Category: A bump in the Knight

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 2.1

 In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman 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.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

Beginning on 14 January 2018, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one part each Sunday.

A Bump in the Knight. Chapter two, part one

Sophie woke me at 4.30am on Thursday, and not in the nice way we had only recently discovered, either.

“Come on, sleepy-head,” she said, “we have an early flight to catch.”

“But I’m not packed.”

“Yes, you are. Your suitcase is in the boot of the limo. So is mine.”

“Where’s my passport?”

“I have it.”

“Where are we going?”

“You’ll see soon enough.”

“Do we need a visa for wherever it is?”

“All sorted.”

“So you’ve done everything, then.”

“Almost. I’ll let Bly drive us to the airport, and I’ll leave the pilot to fly the plane.”

Bly drove us to Heathrow Terminal 4. All the way, I was trying to prise from Sophie where we were going, but she had the tickets and passports and wouldn’t hand them over before we were ready to check in for our flight. After Bly dropped us off, Sophie directed a porter to take our bags to the Qatar Airways Premium desk, where we checked in for our flight to Cochin, in southern India.

We checked in and made our way to the airline’s premium lounge to await the call. Just after our flight was called, when we were assembled in the departure area, another notice came that indicated the presence of unattended baggage in the gate adjacent to ours. Parts of the airport were cleared. They couldn’t evacuate us easily, as we’d already passed through all the security checks and were in possession of boarding passes. We stood in what I assumed was supposed to be a queue; although ‘flash mob’ might be a closer description; for a period approaching thirty minutes, before the airport security declared it was safe for us to board.

The flight was in two halves: the longer, from London to Doha in Qatar, took almost seven hours, followed by a slightly shorter leg of a bit over four hours from Doha to Cochin. Oh yes; and a seven-hour wait on Doha airport in between. Both flights were good, with excellent food and service, but reminded me why I always say that I love travel but hate travelling. We finally arrived in India just after 8:30 in the morning. I was tired, weary in fact, but as excited as a kid at Christmas. I had never been to India, but it was one of the countries I was most keen to visit.

We finally arrived and had our first taste of India. Sophie had arranged e-tourist visas for us and imagined that we would merely need to present these at the immigration desk to be allowed in. One thing I found about the people of India, is that they have a passion for officialdom, administration and procedures.

There was a special office where we had, individually, to present our visas and passports, and where we were photographed and fingerprinted before the stamp was placed in our passports. Apart from the fingerprinting machine, which stubbornly refused to work unless it was cleaned, degreased and sanitised between each use, of which there were four per person, and even then not reliably, everything went smoothly and amicably and we were soon on our way.

After we’d been through the immigration formalities, collected our bags and cleared customs, we were met by a man from the outfit Sophie had used to put the trip together. He took us outside, gave us a brief introduction to what was planned for the next few weeks and introduced us to Shafi, the driver whom he had allocated to us for the duration of our stay in the State of Kerala. We thus embarked on a hectic three-week tour of the area, visiting various points from mountainous Munnar to coastal Kovalam, almost 200km further south. During the time we were there, we saw natural and cultural sights and events that gave us a real flavour of the region. We saw tea processed, literally from bush to cup; we had boat-rides in the backwaters and elephant rides through spice plantations, and we stayed in hotels where we were treated like royalty. The amazing thing about that, was that we didn’t get any special treatment because of who we were, either because of our relative wealth or because of our nationality. Every guest was treated as we were. According to Shafi, they believe that the tourists are like royalty because tourists provide employment and money; without tourists, the region and its people would be much poorer. I never knew whether we had struck lucky with Shafi, or whether he was typical of tourist drivers. Either way, he was always punctual, well presented, polite, friendly and a veritable goldmine of information. As far as we were concerned, he was a good driver, a good guide and a good friend.

Without a doubt, the highlight of our honeymoon was the three nights we spent on a houseboat in the backwaters. It came as a surprise to both of us, when we boarded the houseboat, to find that its population had instantly doubled. When we got underway, the houseboat’s complement consisted of one driver, one cook and two guests – us. And it was luxurious to the extent that we were both speechless when we boarded. I don’t know what we expected, but it wasn’t this. Our bedroom, though a little smaller, could hold its own in at least a four-star hotel. We spent four days pootling along in the backwaters, feasting on the delicious fare produced by our cook, much of it based on freshly caught fish and seafood purchased from fishermen in canoes as we went along. We saw village life and wildlife from an angle not normally available. Through it all, our cook and our driver were going about their business quietly and efficiently. We spent most of our time on the upper deck, coming down only when called for meals or to go to bed, and seeing our cook when he brought mid-morning coffee and afternoon tea. It was the most peaceful, serene experience I had ever had, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Three nights was enough, though. By the fourth day, it was beginning to become a bit samey, and we were both just starting to exhibit technology withdrawal symptoms – there was no WiFi and no 4G or 3G, either – not even a mobile signal. What we did have, and what greatly contributed to the atmosphere, was Indian (mostly Bollywood) music during the day, and Indian satellite TV in the evening.

Needless to say, Sophie and I became ever closer during that part of the trip. Being in close proximity 24/7, with no escape, may be problematic for some couples. For us, it couldn’t have been further from that. The entire honeymoon, throwing us together into a culture that was totally foreign to us both, strengthened our relationship in a way and to an extent that was more than either of us could have hoped for.

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 1.5

 In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman 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.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

Beginning on 14 January 2018, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one part each Sunday.

A Bump in the Knight. Chapter one, part five

The meetings we had with our regional directors were pretty much a formality; nothing had changed since we last met, after Papa’s funeral. It was useful to catch up, though, and I was encouraged by how well Max’s suggestions regarding start-up funding had been received, and by the progress that had been made in the investigations and research into suitable beneficiaries, particularly in Asia and South America.

The meeting with Stephen Parker was less pleasant. His wife had insisted on coming with him, which I knew would result in fireworks. Sophie had elected to sit this one out, hoping to avoid any one-wife-to-another nonsense, and I was more than happy to have Joe Green present, to back me up.

Unsurprisingly, Parker’s wife started the ball rolling. With a belligerent look on her face, she asked, “Why have you called us in here?”

“As Chairman and Chief Executive of Knight Global Trading, I have asked my Head of Logistics to pop in for discussions about his job. With respect, Mrs Parker, the request did not include you.”

“How dare you speak to me like that? Stephen. Tell him he can’t speak to me like that.”

“Whatever else he is, Joan, Mr Knight is my boss. I don’t want to lose this job,” Stephen replied.

“You shouldn’t have that job,” she yelled, “you should be a full director, on the board, and paid a lot more than you are!”

Joe interjected. “On what basis, Mrs Parker; a report that, and I’m quoting here; ‘does not exclude the likelihood that Mr Knight and your husband have the same biological father’? On a ranking of evidence, there is a big difference between ‘probable’ and ‘not impossible’, and both fall well short of fact. Were I your lawyer—”

“Well, you’re not, are you?”

“But if I were, I would be advising you to accept the generous way in which Mr Knight responded to this remote possibility of a filial relationship, and allow your husband to work with Knight Global in a way that will enhance his chances of advancement. Who is advising you, by the way?”

“No-one is advising us. We don’t need any fancy lawyers. We have the law and natural justice on our side.”

I turned to Stephen. “Stephen. It has been our experience that senior managers who enjoy support from their families, who are supported, not driven, by their loved ones, tend to perform a lot better than those who don’t. You know most of our UK-based directors, and I can tell you that they all enjoy that kind of support at home. Don’t take my word for that. Talk to them. They will tell you that there have been periods when they have been under severe stress, and it is the quiet support of their families that has seen them through it. And I can confirm to you now, that it shows in their performance, and that we, as a company, recognise and support it.”

“So you’re telling me to keep my trunk out. Is that what you’re saying?” Joan Parker demanded.

“What I am saying to my employee is that this meeting is at an end.”

“But—”, Joan Parker complained.

“Thank you for coming in, Stephen. See yourself out, will you?”

Stephen Parker got up and left, followed by his wife, whose strident tones could be heard clearly almost until they were out of the building.

“What do you think, Joe?” I asked.

“I don’t think you’ve heard the last of that woman, Hannice,” he said.

“Suggestions?”

“Go off on your honeymoon and don’t think about her. Concentrate on your own wife. We’ll talk more when you get back.”

Sunday serialisation – A Bump in the Knight, 1.4

 In Knight & Deigh, confirmed bachelor and businessman 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.

On his father’s death, Hannice inherited a global business and great wealth. Then, together with Sophie, he embarked on a series of activities designed to give him some of the excitement and the freedoms that he felt he had missed out on, by being tied to his father’s business for two decades.

As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and found himself drifting into a relationship with her that neither had anticipated or intended, and for which neither was fully prepared.

This book follows Hannice’s new adventures as he tries to juggle business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.

But all doesn’t go quite as he had planned…

Beginning on 14 January 2018, I am publishing Knight & Deigh here as a serial; one part each Sunday.

A Bump in the Knight. Chapter one, part four

After the mad runaround that was our wedding day, it was good to have a lazy day. Sitting at the kitchen table, reading the Sunday papers and drinking coffee immediately found its way to the top of my list of ways to spend Sunday morning. After lunch, I had a rethink on the afternoon.

“It’s such a nice day, Sophie,” I said, “Far too nice to park ourselves in front of the idiot box. Fancy a drive?”

“Where to?”

“Remember that place where we shouted and screamed at life?”

“After Dr Harry told you, you didn’t make the first trial?”

“Yeah, that one. D’you suppose Bly will remember where it was?”

“It’s his Sunday off. You can’t call him in at a moment’s notice!”

“Oh well. It was just a thought.”

“You can drive the limo, can’t you?”

“Probably, but I don’t know if I have the strength do a decent emergency stop if needed.”

“Will you trust me to drive it?”

“Have you driven anything that big before?”

“No, but I’m game to give it a go if you’ll let me.”

“Keys are in the lodge.”

“I know where the keys are. Sit tight, I’ll bring the car around. Chair? Frame?”

“Neither. I did more than forty metres yesterday, and the stairs this morning. I can do this.”

Sophie walked away with a smile, returning a few minutes later waving a set of keys in front of me.

“Let’s go, Tiger,” she said with a giggle. We climbed into the car; I into the front passenger seat and she into the driver’s position.
There was no need for me to have been concerned, of course. Sophie was an experienced driver, and although she’d never driven anything bigger than a VW camper before, she handled the big, powerful Bentley like she’d been driving it all her life. She had remembered exactly where the hill in question was, even though, like me, she’d been driven there and back in the back of the limo, and took us straight to it.

Once parked up, we got out of the car and sat on the same rock we had on that fateful day. We looked out over the same woodland and farmland, with villages scattered across the plain, as we had done then. The quality of light was different, though. On that day, white clouds scuttled across the sky, dappling the landscape with a mix of light and shade. This day the sky was clear from horizon to horizon; not a single cloud was to be seen.

Sophie broke my silent recollection of that dreadful day, of the intensely negative feelings that drove me to shout at life, to scream at nature, to swear and curse at the whole business of fate, of chance. “It’s the same place,” she said, “with the same view, and almost the same weather; but it’s brighter, cleaner. It’s as if the world has learned to smile again.”

“I think I’ve learned to smile again, my love, and that’s mostly down to you.”

“And Dr Harry, and Mrs Fan…”

“And countless other people who’ve given me a reason to live; even Spike and JJ, in a way.”

“And certainly Jason Reeves and Noelani.”

“To name just two. We’ve come a very long way since those dark days, and you have been beside me, supporting me every step of the way.”

“And pushing you sometimes.”

“In more ways than one!”

We did something we never dreamed we could do there. We laughed. Heartily, joyously, almost manically. We laughed until our sides ached, our faces were coated with tears and we almost had trouble breathing. Then we rolled off the rock and onto the grass, removed each other’s clothing and, for the first time, made love right where we were. It was vigorous, it was urgent and it was embarrassingly short-lived. And yes, she was gentle with me.

We dressed again, and Sophie drove us back to Knight Towers. Such was the depth of emotion, that the entire half-hour drive went by in silence. No words were needed. Even the greatest poet of all time, the most accomplished exponent of English, or any other language, could not do justice to what was passing silently between us. Sophie dropped me at the main door, parked the car and joined me in the kitchen.

“You okay, Hannice?” she asked.

“Yes. Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” I softly replied.

“It’s just that—”

“I know. Thank you.”

“For?”

“For caring; for putting up with my inexperienced fumbling; for not complaining when it was all over too quickly. For being you.”

“Hannice; it was exactly as I expected it would be. If, as you say, it was your first time—”

“It was.”

“Then how could it possibly be different?”

“It’s been a funny old day,” I said, “what with one thing and another.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Don’t know, but I think I need a lie-down.” I pulled myself up from the table and made my way to the lift.

“Race you!” Sophie said, joining me.

Let me offer a few words. Relaxed, leisurely, sensual, wonderful, intimate, exquisite, delicious. We slept like babies, not even surfacing for dinner. And we found a new way of waking in the morning.

“Is it okay to have breakfast at ten o’clock?” Sophie asked when we finally made it to the kitchen.

“I don’t know, Mrs Knight. I’m new to all this.”

“Well, let’s say it is, shall we?”

“Done. You put a coffee on, I’ll cook.”

“I appreciate the offer, Hannice, but as your physiotherapist, I have to advise you against pushing yourself too far. Your lower body has probably had enough exercise for this morning,” she said with a wink, “eggs and bacon?”

“And mushrooms and fried bread.”

“Hash browns?”

“Ooh, yes please.”

It was lunchtime before we’d finished breakfast and cleared up, and Sophie said the magic word – physio. That put paid to Monday. Part of me felt guilty about frittering away great chunks of time, but the other part, the one I was learning to respect, told me that this was the way life should be lived.