Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 4.3

Knight after Knight250

In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.

Knight after Knight. Chapter four, part three.

The following morning, Eddie and Martha went off with a company driver for a sight-seeing tour of the city, while the rest of us joined Lindy, Kanene and Katerina in the boardroom of the Dar office. Having disposed of coffee and the necessary pleasantries, Kanene stood by the whiteboard and fired up the big monitor alongside it.

“The Company house, Nocturne, has been the home of the chief of Knight Trading (Africa) since the first manager was appointed, more than seventy years ago,” she said, displaying an old photograph of the place a couple of decades before I took up residence. Although it predated my tenure, it looked the same as it did, if I’m honest, the day I left. Flipping to the next image, she continued, “This was taken last week.”

I could see no difference apart from a stronger perimeter fence and the addition of a gatehouse, which was something I had arranged fairly early on during my period of tenancy when the risk of crime reached the point where the owner of every house in the wealthier residential areas of the city felt the need to do the same. The next picture was a complete contrast. I could see that it was the same building, but it clearly wasn’t. Sophie gasped. Max got to her feet and smiled broadly.

“Thank you,” Katerina said, “I’m glad you like it.”

“You’ve all seen our ideas for the interior of Nocturne,” Kanene continued, “This is how we see the structure looking after it is updated. Questions?”

“What materials are you thinking of using for this?” Max asked, “There seems to be a lot of glass. And what about privacy? I don’t see any curtains.”

“The large windows at the front and back of the house use a new form of intelligent reinforced plate which is bullet-proof up to half-inch armour-piercing shells,” Katerina said, “It is made up of several layers of glass separated by fine crystal lattices, all of which are light-sensitive and some can also be activated electrically. Bright sunlight will excite one layer of UV-absorbing film and when light levels outside are lower than those inside the building, an obscuring membrane is fired. For privacy, any window in the house can be completely obscured.”

“How will that happen?” I asked.

“Voice-activation,” Kanene replied, “the house AI network will respond to keywords in any room in the house. By default, if you give an instruction to ‘close blinds’ it will happen in the room where you are. However, it will be possible to specify a different room or even a group of adjoining rooms. It’s all a question of programming the AI.”

“And you have the people to do that?”

“Initial programming will be done on installation, but it’s easy to change – even for someone non-technical.” She looked at me and smiled. I nodded back.

“Can we talk about cost, disruption, how long it will take and where its current occupant will live while the proposed work takes place?”

Kanene picked up a pile of papers and wandered around the table, handing files to each of us.

“The costing is detailed in the ‘financials’ file I’ve just given you,” she said, “ all the practical details are in the other folder. Would you like time to look through the papers, or shall I continue?”

“I’d like you to continue,” I said, “I can read the detail at leisure.” I looked around; everyone was nodding in agreement. “I assume you’re not expecting a commitment this morning.”

“I would like that but no, I’m not expecting it. The cost – what you call the bottom line? At current exchange rates, the total cost for structural work is estimated at one hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds and the interior at a little less – more like seventy-five thousand.”

“So, that’s two hundred thousand in all. I’ll comment after I’ve seen the breakdown, but I’m not scared so far.”

Katerina took over. “Thank you, Mr Knight. We plan to do the structural and external work first. The new, stronger fence will be erected one metre inside the current fence. That way, there will be no time at which security is weakened. Once the new fence and smart gate are fully operational, we’ll remove the existing structure and make good the site by increasing the width of public pavements. At the same time, we will replace the windows, one room at a time. Mr Aldredge can stay in place until that part is finished.”

“And then?”

“The interior work should take about three months. We haven’t yet agreed with Mr Aldredge whether he is happy to remain in place with work going on around him. Our expectation is that he won’t be, and our costings allow for him to use a suite in the hotel in which you’re staying now.”

The conversation continued for some time. Katerina went into greater detail about the external work – apart from the windows, the building was to be clad in weather-proof, fire-resistent insulating materials which would impart a clean, modern look to the old place. I could tell from the conversation not only that Lindy was as excited about the technological gubbins they were talking about putting is as Kanene and Katerina were, but also that Eddie would have killed to live there – as would I, if I were completely honest.

When we broke up, Max, Sophie, Kanene and Katerina went off to a local restaurant for what Sophie described as a ‘girlie lunch’, while I joined Lindy in his office for more of a working lunch. He had instructed his people to bring in a finger-buffet for two.










    • Keith Channing

      I hate, loathe and despise mustard. A small pinch – and I mean small – helps many cheese-based and other savoury recipes, but I don’t want to be able to taste it. If only I could persuade the French that mayonnaise, salad dressings etc don’t need to have mustard as their dominant flavour, we might get somewhere. And don’t get me started on Marmite!

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