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 four: Hannice’s plans.
The next morning, after breakfast had been cleared away, Sophie, Max and I remained around the table, chatting idly while waiting for Lindy to appear.
There was a knock on the door. Kanene announced that Lindy was waiting at the main gate. The walinzi wouldn’t allow him in without authorisation, and we hadn’t given them notice of his arrival. Max went to the gate and showed him in.
Once at the table, I explained our plans.
“Miss Matham…” I said.
“Max,” she interrupted.
“Max,” I repeated, “will take over the management of Knight Trading (Africa), and will be in total control of Knight Investments Tanzania. A new company, Holy Island Services—”
“Ooh! That’s like my name,” Lindy said, excitedly clapping his hands together from the wrist as he did so, “Lindisfarne.” Turning to Sophie, he added, parenthetically, “that’s my real name; it’s the name of an island somewhere in the north of England, and it’s called Holy Island as well. Sorry. Sorry. Carry on.”
“Thank you, Lindy,” I said. “The new company will be headed by Max, but managed on a day-to-day basis by you, Lindy. It was Max’s idea to name it after you, as its manager.”
Lindy raised his eyebrows and blushed slightly. “Thank you so much, Max,” he said effusively, “it means a lot to me.”
“Quite. This company will provide all accounting and administration services to KTA and KIT. We will offer to use it for Jaxson’s operation as well. As well as that, KIT will offer to provide accountancy and administration services to start-ups that it funds. You need to go away and think seriously about this, Lindy. We’re talking about a massive increase in responsibility and workload for you. You can discuss the details with Max at another time, but for now we just need to know if you think you are up to it.”
“So. Let me get this straight,” Lindy said, “I will be Max’s executive assistant for the old company and the new investment company,”
“And, on top of that, I will be in charge of accounting and admin for some other companies. Is that right?”
“So will that mean I have to hire and fire accountancy and admin staff and manage them?”
Max interjected at this point, “When the workload becomes more than one person can reasonably be expected to handle, I would expect you, with support from me, to find and engage suitable staff.”
“I don’t need to go away and think about it. I’ll do it. I imagine it will mean a pay rise?” he asked.
“I would expect a modest increase immediately, to reflect the extra work and responsibility,” Max replied, “scaling to a larger one, depending on how well you and the company do.”
“It’s going to make me an important person, isn’t it?”
Max looked at me and picked up on my nod, “I suppose so, yes.”
“More important than a PA,” he suggested. I noted, with some amusement, that he had referred to his current position as PA and not Executive Assistant.
“Certainly,” Max replied.
“In that case, I would like to be known as LJ, rather than Lindy. Lindy is such a junior sounding name. LJ sounds more like a manager’s name, doesn’t it? I mean, can you see business cards… I imagine I will have business cards, Max?”
“I expect so. I can see arranging them being one of your first admin tasks.”
“Oh goody. But business cards saying Lindy Aldredge, Manager won’t be anything like as impressive as LJ Aldredge, will they?”
“Why not Lindisfarne Aldredge?” I asked.
“One, it sounds pretentious and I may be a lot of things and I probably am, truth be told, but I am not pretentious; and two, I actually hate the name – it’s so not me!”
“Thank you, LJ,” I said, pointedly, “back to the office, now, and start drawing up plans. I’d like to go through them with Max and yourself before I leave Africa next week.”
“Ooh, thank you Boss. You called me LJ. Love it, love it, love it.”
And with that, he was gone. One very happy LJ.
I then launched into my plans.
“As you know, old thing, I’ve been stuck behind that desk for more than twenty years. This injury has set me thinking about my life and what I want from it.
“Been hearing some things that increase the chance of walking again, but it’s still just a chance. There’s still a real possibility that I may never get out of this blasted chair. The thought of being here, wheelchair-bound as well as desk-bound, for another two decades doesn’t appeal. Decided we’re going to have some fun.”
“Of course. I still need physio, and young Sophie here will make sure I don’t do more than my body can take; isn’t that right, old girl?”
“You can be assured, Max,” Sophie said, “that as long as I’m around, Hannice won’t do anything that could make his condition worse.”
“That’s good to hear,” Max said, “but what are you planning to do, and for how long? Don’t forget I have a business of my own that I’d like to get back to someday.”
“I think you can forget that, Max,” Hannice said.
“What do you mean, forget that?” Max said, tetchily, “You can’t just brush my needs aside so you can gratify your own.”
“Hear me out, old thing. My plan, provided you agree and support it, is to remain Chairman and CEO of Knight Global Trading and all its directly owned subsidiaries. I want to delegate the job of running it, which will include many of the powers of my office, to two people. Operational responsibility, including Marketing, HR and Admin, will go to Henk Overbock. Henk is currently Regional Director Europe and COO of our Dutch company, and will be promoted to Global COO. Financial responsibility, including ICT, will go to the soon-to-be-appointed Global CFO, some woman by the name of Matham.
“If you go along with that; and we’ll talk about salary and conditions separately; you will be Global CFO, responsible for the financial, accountancy and ICT operations of the entire group, in addition to being CEO for all African operations, as Regional Director. Think that’ll be enough to keep you occupied? Sure you’ll still want to go back to your own outfit?”
She still seemed uncertain. “And if you decide, after a year or two, that you want to take the reins back?”
“Then we talk about re-assigning duties. Roles won’t change. As far as your duties go, I’m not Papa when it comes to figures, and computers hate me. I may grab small chunks from Henk and yourself, but I shall most likely stick to a high-level, strategic involvement, leaving the coal-face to others.”
“I want to sleep on this,” she said. “Meanwhile, what are your plans in the short-term?”
“Twenty years I’ve lived in this country. You know what I’ve seen of it? Dar-es-Salaam and Arusha, that’s what. Sophie and I are going on a safari to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro. That’s what we were excited about when we came back on Tuesday evening. Looked at the brochures, watched some video, and we were as excited as a couple of schoolkids.”
“It’s all planned then?”
“Planned and paid for, Max. We leave here tomorrow morning, fly to Arusha and pick up a vehicle and driver. Then it’s two nights on the rim of Ngorongoro with two days in the crater, a side trip to nearby Lake Manyara, and then into the great Serengeti range for four nights. When that’s finished, we could fly from Arusha to Nairobi, then straight back to Blighty, or we can come back to Dar and go home from there. Will you need to see us before we go?”
“I won’t need to, but I’d quite like to.”
“We’ll do that then,” I said, and asked Sophie to pass the revised itinerary to the booking agent.
“Tell me what you think about my plans when we come back from safari.”