roly-poly with lashings of good old custard. What was it they used to call it when you were in the forces Wills, dead man’s leg.”

“That’s a deal then,” said Jinnie, “We only need to sort out a date which suits everyone, I guess a Saturday or Sunday is best as the children will not be at school. You don’t need to worry about security with Nigel living next door our road is about as safe as this Palace, even the milkman and the paperboy have been security checked. Oh, I have just thought of something, we have a cat, I hope no one is allergic to cats.” “You mean the famous Larry,” said William, “Charlie would love to meet him, she has been begging us to get a cat for ages, she loves the dog, but I don’t think we should have both. I hear Larry is quite an old man now and still missed by the Downing Street staff.”

Kate promised to consult the official diary and email Jinnie with some dates. Jinnie said she would talk to Nigel and confirm things as soon as possible, and the visit was over. As Jinnie drove out of the gates she asked the children if they had enjoyed themselves. Together they caroused “Yes” and went on to say the tea had been ‘lush’, the Queen was lovely, and Willie said he wished the royal children went to their school as they were nice.

Izzy said she and Nanny had got on well and had known some of the same staff at Norland Nannies. Jinnie explained that they were trying to sort out a day when the Royals could come to their house but it had to be a secret only Daddy and Nigel could be told.


Halfway up the Finchley Road Jinnie’s mobile rang and the telephone’s voice read out the caller’s number as it was not in her contacts list. Jinnie pressed the steering wheel button to answer, expecting it to be a scammer calling and simply said a tentative “Hello”. The caller asked, “Is that Dame Jinnie? Jinnie answered, “Yes,” and the voice said, “I’m sorry I have some bad news for you. I am the deputy matron at the Green Acres retirement home, I’m sorry to have to tell you that Bert died this afternoon. Dr Carter says that Fred and Jimmy both seem to have given up the will to live and neither of them are expected to last the night.”

Jinnie felt her eyes filling with tears and she pulled over to the side of the road saying to the deputy matron, “Hold on a moment, I am driving, just let me pull over.” Jinnie quickly swapped seats with Izzy, and they resumed the journey home. The matron continued, “I rang you because all three of them have you down as their only contact. Dr Carter says he is doing everything he can for them, but they have given up and he suggests that if you would like to say goodbye to Fred and Jimmy you should get here as soon as possible.”

Jinnie looked at Izzy who said, “We can be there in 30 minutes, I’ll drop you off and take the twins home, stay as long as you need, I’ll look after the twins and sort out Paolo. Just ring and one of us will pick you up.” Jinnie said to the deputy matron, “You probably heard that, you are on loudspeaker in the car. I will be with you just as soon as possible. Please tell them I’m coming as quickly as I can.” Thirty-five minutes later it was with enormous trepidation and tears streaming down her cheek that Jinnie kissed the twins and got out of the Lexus and ran into the retirement home.

In Chapter 29 – A triple funeral is organised

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