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 twelve, scene two: Knight Towers.
“Sophie,” I said, later at dinner, “do you remember me saying that I wanted to do some of the interesting, exciting things that I couldn’t do all the years I was tied to my desk in Dar?”
“Clearly,” she said.
“Then why am I not doing them?” I asked.
“Are you telling me that scuba diving wrecks, getting stabbed, then deposed in Hawaii isn’t interesting? That jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane ten thousand feet in the air isn’t exciting?”
“Of themselves, yes, they are of course. Both interesting and exciting, as well as exhilarating and invigorating. But two things can’t hope to make up for twenty years. I feel like I need more.”
“More like what?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I just know that I haven’t worked this thing through yet.”
“Leave it with me. I’ll organise a couple of things for the weeks you need to be here for this Stephen Parker business. Meantime, you can take me for dinner and a movie this evening. I take it you can cope with restaurant and cinema seats.”
“Provided the seat is on the end of the row, yes.”
“Good. You organise that, and I’ll fix up some other things for you.”
I booked us into a restaurant for dinner and arranged a pair of seats for that evening’s screening of a suitable chick-flick. Not entirely my cup of tea, but I knew Sophie would love it.
When I told Sophie what I had organised, she replied, “I’ve been busy, too. I have hired a mountain bike for myself for a week…”
“What good does that do me?” I asked.
“…and a hand cycle for you. We can do cycle rides.”
“I suppose that might be fun.”
“That’s what I thought. I have also arranged, for next week, the hire of a modified camper-van with a speedboat on the trailer. We, Mr Knight, are going camping and boating in the Lake District. Interesting enough? Exciting enough?”
“So, basically, I sit in the camper while you drive, then I sit in the powerboat while you drive. Explain to me how that is exciting.”
“I don’t know how to drive a boat. It has all hand-controls, there are no pedals. And when I say a modified camper-van, I mean fitted with hand controls. I’m not planning to be doing any driving at all.”
“Are you sure?”
“Get yourself dressed up, then. We’re off out on a… we’re off for an evening out.”
From her reaction, I think Sophie was expecting me to take her to a posh restaurant, not the fast-food outlet we wound up in. We also went to the local picture house instead of a top West End cinema. When we eventually got back home, she asked why I chose the places I did.
“Two reasons,” I explained, “I always eat in high-class restaurants and use top-price cinemas and thought a change would be nice.”
“And the second reason?”
“It’s the first time we have gone out together, and I wanted it to be like a first… well, you know what I mean…” I said.
“I know, Hannice,” she said softly, “and thank you.”
I hadn’t tried a hand-cycle before. It was a bit of a palaver getting into the right position, and the controls were difficult to get used to, but once I’d got the hang of the thing, it really was fun. I found that I could mostly keep up with Sophie on her all-terrain bike. I had the impression that my upper body strength was better than her lower body strength. I certainly had less trouble climbing hills than she did, although I didn’t have the option to get off and push mine up the hills. I had to drive it up by hand.
We covered quite some distance, and I found out that Sophie had packed a snack in her pannier bag. More of a picnic lunch than a snack, actually. Just as well; we were out for most of the day. We arrived back home just before six in the evening, both of us exhausted. For me, that was something special. To be physically tired at the end of the day wasn’t something I had experienced since the accident.