Thilo

by Andrew Foote

Chapter 16

"Making inroads?"

"Yeah. I've still got stuff outstanding, and deciding whether or not to rebuild the house is something I've yet to do.

I've managed to secure the services of engineers to upgrade the internet access, provide computers so all those in the village who are computer-literate have the means of getting online, and I'm waiting on a call from those builders I told you about to tell me when they can begin the work on the new housing for the villagers.

How are you doing?"

"Okay. Dad has registered a company in the UK; Roker-Broadhurst Limited, naming us as the directors, plus you might not be upsetting Mr Samuels quite as much as you'd feared."

"How did you manage that?"

"The Bank of Namibia have offices in Threadneedle Street in the City of London. We can open the accounts with them so keeping the money in the Namibian banking system, but also allowing for easy access. Quite what their charges are is something I've yet to ascertain, but once we're back in England, it might be an idea if we made an appointment and paid them a visit."

"Good idea.

Did you transfer funds to Company's House or register a temporary account for the business?"

"Not necessary right now. So far, it's not trading which means we don't have to generate accounts. It's just sitting there waiting until all the other bits and pieces are finalised."

"Soon be back in England then!"

"What about Pretoria?"

"Oh, sorry. I forgot to tell you. Uncle Has called asking if we could avoid next week as he had to be in Australia. I told him that we couldn't wait around until he got back as we had things to organise back in the UK. He'll be over there next month and he'd catch up with us then.

There is one other thing? I fired that fucking solicitor today! I did some digging, and it would appear that it's not the first time he's tried to pull a stunt like that!"

"But did your uncle ever call him?"

"No! He called my uncle! All that stuff about handing Uncle Hans control for the duration was just so much bullshit. It was only a ruse to get me to sign up to a new contract which would effectively give him unrestricted access to our money. Uncle Hans is clean. No iffy dealing whatsoever."

"He never thought to mention it though?"

Why should he Steve? Some solicitor I've never met, phones my uncle expressing his condolences on hearing about the death of my parents? Hardly newsworthy?"

"No. You're right. I think that because I don't know these people, I find myself dreaming up possible conspiracy theories!"

"Then why not conspire with the British Embassy, see if our Spook is still in the country then book our flights out of here."

"Yes boss. I'm on the case!"


Back safely home in Malvern, we were sitting around the desk in Dad's study trying to get our heads around the order of events over the summer such as harvesting, ploughing, silage application and the marketing of livestock when the phone rang.

Dad answered.

"Broadhurst speaking."

"Good afternoon. My name is Maitre Samuels and I was wondering I could talk to either Mr Thilo Roker or Viscount Broadhurst please?"

"Let me put this call on hold while I get someone to find them. Please wait."

Dad hit the Mute key and turned to us.

"Do you want to take this call?"

I let Thilo answer.

"Yes please Charlie. Mr Samuels is the Vice President of the Bank of Namibia, and we've business to discuss."

"Okay. I'll make myself scarce then."

"No need. We were going to tell you about this anyway."

Dad turned the phone around. Thilo un-muted the call and selected Conference.

"Hello Mr Samuels. Thilo here."

"Hello Thilo. I'm calling you with regard to the transference of funds from our Head Office to London, and given that contract, I'd like it if Viscount Broadhurst was party to this conversation. Is that possible?"

"He's here with me. I'll pass him over."

I just confirmed my presence.

"Hi Mr Samuels. Stephen Broadhurst here. We've got this call on conference so there's no need to repeat anything. Oh. And please call me Stephen?"

"Thank you. That would make my life much less complicated!

The reason for calling is concerning this money transfer. We don't envisage any problems, but as I'm going to be in Europe to visit my children, I thought it might be a good thing if we met, together with our UK manager, so we can expedite things smoothly."

"Yes. That's a good idea.

When do you expect to arrive?"

"Open diary. My children tell me that anytime is okay for them. Next week, next month. Whatever suits you."

Thilo took over here.

"Sooner is better for us. With so much to sort out, it would be a weight off our minds to have this out of the way."

"I could be in the UK by Wednesday next. A day to get past any jetlag and we could meet at a time and place that best works for you. The detail, - so long as there's a reliable internet connection, can be done anywhere."

I had a question.

"Your daughter lives in France, but where does your son live?"

"Near a town called Stroud in Gloucestershire."

"Then come to us. Stroud is like, an hour's drive from here. You could stay overnight if business takes longer than expected?"

"That is very kind of you, but I wouldn't want to impose."

"No imposition, really. Thilo needs to say something, so I'll pass him over."

Thilo took the phone.

"There was one other matter? I want the Namibian account to remain active. The farm is still operational if a bit rundown, so I intend…… sorry, we intend to get it back up and working, so keep a balance of around one million on the account to fund the rebuild, then topped up as required."

"That is very easily done. I assume the rest of the funds you want transferred?"

"Please."

"I'll have the paperwork pulled together for when we meet.

My apologies for disturbing your day, but it was good to talk to you both. Good bye, and I'll call you again once I have my travel details."


Dad studied our faces as Thilo dropped the call.

"One million? Hardly enough to rebuild a farm the size of yours?"

"That should be more than enough Charlie."

"One million Rand is…… about sixty-thousand pounds? You couldn't get a small barn built for that here?"

"One million US dollars, not Rand."

I interjected; Dad was more than a bit confused.

"A partnership. Transfer funds to the UK to finance the new company, rebuild and re-equip the farm in Namibia, then think about how we invest in the UK."

"Not that it's any of my business, but what will be the amount of capital lodged in this new venture?"

"One point two."

"So, One point two million. Not too bad."

"Dad? Do you want to get yourself a very stiff drink?

Try one point two BILLION."

"A drink yes, but a cardiologist might be a better idea!"


Thilo talked Dad through everything, from the farm in Africa to his late parent's estate and investments, to the need to get all his holdings out of Africa and into the UK.

He mentioned about the split of resources but didn't go into detail, but I think...... wrong, - I knew by the expression on Dad's face that he'd cottoned on to the seriousness of mine and Thilo's relationship.

He studied us closely for a moment before replying.

"I think I understand, but what'll happen if your relationship cools? You have committed half your fortune to Stephen, and unless I'm completely off target, he can use it in any way he sees fit. You've tied this up by contact with no way out other than by mutual agreement, or through dying."

"Not that we see our future in that way; it goes beyond the physical Charlie? We're soulmates in a way I could never have hoped to find in anyone. You might think that we're both too young to fall in love, but who knows when love strikes? I've seen too much violence and death in the last eight months, and with the threat still hanging over us, we want to live our lives together, face the danger together, and that commitment is why I'm sharing all my assets with Stephen.

If, as you put it, our relationship heads onto the rocks? This is, and always will be, a business arrangement, nothing more, nothing less. I know we could still work together."

"Before you go condemning me out of hand Thilo, let me tell you something that even Stephen is probably unaware of.

We, as in Pat and I, weren't what you might call Best Pleased when Stephen broke the news about his sexuality. But he had the courage of his convictions, it must have been very difficult for him to face up to us and admit to his feelings.

Slowly we came to respect that, but always in the forefront of our minds was who he might meet and fall in love with? Without meaning to cast aspersions on the wider gay community, but God forbid he fell for some effeminate queen!

We shouldn't have worried. He's met, and quite obviously fallen in love with a wonderful young man who's sensitive yet strong, considerate yet determined, a fighter, but also very caring and loving.

No issues for us to be concerned about, and our blessings for the future go with both of you.

Now that this is all open and above board, I don't believe separate rooms are the order of the day, so why don't you move in with Stephen?"

"Thanks Charlie. We don't want you to think that we're just a flash in the pan. Once we're old enough, we want to marry."

"I should bloody-well think so too!"


Between us we treated my parents to a private jet that would fly them from Staverton to Sicily saving them the drag to Birmingham by car and the clutter of an airport departure lounge in peak season. They objected, but Thilo told them that it was his way of thanking them for their hospitality, and mine because of their understanding.

We waved them off three days before Ben and James were expected to arrive, and a week before Mark, Alun, Pete and Tony were due. All of them had visited in the past, but James and Ben had been sort of regular guests and were used to helping out on the farm. The swimming pool was back up and running, together with grass and clay court tennis facilities and the lake if anyone wanted to fish for their supper. They wouldn't be short of things to occupy themselves.

Later that afternoon we walked over to the tractor shed to take a look at our one form of transport.

"Fuck! That's some piece of kit Steve!"

"Isn't it! The bloody thing scares me to death! I can drive all the other machines, including the combines, but up until now I steered well clear of this beast."

"What is it used for?"

"Dad had this idea, like a time saving exercise. Plough, harrow and drill all in the one pass. It works well on the larger fields, a ten-gang reversible plough being the first towed implement, followed by a twelve-foot wide harrow, then last is a twelve-foot seed drill. Pete's got the measure of the thing, but everyone else, Dad included, gives it a wide berth!"

"Are we going to take it out?"

"Going to have to, unless you fancy being cooped up in doors for the rest of the holiday.

I'll drive it over to the edge of field three, then you can turn it and bring us back. If you feel comfortable driving it, you've got yourself a job."

We climbed the ladder that gave access to the cab where Thilo took a look at the controls.

"Standard layout for the larger John Deere's. No problem there."

"It's the only bit of John Deere kit we have, so I wouldn't know."

"Absolutely standard, except for the computer monitors. What are they used for?"

"The machine is GPS enabled. In the prairies of North America, they deliver the machine to the area to be cultivated, program the co-ordinates of the area into the computers, start her up and let the computers drive the thing. Same when combining. Saves from having a bored driver hacking up and down the field for days on end."

"You don't do it that way?"

"No! Our fields are fairly sizable, but they don't warrant that level of sophistication."

I started the machine and cautiously reversed it out of the shed and into the yard where I took it over to the fuel pumps.

"It's very quiet. Almost like driving an expensive car."

"At close on two-hundred grand, it should be! You're right though, the American's did a tidy job when they built this thing. Separate air conditioning and de-humidifiers, adjustable ride dampers for the seats, self-purging pollen filters and climate control, so yes, I can understand why Pete likes it, but it still gives me the shits!"

"Two-hundred thousand pounds…… for a tractor??"

"Unless you've been asleep, you have to have noticed that Dad likes his toys! Look at the gun room, or the security systems. All state-of-the-art kit, no expense spared."

"Not been aware of the security setup?"

"That's because you're not supposed to notice. Winterton doesn't just nap the day away, he watches and monitors everything. All our vehicles and equipment are tagged, so move around our land, and he knows where we are and where everything is, but an untagged vehicle goes onto our land, and an alarm goes off which activates discrete CCTV cameras which record everything. Dad beefed it up following that incident last Easter, but this is a working farm, not a military installation? You can't be 100% sure that someone won't slip through the net."

"What happens when he's not on duty?"

"He sets everything to Automatic Alert. Short of having machine gun nests scattered around the place, we're as well protected as possible."

"The others from school. Do they know about this?"

"Yes. They've all be here in the past, but Dad managed to obtain a special treat for Alun."

"Like what?"

"He's the best long range target marksman at school, yeah?"

"No arguments there."

"So, Dad got his hands on a McManus 2020. Ever seen one?"

"For all I know, you could be talking cars or postage stamps!"

"Sniper rifle. Ten-round magazine long range killing machine. The MoD limited the amount of ammunition we could store to fifty rounds only."

"Calibre?"

"All the book says is Special, but with a useful range of three miles…..?"

"I can't imagine it's much use at close quarters though."

"Useless, but if we get any trouble, we spirit Alun away and up into the vineyard where he can get clear shots of the yards and the surrounding area."

"Are we expecting trouble?"

"The way it was put to me was that it's best to expect it, and if it doesn't materialise, it's a bonus. The same reason we carry small arms and had extensive training in how to use them."

"I guess so.

There's a part of me that hope they try again so we can kick some ass, but then, I want this entire situation to go away, never to reappear."

"Is that likely? They went to extraordinary lengths to get that information in the first place."

"That was in Africa where the rule of law is more like the early days of the Wild West in America. Over here it's different. They have to get their people into the country, arm them and have some understanding of how to conduct themselves without rousing any suspicions.

They will probably be aware that carrying guns over here isn't at all normal, so why go in mob-handed? A few selected men, catch us with our pants down, some torture to get information, then kill us. Dead simple."

"I wish you wouldn't keep saying kill and dead. I'm nowhere close to being ready for that!"

"Sorry."


We did take the tractor out, and I still hate it, but Thilo had no such concerns. So, we have a driver. But we still had a meeting with Winterton who had been thoroughly briefed about the new security systems to go to.

We parked up and went to find him.

"Mr Stephen, Mr Thilo. I'm sorry to inconvenience you, but I must abide by my instructions, and its best I do it now before I forget.

New security gates and surveillance equipment have been installed, and you need to understand what they do, how they work and your options in the event that they fail.

There are three gates on the driveway. One fifty yards in that is magnetically locked at all times. CCTV will recognise number plates of certain vehicles where upon they will open automatically. Numbers can be added to the database, and there's a check box on the computer that you can use to disable any number if one of our vehicles has been stolen.

If a vehicle successfully gains access through the first gate, the second one remains open. However, if that first gate is compromised, the second gate closes and a diversion route is signposted to the left. This will send that vehicle down a short tarmacked road and into a field where there's a drained pond, or better put, a three-foot deep hole full of very wet clay which I doubt anything other than a Sherman tank could get through.

The third gate serves as an extra precaution, as every occupant has to leave their vehicle so they can be identified before they're allowed entry to the estate.

One last point? If the diversionary gate is opened, the area is floodlit from the house so that measures can be taken rather more directly if necessary."

"What about the postman, or courier drivers?"

"Our postman is regular. We have his van registration number on file, and if he has to change it, they know to call us so we can update our system. All courier deliveries will be made to the Estate Office in Malvern Wells."

"Father has been very busy!"

"Together with your friends from Hereford Sir."

"Them. I forgot about them?"

"Best not to Sir. I don't fully understand the reasons why they're here, but I know enough to realise that this isn't just another training exercise, so please try and stay safe."

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