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Being Johnny

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 15

Arthur came into Town with us on the train. Unlike us, he was carting a couple of pieces of luggage along with him, hoping to get a flight to Marrakesh tonight if he was not needed to give evidence. Dad pointed out that the luggage would have to be searched at the court before he was allowed to take it in. As a result, Arthur deposited it in a locker at the station.

When we got to the court, Ian and his mother were there with Martin. Ian's mother thanked Mum for coming. I knew Mum had met Mary Jenkins when Dad and she took her up to Manston. What I did not know is that they appeared to have become close friends. I was not certain why Dad was here, but it seemed that it was important that he was.

I was looking around the Victorian architecture of the court, thinking that Joseph would have loved to see it, when I heard Mary Jenkins thanking Dad. As she walked away to talk to Martin, I asked Dad what was going on.

"I've agreed to stand bail for Terry if it is required," Dad informed me. He must have seen the look of surprise on my face. "Mary can't; she's not a householder, and Ben and Phil are out of the country, so they can't, although they said they would. They need to be present in person."

"Bad timing on their part."

"Not their fault. The case was not expected to be heard till next week, but the one ahead of them finished quicker than expected, so this one's been pushed up the list."

Martin announced that we should make our way to the court. We took our seats in the gallery; Martin proceeded into the body of the court. Once there, he was speaking to a woman barrister. They had been speaking for a few minutes when the clerk to the court announced, 'All Rise', and the judges entered.

It all turned out to be a bit of an anticlimax. The barrister for the appellant, which is Terry, stood up and gave a short speech, most of which seemed to be about documents which had been supplied to the court. Then the barrister for the prosecution stood and stated that they had no objection to the appeal. At that point one of the judges asked if the prosecution would be entering any evidence at a retrial.

"My Lords, it is not the intention of the Crown Prosecution Service to present any evidence in this case," the prosecution barrister stated.

The three judges conferred for a moment, then the one in the middle announced that they were quashing the conviction of Terrance Jenkins and ordering an acquittal. Three minutes later we were all in the lobby of the court waiting for Terry to be discharged.

"That was a bit quick," I commented to Martin.

"It was all pretty much done on paper before we got into court. Up till last night, we expected the prosecution to challenge the appeal, but apparently it all changed yesterday afternoon."

"What changed yesterday afternoon?"

"From what we have heard, McCormac's superior was arrested. He spilled the beans, looking to turn Queen's evidence."

Arthur checked with Martin to see if he was still needed. Assured that he was not, Arthur set off for the station to collect his luggage, then for the airport. Trevor had arranged open tickets for him, so he should be able to get on the next flight that had space.

After about a twenty-minute wait, Terry joined us in the lobby. He had a couple of large HMP plastic bags with his possessions in them. Martin looked at them, then at me.

"Johnny, it does not look good to go out to the press carrying those. Could you pack them away in these?" He opened his case and pulled out some nylon holdalls. Terry looked puzzled as Martin and I walked over to him with the holdalls. Ian introduced me to Terry. Martin explained the situation with the press, who would be waiting outside. Once Terry understood, he and Ian packed his two bags of stuff into three nylon holdalls. Then Terry, his mother and Martin led the way out of the Royal Courts of Justice. Dad, Ian and I followed, carrying the bags. Just before we got to the door, Mum told Ian to go out with his brother and took the bag he was carrying.

Dad hailed a taxi, which we climbed into. I wondered where we were going, but Dad informed me that Martin had told him to get Terry's stuff to Uncle Bernard's office. We would then meet up with the others for lunch.

Some thirty minutes later, after dropping the bags off at Uncle Bernard's office, we got to the place where we were due to meet up for lunch. Martin, Terry and supporters had not arrived, but a table had been booked, which we were shown to. We had not been seated at the table long when a party of youths came in. I recognised one of them: Tony. Unfortunately, he saw me as he came in. He looked directly at me for a moment or two, then nodded his head in the direction of the toilets.

I got the message, excused myself from the table and made my way over to the stairs leading down to the toilets. I had just got to the bottom of the stairs when Tony came down them.

"Sorry, Johnny, I did not know I would cause problems," Tony said as he caught up with me.

"You know about the problems?"

"Yes, Neal's been bending my ear ever since it happened. Told me I was a stupid idiot for kissing you like that."

"In that, I have to agree with Neal."

"I know, Johnny, but we always kissed," Tony pointed out.

"Yes, but not like that and not in front of my boyfriend."

"Have you sorted it out?"

"Can't. He's blocked my phone calls, ignored my emails and has not replied to my letter."

"Shit, that's bad. Tell me about him?"

For the next five minutes or so, I stood in the small lobby at the bottom of the stairs telling Tony about Joseph."

"You really love him, don't you?" Tony stated.

"Yes, I do."

"Why don't you go and see him?"

"Not much use; he's in school. St Paul's have a different half term."

Tony just nodded, then said we needed to get back before we added more speculation to the fire.

As I took my place at the table, Mum gave me a questioning look. I just ignored it. Fortunately, Martin and the party arrived before she could ask any questions. Terry was gushingly grateful to Martin for getting his appeal sorted.

"What are you going to do now?" Dad asked.

"I was hoping that I might try for university," Terry replied. "I was just starting A-levels when I got put inside. Managed to do a couple inside, so only need to get another and I'll have my entrance requirements."

"What are you thinking of going for?" Martin asked.

"Well, I was hoping to do English with a view to getting into broadcasting, but after being inside, I think I would like to do law. There are an awful lot of lads in there who should not be in there; they just had crap representation."

"You need at least three A-levels to get in for law," Martin stated.

"I know. I had started the Introduction to Law module with the OU in prison, but I'm not sure how I stand with that now I am out."

"I'll look into that for you," Martin said. "You should be able to continue with it, though there may be some cost implications."

"That might be a problem. I'll need to find a job. Also, I don't know where I am going to live."

"I thought you would be coming to live with us at Manston," Ian said.

"I have to for the time being, but I am not sure if it will work out long term," Terry said. "I have to think about getting a job; not sure how much work there is around Manston."

"Do you drive?" Dad asked.

"No, I've not taken my test. I had only just turned seventeen when I was arrested."

"That could be a problem finding work around Manston, though you may be able to find something on the estate."

"Not sure if I am up to working outside. Had to do some gardening whilst inside and hated it."

"Talk to Ben or Phil when they get back," Dad told Terry. "They have a couple of projects starting up on the estate that do not involve gardening."

The conversation about what prospects were available to Terry continued throughout lunch. Although Terry did not think he had that much chance of getting into university now, both Martin and Dad were telling him he should give it a shot. At one point, Martin asked how Terry would be fixed if something came up in London.

"My sister Rosie could put him up," Mary stated. "Why?"

"Just something I was thinking about," Martin replied. "Can't say much as it is something of an off-chance, but it might be worth me looking into it for Terry."

That was said just as desserts were being served. Fifteen minutes later, we were discussing what we were going to be doing for the rest of the day. Mary, Ian and Terry were getting the train to Daventry to get to Manston. Martin informed us he had to go and brief Uncle Bernard about how things had gone, though he did admit he had already texted him with the result. Dad wanted to go to the British Library, whilst Mum was up for doing some shopping whilst in Town. I told them I wanted to have a look at the bookshops around Charing Cross Road. We agreed to meet at four in a coffee shop by the station.

All that sorted, Martin paid the bill and we started to make our way out. I was at the back of the pack. As I passed the table where Tony was seated, he signalled that he wanted to say something. I went over to him.

"Don't worry, Johnny, I'll sort things."

That got me worried. I was not sure how he intended to sort things.

Once out of the restaurant, Dad asked me whom I had been talking to. I told him it was somebody I knew from school. Dad then set off up Southampton Row towards the British Library. Mum and I walked together towards Tottenham Court Road. Once there, we split up, Mum setting off down Oxford Street, and I went for the bookshops around Charing Cross Road.

Before starting down Charing Cross Road, I thought it wise to check my bank balance. I knew there should be a couple of hundred quid in my current account but was not sure exactly how much. When I checked, I got a shock; there were four-and-a half thousand in it. For a moment I could not think where it had come from, then I remembered what Martin had said about the cash in the Islington house. They must have put it into my account.

I got to the coffee shop a good ten minutes before four but found both Dad and Mum already ensconced at a table by the window. I went up to the counter and got a latte plus a brownie, then joined Dad and Mum. Knowing that I had plenty to spend, I enjoyed a couple of hours browsing around the bookshops in Charing Cross Road and the surrounds. In the end, I only bought one book. Found it in a shop in Cecil Court. It was a collection of photos and illustrations of yachts taking part in the 1928 Cowes Regatta. I had picked it up to look through it with no intention of buying, but then I saw a yacht I recognised. The line of the hull was unmistakable; it was The Lady Ann. So, I forked out what I thought was an outrageous price for the book.

They were discussing where to eat. The choice we had was to get the next train, which would put us just ahead of the rush hour, and eat at home or at the Crooked Man. Alternatively, we could eat in Town and go home after the rush hour. After some discussion, we decided to try for the next train. I quickly finished my latte and brownie.

We got to the platform just as the barriers were opened. Even so, we were lucky to find a set of seats at a table. Once on the train, I showed Dad the book I had purchased, complaining about the price I had been forced to pay. Dad looked at it.

"Not surprised it cost you a pretty penny," Dad commented.

"Why?" I asked.

"Didn't you look at the publisher's inscription?"

I shook my head.

"You should always look at what is on the title page of a book, Johnny. It says that this is a limited edition produced by private subscription. There are only five hundred copies of it, of which this is the two-hundred and tenth. So, if you did not look at the inscription, why did you buy it?"

"Because of this," I told Dad, opening the book up to the picture of The Lady Ann.

"That's a nice-looking boat," he commented. Then he started to read the text on the page opposite. I must admit that, although I had looked at it, I had not actually read it. Dad looked surprised.

"What is it?" I asked.

"Read it!" He turned the book around and pushed it towards me:

The Lady Ann. Built in 1922 on the instruction of and to the designs of Sir John Mitchell for his friend, the Duke of Dunlieven, the yacht is shown flying the colours of the Duke. The Lady Ann was built by the yard of Dean and Sanderson on the Blackwater. The yacht is thirty-two feet in length and Bermuda-rigged. It has won the Round the Island race on three separate occasions.

Dad must have seen the fairly puzzled look on my face.

"A bit before your time, Johnny, but the Duke of Dunlieven and Sir John were one of the great gay love affairs. They lived together openly as a gay couple between the wars. They also lived as a gay couple after the Second World War, but things were a bit more difficult for them then. Actually, for a few years in the 1960s, they lived abroad."

"I thought things got easier in the 60s?"

"In some ways they did, but as it became more and more clear that homosexual relationships were going to be legalised, there was more and more persecution of gay men by the police and other public officials. Dunlieven and Sir John did not return to the UK till 1970.

"Is this the boat you found scrapped up in Norfolk?"

"Yes, it's at Simmons Reek. I would like to restore it."

"Well, if it was owned by Dunlieven, it probably is well worth restoring. There will be quite a bit of history connected with it," Dad said with a slight smile on his face.

"What, Dad?"

"I think it is probably best if you found it out yourself, but a good place to start would be to get Bernard to introduce you to Manny Goldberg."

Try as I might, I could not get more out of Dad. I did find out more, though, once we got home. The internet is very useful if you know what search terms to put in. If you don't, you can end up getting masses of connected information but not quite what you were looking for. Unfortunately, that is mostly what I got, but I found one piece about Sir John Mitchell:

Sir John Mitchell played a major part in the evacuation of thirty-seven Jewish apprentices from Amsterdam. Using the Duke of Dunlieven's yacht, which was moored close to Bergen-op-Zoom, Sir John ferried the evacuees to safety, together with a quantity of industrial and gem diamonds. During the crossing of the North Sea, the yacht came under fire from a patrolling German fighter. Two of the apprentices were seriously wounded, and the Duke of Dunlieven's valet was killed.

I thought it was odd that the Duke of Dunlieven's valet was on board, but there was no mention made of the Duke himself being there. Surely his valet would have been wherever the Duke was.

By the time I had dug that information out from the internet, it was time for me to get over to the dojo, which I did. There was no Simone or Delcie there; Lee informed me that they were visiting family for a few days. He then proceeded to use me to demonstrate to Jim how the moves should be done. I got thrown around quite a lot but also learnt quite a lot. I must have been getting better at things as my body did not ache when I got out of bed Thursday morning.

As I came out of the shower, my phone pinged. Checking it, I saw a text from Steve asking me if I could go into the yard. I was a bit surprised as there was no real work going on at the moment. Anyway, I had already arranged to be in the yard on Friday and Saturday.

I texted Steve back, telling him I could get into the yard, but it would not be before ten-thirty. He texted back that that was fine. He just needed some cover from eleven till about one. I guessed he had somebody coming in and needed to talk to them undisturbed. I, though, needed to get some breakfast, and if I was going to the yard, it needed to be a cooked one.

It was just gone half-eight when I got down to the kitchen. Mum and Dad were seated at the table, making their way through a pile of toast.

"Coffee's just made, and there is plenty of toast if you want some," Mum informed me.

"Probably will, but I need a fry-up this morning."

"Why, what are you up to?" Dad asked.

"Steve's texted to ask me to go into the yard. I have to see Steven and Jim first as I said last night that I would give them a hand to move some stuff. Should not take more than half an hour, so I should be able to leave about ten to get to the yard."

"I'll give you a lift in if you like," Mum informed me. "Got to go over to Lynnhaven; the tenants have a problem with the guttering. Thought I would call in and see Jack at the Anchor, so should be coming back about two, if you want picking up."

I told Mum that those times worked. Cooked myself a nice fry-up of bacon, fried bread and beans, which I then accompanied with a few slices of toast, followed by a couple more slices of toast spread with marmalade.

"You must be hungry," Dad commented as I was pouring my second mug of coffee.

"I think it's all the exercise I did last night, though I am probably going to need it with helping Steven and Jim, then going to the yard."

Twenty minutes later, I had finished, washed up, and had a third mug of coffee with far more sugar than was good for me. A quick visit to the toilet and I was ready to face the world, or at least that portion of it that was at the rear of the Priory estate. I grabbed a nice warm jacket and put it on, then slipped a hoodie over it. It might not be stylish, but it was warm, and on a day like today, that is all that mattered.

I found Steven and Jim in the walled garden. They were just unloading the last of what looked like six window frames from Jim's van and stacking them at the end of the glasshouse. I made the mistake of asking what they were.

"They're tops for the cold frames," Jim replied, indicating the row of low brick structures that ran along the front of the glasshouses. "We need to get them fixed in place, which is why we need you."

"Why? What do I need to do?"

"Because it is a lot easier if there are three doing it. Now, you see that length of wood at the back of each frame?" Jim indicated a length of a new two-by-four which was attached to the top of the back wall of each frame. I nodded, indicating that I did see it. "Well, whilst we are holding the covers in position, you need to screw the hinges into place." I looked at the frame covers and noticed that there were four large hinges attached to each one. Fortunately, I also noted that sitting in the wheelbarrow were a cordless drill and cordless screwdriver plus some standby batteries.

In the end it, it did not take that long to do the job, just longer than I had thought it would. Well, there were four hinges on each cover, and each hinge had to be fixed with five screws; that is twenty screws a cover; that is one-hundred and twenty for the six frames. One-hundred-and-twenty pilot holes to be drilled; one-hundred-and-twenty screws to be screwed in. Even with a power screwdriver, that still takes some effort. In the end, it took me just over an hour and a quarter to do my part, which meant I was a bit late getting back to the house. Fortunately, Mum had not left without me. I did not fancy riding to the yard on my moped, not in weather this cold.

Luckily, the causeway was passable, at least according to Mum, so Mum drove directly across to High Marsh before dropping me off at the yard and proceeding onward to Lynnhaven using the chain ferry. When I got to the yard, Steve was busy making a brew.

"Bob's just phoned; he's running a bit late. Saw Anne's Wagon R ploughing through the water, so thought I would get a brew on.

"You know, Johnny, one day that niece of mine is going to misjudge the causeway."

I did not comment, having the same thought myself. Most people would not risk driving onto the causeway unless they could see it was completely clear of water. Indeed, the warning signs at both ends told you not to. Mum, however, seemed to have no such compunction. She maintained that as long as she could see the black of the depth markers, it was fine to cross.

I did think, though, that it was not something for Steve to comment about. After all, I had seen him do exactly the same thing.

Once he had got the brew made, we sat in the chandlery drinking the hot tea. It was tea; Steve never made coffee. I asked him if he had spoken to anyone about Simmons Reek?

"Yes, that's why Bob's coming in. I have all the information for him regarding the barge."

"What about The Lady Ann?"

"Bad news there; he's asking three grand for it?"

"I'll pay it," I stated.

Steve looked at me as if I had gone mad. "Johnny, it's not worth it. The boat's a wreck. It will cost a small fortune to repair it; then there is the cost of getting it down here."

"What's going to cost a small fortune?" a voice from the chandlery doorway asked.

We both looked towards the door. Bob Carluck was standing there, smiling.

"If you are talking about the barge, don't worry. I've got a large one to waste, and no family to leave it to."

"Actually, we were talking about The Lady Ann," I said.

"What's The Lady Ann?" Bob asked.

"It's a wreck of a yacht that Johnny wants to buy. He came across it when we were looking at the barge hull," Steve stated.

"At Simmons Reek?" Bob replied.

I nodded, confirming the fact.

"So, why do you want to buy it?"

"It's a special boat. I can't say why, but the line of its hull is beautiful; then there is its history."

"What history?" Steve asked.

"She was designed and commissioned by Sir John Mitchell as a gift to the Duke of Dunlieven and won the Round the Island race three times." I heard a gasp from Bob.

"The Flying Lady. We have the wrong name," Bob stated.

"What?" I asked.

"There is a legendary yacht amongst collectors like me. We know it as the Flying Lady. That's what she is referred to as. Never heard her called The Lady Ann. Are you sure it's the boat built for Dunlieven?"

"Yes, I've got a picture of it." I pulled the book I got yesterday from my bag and showed Bob and Steve the picture.

"That's definitely the same boat," Steve stated. "Those lines are unmistakable."

"Well, kid, if you don't buy it, I will," Bob declared. Steve looked at the pair of us as if we were mad.

"If you buy it, you've got to get it here," Steve pointed out to me.

I just looked at him blankly. I had not given any thought to that. Fortunately, I did not have to. Bob intervened.

"Put it on the salvage barge that is bringing the barge down," he instructed. "I'll pay for it. It will only cost a couple of hundred for loading and unloading costs. The salvage-barge, hire-and-tow fees will be the same no matter how many boats are on it."

"Steve had already had that idea," I told Bob. "I was about to ask you about it."

Steve started to read the text in the book. "Who are Dean and Sanderson? It says the yacht was built on the Blackwater, but I have never heard of that yard."

"You won't have," Bob told him. "The yards were bombed out in 1940. They used to be from roughly where we are now to where the old yard on the Nase is."

"So, it's coming home," observed Steve.

"I suppose it is," Bob commented. "Wish I'd found it."

"Why didn't you?" Steve asked. "You must have seen it when you were up there."

"Oh, I saw the yacht in the cradle. Even looked at it, but it was The Lady Ann. I was looking for a boat called the Flying Lady."

"Why that name?" I asked.

"That's what she was called in the reports of the time. Clearly, it was a nickname. You must remember that the Round the Island race did not officially start till 1931. Before then, there were a number of unofficial races, mostly held between members of the nobility, including the Prince of Wales. As such, there are no official records of the races, no entry lists, or other material. Only mentions in the sports pages of upper-crust papers. All the references to Dunlieven's yacht refer to her as the Flying Lady."

"But why is it so important?" Steve asked. "I thought your specialist interest was boats with military history."

"Well, the Flying Lady — though I suppose I should call her The Lady Ann — has one. Sir John Mitchell took the yacht to the Netherlands in late April 1940. Dunlieven was on board, undertaking some sort of diplomatic mission to the Dutch government. The relationship between Britain and the Netherlands was not that good back then; we had some territorial disputes in South Africa."

"They were still there when the Germans invaded on the 10th of May. What happened next is a bit confused, but it seems that Dunlieven got out with the British Embassy staff, but Mitchell was left behind. He and the Duke's valet, Antony Dalesun got a group of Jewish lads — apprentice diamond cutters — out of Amsterdam with nearly a ton of industrial diamonds, then down to Zeeland where The Lady Ann was moored. They crossed over to Harwich. On the way over they were strafed by a German fighter. It was reported that John Mitchell and Antony Dalesun stood on the top of the wheelhouse shooting at it with rifles. Dalesun, apparently used the Duke's elephant gun, with which it is reported he brought the plane down. Unfortunately, he died of injuries he received. Mitchell got a bar to his VC for the act; Dalesun was awarded a posthumous George Cross."

"Why didn't he get the VC?" I asked.

"He was a civilian, not under military orders," Bob told me. "Mitchell was under military orders at the time, so qualified for the VC. The GC is the civilian equivalent."

"It seems the government put a lot of value on those apprentices," Steve commented.

"I don't think they could have cared less about them," Bob stated. "It was the industrial diamonds that were important. We needed them for precision engineering. One of the reasons that the Germans had so many problems with wartime production was a shortage of industrial diamonds.

"That's why The Lady Ann is so important. What Mitchell and Dalesun did was very brave. The word is they could have got out with Dunlieven and the Embassy staff, but they decided to save the diamonds and the apprentices. That's why I'll help fund the boat's restoration. The question is, where are you going to put it? With my barge you'll have no room in the yard."

"We are hoping to have use of the Salvage Yard," Steve told Bob.

"I thought that had been sold?"

"No, Bob, the sale fell through. We believe it is on the market again. Somebody we know is making a bid for it. If they get it, we will be able to use it," Steve said.

We talked for a bit more about the yacht, then Bob and Steve went into the office so they could discuss what would be involved in getting the barge restored. I sat in the chandlery, waiting for customers and doing a bit of tidying up. Total waste of time; we did not see a single customer besides Bob all day.

Bob left shortly after one. Once he had left, I got Steve to phone Cliff Douen. There was a bit of haggling; Steve managed to get the price down to two-thousand-seven-hundred. More importantly, they would store the yacht there free of charge until we could move it, provided it was moved before the end of the year. Steve assured Cliff that I had the funds to pay for it. I assured him that a cheque would be in the post by the end of the day. Fortunately, I had hung onto the printout from the ATM showing my balance yesterday, so was able to prove to Steve I had the money in the bank to pay for The Lady Ann.

Mum phoned just after half one to let me know she was on her way back. I could see from the office that there was no way she could use the causeway, so I told her I would meet her at the chain ferry. I got there about three minutes before she arrived.

"You look like the cat that got the cream," she commented as I got into the car.

"I did."

"You did what?"

"I got the cream," I replied.

"Enlighten me, please?"

"I bought The Lady Ann. At least, I agreed to buy her. Have to send them a cheque as soon as we get home."

"How much did that cost you?"

"Two-thousand-seven-hundred pounds."

"Well, it's your money, Johnny."

Mum checked if I had had any lunch. I informed her that I had not, so she pulled into the car park of the Crooked Man. We went in and both had a Ploughman's. When we got home, Dad was on the phone in his study. I went to ask him if he wanted tea. Mum was making a fresh pot of coffee for me and her. Dad indicated he would like a mug and that he wanted to talk to me.

I got back to him about five minutes later. He was still on the phone, so I put his mug of tea down on his desk and then sat in the armchair, putting my mug of coffee down on the side table.

"That was Martin," Dad informed me as he put the phone down.

"Good or bad news?"

"Good. At least, I think it is. The Salvage Yard have accepted our bid. We should have ownership of it in four weeks. Now, all I have to do is find the money."

"I thought you told Steve that you had it?"

"I told Steve we could afford to buy it; we have the funds; now we need to get them into cash. Should not take long."

I told Dad about buying The Lady Ann.

"You've got the money for it?" Dad asked.

"Yes, I think Martin must have put the cash from mother's in my account. There is more than enough to pay for it. I'm sending them a cheque this afternoon."

Dad glanced at the clock. "You'd better get a move on if you're going to get it in today's post. How much is it going to cost you to get it down here?"

"Not that much; probably a couple of hundred. Bob Carluck said it can come down on the same salvage barge he used for the hull he is buying."

There was a knock on the study door. I turned and saw Lee standing there. Dad indicated for him to take the other armchair. Lee did after handing Dad a sheaf of papers he had been carrying.

"The first three are fine, but episode four is a mess; it will need to be reworked. Also, the telephone guys have finished, and the lines are now all operating in the office," Lee told Dad.

"Good, so we can officially move Mike Carlton Productions into its home," Dad commented. "What's wrong with episode four?"

"Not certain, but it just does not read right."

"Is this for the next industrial-archaeology series?" I asked.

"No," Dad replied. "It's a five-part review of climate-change science for Radio 4." He then turned his attention to Lee. "So, why does it not read right?"

"They are trying to be impartial," Lee stated. "The problem is that the evidence that has been presented is overwhelming, so maintaining an impartial stance just does not sound right."

Dad nodded, then thought for a second or two. Finally, he made a decision.

"Right, Lee. I'll email Chris and tell him it does not work. Now, how are we fixed for moving into the office?"

"It's all ready," Lee replied. "Just have to get stuff transferred over."

"That's going to be the hard part," Dad stated. "There is an awful lot of data to move, and as the two networks cannot see each other, I think we will have to do it manually."

"Why can't they see each other?" I asked.

"I asked Arthur to set things up so that the house network, which my systems here are on, is invisible to the production-office network. In the future, I will have people working for me besides Lee, and I don't want to risk them getting access to stuff that is not part of the production business."

That made sense, but I could see it could also create problems.

"Dad, why don't you get them to set up a drive that is visible to both networks. That way you can transfer data through the shared drive."

"That's a good idea," Dad stated. "However, Arthur's not here at the moment."

"But Neal is, and I am sure he can do it," I pointed out. Dad told Lee to go and sort something out with Neal. Lee left.

"How's it working out with Lee?" I asked.

"It's going well, Johnny. In fact, I don't know how I managed before. He's taken over doing all my routine work, which leaves me more time to do stuff that brings in the money.

"The best thing is he is doing stuff which I never did but makes a major difference to my productivity."

"Like what?" I asked.

"Like this," Dad replied, pulling a sheet of paper from a pile on his desk. He handed it to me. It was a list of magazine titles.

"What is it?"

"It's a list of magazines which might be interested in an article I have written. I wrote an article last year on fog harvesting, which will be published in May. Lee has produced this list of magazines which might be interested in such an article. OK, I might have sold the same article with some house-style amendments to three or four magazines; there are twenty-eight on that list, all of whom I have dealt with in the past.

"Lee's doing this for everything I write on spec now, not that I am writing all that much on spec these days. He is also producing this."

Dad handed me another sheet of paper. This looked like a project plan, only it had amounts of money on it.

"What's this?"

"It's a cash-flow plan. It's showing what money is due into the business and what is going out. Lee produces one for me every week so I know where I am and if I need to move funds around to cover expenses."

"By the looks of this, you are in the red already."

"We are; at least, Mike Carlton Productions is. That chart does not show my writing income. MCP will be in the red till I submit the first set of scripts for the global-warming-technology series. Hopefully, that should be ready the end of this month."

We talked a bit more about things. I went up to my room to write out the cheque for The Lady Ann. That done, I put it in an envelope and went down to scrounge a stamp off Dad. He told me to put the letter in the filing tray at the end of his desk. There were a couple more letters in it. Dad told me he now had a system where Lee collected the mail and then drove down to the marketplace to post it there. The last collection there was nearly two hours after our local collection.

That done, I chatted a bit more with Dad, mostly about college, then I went and joined Mum in the kitchen. It was one of the warmest rooms in the house. Dad may have had Matt put in a state-of-the-art heating system, but the Priory was still a historic pile in the worst sense. Most of it still felt decidedly chilly at times.

Lee came in about twenty minutes later. He told me that Neal had said he would have a storage device in place that both networks could see in half an hour and thanked me for the idea, saying it would save him a lot of work. With that, he went through to Dad's study. I decided to go up to my room and do some studying; I could always put the fan heater on.

Just after six, Mum called to let me know that dinner was ready. It was on the table when I got down to the kitchen. No sign of Dad.

"He's on the phone in the study," Mum stated in answer to my unasked question. "I think he is talking to Bernard."

"In that case, we'd better tuck in; otherwise, it will be cold by the time he's finished."

Mum laughed but acted on my comment by serving up, at least for us. I was just helping myself to a second helping when Dad came through from the study.

"I see you didn't wait for me," he commented.

"I'm a teenager. Mum knows better than to get between a teenager and food."

Mum just nodded.

Dad helped himself to a pile of rice, upon which he ladled a mass of the chicken and mushroom casserole. He had nearly finished it when he spoke.

"Flora and Jack won't be here till tomorrow."

"Problems?" Mum asked.

"Some paperwork they had to sign was not ready, so they can't see a judge in chambers till the morning."

"What's going on?' I asked.

"You know that Flora and Jack are your trustees under your mother's will." I nodded. Dad continued. "Well, they think it is a bit too much for them at their age."

"They're not that old," I stated.

"Maybe not, but they feel that way. Anyway, they are applying to have the trusteeship changed to Bernard and myself. That way there will be the same trustees running both trusts, which should make life a bit easier if you need things."

I could see some sense in that. In fact, Dad and Uncle Bernard had discussed the idea in theory with me before. However, I was a bit upset that they had not discussed the changing of trustees in detail with me before going ahead with it. I expressed this to Dad.

"Actually, Johnny, it's taken Bernard and me a bit by surprise. Oh, Jack had hinted at it but not said anything definite. Then they came down to London this week and wanted Bernard to sort it all out."

"And it's being sorted out?"

"Yes, Johnny, it is."

I was still a bit upset about Dad and Uncle Bernard not telling me what was going on with the trust. After all, it was my trust. Sometimes I felt that they just did not want me to know what was going on. I wish I could talk to somebody about it.

Friday morning, I was a bit late getting up. I was just finishing breakfast when a high-powered sports car roared into the yard. I went to see who it was. Only a few people had the gate codes which would allow them to drive into the yard — at least, drive in without getting somebody to open the gates for them. In the yard was a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. Tyler got out from the driver's side.

"New car?" I asked.

"Yes, but not mine," Tyler replied. A tall black girl with oriental features got out of the passenger side.

"It's mine," she said. "At least it's mine to use. I'm Jenny. You must be Johnny?"


Jenny laughed. Tyler walked around the car and joined her.

"Jenny, can I introduce you to Johnny, also known as Johnathan Carlton-Smith. Johnny, this is my fiancée, Jenny Jones."

"Fiancée? Since when?" I asked as I shook Jenny's hand.

"About nine-thirty last night," Jenny laughed. "He took me to the Savoy Grill and proposed there."

"Congratulations, I think." I turned and looked at Tyler. "You're lucky she accepted. Though I suppose you only proposed so you could get to drive the Lamborghini."

"I didn't know about it," Tyler responded, putting a spoilt look on his face.


"He didn't," Jenny assured me. "I had not had chance to tell him. Only signed the contract to be the face of Lamborghini yesterday afternoon. The car was a surprise."

"Why a surprise?"

"I can't drive," Jenny laughed. "Seriously, I can't. My eyesight's too bad for me to get a licence, even in the States."

"It must be bad. Though, it would explain why you agreed to marry this lump," I said, giving Tyler a punch on the arm.

"Hey, less of the lump. I've been telling Jenny what a fine figure of a man I am."

It was my turn to laugh.

"But you were driving in those ads," I stated.

"All green-screened," Jenny answered. "They had a professional driver doing the actual driving on the mountain roads, then cut in green-screen shots of me where they needed to show my face."

"Any idea when Matt will be doing the drive extension?" Tyler asked. "I was hoping it would be in place by the time we got back."

"I think they were planning on starting this week, but the weather has messed things up. Talking of which, you must be freezing. Why don't you come in? I'm sure you could do with a coffee, and there's some freshly made."

Tyler muttered something about slipping round and switching the heating up. Jenny told him he'd better do it.

Tyler went off around to the housekeeper's cottage to warm it up. I showed Jenny into the house and provided her with a coffee.

I had just given Jenny the mug of coffee when Mum walked into the kitchen.

"You must be Jenny," Mum stated, seating herself across the table from Jenny. "I'm Anne. I try to keep this madhouse in some sort of order."

"Oh, you're Johnny's mother," Jenny replied.

"No, I'm not his mother, though he calls me Mum. Actually, I am his stepmother, though he was too old by the time I got him for me to be wicked."

Jenny laughed. I had noticed she laughed a lot.

Mother continued. "We were expecting to see you last weekend."

"That was the plan," Jenny stated. "Unfortunately, there were location problems with my photoshoot, so things did not get wrapped up till yesterday."

The back-doorbell rang, so I opened it to let Tyler in.

"Heating's turned up," he announced to Jenny.

"But it going to take a couple of hours before that place is warm," Mum announced. "You might as well have lunch with us here."

Lunch! I had only just had breakfast. I did, though, look at the clock and saw it was gone ten.

"By the time you've had lunch, Tyler, your place should be warm enough for you to occupy it," Mum stated.

Tyler put up a bit of a protest but then agreed. I poured him a mug of coffee which I passed over to him. Mum told Jenny and Tyler to take their coats off and come through to the snug with their coffees. Tyler said he really needed to speak with Dad, if that was possible.

I told Tyler I would see if Dad was free, then went to his study to check. He was not there. I wondered where he could be. It took me a few minutes to remember the production offices were now running and Dad was probably over there. I phoned to check; he was and said he would be back over to the house in five minutes to see Tyler. So, I told Tyler to wait for Dad in the study. When Dad came in, he suggested I should join him and Tyler.


"Johnny, next year you will probably be running this place most of the time. I think Tyler probably wants to talk about the lease for the office. Martin emailed it to me yesterday. It might be a good idea if you knew what was going on."

Dad had a point, so I joined him in the office. Dad was right; Tyler did want to discuss the lease. Everything was now in place for him to take over the equipment-hire business from his friends in New York. The required funding was in place; all Tyler needed to do was sign the lease and he could start the operation from the first of March.

Dad printed out copies of the lease and then went through the clauses with Tyler. As Martin had been speaking to both of them when the leases were drawn up, there were no problems, and once they had both read through the leases, Dad and Tyler signed them.

Tyler then asked about the driveway extension so he could drive up and park by the housekeeper's cottage. Dad told him that the recent snow had upset plans, but Matt had assured him that the builders would get onto things as soon as they could, though that would not be until they had some frost-free days.

That sorted, Tyler asked if we knew anyone who was looking for work. He needed an office administrator, hopefully someone who could start at the beginning of March. Personally, I could not think of anyone but said I would ask around.

To be honest, I was a bit lost for things to do. I had caught up with all my college work, the yard was essentially closed, we could not work outside in this weather, and all the indoor work was up to date. Yes, I could go in, and no doubt Steve would like the company, but we would only be sitting in the office or the chandlery chatting and drinking tea, waiting for something to come up so we could have some work to do. If Steve needed help, he could phone me. Dad and Tyler were deep in conversation about film production, which was of no interest to me at all. I quietly got up and left the study. Going through the kitchen, I grabbed a warm coat off the coat stand, then set off for the walled garden.

As I expected, Steven and Jim were in the glasshouse. Jim was busy making up seed trays for sowing. Actually, he was just finishing off making them up. The long bench that ran the length of the glasshouse was filled with made-up seed trays. Steven was just sitting at the end of the bench. I assume he was under doctor's instructions to do no work. I commented to Steven that the place was not that warm. I thought they had sorted out heating for both glasshouses.

"Oh, it's heated alright," Steven informed me. "We just do not want it to be a hot house. If we have it too warm, the plants will grow too fast. That would mean they will be weak and straggly. By keeping the temperature down, they grow more slowly, so we get stronger bushier plants. They sell better."

"Don't you want them ready for Easter? That's only six weeks away."

"Don't we know it, Johnny?" Jim said. "To be honest, we probably can't get that much ready for sale by Easter, not if we are going to have anything of any quality. We will have some; most of these trays will be ready for moving into plugs in about three weeks. In six weeks, they will just about be ready to sell, but they will be a lot better a couple of weeks later. Most nurseries buy stuff in from Holland for Easter. We can't afford to, though your grandfather is talking to Uncle George about some sort of deal to help us there."

With those comments, he patted down the surface of a seed tray, then passed it to Steven, who sprinkled some seeds over the surface, labelled the tray, then sieved some soil over the top of the tray. That done, the tray was placed on the bench, along with the other trays.

"Time to get out of here," Jim announced.

"Why?" I asked.

"He's about to turn on the mist-irrigation system," Steven informed me, pointing to a series of pipes that ran above the bench. "It is going to get seriously wet in here in a couple of minutes."

I followed Steven out of the glasshouse. Once outside, I noticed how much colder it was outside the glasshouse than in. Jim was standing just inside the door to the glasshouse, his hands on a lever attached to a pipe that went up by the side of the door. When we were both out, Jim pulled down on the lever, and a fine spray issued from the pipes over the bench. Jim quickly exited via the door, closing it after.

"It's a very fine mist spray," Steven informed me, answering the question I had not asked. "It will take about an hour to water all the trays to the degree we want, but it will water them and do so without washing out the seeds on the top of the trays. Come on down to the cottage; we've got the kitchen working so can make coffee or hot chocolate."

"Hot chocolate would be nice," I stated as I started to follow Steven down towards the cottage. As we walked, I commented that I was surprised to see Steven working, given his operation.

"Light duties only," Steven informed me. "It will be a few more weeks before I can do any real work. I really want to get on the mat and try some of the things you two are doing."

I was somewhat surprised when Steven showed me in. For a start, it was a lot warmer than I had expected. Also, the rooms were all lined with fresh plasterboard. I commented on the facts to Jim, who had followed us in through the door.

"Dad had some of his crew here whilst it was snowing. They fixed a waterproof membrane to the walls, then battened out all the walls with two-by-twos, put insulating foam panels up between the battens, then covered it with plasterboard. It has made a big difference."

It had; the musty, damp feeling about the place had gone. Jim led the way through to the kitchen, which was positively warm. I noticed they had a fire burning in the old cast-iron range. There were a couple of old chairs in the room, a table and a shelf unit in the corner, which was stocked with some basic essentials. Jim indicated I should take one of the chairs.

Steven filled a kettle and put it on a trivet, which he then swung in over the fire.

"No electricity yet, but we have some heat and can boil a kettle for a cuppa," he commented.

"You're missing him, aren't you," Jim stated.

"Who?" I asked.

"Joseph, of course."

I nodded. "How did you know?"

"Because you've been wandering around the place like a lost soul. I've seen you down by Pound Pond just standing, looking at nothing. It's time you pulled yourself together and did something."

"Like what?"

"I don't know. You love him; you know him. Sort something out. To be honest, Johnny, you're no good to anyone the way you are."

I had to admit to myself that Jim was right, I was no good to anyone the way I was, and that included me. Thinking about it, Steve had said some things which hinted that I was not really putting the effort into things that I had been. He had even asked me the other day if I was still wanting to go to the International Boat School.

The kettle boiled. Jim made three mugs of hot chocolate. We sat there.

"So, what are you going to do?" Jim asked.

I wish I had an answer to that question. The thing was, I just did not know.

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