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 six, scene one: The safari and after.
That safari was the best adventure I could recall for a long time. We stayed in adjacent single lodges on the rim of the crater at Ngorongoro, making the two-thousand feet descent to the crater bed using a specially adapted Land Rover to negotiate the ludicrously steep track down the rim road. Although our driver-cum-guide, Richard, did his best to make the trip down as smooth as he could, it was impossible to avoid the bumps and jars that my immobile legs couldn’t brace against.
Was the trip down worth the discomfort? I’ll say it was. I had been told that there was a greater concentration of wildlife in the crater than anywhere else on the planet, and contrary to what I had thought, this wasn’t sales patter. The year-round presence of water drives many animals to climb the steep sides of the crater. We didn’t see all the crater floor, but we did see large herds of wildebeest and zebra, lions, rhinoceros, elephants, gazelles, giraffe, water buffalo and a fabulous diversity of birds. Sophie got out a couple of times to take photographs, but I stayed in the vehicle to avoid the palaver of getting the chair out, opening it up and hauling myself into it; only to have to do the whole thing in reverse a couple of minutes later. I did get out in a quiet clearing in the Serengeti, where we had a picnic lunch on the third day. It was driven home to me just how wise it was to stay in the vehicle when, while we were in the middle of our lunch, a tower of giraffes suddenly took off and navigated between the trees, leaning into the turns like a group of racing motorcyclists.
Our guide suddenly shouted to us, with a real sense of urgency, “Something has spooked them. Back into the vehicle; quickly, please!”
I do believe, had there been something dangerous nearby, I could not have re-entered the vehicle quickly enough to save myself.
The safari over, we returned to Dar-es-Salaam to see the old Knight Trading (Africa) offices transformed. What had been my office, but which by then had become Max’s, had reduced in size a little; it was still quite large for one person, but that was the norm for businesses of this type in the area; while what had been Lindy’s alcove was enlarged and partitioned, its door proudly bearing a polished brass sign that read “Holy Island Services Ltd, L J Aldredge – Manager”. The pillar adjacent to the entrance door now bore three brass plaques, proclaiming the building as housing the registered offices of Knight Trading (Africa) Ltd, Knight Investments (Tanzania) Ltd and Holy Island Services Ltd.
I looked around, and was impressed with what Max had been able to achieve in such a short time. Things didn’t normally move as quickly in this part of the world.
“How will you manage to juggle three jobs, three companies?” I asked Max.
“No problem. Separate incoming phone numbers. We’ll always know which company a call is for.”
“Looks like you’ve thought of everything, Max. Got it well covered.”
“That’s what you pay me for,” she replied, “speaking of which—”
“I know,” I interrupted, “I’ll do some work when I get home, and put together a package you’re sure to like.”
Lindy came bounding in. “Ooh, Max,” he said, in a manner more camp than I could recall seeing in all the years we had worked together. He saw Sophie and me, pulled himself short and put on his official face. “Good morning, Mr Knight, Mrs Deigh,” he said, very soberly.
“Hi, Lindy,” we replied in unison.
“LJ please, Mr Knight,” Lindy said in a manner that suggested he had been slighted. He immediately slipped out of character, giggled like a teenager, and added, “Only joking, Boss. Call me what you like; you’re still the boss. Well, technically, Max is my boss, but you’re her boss and so… well, you know what I mean. Ooh, Max! That’s what I came in for. Listen. I just had a call from Roger at Jaxson’s. According to him, everything has gone through and we now own 51% of Jaxson’s local outfit. Well, Roger says that his boss has told him that we would be looking after the admin and accounts and he should start briefing me. I didn’t expect it to be that quick. Shouldn’t you bosses talk about it first, before we do? Though I suppose I’m a bit of a boss now, if you look at it that way; but I still think you should be telling me what I take over and when, not him and—”
“Stop and breathe, Lindy,” I advised.
“Sorry, Boss,” he said.
“You’re right, of course,” Max said. “I’ll call Paul Jaxson and set up a meeting to talk about this. You need to be there, and I expect Paul will want his man—”
“Yes, Roger to be there, too. That way, we can settle the principles and the practicalities at the same time. Do you want to sit in on this, Hannice?”
“We’ll be away in the morning. You handle it, Max,” I said, “that’s what I pay you for,” I added, with a wink.
When Lindy left us, I turned to more serious matters.
“You haven’t responded to my offer yet,” I said.
“I’m with you in principle, Hannice,” Max replied, “obviously, we need to talk more about my reward package, and I have to be happy that the rest of your senior people are comfortable with the appointments but basically, yes. I’m in.”
“Excellent,” I said, “I’ll set up a virtual conference with the regional directors and the central management team. You can join by video link. Or you could come along to HQ and chew the fat around the table. Probably useful for you to meet Henk in person, anyway; you will be working quite closely together. I’ll call you when it’s set up.”
The following day, Sophie and I left for the UK.