Knight & Deigh started life as a retelling of The Orphans, from the point of view of the second lead character, Hannice Knight. It begins in Tanzania as I remember it from the early 1980s, but some of the technologies used are much more recent. To that extent, it is anachronistic. Don’t forget, though; it is fictional, made up, lies. All of it.
Hannice Knight had run the African operation of his father’s global business for many years, when a freak accident at home left him unable to walk. Together with physiotherapist Sophie Deigh, he tries to bring into his life the excitement and adventure he missed in his formative years, due to the need to be tied to the business.
A number of adventures and activities follow including scuba-diving, sky-diving, power-boating and camping, and a half-brother he never knew about; but even these can’t lift Hannice’s spirits.
What, or who can? Will the developing closeness between Hannice and Sophie come to anything, and what of the rumoured advances in medical technology?
Beginning on 12 February 2017, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one scene each Sunday.
The full list of scenes so far published is here
Knight & Deigh. Chapter fourteen, scene one: Back to Knight Towers.
The time difference between Hawaii and London was decidedly inconvenient. When I finally got hold of Dr Harry, it was 8pm here.
“What’s up, Doc?” I asked.
“I don’t want to build your hopes up too much, Hannice, but there has been a development since the last set of trials, and I think it more likely that you will now be a solid candidate.”
“How likely is more likely?”
“Impossible to say until we do another set of tests. When can you come?”
“I think we’re finished here,” I said, “so we could be there in a couple of days.”
Sophie signalled to me.
“One minute, Dr Harry.”
Sophie showed me the flight details she had found.
“If we leave tomorrow, we can be there by Thursday afternoon. We would be heavily jet-lagged, though.”
“Why don’t you come and see me next Monday?” he asked.
“Fine, Hannice; you’re booked in.”
I turned to Sophie after I’d hung up the phone. “If we’re there by Thursday afternoon, that’ll give us three days at home with no commitments. Anything you’d like to do?”
“Let’s be daring and go into the office,” she said, “it’ll be good to see how things are settling down without you.”
“And if we find that they are doing well without us, and don’t really need us?”
“We rejoice. Then we make some decisions they’ll need to work out how to implement. Keep them on their toes.”
“Sophie,” I said, “I love…”
“I love that you are irreverent at times, but serious and sober when you need to be. You really do me a power of good, and keep me grounded, too.”
“And there was I, thinking it was your wheelchair that keeps you grounded,” she said playfully.
“What would I do without you, Sophie?”
“Let’s hope you never need to find out.”
“If I were religious, I would be saying amen to that!” I added.
Flitting between London, South Africa, South America and Hawaii was all very well, but it did involve a lot of hours stuck in aeroplanes. The flight from Honolulu to London, including stops at Los Angeles and JFK, lasted more than twenty-two hours. We arrived at Knight Towers around lunchtime on Thursday, and we both slept for the rest of the day. Sophie had been very good about keeping up my physio through all our travels and tribulations, but we had let it slip that day. The combination of a whole day travelling and a ten-hour time difference affected us both quite badly, and neither of us surfaced until Friday morning.
We made a surprise visit to the office on Friday and caught them somewhat off guard. In my absence, Henk had introduced a regular ‘dress-down Friday’ régime, which allowed everyone to come into the office in total scruff order, provided they donated five pounds to spinal injury research. I couldn’t really complain about that, could I?
Henk talked us through a few other changes the team had made when we joined him for lunch in the staff restaurant. That was new.
Max, Henk and Emily had put together a rewards and recognition group to look at salary and benefit levels, as well as conditions of employment and working environment. One of the first outcomes was to discontinue the use of vouchers and expenses for luncheon, replacing them with a staff restaurant of a sufficiently high quality to make it suitable, with side rooms for privacy, for entertaining clients and suppliers for business lunches.
Henk went through some of the other changes that the group was about to introduce at head office. If they work out, they plan to roll them out group-wide.
There was another tranche of suggestions that Henk felt should have my approval, and we agreed to have regular meetings for that purpose.
I asked Henk how Stephen Parker had fared in his interviews.
“He seemed like a good candidate for Head of Logistics,” he said. “He certainly has the right background, a good understanding of the business, a glowing reference from his previous firm and some useful contacts.”
“And I passed him through to Emily with a recommendation that she make him some kind of offer, subject to following up references and all the usual checks.”
“Has Emily come back to you?”
“Sure has, Boss. She offered Stephen a contract for a three-month trial period to see how he settles in. He started last week.”
“And how is he doing?”
“So far, so good. He seems to be establishing a rapport with the department, and my information is that, so far, his people are happy with him as their boss. There hasn’t been a panic job yet, so I can’t be sure how he will react under pressure, but my feeling is that he will be okay.”
“Do you see him as potential director material, Henk?” I asked.
“Too soon to say, Boss,” Henk replied, “I’ll have a reasonable idea, by the end of his three-month trial, if he has a long-term future with Knight Global, but it will take a year or two to assess his potential as a director.”
While I was meeting with Henk, Sophie spoke with a number of the senior PAs, to take their view on the state of the business under the new management régime. We exchanged notes on the way home.
“How are the PAs taking all the changes?” I asked.
“They’re mostly in favour,” Sophie replied. “One or two said that having business lunches in the company restaurant removed one of their perks. They had arrangements with a few local restaurants that gave them discounts on their own dining in exchange for giving them Knight Global business.”
“Is that likely to be a problem?”
“I don’t think so. I think they know that they were wrong to accept favours for giving business to the restaurants. If they didn’t before, they know now, that if they complain about this to their bosses, they run the risk of being disciplined for taking the discounts in the first place.”
“Good work, Sophie. I hadn’t put you down as a company woman.”
“I have to support my man,” she said coyly.
“And I didn’t know I was your man,” I said with a wink.
“Get used to it,” she replied.