Being Johnny

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 47

"What's up?" I asked.

"The fucker does not have insurance," Steve informed me. "I phoned the Coast Guard to get his contact details; they gave me his number. So, I phoned him to get his insurance details to put in the salvage claim. Guess what?"

"He hasn't have any; you already said that."

"That's not the worst, Johnny. He told me that the guy from the insurance company inspected the yacht last week and refused to insure it. He had been told it was not seaworthy!"

Bran and Katherine had come to see what the problem was. They had obviously heard Steve's earlier expletives.

"So, it's what we can get for the salvage," Katherine stated.

"Doubt if there is much worth salvaging," Steve stated. "It was a self-build and a badly done one."

"I don't know," Bran said. "The guy had some top-of-the-range electronics in the cockpit."

"Which has been underwater," Steve pointed out.

"Yes, but I mean top of the range, the type of stuff that is in waterproof housing."

"You sure, Bran?" Steve asked.


"Then we might recover something," Steve sighed.

He drank his tea, and then Steve, Katherine and Bran went to look at what was salvageable from the wreck. Given that it was now getting on for six, I packed up for the day and gave Colin a lift home.

When I got in, Dad was in the kitchen cooking, a bit of a surprise as Gran had effectively taken control of that domain since she arrived. I mentioned this to Dad.

"She's with Anne, gone to some event in Chelmsford; they won't be back till late. Your grandfather has taken the lads down to the Crooked Man for a pint and a bite, so you're stuck with my cooking."

"We could always go down for a pint and a bite," I suggested.

"Sorry, but I've got to feed Gert and Luuk, and there is some chap coming to see me this evening from Cambridge University, a Dr. Joe Chapman."

"What about?"

"Seems he's heard a bit about the tide mill and stuff. He's an historian and wants to do a study on the place."

Given recent events, I could not help but be a bit suspicious. We have just received a threat and a demand to hand over seven hundred million in gold, and somebody turns up wanting to do a study about the Priory.

"Dad, have you checked this guy out?"

"Of course, I have, though it was not hard to do. He's the son of Edward Chapman, a leading expert on climate change and one of the professors at Cambridge. I've met him a few times, and he gave my book a rave review. As soon as I got the email from the guy, I looked him up online, found out he was Edward Chapman's son, so phoned Edward. He confirmed his son was an historian and was down this way doing some research into pre-plague monastic institutions."

Dad looked at the clock; it was now past six.

"Give the office a ring and ask how long Gert is going to be."

I did. Lee answered, and when I asked, he said they would be at least another half hour, possibly a bit longer. I kept Lee on the line and passed the information to Dad.

"Tell Lee if he's got nothing else on, he can join us for dinner, as well."

I passed Dad's message on, and Lee said he would, a fact I made known to Dad. I then went up to get a shower and change. When I came down, Dad asked me to set the dining-room table. This was a bit of a surprise as there were only five of us and the kitchen table could easily manage six, even do eight at a push. However, I went to carry out Dad's instructions. As I did, Dad called out after me to set the table for six.

"Why six?" I asked when I returned to the kitchen after setting the table.

"I've invited Dr. Chapman to join us for dinner," Dad informed me.

I wondered why. What was so special about this Dr. Chapman. Going up to my room, I switched on my computer and then did a quick check of my emails. There was one from Joseph, just confirming he had his last exam this week and would be coming down on Friday for the weekend. That, at least, was something. I had hardly spoken to Joseph over the last month. We seemed to keep missing each other.

Emails dealt with, I went and did a search for Dr. Joseph Chapman. I was surprised by how little there was to find about him. Yes, he was a fellow at Newton College, having a double-first in biochemistry and history — an odd combination, I thought. He had then gone on to get his Ph.D. and had published a number of works on obscure topics in history, like the development of Carolingian cursive and papyrus manufacture during the late Ptolemaic period. How on earth did you get from Carolingian cursive to papyrus, much less papyrus for a specific period? Then again, how did you get from either of those to British commercial interests during the Opium Wars? It seemed that Dr. Chapman covered a wide range of history.

Dad called up to me just before seven asking me to give him a hand. I went back down to the kitchen. I had just got there when the front doorbell rang.

"That'll be Dr. Chapman," Dad said. "Can you answer it and take him through to the library? I'll be there in a moment." I went to answer the front door. As I exited the kitchen, Gert and Lee came in through the backdoor. I got to the front door, opened it to find myself facing a strikingly good-looking man. He was tall, well over six foot, with deep brown eyes that caught and held you in their gaze. His white, polo-neck shirt contrasted with the ebony black of his skin. Behind him on the drive was a white Alfa Romeo Spyder, which looked brand new.

There was something odd about this history academic. I was fairly certain his blazer and slacks were Armani; they were definitely Italian. The shoes, by the look of them, were handmade, and that car was not cheap. Not the sort of things you can afford on an academic's salary.

Dr. Chapman introduced himself. I invited him in and showed him through to the library, offered him a drink, then went to see what Dad needed doing in the kitchen. I need not have bothered; he had got Lee helping. Once I got there, he handed the rest of the dinner preparations over to me and said he was going to look after his guest.

I looked around for Gert and asked Lee where he was.

"He's gone up to his room to freshen up and collect Luuk," Lee informed me.

"How are things going with the film?" I asked.

"Good. We managed to get a some of it subtitled today. Should be enough for your father to show Max on Wednesday."

"What about the bits which aren't subtitled?"

"Gert's going with your father; he can translate," Lee informed me.

I finished preparing dinner and got everything ready to serve. Then I went through to the library and let Dad know. Dad told me to get a couple of bottles of white wine. Dr. Chapman told him that he would not be drinking as he was driving. I got a couple of bottles of wine from the wine chiller in the pantry for the rest of us.

Dinner was fairly simple: a tomato-and-basil salad to start, then braised chicken breasts served in a white wine sauce, with a mushroom risotto and sautéed courgettes. There was also a salad to go alongside.

Dad apologised to Dr. Chapman but said he needed to talk business for a bit, then asked Gert how the subtitling was getting on. Gert replied that it was going well, but that there were a couple of translations which were giving difficulties.

"What languages are you translating from and to?" Dr. Chapman asked.

"From Dutch into English mostly," Gert informed him. "Though there are a couple of times we are going the other way round."

"Maybe I could help," Dr. Chapman said.

"You speak Dutch?" Dad asked, somewhat surprised.

"Yes, my father has extensive business interests in the Netherlands, so he insisted I learnt. I did my masters at the University of Leiden."

"So, how would you translate dwaas?" Gert asked.

"It would depend on the context. The most direct translation would be something like foolish, but it could also be used to mean mad or even ridiculous."

"Yes, that's the problem," Gert stated. "Foolish does not sound right in the context."

"What is the context?" Dr. Chapman asked. Gert explained about the film's subject and about the interview they were working on. Dr. Chapman thought for a bit. "How about ill-considered?"

"That actually works better," Gert agreed. "It is not a translation of dwaas, but it makes sense in the context it is being used."

There was something about this that I was not comfortable with. Before I knew it, Dr. Chapman was being invited to join Gert in the morning to work on the translation.

I made a comment about Dr. Chapman's car.

"Actually, it's my wife's car. My father gave it to her for her thirtieth birthday, but she's off digging up some Neolithic site in southern Turkey, so I'm getting the use of it."

"I hope she knows," Dad said.

"Oh, she does. In fact, she's the one who told me to use it. Said if it sits in the garage for six months, it will need a full service before it can be used."

"She's away for six months?" I asked.

"Actually, more like a couple of years," Dr. Chapman replied. "But during the off-season she tries to get back for a few weeks each month. During the digging season she's on site all the time. Fortunately, she is able to take Nick out with her most of the year."

"Who's Nick?" I asked.

"Our four-year-old son. A four-year-old who probably knows more about Neolithic culture than half of the graduate students in the Department of Archaeology. He's grown up on digs."

"Don't you miss him?" Dad asked.

"I do; that's why I try to get out to see them on a regular basis. Though not as much as I would like."

After dinner, Dad and Dr. Chapman retired to the library. Lee helped me clear up, and I made coffee. Gert and Luuk were in the snug watching TV, so I took their coffee through to them, then took coffee to Dad and Dr. Chapman. Dad asked me to join them, so I went back to the kitchen and grabbed my coffee.

"Johnny," Dad said as I took my seat in the library, "Dr. Chapman is interested in the monastic establishment which stood here. You know more about it than I do, so can you fill him in?"

"Really, you need to speak to Joseph about it," I stated. Then I could not resist adding, "He's my boyfriend." Dr. Chapman did not give the slightest reaction to that news. It was as if he was expecting it. "Joseph found the tide mill, and he's helped out Sarah, the graduate student who did the survey, with most of the surveying. He also pointed out the fact that the foundations of the house are probably those of the old monastic buildings."

"Your father did explain that I really needed to speak to Joseph. I gather he is due to be here at the weekend."

"That's correct. He is far more interested in the history of the place than I am, but can I ask what your interest is? I thought your focus was on the Carolingian period."

"I see someone has been checking on me. The Carolingian period — and specifically the Carolingian manuscripts — is what I did my Ph.D. on, which was a bit of a doddle as I had been researching the subject since I was in school. I have also done work on 14th and 15th Century monastic settlements both here and in Europe. So, when funding became available to do this study, I jumped at it."

"Exactly what is it that you are studying?" Dad asked.

"Bit difficult to be precise, but what I am hoping to find is a pattern of archaeological evidence that can support the existence of a more extensive monastic establishment than we have evidence for in the written record. From what I have read, mostly from the paper by Dr. Portage, it is clear that there was some form of monastic-connected activity going on here in the 13th and 14th Centuries. However, there is no written evidence anywhere for a settlement here connected with any monastery that we know of from that period.

"The surmise is that there were some monasteries that we do not know about. That is an area of debate amongst historians of the period."

"Is that likely?" I asked. "After all, the church kept pretty extensive records."

"That's true. The thing is, the records we have are not complete. A lot of information was lost during the dissolution of the monasteries. Not only that done by Henry VIII, but also the dissolutions carried out by various bishops in the 15th and 16th Centuries. Also, you need to keep in mind that we only know about the main monasteries. If the local monastery was in fact a daughter house of another establishment, its income and such like would have been listed as that of the parent house.

"The records kept in Rome only refer to the parent establishments generally. It is rare that there is a mention of a daughter house. When we do find such mentions, it is nearly always in reference to disciplinary measures being taken. So, if there was a small daughter house somewhere in the vicinity and it was fairly well-behaved, then it is likely that there is no mention in the records.

"Things are also complicated by the dissolution. Not just Henry's, either. It was not unknown for documentation concerning minor properties of the establishment being dissolved to become lost. There is a paper in The Gentleman's Magazine of 1838 which refers to numerous deeds and documents being stolen during the dissolution of a monastic establishment. Of course, we all know the nursery rhyme 'Little Jack Horner', which is about the theft of a monastic deed."

"It is?" I asked.

"It is. Jack Horner was, in fact, Thomas Horner, the secretary to the Abbot of Glastonbury. The Abbot of Glastonbury sent the deeds of twelve manors owned by the Abbey to Henry VIII as a bribe. They were said to have been hidden in a pie. Thomas Horner had the job of delivering the bribe to the king. It's said that he stole the deeds to Mells Manor, so only eleven deeds were delivered to the king, though Thomas Horner claimed that he bought the manor from the king.

"The facts of the story are difficult to determine, but what it does show is that deeds were, at times, transferred in questionable circumstances. So, the fact that there are no written references to a monastic establishment here does not mean that there was no such establishment. All the evidence is that there was monastic activity here.

"So, if we assume that there was activity here that was connected to a monastic establishment, which the evidence suggests, it is quite likely that there were other such activities going on in the area. If we can identify those, we may be able to get some idea about the monastery they were attached to."

"That sounds like a big job," Dad stated. "How long do you expect to be here?"

"Oh, I'm only funded for three months," Dr. Chapman replied. "In reality, I am just doing a preliminary study to see if there is anything that might be worth looking at. If I find anything, I will push it off onto a Ph.D. student who can do the grunt work and investigate it."

"Where are you staying?" I asked.

"At the moment, I'm in the Belmont, but that is just short-term. The funding will not support me in a hotel for more than a couple of weeks. I need to find some longer-term accommodation, something that will get me through to the beginning of October."

"Well, I would suggest talking to Jan," Dad said. "She manages the apartments we have at the craft centre. However, I think they are fairly fully booked till the end of summer. You could also have a word with Mary at the Crooked Man; they have a few B&B rooms which she has not been pushing for the last couple of years. She says the work of keeping them going is more than what they bring in. However, if you were looking to take one long term, she might be interested."

That was news to me, I did not know the Crooked Man did B&B.

We chatted for about another twenty minutes, discussing how Dr. Chapman intended to proceed with his investigations. Then Dad asked him what his plans were.

"I'm going to meet with Dr. Portage tomorrow afternoon, then on Wednesday hope to meet with Sarah Colman. From my telephone conversations with Dr. Portage, I understand she did most of the survey work."

"That right," I told him. "It was mostly Sarah and Joseph who did it, though I gave a hand every now and again."

"I am hoping I can get Sarah to give me a walk-through of the site, to get a better understanding of it. Looking at survey maps is one thing, actually walking through the site with whoever did the survey is quite another. It is amazing the number of details they never get into survey reports."

"So, you'll be looking at all the brick work and such," I stated.

"Sorry, not my scene," Dr. Chapman replied. "Couldn't tell the difference between a 1950s factory-made brick and a 15th century handmade brick. Now Georgie — that's my wife — can date a brick to within fifty years just by looking at it. What's more, she can probably tell you which pit the clay was mined from."

Dr. Chapman then asked about making arrangements to view the site. Dad told him that Sarah could bring him to look around anytime she liked, provided they did not need to look at the interior of the house. Dr. Chapman and Dad then got on to talking about Dr. Chapman's father, whom Dad knew. I decided at that point it was a good time to go and deal with my emails and social-media presence.

Dr. Chapman had left by the time I came down about an hour later to make a drink. Dad was in the kitchen using the table to sort out a pile of papers. Granddad was in the snug, watching television. I asked him if he wanted anything to drink, but he said he was fine.

"Mum not back yet?" I asked Dad.

"No, it's only just turned ten. Doubt if they will be back till the far side of half-eleven."

I asked Dad if he wanted a drink, and he said a tea would be nice. "Think I'm going to be up most of the night trying to sort this lot out. Could do with something to keep me awake."

"What is it?"

"The latest updates from John Duprei. He's got a new lot of data to support what he is advancing. I need to check to see if it is going to affect the script."

"Is it?"

"As far as I can see, it's not, but everything has to be checked just to be sure."

"I thought donkey work like this is what you got Lee for," I opined.

"It is. The thing is, I have lumbered Lee with some more-boring donkey work for tomorrow. So, I have to deal with this. Am in Town tomorrow for a recording and then on Wednesday to meet with Max, so need to get this done tonight. We've got a production meeting Thursday morning, and I have to know if it changes anything before that."

I made Dad his tea and a mug of chocolate for myself, then went back to my room. My intention was to do some reading, but I was knackered, so went to bed and drank my chocolate in bed.

Tuesday morning, I gave Colin a lift into the yard, going in early myself as I intended to get the survey of The Lady Ann finished before I went off to Oz. I crossed over the causeway and dropped Colin at the main yard. Katherine was just coming out of the office when we got there and scrounged a lift off me up to the Salvage Yard.

I managed to get quite a bit done before I took a break and joined Katherine in the boatshed for tea and biscuits. Then, I got back to work and was busy trying to make sense of some joints, when Bran called to ask what I wanted from the Pig. That reminded me that it was lunchtime, and I was hungry. I gave Katherine a lift down to the main yard so we could have lunch in the tearoom. There were not any real facilities for refreshments at the Salvage Yard, something that would need to be sorted out.

Steve was in a bit better mood when he came in for lunch. It seems that he and Bran had stripped the electronics out of the salvaged yacht, and he had been checking values.

"That idiot tried to cut corners to save money on the construction then splashed a fortune on electronics which he would never need," Steve informed us.

"So, are you going to get the cost of the salvage back?" Katherine asked.

"Doubt it. There is over twenty grand worth of electronics there, but at salvage prices, I doubt if we will get more than three on them. However, it will help to defray the costs of disposing of the thing."

I was puzzled, but Steve explained that as the hull was composite, it would have to be broken up, which would take time and effort and then sent to landfill. He was responsible for arranging its disposal.

"No way to repair it?" I asked.

"Ask Alan," Steve told me. I looked across the table at Alan.

"Not bloody worth trying. Whoever built that heap skimped like mad. There's only four layers of fibre in the composite; there should be at least six, and there is no reinforcement in the ribs. Be cheaper to build a new hull than try to repair that."

"So, what are we going to do with it?" I asked.

"Well, I have had to advise the Receiver of Wrecks; there is a process which must be gone through. Once that is finished, we will get it onshore, and Colin can attack it with an angle grinder."

Colin looked pleased with this news.

"By the way, Johnny, you might like to look at the keel," Bran said. "It's a pre-war keel, probably picked up from a salvage yard. Might do for you if you're looking at building a replica of The Lady Ann."

I thanked Bran for the information and told him I would have a look at it after lunch. Bran told me where it was. They had brought it ashore and stored it at the side of the boatshed. When I went to look at it, I saw what Bran meant. It was almost identical to what we estimated the keel on The Lady Ann had been. So, I went back to Steve and told him I would like it if it became available.

"It probably will," he told me. "I'll get a scrap valuation for it; you can have it for that once I have cleared things with the Receiver of Wrecks."

I gave Katherine a lift back up to the Salvage Yard and got on with the survey of The Lady Ann. A couple of hours later, Colin came into the yard looking for me.

"Steve wants to know if you've got any mahogany veneer in any of your units?" Colin asked. "Says he thinks you mentioned some."

"Yes, I did, though I can't remember which unit it's in. Why?"

"A job come in. Nice motor yacht. They've had a small fire on board, and the interior veneer is damaged. Steve is hoping to match it rather than having to re-veneer the whole cabin."

It took us about half an hour to find the stuff, but we found it. I then had to ask Colin how much Steve needed. He did not know. So, I ended up calling Steve. One good thing about the Salvage Yard; we had mobile coverage. In the other yards it was a bit iffy. It was actually Bran who answered the phone, which turned out to be a good thing as it was Bran who would be doing the job. He told me he needed about a fourteen centimetres square, but I should bring down what I had as he needed to match it.

Colin gave me a hand to load the veneers into the back of the car. I did not think Bran had realised how much we actually had. Then I drove down to main yard, with Colin. Bran came over to the car when we pulled in. I showed him what we had.

"Fuck! Didn't realise you had this much; thought you probably had a couple of sheets. If I'd realised, I would have come up to you."

He looked through the sheets and found three which he thought would be good matches. I told him to take them and let me have what he did not use. Steve told me to bill the yard for all three sheets as they really should keep some in stock.

As it was gone four by now, I asked if Colin could finish once he had given me a hand to put the sheets back. I estimated it would be gone five by the time we got the stock back to the Salvage Yard and put the stuff back in the unit. Did not want to drive back down here to pick him up as I would have to drive back to the chain ferry; the causeway was flooded. Anyway, I needed Colin to help me put the stuff back in the unit.

Steve had no problem. Told Colin to get his clock card and sign it for a five o'clock finish. We then went back to the Salvage yard and put the rest of the veneer back in the storage unit, then used the chain ferry to get over to the Marsh Road and back home.

As I was driving into the yard, Gert came out of Dad's office and waved to me. I got out and, after making sure Colin was out and the car was locked, went over to Gert.

"What's up?" I asked.

"Your father's asked if you can pick him up from Southminster station." Gert informed me. "His car broke down this morning on the way in and is at a garage; they are awaiting a part. Lee's gone to Romford to conduct a grading."

"OK. What time's his train due in?"

Gert told me. I checked my watch and realised I had a good hour before I had to be there. Time to get a coffee and a quick bite. That given, I went into the kitchen. Mum was there.

"Did Gert catch you?" she asked.

"Yes. Thought I would get a quick bite before I go to pick up Dad."

"Sorry, I would have gone, but…" She patted her distended abdomen. "The baby is giving me a hard time today."

I must admit Mum looked exhausted.

"Are you OK?" I asked.

"Yes, just tired. Did not get much sleep last night."

I nodded with sympathy, then made tea for both of us. I also popped a couple of slices of bread in the toaster and made some toast for myself. That sorted, I sat and chatted with Mum for a bit.

"Where's Grandma?"

"She and Jack went into Chelmsford to do some shopping. Your grandmother has decided she wants a new bed for the apartment. She saw one on the TV adverts last night that's got controls to separately move each side of the bed. Told Jack this morning she wanted one, so they've gone in to have a look at them."

"How'd they get there?" I asked.

"Oh, Marcia took them in. She had to go to the Court — something to do with sorting out the business — so said she would drop them off on the way in. Jack said they would get a taxi back."

Having consumed my tea and toast, I set off for Southminster to pick Dad up. Luckily his train was on time, so I did not have to hang around too long. On the way back, I asked Dad what had happened to his car.

"As I was coming into Southminster, went to change gear at the island and there was a nasty grinding sound. Could not get the car back into gear. Had to call the RAC . They towed me to a garage. Looks like the gearbox has gone. Will have to call in and see the garage in the morning. Any chance you could drive me in before I get off to Town?"

"Yes, but why don't you use the Merc?" I asked.

"Lee's got to go up to Peterborough for me in the morning," Dad replied. "So, he'll need the Merc for that."

We got home shortly after seven. Gran was back and busy sorting dinner, which she told us would be in another twenty minutes. That gave me time to go up and get a quick shower and change.

As there were seven of us, dinner was in the dining room. Over dinner, Dad asked Gert how things had gone this morning.

"Very well," Gert replied. "Dr. Chapman was most helpful with the subtitles. He suggested some alternative wording which made the English a lot better. It's all ready for you to take with you tomorrow. I loaded it onto the server so you can download it to your laptop."

Dad thanked him.

After dinner, I went over to the Stable House apartment to let Colin know I would not be able to give him a lift in the morning. I did, though, tell him to use one of the folding electric bikes as I would be going into the yard later and could give him a lift home.

Wednesday morning, I took Dad into Southminster. We first went to the garage so he could check on the Santa Fe. The news was not good. There was a major problem with the gearbox. For the price the garage was quoting for the repair, I thought Dad would have been better off getting a new car, but he agreed to it.

That sorted, I then drove him to the station. He told me I would not have to pick him up as Lee would be able to do so. I then went into the yard. It was nearly time for the morning tea break, so I went down to the main yard. I had brought my laptop in with me after spending most of yesterday evening entering data points into the CAD program that Arthur had installed for me. After the tea break, I asked Steve to look at what I had in the computer. I was quite pleased with the software package as it supported a 3D rendering which enabled me to rotate the image of the yacht on the screen.

Steve pointed out some areas where I seemed to be lacking information and suggested I probably needed to get some extra data points for those areas. On the whole, though, he was impressed with what I had achieved. The nice thing about the program was that it was able to generate a list of materials, and looking at it, Steve reckoned that I had most of what was required in the wood store at the Salvage Yard. After some discussion, it was agreed that I would start work on building a replica of The Lady Ann when I got back from Australia.

That sorted, I went off up to the Salvage Yard. Katherine was by the woodstore when I got there, checking off pieces against a list she had, then marking them with a chalk cross.

"Pinching all my stock?" I asked.

"Doubt it," she replied. "Most of this stuff is too thin. Looking for substantial stuff for the barge. I suspect most of this was salvaged from leisure craft rather than working boats."

"You're probably right. Hope I can find what I need."

"What are you after?"

I showed her the list which I had printed off in the office once Steve had looked at it. For the next hour, Katherine helped me find pieces of wood in the woodstore which matched items on the list. By the time we had finished, I had most of the pieces marked to indicate that I was reserving them for my project. In the process of searching the woodstore, we also find a couple more pieces that Katherine could use for The Princess of Alba. I asked her how things were going with the barge.

"Well, it looks like it is going to be something more of a rebuild than a restoration. By the time we have finished I think most of the barge will be new. There will still be some original timber in it, though that will be in the minority."

"A bit like the Victory at Portsmouth," I commented. Katherine looked at me questioningly. "I went to see it a couple of years ago and was told that they keep having to replace bits of it, so by now, only a small part of it ever saw the Battle of Trafalgar."

Katherine nodded her head in understanding.

By the time we had sorted out the wood, at least as much of it as we could, it was lunchtime. Katherine had come into work in her car today, so she gave me a lift down to the main yard, rather than both of us driving down. Bran had gone up to the Pig to collect our lunch orders and got back just about the time we drove into the main yard.

Over lunch, Katherine gave Steve an update on what she had done regarding The Princess of Alba. That basically came down to a long list of pieces of the hull that would have to be replaced and an even longer list of the wood they would need to get to do the replacements.

"How much of the original will be left?" I asked Katherine.

"If we're lucky, twenty, but more likely ten percent."

"Does Bob know that?"

"Not yet. He's coming down on Friday, and I will give him a full report and show him what's needed to be done."

I made a mental note not to be around on Friday. My suspicion was that Bob would want to keep as much of The Princess of Alba as he could.

"Of course," Katherine continued, "we could save more of the timber, but that would mean some pretty expensive preservation work, and we don't have the equipment here, so it would have to be purchased, which would put the costs up even more."

"Knowing what I do about Bob Carluck, I don't think that will be a problem," I observed.

That afternoon, I spent most of my time moving wood that I had identified for use on the replica from the woodstore to an area where I would be building the replica. That was next to The Lady Ann, so I was able to get the wood under the cover of the housing protecting The Lady Ann. I realised I would need a similar housing constructed over where I was going to build the replica as there was no way I could tie up one of the boatsheds for that long. Another scaffolding and tarpaulin construct would do, so I made a note to contact Lenny about getting another one put up.

I was still moving wood about when Colin trundled into the yard on one of the electric bikes, letting me know it was gone five. We folded the bike up and put it in the back of the Volvo. I let Katherine know I was leaving. She told me she would be soon. Then we set off back to the Priory via the chain ferry.

I was somewhat surprised when I got home to find Dad back. From what he had been saying this morning, I had not expected him back till gone seven.

"Bernard had to cancel our meeting," he informed me when I asked how come he was home so early. "Something came up in court this morning and the judge adjourned the case till after lunch, so he was stuck in court."

I asked him how the meeting with Max had gone.

"It went well. He watched the rough cut and thought it was good," Dad stated. "He's fairly certain that he can sell it in the States and Canada, says he thinks he can also get a European distribution for it, especially in Germany. Though he wants to release it to cinemas first and then to TV afterwards."

"That seems a bit odd."

"I agree, but it seems that if it comes out first as a film, it is open for more awards than if it is just a TV production. Max says a film like this is likely to get a lot of nominations, even if it does not win anything. The fact that it has been nominated will make it more saleable to the TV stations."

"So, what's the outcome?" I asked.

"Well, I've appointed Max Ableholm to represent Mike Carlton Productions and to handle the sale of The Unheard. Phil had told me what I should be paying by way of commission, and in the end, what Max asked for was a bit less, so I felt safe going ahead."

I was a bit surprised when Uncle Ben arrived shortly before dinner. Apparently, he had come over to finalise details about the move to the new dojo. Nobody had told him that Lee, with Jarrom's help and the use of Jim's van, had already moved everything. He was quite pleased at that piece of news as it meant he did not have to get involved in dragging mats around. However, it turned out that his trip was not a total waste as he had planned to meet up with Jarrom to discuss the development of the dojo.

"Matt's people are going to be finished on the structural work for the apartments next week. Then, it is just the second fit and finishing to be done, which is a different team. I want the construction work on the dojo to get started as soon as possible," he told us over dinner.

"Why?" I asked.

"The Uxbridge club has closed, and I have a major piece of fight direction to put together starting the first week of August. Really need the dojo. Hopefully, Phil's and my apartment should be ready by then."

After dinner, I was walking with Uncle Ben and Lee around to the dojo for training. Dr. Chapman was walking down the drive from the back gate as we were coming past the nursery.

"Joe, what're you doing here?" Uncle Ben asked.

"Looking for monastic structures," Dr. Chapman replied. "What're you doing here?"

"Got my own dojo round the back. Just going round to train. Why don't you join us?"

"Don't have any kit."

"Not a problem. I sent some spare gis up last week, Lee should have them at the dojo," Uncle Ben stated. "I've got a spare black belt in my bag."

Dr. Chapman turned around and joined us on the walk to the dojo. It became clear that he knew Uncle Ben quite well, though it seems they had not seen each other for some time.

"How's your father?" Uncle Ben asked him.

"About the same as ever," Dr. Chapman replied. "Still railing at being stuck in a wheelchair. Hates being reminded he is a grandfather but totally loves Nick when he's around."

"How old is Nick now, three?"

"He's four, Ben. He's out in Anatolia with Georgie."

"I thought that dig was supposed to have finished. Georgie was complaining it would be closed down by the time she got back to it."

"It would have been if Georgie had not spotted evidence of an earlier settlement," Dr. Chapman replied.

Uncle Ben laughed. "How is Georgie?"

"Doing well, though knowing there will be no more kids is hard on her."

We got to the dojo, and Uncle Ben sorted out a gi for Dr. Chapman. I was surprised once we were on the mat to see how sharp and short Dr. Chapman's techniques were. There was a level of efficiency about them that made Uncle Ben's look lazy. What was more surprising was when he had a sparring session with Jarrom. Jarrom did not stand a chance.

Of course, we all went down to the Crooked Man for a drink after training. Walking back up to the Priory with Uncle Ben, who was staying the night as he had a meeting with Matt in the morning, I asked him how he came to know Dr. Chapman."

"Known him since he was a teenager," Uncle Ben informed me. "His father used to run a Ki Ju Ryu club near Sheffield. They would come down to training courses in Leicester when Dai Sensei was teaching. I used to go up for them. Though, it is through his wife I really know him."

"His wife?"

"Yes, she was at Brunel University and came to the club I taught at in Uxbridge. Had a bit of a problem with her boyfriend at the time, so Phil and I put her up at our place for a few weeks. She went off to do her Ph.D. in Cambridge and looked for a club in Cambridge. Joe ran one, so she joined that. The rest, as you say, is history."

"There is something about him that I can't put my finger on. It's as if he is more than just an historian."

"I know what you mean, Johnny," Uncle Ben replied. "Though I can assure you he is a historian and quite a well-respected one. You do, though, get the feeling that there is something more to him than that, especially, if you are against him on the mat. His fighting style has an edge to it that you seldom see outside of combat-trained personnel."

"Like Marius and his sister," I said, not knowing why.

"Now, that is perceptive of you," Uncle Ben replied. "One thing, though, I think you can be sure that Dr. Chapman is one of the good guys, and I suspect Marius and his sister are as well."

There was something about the way Uncle Ben said that which made me think he knew something I did not. I found that a bit annoying.

There was not much I could do on The Lady Ann at the moment. Also, there was not much for me to do in the main yard for the next couple of days. Anyway, Steve wanted me in at the weekend. As a result, I did not go into the yard on Thursday. Instead, I went down to the nursery to see how the lads were getting on. Unsurprisingly, Granddad was there giving them a hand. He and Jim were replacing glazing bars in the second glasshouse prior to using the glass they had got at the auction to reglaze the place. Having nothing else to do, I gave them a hand for a couple of hours.

There was one thing, though, that puzzled me. What was the difference between horticultural glass and normal glass? So, I asked Granddad.

"Quality, lad. Horticultural glass is the lowest grade of glass. Often, it is the glass poured at the start or the end of a production run. It's panes of glass that are not up to the quality needed for other uses. They often have blemishes or marks in the panes," he told me. "That means it is a lot cheaper than normal glass. It's also generally cut to either eighteen-by-twenty-four or twenty-four-by-twenty-four-inch panes. The glazing bars on most greenhouses are either eighteen inches or twenty-four inches apart."

That told me.

By midday we came to a stop in the work. Not because we had done all the glazing bars; we had not. We had, though, run out of supplies, which annoyed Jim no end. Apparently, he had ordered them on Thursday last week and had been promised delivery for this morning, which was why they had started work on the glasshouse today. However, the delivery had not arrived. When Jim phoned to find out what had happened, he was told that the van had broken down yesterday and they would not now be able to deliver until next week. Jim told them to forget it and that he would get what he wanted elsewhere.

"Can you?" I asked.

"Yes," Jim replied. "It will cost a bit more, but we can drive over to the trade depot the other side of Chelmsford and get some off-the-shelf stuff. May have to bodge it a bit, but it will work."

I did not think Granddad would go for bodging, but it seemed he had no problems with it in this instance. That being the case, Jim and Granddad set off in the van to collect what they needed, leaving Steven in charge of the nursery. As it was not open today, there was not all that much to be done. He was busy watering the plants, so I left him to it and went off for a walk around the arts-and-crafts centre.

Even though the nursery was closed, the arts-and-crafts centre was open. There were quite a few cars parked, and I could see why Dad said we needed to make more parking space available. Jan was just coming out of the first small barn as I approached it. She did not look happy.

"Problems?" I asked.

"Yes, nice problems but problems," she replied.

"What's up?"

"Well, your uncle has booked six of the apartments for three weeks for some course he is doing at the dojo. Now Layla, the marbler, has just told me she needs accommodation for a workshop she wants to run at the same time. I don't have any spare units, so no idea where I can put them."

"Have you talked to Mary at the Crooked Man?"

"No. Why?"

"Well, apparently she used to run a B&B there but packed it up when her partner died as it was too much work. However, apparently the rooms are still there. Could you sort something out with her?"

"You're right. I remember they used to do B&B. I'd forgotten about that. Thanks, Johnny, I'll slip down there now and see if I can sort something."

With that, she left. I walked along the row of workshops/studios. Marius had quite a crowd in his pottery watching him throw a pot. His sister was busy selling decorated pots, mostly the hand-finished stuff.

Marion was at the forge, forming a red-hot strip of metal into a scroll. I stood and watched her for a bit. She looked up as she hammered the scroll around the end of the anvil.

"Do me a favour, Johnny; grab me a beer from the fridge in the back," she said, indicating the doorway at the back of the forge. I went to go through it. "And get yourself one as well."

I did and came back with two cans of ice-cold Carlsberg. By the time I was back, Marion was quenching the scroll. That done she put the tools down and took the can of Carlsberg off me. She sat down on an overturned half-barrel, popping the can of beer and indicating that I should take the other half-barrel.

"Where's Jessie?" I asked. Usually, if one of the women was in the forge then both were.

"Over at the co-operative. We've had a bit of luck."


"Well, we were planning on just resigning from the co-operative once this place was fully up and running, but one of the lads who has been training with the co-operative heard we had got our own forge and offered to buy our interest in the co-operative."

"Can you sell it?" I asked, surprised. I was always under the impression that you could not sell an interest in a co-operative venture.

"Actually, we can. I know it's a bit unusual, but it's the way the place was set up. We do need the agreement of all the other co-operative members, but they have all agreed. It's not much, but it is enough for us to live on for a couple of months, so we are moving here fulltime as from tomorrow. That's why I'm banging out scrollwork. Need work to display for potential customers."

Beer finished, I said goodbye and made my way back to the house via the back entrance to the yard. Once I had grabbed myself some lunch, I went to my workshop and worked on finishing rigging America.

Friday, I gave Colin a lift into Chelmsford to see his psychologist. While he was having his appointment, I went searching charity and second-hand bookshops to see if there were any yacht books going. Did not have much luck, though I did find a nice book on Morgan cars, which I got for Dad. I knew he had a couple of books on Morgans in his library, but I had not seen this one there, and it looked quite extensive.

I picked Colin up from his appointment. He looked a bit upset, so I took him to a nearby pub and ordered fish-and-chip lunches for both of us. Not that either of us were particularly hungry, but it meant we could get a beer with the meal and not have any problems. Somehow, I sensed that it was probably not a good idea to push Colin about what had happened in the session he had with Professor Prendegast.

Over lunch, we discussed going to the cinema whilst we were in Chelmsford. I sent Joseph a text suggesting he get the train to Chelmsford rather than Southminster. He texted back saying he would, giving me an arrival time. I worked out that we had time to go and see a film and then pick up Joseph, so we went to the cinema.

That was a bit of a mistake. We went to see Blood, the Last Vampire, a film we were enticed into seeing by the poster as neither of us had heard of it. Overall, it was somewhat disappointing, being a mediocre mix between a vampire film and a martial-arts film.

I was a bit surprised when we got to the station to see how much luggage Joseph had; then I remembered we were flying off to Australia on Tuesday morning. That reminded me I had to start my packing.

On the way back to the Priory, I mentioned to Joseph that I would be covering the chandlery on Saturday, expecting him to say he would come in and help me. I got a bit of a shock.

"Good, I've arranged to meet with Luuk in the morning; we're going to look at his ideas for the studios."

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