Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 17.3

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 seventeen, part three.

The clinic told me I was in good shape for my age and expressed some surprise how I had kept going, still running my own business in my eight-eighth year. I pointed out that I didn’t exactly have a punishing schedule, and that Susie and Hannah had, in fact, been carrying most of the weight throughout our three-years active period. Having been through my medical history the new head physician, Dr Ray (whether Ray was his first or last name, I didn’t know) probed me for information.

“I’ve been looking at your background, Mr Knight. How’s the back these days?”

“Fine.”

“No recurrence? No weakness? No pain?”

“No.”

“Breathlessness?”

“Only when I climb the stairs too quickly.”

“Light-headedness or dizziness?”

“Occasionally, but usually only if I stand up too quickly.”

“Chest pains?”

“No.”

“When was your prostate last examined?”

“Don’t think it ever has been, Doctor.”

“Okay, we’ll see to that. Any waterworks problems? How many times do you have to get up in the night?”

“Seems okay; I sometimes get up two or three times.”

He took my pulse and blood pressure, listened to my back and front, checked my legs and ankles for swelling, then had me bend so he could check my prostate. After the examination, he smeared gel on my lower tummy and used the ultrasound machine they use on pregnant ladies.

“It is enlarged,” he said, “which explains the two or three visits each night. I’d like to do a biopsy but I’m not expecting anything problematic in the result.”

I went back the following day to be knocked out for the biopsy. When I came to afterwards, Jess was at my bedside.

“How’re you doing, Dad?” she asked.

“Oh, okay,” I said groggily, “What are you doing here?”

“I’ve come to take you back when you’re ready. We’ve decided you should move into the main house so I can keep an eye on you from now on. Okay?”

That morsel of information dragged me into a fully alert and less than happy state.

“This time last week,” I said, “I was flying back from a job in South America. An active partner in a business that was doing rather well. Suddenly I’m an invalid, now?”

“Not an invalid, Dad, and certainly not suddenly. We tried to keep it from you, but I can tell you now, that Hannah has been keeping an eye on you for a few months to make sure nothing goes wrong. Physically. I know you’re fine mentally; maybe a bit forgetful at times, but who isn’t? You have to accept, though, Dad, you’re eighty-seven years old, nearly eighty-eight. Things will start to go wrong eventually, and none of us wants you to be by yourself when that happens. You shouldn’t have to face it alone.”

I didn’t reply. Mostly because I couldn’t think of anything to say. She was right, of course, and for the first time in my life, I started to feel old. The realisation was overwhelming and I’m afraid I started to sob.

“Whatever’s the matter, Dad. I’m sorry if I’ve upset you, but we’re only thinking of you; what’s best for you.”

“It’s not you, love. I’m just having trouble accepting that I’m past my sell-by date and no more use to anyone.”

“You’re not that. We hope you have a lot of good years in you yet and I know David values having you around for advice when he needs it – which is more often than he’d admit to. Besides, you’re under contract to be here for Hannah’s twenty-first, remember?”

“I do, but that’s only eighteen months away. Not so long, is it?”

“Come home with me, Dad.”

I checked out and told Dr Ray to email the results to me. When we got back, I found that Jess had instructed the staff to move my bedroom from the annexe to the suite directly opposite the passenger lift. During the latest set of refurbishments, it had been created as a small flat, with a good-sized bedroom, a lounge and a bathroom. Although I didn’t need it yet, I was beginning to face up to my own decline and eventual end and was pleased to see that every aspect of the flat was fully accessible. David joined us as I was looking around.

“What do you think of it, Dad?” he asked.

“Looks like you’ve thought of everything.”

“Thank Kanene’s daughter, Martha. She has her mother’s flair. This was her first solo job and she was fully, and I mean comprehensively briefed by her mother.”

“Well, it’s almost perfect. But how do I make tea?”

“Do you want to be able to do that? I can have the facilities installed. Or you can just press the intercom button and ask for some to be brought up.”

“I’d prefer to make my own. I’d feel I needed to get dressed for someone to come in.”

“Even your own staff?”

“Your staff, David; not mine But, yes – even them. Maybe especially them.”

“As you wish, Dad.”

David was always true to his word. That was one of the things Sophie and I drilled into him when he was growing up – that and ‘if you want people to help you, you first have to make them want to help you’ oh, yes, and ‘only boring people get bored’. Anyway, he was. The very next day a team came in from a local kitchen supplier and installed a small kitchenette in my sitting area, adjacent to the en-suite shower room. Now I was happy. Now I could settle into my non-productive old age.

 

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 17.2

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 seventeen, part two.

Over a three-year period, Knight Overbock Partnership enjoyed reasonable success.

Although we were only called on by Knight Global for two more jobs, both of them tested and stretched Susie to her limits and resulted in promotions and salary increases for her. One of these jobs coincided with Hannah’s university holidays and she, too, gained a deal of experience and growth in her knowledge and capability. Apart from those two jobs, we carried out follow-on audits on a number of projects that Max and I had started, and were called on to perform management development consultations for a number of new clients.

By the end of that period, Henk and I were beginning to feel that it was time to slow down. Susie had, on occasion, expressed a desire to return to head office where there was an opening for her in a junior management role and Hannah was becoming, as Jess had predicted, disenchanted with the business and itching to get started on a real career.

“Whilst we’re all together,” I said at what turned out to be our last weekly meeting, “I, that is we, Henk and I want to thank you both, Susie and Hannah, for all your work. As well as keeping two old men in check—”

“Not always easy,” Susie said, “but at least we never had to fend off unwanted advances. We appreciate that.”

“Thank you, Susie. I can’t deny that there’s a lot to enjoy about having two attractive young women with us whilst we’re working, and we feel a great affection and protectiveness towards you both. However, we appreciate and respect more your professionalism and your capabilities. The time has come, I regret to say, for Henk and me to admit that we’re not getting any younger and it’s probably time for us both to retire. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you; you’ve both been hinting for some months that you want a change of direction. We can’t offer you that. What we can do is to release you, Susie, from your secondment. I’ve spoken with David, and he assures me that there’s a role for you in head office as manager of the internal audit department he’s setting up. Your developing forensic accounting skills will be put to good use.”

“Can I just ask, Hannice, will I still be able to keep Ms Matham’s stuff?”

“Of course, Susie.”

“What are your plans, Hannah?” I asked, “I know you told me recently, but my memory’s letting me down more often these days. That’s one of the reasons I’ve decided to retire – before I forget that I want to!” That gave everyone a laugh.

“I said I wanted to go into Dad’s business and work my way as far up the hierarchy as my abilities will take me. Well, I start next week on Susie’s internal audit team!”

“And are you happy with that?”

“I should say! I love working with Susie and I enjoy the work.”

“I thought you were getting bored with it,” Henk observed.

“Not the work as such, Henk. I was getting bored with the long gaps between jobs.”

“What about you, Susie? Are you happy to have Hannah in your section?”

“Mostly, yes—”

“Only mostly?” Hannah asked.

“Well, you’re too much competition for me, aren’t you?”

“How? You know so much more then I do.”

“I wasn’t talking about work.”

“Okay,” I said, “so you’re okay working together. The rest will sort itself out, and I don’t imagine either of you will have trouble in the other department.”

“So what now?” Henk asked, “What do we do about our client list?”

“Here’s the exciting part,” I said, “David has offered to have Knight Global absorb KOP as a going concern, so our clients will become his clients. The paperwork is ready for our signatures whenever we can go in to sign it.”

“But if Knights are acquiring KOP, who will run it?” Susie asked.

“You will. The new internal audit department I told you about is basically KOP reinvented. You will manage it with Hannah as your deputy.”

“So just the two of us, then?”

“I think it’ll be too big for the two of you, but that’s for you to negotiate with Finance. Your first job will be to establish an outline business plan along with the main accounting managers and from there, set out what people you think you’ll need.”

“That’s a big ask, isn’t it?”

“If you’re telling me that you don’t think Hannah and you, between you, can do that, perhaps I should ask David to rethink his ideas.”

“It was his idea?”

“Whose did you think it was?”

“We’d assumed it was yours.”

“Seventy per cent David’s, twenty per cent Jess’s and ten per cent mine.”

“In that case…”

“Glad to hear it, kids. You can call on me if you need any help, but my money says you won’t.”

We closed the meeting and, as if you hadn’t guessed, enjoyed a glass of sherry each. At our suggestion, the two girls left for head office straight away, leaving Henk and me alone in Knight Towers.

“End of an era, Hannice,” Henk said.

“Indeed.”

“What are you going to do with yourself?”

“Rest. These last few months have been something of a struggle. I’ll have myself checked over at the clinic and see what level of activity they recommend. You?”

“Back to Amsterdam. I want to be around my people for whatever time I have left.”

“You’ll be around for years, yet, Henk. Promise me one thing, though. Promise me you’ll say something nice about me at my funeral.”

“What makes you think you’ll go first?”

“Just a feeling I get. I’ve been thinking about Sophie a lot these past few weeks; more than I had before. You can’t have missed how Hannah seems to be looking more like her grandmother every day. I’ve lost count of how many times recently I’ve had to stop myself calling her Sophie instead of her real name. It’s all becoming too hard. I don’t hold with any of that life after death stuff, you know that, but wouldn’t it be great if it were true, and I could look forward to seeing my Sophie again.”

“Now you’re getting maudlin, my friend. Stop it. You’ve got years ahead of you yet.”

“Yes, I had, old friend. And ”

And that was the end of KOP and probably, although I didn’t accept it at the time, the end of my working life.

Sunday serialisation – Knight after Knight, 17.1

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 seventeen, part one.

“Did she behave?” David asked when we’d returned from India.

“Impeccably,” I said, “Not only that, but Susie who, by the way, is a heck of a forensic accountant, said that she enjoyed working with Hannah and she’d be happy to work with her again.”

“I’m not surprised. They’re close in age and Hannah’s a nice person to be with.”

“That’s not the reason. Oh, it’s true, they got on extremely well together, but mostly, Susie was impressed by Hannah’s understanding of the principles and her work ethic. They even worked into the night together to produce the presentation for the clients.”

“But Susie found the problem in the end.”

“Not alone. Susie did the deep digging, but it was Hannah who spotted the anomaly. I’d have to say that Susie, before long, will reach the standard Max was at when she started her practice. She’s going to be an asset to the firm. Look after her.”

“But, if she were your responsibility, what would you do with Hannah?”

“I can’t give an impartial opinion, I’m too close. However, based on what I saw and based on what Susie said, I’d not discourage her if she said she wanted to follow through in forensic accountancy. She does seem to have a natural aptitude and she said she enjoyed the work.”

“Thanks, Dad. I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Meanwhile, in case anyone says anything, here’s what happened after we did our job…”

I went on to tell him the detail of the interview in the Nairs’ office, culminating in the dismissal of the culprit, and their thank-you to us.

“So you weren’t working all the time you were there?”

“No. Is that a problem?”

“Not for you or Henk, or even for Hannah. But Susie is on contract and with a rigid leave structure—”

“And during our tour of the Golden Triangle, she spent a lot of time giving instruction and advice to your daughter. That took a lot of worry and responsibility from Henk and me. It may not have been exactly what she was employed to do but be assured, she was working.”

“You do know she has to submit time-sheets to cover the period. What will she put for those dates?”

“She’s already done it. Assistance and duties while in India as instructed by Mr Knight and Mr Overbock. It has the benefit of being true and complete.”

“That’s not going to wash with HR. If she’s lucky, she’ll lose holiday entitlement.”

“And if she’s not lucky?”

“That depends on her line manager.”

“Okay. Put her on permanent secondment to KOP. We could use a permanent, competent accountant, and to have a forensic accountant on tap will be great for us. We can also use her as Hannah’s mentor for her university studies and cover all her work experience.”

“If that’s what she wants.”

“Of course. Anyway, back to Susie. You pay her salary, we’ll look after her working conditions. That way she won’t need to submit timesheets and everybody should be happy.”

“I’ll need to ask Finance and HR.”

“No you won’t, David. You’ll need to tell them.”

“Fair enough. I’ll tell HR and they’ll tell Finance. Susie’s bosses won’t be happy. It’ll leave them without a forensic accountant.”

“They’ll have to sponsor another accountant through the training – they have plenty to choose from.”

“We’ll talk to Hannah at dinner, and put it to Susie tomorrow.”

I wasn’t surprised to see that Hannah jumped at the chance. She and Susie really hit it off in India and I fully expected that the prospect of the two of them working together more would please my granddaughter; not only for the relationship they’d formed, but also to further Hanna’s chosen career. Susie was less enthusiastic at first. She had a number of friends at Knight Global’s head office and was loathe to part from them. However, at one level, the chance to move from being an accountant in a large organisation to being the accountant in a small outfit presented her with what she called an exciting challenge. She was marginally hesitant at the prospect of becoming Hannah’s mentor; not because she didn’t want to do the job, but because she didn’t believe she was adequate to the task. However, when I told her that I would hand over to her all of Max’s books, files and notes, her attitude changed.

“You’ll really give me access to the files and notes of the legendary Max Matham?” she asked.

“No, Susie. I won’t give you access to them, I’ll gift them to you, and all of her books.”

“Can you do that?”

“I can. In fact, I have to. She left them all to me in her will with the stipulation that I hand them to a young forensic accountant that I judged could make good use of them.”

“When you say files and notes—”

“I mean full details of every case, every investigation she ever worked on. And that will give you unique access to all her thought processes. The only thing I’d ask is that you respect the absolute confidentiality of all these records.”

“Of course.”

“That includes not telling Henk or me; or Hannah; about any of the cases or any of her notes beyond what we need to know to do our jobs. There are bound to be some things about me in there; some I’d rather no-one else saw and some I’d probably rather not know myself. I’ll rely on your discretion to decide what is appropriate to pass on to us.”

“I can agree to that, Mr Knight.”

“Does that mean you’ll take the job?”

“If my managers are okay with it, yes.”

“Don’t worry, they will be, we’ll make sure of that. Just think about it, though, Susie. This job will be as close as you can get to private practice without actually being it, but with none of the financial risks.”

“And with none of the promotion prospects, either…”

“We’ll work something out, Susie. Whichever way this goes, your career prospects will not be negatively impacted.”

Subsequent discussions with David and, through him, with the relevant departmental directors produced a structure that ensured that Susie’s progression would continue as normal, the biannual assessments that form part of the staff development programme being completed by Henk and me instead of her line managers. She remained contracted to Knight Global Trading as a developing member of head office accounting staff but on indefinite secondment to Knight Overbock Partnership.

The other major success we achieved was having an open-ended casual internship agreement signed between Knight Global and Hannah. The arrangement was looser than we would have liked, but it did mean that Hannah could work with us, according to our needs, whenever she was not at university, whilst enjoying all the protections and benefits available to her as an employee of the group.