Knight & Deigh started life as a retelling of The Orphans, from the point of view of the second lead character, Hannice Knight. It, too, is partly set in the rural Tanzania I remember 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 Five, scene three: Max’s plans.
Back at Nocturne, Max and I decided that we could pull our agenda forward by half a day. Max started to go through her ideas for KIT.
“In essence, Hannice,” she said, “if you want me to run this company, then I want full control, and I want the freedom to run it according to my beliefs.”
“Beliefs?” I asked, “What beliefs? The business is there to make money.”
“Simply this,” Max began, “I don’t want to run a business that just makes big profits, with no thought for the needs of its host country. If you want it run like that, you will need to find someone else. Here’s what I propose.”
She pulled up a spreadsheet on her laptop, with a pie chart overlaid.
“My concerns in this country are: HIV, especially inherited HIV, and the plight of people with albinism. KIT is already addressing the former by investing in JPT, and I am delighted at that. For my first discretionary investment, I propose that KIT invest in start-ups that have a stated goal that fits with my concerns. For instance: there is one new business making sunscreen that actually helps people with albinism. No commercial, cosmetic sunscreens do. I want to support young enterprises like that, providing them with start-up capital and supporting them in other ways, too.”
“I’m interested, Max,” I said, “tell me about these other ways you want to help.”
“My idea is to set up a division of KIT to offer administration and accountancy services to these young businesses during their start-up periods. This division would give the same services to KIT and KTA, and to JPT if required. The income from the internal work would effectively subsidise what we do for the start-ups, allowing us to support them at cost.”
“Sounds like you’ve thought this through, Max.”
“I have Hannice; but there’s more,” she said, “I have looked at Lindy’s workload and his capabilities. I would like him to manage this division. I think he is up to it, and I think he’s ready for it.”
“Have you spoken to him about it?”
“No, I haven’t. I wanted to clear it with you first.”
“Consider it cleared,” I said. “If you think he can handle it, that’s fine with me. But are you sure you can run KIT and KTA, as well as your own business?”
“I shall have to let my business go dormant. To be frank, though, I really don’t see that these two give me a full-time job between them.”
“Delighted and relieved to hear you say that, old thing,” I said.
“Why’s that?” she asked.
“Tell you tomorrow. You carry on with your pitch.”
“That’s about it, Hannice. I’m not sure whether to set up the services division as a separate company, but that’s the only uncertainty I have. What do you think? You know Tanzania better than I do.”
“Do that. Set up a company, wholly owned by KIT, which will automatically make you CEO. It will be Tanzanian owned and, if you think the boy’s up to it, young Lindy can run the show, under your leadership. Thought of a name for it?”
“I have. As a boost for Lindy, as much as anything else, I rather like the sound of ‘Holy Island Services’.”
“Oh, brava! Splendid suggestion. Okay, Max. Everything agreed in principle. Let’s get down to numbers, shall we?”
Max presented her cash flow and balance sheet forecasts and went into the business plan in greater depth. We spent the rest of the afternoon throwing numbers all over the place. With the backing of Knight Global Trading, this could work. Once we had agreed the viability of her proposals, on paper at least, I spoke with Dick Branson, and had him start the process of creating Holy Island Services, Limited. I also asked Lindy to call around to the house on his way to work the following morning.
We stopped at that point, happy that we achieved everything we had set out to achieve that day, and more besides. In fact, I rather thought we had achieved in one afternoon everything we thought would need two full days to get through. The next day I could explain my plans to Max.