Community Service - Part 3(New Version)

This story is written by David, please send comments and appreciation to

Part 3: First-day blues: Earning my dole money – in the Sock Room

Oh, great! This was all I needed! Just how bad, could things get?

Mrs Norma Newlove, my neighbour-from-hell, had actually come to the Sock Room to gloat over my hideous predicament ... And, of course, to change her dirty socks – knowing that I was going to have to hand-wash them!

"Haven't you got anything better to do with your time, Mrs Newlove?" I said disgustedly.

"Are you joking ... community servant David double-oh-seven? Of course I haven't," she replied, sitting on the edge of one of the four recliners that overlooked the basement level of the Sock Room, the recliner that was situated just to the left of the six wooden steps leading down into those profoundly depressing environs. "I wouldn't miss this for the world!" she gloated.

"And, I've come prepared," she told me, patting the red leather sports bag on the floor at her feet.

Mrs Newlove untied the laces of her red and white trainers, pulled her trainers from her feet, and then swung her dark blue with white piping tracksuit-bottomed legs up onto her recliner. "Mum's got the kids," she told me.

From where I was standing – in front of the laundry boiler tank in the lower, basement level of the Sock Room – as Mrs Newlove relaxed on her recliner, the soles of her medium-high arched, rather wide-soled, white-socked feet were directly in front of my face, just three or four yards away.

There were grey patches, I saw, on the soles of her white cotton socks, where her foot sweat had soaked into them. And, Mrs Newlove having just taken off her trainers, those grey patches were damp-looking. Especially at her heels, the balls of her feet, and around the undersides and the pads of her toes.

I groaned inwardly. Hell! How did things ever come to this? Actually having to hand-wash Mrs Newlove's dirty socks. And, I'm expected to get those filthy things clean! – "pristine, clean." – as my supervisors had instructed me.

Making herself comfortable, Mrs Newlove crossed her ankles, and started scrunching her toes. This movement, I saw, caused the soles of her white cotton socks to fold and crease, especially at the balls of her feet, and under her toes. And the compressed edges of these creases were discoloured a darker, dirty dark-grey. "I'm here for the day," she said.

* * *

Okay then, I thought: First things first.

I went to my janitor's closet and, upon spotting a roll of black plastic refuse sacks, I pulled one free from the roll, tearing along the serrated edge. Now that I was equipped for the task in hand, I climbed the six wooden steps, past the smirking Mrs Newlove, to the upper (street level) of the Sock Room.

Up there, the light-grey linoleum floor was littered. Strewn, with the sticky plastic bindings and torn cardboard packaging from the single, and 3-packs and 5-packs of socks that the girls and ladies of Canford had carelessly dropped as, in exchange for their discarded dirty socks, they helped themselves to a clean pair of socks from the shelves.

There was a large, black plastic litter bin in plain sight. But it might as well have not been there at all. For, even as I picked up their litter and put it into the black plastic refuse sack, more of the females of Canford carelessly dropped more of these sock wrappings to the floor, after availing themselves of a pair of brand-new socks from the shelves.

Rapidly depleting shelves too, I noted.

On this, the opening day of Canford town's Sock Room, the girls and ladies of Canford were ransacking the sock shelves. Like unruly female shoppers snapping up incredible bargains in some high-end shop's every-thing-must-go closing-down sale, they were quickly laying the shelves bare.

Except, of course, nothing was for sale, in the Sock Room – it was a free socks, free-for-all. Free, for all females, that is.

Maybe things would calm down after today, I thought. After the initial early rush. After the opening-day excitement, of the Sock Room.

I watched the girls and ladies of Canford, as most of them lifted the lids of the white-painted wheelie bins (of which there were eight), and deposited their dirty white socks inside them.

Some of the females, though, stood at the four-foot-high, two-barred safety railing, and gleefully tossed their discarded pair of dirty white socks directly into the main, open-topped hopper, that was marked: 'White Socks Only!'

These girls and ladies of Canford, at seeing me picking up their carelessly dropped litter from the Sock Room floor, smirked at me, and gave me a smug, superior look. As if to haughtily say: YOU, are going to be hand-washing my dirty, stinky socks!


I then remembered C.S.O. Linda's instruction, for me to "Run a quick mop over the Sock Room floor." And I had just seen the necessary tools for the job – a mop and bucket – in my janitor's closet.

Carrying the black plastic refuse sack, that was now at least a third full with sock-related litter, I was half-way down the six wooden steps and passing the infuriatingly smirking Mrs Newlove, when I heard a female voice behind me call out, authoritatively, "Just a moment, community servant David double-oh-seven!" She had obviously seen my ID, which was emblazoned in bold black letters and numbers, on the back (and front) of my white uniform T-shirt.

I turned around to see a suntanned, very fit-looking, quite attractive woman in her mid-twenties, who's long, platinum-blonde hair was tied in a pony-tail. She was dressed in a white tennis top, pale blue shorts, long white sports socks and white trainers.

She was just coming in through the double-door entrance to the Sock Room, and she was dragging in with her two bulging black plastic sacks, similar to the one I was using to collect the sock-related litter.

Black plastic sack in hand, I turned around and retraced my steps, to see what the bossy-sounding young woman wanted. I hoped she wouldn't hold me up for long – I needed to "get cracking," as C.S.O. Linda had so eloquently put it.

"I am Miss Pardew," the young woman informed me, in no-nonsense tones. "And I am the girls' PE teacher, at Canford High ... the Secondary school?" she added, when I didn't say anything in response.

"And ...?" I prompted, spreading my hands, in the universal So-what? gesture.

"And ..." she said, her face darkening with displeasure, "... I have a little job for you," she told me, pointing to the two bulging black plastic refuse sacks that she had brought in with her. When she looked at me again, there was a smirk on her face. "This lot," she told me.

Miss Pardew said, "There are two hundred dirty socks, altogether, in these two sacks."

What, the ...? I thought.

"One hundred pairs. Sports socks, belonging to the schoolgirls of Year Five. Canford High has four Houses, and Year Five has twenty-five girls in each House," Miss Pardew explained. "Here, look," she told me, inviting me to view the contents of the two large, bulging black plastic refuse sacks.

Looking into them, I saw that they were both full of dirty, long white socks, that were double-ringed near the tops with either red, yellow, green or blue. The four colours, that represented the four Houses of Canford High ... just like the Authoritarian Female Party's colours, I thought glumly.

Peering more closely into the two large sacks, I saw that some of the socks were single, and some were balled up into pairs. Then I hastily curtailed my closer inspection, upon being assailed by the decidedly unpleasant, musky odour that was emanating from the two large sacks: the stinky, combined smell of all of those Year Five schoolgirls' – 100 of them – foot sweat.

"Express wash, community servant David," said Miss Pardew in commanding tones. "I want you to give these schoolgirls' sports socks top priority. Do you hear? I shall be back at four o'clock tomorrow afternoon to collect them. And – it goes without saying – I shall be expecting perfect results: This time, and every time."

What, the ...? Where the hell did she think she got off, this Miss Pardew? Coming in here, and ordering me about like that – as if I was of no account!

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" I said. "Now, you just hold on a sec, Miss Pardew. I can't just drop everything else – just on your say-so. Anyway, there are lots of those kind of socks on the shelves – just help yourself to those."

"Oh, I have every intention of doing so, community servant David. But I'll be taking those socks for Year Four – in which there are also one hundred schoolgirls. In fact, for your information, there are a hundred schoolgirls, in each of the five Years of Canford High," she informed me with an unpleasant grin.

My God! I thought, as I did the math ... 100 pairs, for each of the five Year's ... 500 pairs of socks – 1,000 socks!

And, these were just the schoolgirls' sports socks – of which, they surely had more than just one pair! What about all of their pairs of regular, every-day, long white socks that they wore in class? What about all of their other socks: the ones they wore at home; and the ones they wore when they were out and about, socialising? In short: all of the pairs of socks that they would be bringing to the Sock Room – for me to hand-wash!

And – hell! – that was just Canford High! There were other schools as well. Including Canford's two girls' schools: St Kate's, and St Esmeralda's – ha! More like St Trinians.

Now, it really began to sink in. Some real inkling, some real insight into the actual, soul-destroying, mind-numbing magnitude of the dreadful drudgery that lay ahead of me.

I tried to hide my red-hot resentment, and my deepening despair, from Miss Pardew.

Affecting an air of unconcerned indifference; what I hoped was a half-decent imitation of nonchalance, I shrugged my shoulders. "Well, it doesn't matter," I told her flatly. "I've only got one pair of hands. Those socks are just going to have to wait, until I get around to doing them."

"I beg your pardon? Perhaps I am not making myself clear – community servant David. I said: I want those socks ready for collection, by four o'clock tomorrow afternoon," asserted Miss Pardew.

"Perhaps I didn't make myself clear, either, Miss Pardew. I said: those socks are just going to have to wait, until I get around to them."

"Such – such insolence!" exclaimed Miss Pardew in highly affronted tones. "Your manners leave a lot to be desired, community servant David double-oh-seven," she shrilled. "In fact, your manners are not at all what they ought to be – for a community servant!"

Ah, I'd had enough of Miss Pardew's nonsense. I had a lot of stuff to do, and I needed to be getting on with it – I needed to "get cracking!"

Turning my back on Miss Pardew, I flapped a dismissive hand at her, by means of indicating I was bringing this conversation to a close. That the matter was settled.

"Your behaviour is inexcusable, community servant David. Quite intolerable!" said Miss Pardew hotly.

And, looking at her over my shoulder, as I once again started down the six wooden steps, I flapped my hand at her again – this was all over and done with. "Get over it, Miss Pardew," I said.

I had turned my back on the Canford High schoolgirls' PE teacher, and I was more than half way down the six wooden steps, and passing by a scandalised-looking Mrs Newlove – who had been sitting up on her recliner, and looking over and absorbing every word of this exchange, when—

"Get over it ...? Get over it – community servant David? Perhaps I should speak to your supervisors – C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda, aren't they?" said Miss Pardew, instantly halting my progress.

"Do you think they, will tell me to "Get over it" – community servant David? Because I certainly don't. In fact, I think your supervisors will see things rather differently," she said ominously. "And in any event, they certainly need to be apprised, as to your egregiously disrespectful attitude."

At Miss Pardew's mentioning my two supervisors – C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda – a highly unsettling image filled my head, of their flexing their A.F.P. issue canes meaningfully. C.S.O. Linda in particular, I knew, was just itching for an excuse to use her cane on me. She was just itching, to pull my shorts down around my ankles, as per the C.S.O.'s textbook of chastisement, and ...

"Er – er ... no, Miss Pardew. I don't think there's any need for that. And ... and besides, they'll be very busy in their office ... doing the real work around here, and – and I really wouldn't like to disturb them. Er, you said you'll be back tomorrow afternoon? To pick up Year Five's sports socks? At four o'clock? No problem. No problem at all, Miss Pardew. Consider it done, Miss Pardew. Rest assured, I'll make sure Year Five's sports socks are all ready and waiting for you – and, with perfect results – when you come to collect them tomorrow afternoon, at four o'clock. And ... and I'm very sorry, Miss Pardew, if there's been any sort of ... misunderstanding."

Miss Pardew looked at her watch, and seemed to come to a very reluctant decision. "Oh, I don't think there's been any misunderstanding, community servant David – I think I understood you perfectly ... Oh, very well. Regrettably, I haven't the time now to take the matter further, and to see that you are suitably brought to heel. So I shall have to overlook your appalling conduct – this time."

Thank God! I thought. That was a close escape. I understood now, that Miss Pardew was not a woman to cross; was not a woman to take liberties with. And I would have to watch my P's & Q's with her in future – that is, if I didn't want be "brought to heel."

Now it was Miss Pardew, who disdainfully turned her back on me. I watched her platinum-blonde pony-tail swishing behind her as she strode towards the door. And there was a spring in her step; a sort of jauntiness ... as if she felt she had just won a small, but important and satisfying victory.

I was once again making my way down the six wooden steps, and passing by a now smirking-again Mrs Newlove, who was once again getting herself comfortable on her recliner, when—

"Oh – and, community servant David?" came Miss Pardew's voice, as she held the door open after stepping outside onto the street.

Oh, what the hell now? I wondered. "Er, yes, Miss Pardew?" I said.

Peering through the gap of the half-closed door, Miss Pardew said, "And don't forget to pull all of the socks through the right way!"

* * *

I took my nearly half filled sack of sock-related litter outside into the courtyard, and emptied it into the rubbish bin. No need to throw the sack away, I thought, as I could re-use it time and again to perform the same, demeaning chore: picking up the carelessly dropped litter, of the sock-changing females of Canford.

I looked at my watch. It read: 10:30. So, I thought ...

Two and a half hours, since C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda had rattled their canes on my front door, picked me up, bundled me into their A.F.P. van, and taken me to the Community Service Operations Centre. Where the Community Service Liaison Officer, Harriet Harmman, had issued me with five sets of community servant's uniform: white T-shirt, white shorts, and two pairs of rubber flip flops ("There will be a lot of water, where you will be working"). And she had told me that, until I found gainful employment, by means of earning my £80 per week Unemployment Benefit payments, she was assigning me to work in the town's Sock Room ... And, of said establishment, my two supervisors, C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda, had given me their "Grand Tour."

I looked up at the mid-May sky. It was a beautiful morning. Apart from just one or two thin and wispy cotton wool clouds, it was wall-to-wall sunshine ... not that I'd be seeing much of it, stuck in the Sock Room.

I stared at the twelve nylon clothes-lines: three of each, of red, yellow, green and blue ... The colours of the Authoritarian Female Party, led by Caroline Flynt – talk about a femme fatale! She had seduced me into voting for the A.F.P.

Not for a moment, did I think it coincidental. Those coloured clothes-lines would be an oppressive, ever-present reminder of my situation.

It was already feeling quite warm in the courtyard. The courtyard was south-facing, and I thought that, given the circumstances, that was fortunate.

Yes, I thought, as I stared at the twelve nylon clothes-lines, that were hung about five feet above the flag-stoned courtyard ... it looked like being a good drying day.


I re-entered the Sock Room and, as I was passing by the short corridor, that led to C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda's office, and that was on the other side of my ironing station, I could have sworn that I heard my name (double-oh-seven) being mentioned. So I crept stealthily down the short corridor, and I pressed an ear to my two supervisors' white-painted office door.

"So, Lindz," I heard C.S.O. Karen say, chuckle-voiced, "how do you think Sock Boy will get on, working in the Sock Room?"

"Ha! Double-oh-seven!" said C.S.O. Linda, her voice dripping with scorn. "That's a laugh, isn't it, Karen? Mr Licenced-to-hand-wash-girls'-and-women's-dirty-stinky-socks – him, you mean?"

"Ha ha ha ha!" laughed C.S.O. Karen, obviously tickled pink by her colleague's snide jibe at me. "I'll tell you what though, Lindz ... Isn't it dead brill, eh, being able to boss him about? Order him around. Make him do anything we say – anything we want. Tell him to do this, do that, and do something else – or else! Lindz, think about it: it's going to be as good as having our own, personal slave! And, we are actually getting paid four hundred pounds a week – four hundred pounds a week, Lindz! – for our trouble. Not that it's any trouble – ha ha ha! I still can't believe it. We're being paid four hundred pounds a week – just for making that loser's life a misery. Ha ha ha ha! I would do it for nothing – just for the sheer pleasure of it! I could hardly believe it, Lindz, when the Job Centre told us that, not only would we be allowed, but that we would actually be expected, to cane the community servants' bare bums!"

"Heh heh heh. Oh, you are so, so right, Karen! We've certainly landed on our feet here, haven't we? Eh? And, I'll tell you what, Karen ... I can hardly wait for double-oh-seven to give me the slightest, tiniest excuse, to pull his shorts down around his ankles and cane his bare bum – chastise him ... Oh, I love that word: 'chastisement'. Don't you, Karen? It's got such a nice ring to it, don't you think? And, I'll tell you something else, Karen. I don't think I'll have to wait very long either ... Like I said before, double-oh-seven is incapable of keeping a civil tongue in his head. Not to mention, the thicko is bound to mess up with his sock washing sooner, rather than later."

"Ha ha ha!" laughed C.S.O. Karen. "Oh, my sides are still hurting, Lindz, from listening to him telling us what his Sock Room duties are! Hey, Lindz ... shall we pop in to the Sock Room now, to see how he's getting on – I could do with a good laugh! I mean ... we are, after all, supposed to be monitoring him – ha ha ha!"

"Oh, we'll be monitoring him, all right! But let's leave it for a bit though, shall we, Karen? We'll catch up with him later; see what the idiot's getting up to ... Here, Karen ... choose from this box of latest-release DVD's, courtesy of the A.F.P. Pick the movie you want to watch – that'll take us nicely up to lunchtime. We'll remind double-oh-seven we're around, this afternoon," said C.S.O. Linda complacently.

"Okay, Lindz," said C.S.O. Karen agreeably, and she began scanning through the box of DVD's. "Hmm ... Seen it ... seen it ... seen it ... Oh! Look, Lindz – we've got the latest James Bond ..."

There was about three seconds of total silence ... and then C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda erupted; shrieked, simultaneously, "Double-oh-seven!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!"

Well ... they do say that eavesdroppers never hear anything good said about themselves.


Okay, then. Right ... I had to get my thinking-head on, here. I had to get organised. I had to box clever.

First, I had to get those two bulging sacks of Canford High, Year Five schoolgirls' dirty sports socks – double-ringed, near the tops, with either red, green, blue or yellow – that Miss Pardew had brought in (her "little job" for me), straight into two of the four large dark blue plastic laundry tubs – the two soaking tubs.

Then, while those two tubs' of non-white category socks were soaking, for at least two hours, I could be cracking on with some other work. Such as filling up the open-topped hopper with dirty white socks. And then putting some of them into the laundry boiler tank to soak – also, for a 2-hour-minimum soak.

The four large dark blue plastic laundry tubs were stacked inside each other for space saving, and were stored under the stainless-steel rinsing sink. I pulled out the four tubs, and I put the top two tubs on the floor, side by side in front of the stainless-steel hot-and-soapy-water sink.

The other two tubs were rinsing tubs. Colander-like, these rinsing tubs were full of one-inch diameter holes. And the tubs had knurled corners, that raised their bottoms two inches above the floor to aid draining. I put the two rinsing tubs back under the rinsing sink for now, out of the way.

There was a length of rubber hose-pipe coiled up in one of the soaking tubs, and I attached one end of it to the hot water tap on the hot-and-soapy-water sink. I put the other end of the rubber hose-pipe into the first of the two tubs I was going to fill, and then I spun the knob of the hot water tap until it was fully open.

I watched, as water gushed out of the hose-pipe and began to fill up the first soaking tub. Within seconds, wispy tendrils of steam were coming out of the rapidly filling tub – the water heated up fast, and obviously to a very hot temperature, too.

I waited until the first soaking tub was half full, and then I transferred the gushing hose-pipe to the second soaking tub ... Now, I needed to go to my janitor's closet.

I spotted what I was looking for, straight away – the special detergent that, as C.S.O. Karen had explained, wouldn't make colours run. The 5-litre plastic container of Kolour Kind was sitting on the closet floor, next to a 10-pack of pink, heavy-duty washing-up gloves. I grabbed a pair of the thick rubber washing-up gloves, picked up the Kolour Kind, and returned to the rapidly filling second soaking tub.

Good timing ... Just a few moments more ... and then I turned off the hot water tap. Now, both of the soaking tubs were half full of steaming-hot water.

I read the directions on the Kolour Kind label: Add 1 cap-full, for every 25 litres of water.

Hmm ... how large were these tubs? I wondered. I pulled the two rinsing tubs out from under the rinsing sink again, and turned them upside down, thinking their capacity might be printed on the bottom ... Nope. I put the two rinsing tubs back under the rinsing sink again.

The scornful words of C.S.O. Linda came back to me: "... the thicko is bound to mess up with his sock washing sooner, rather than later." And she was right. I should have looked on the bottoms of the soaking tubs, for their capacity, before filling them up. So much for boxing clever!

Hmm ... I didn't want to go and ask C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda. Eavesdropping on them earlier, I had already heard them speaking of me in rather less than glowing terms. And if I went knocking on their office door now, about a simple thing like this, they were bound to give me a right old earful ... at least.

C.S.O. Linda especially, seemed to have it in for me. Sarcastically calling me 'double-oh-seven', all the time, and (thanks to Gina Stainham!) 'Mr Licenced-to-hand-wash-girls'-and-women's-dirty-stinky-socks'. Not to mention, that she had told C.S.O. Karen she was only waiting for the "slightest, tiniest excuse," to pull my shorts down around my ankles and cane my bare bottom ... So, no. Best not to interrupt their James Bond movie, I thought. At least, when they were in their office, they weren't out here, giving me a load of jip.

So, then. How much Kolour Kind do I put in? I wondered. One cap-full? Two? More?

I carefully filled the container's small cap, and I poured the cap-full of thick, cream-coloured liquid into the first soaking tub ...

Hmm ... It didn't seem like much at all, for that amount of water ... Ah, just use your own judgement, I told myself ... Plop! Plop! Plop! Plop! Plop! went the Kolour Kind, as I poured it directly from the 5-litre container into the first tub of steaming-hot water ... Okay, that should just about do it, I estimated. So I up-ended the 5-litre container again, and poured a similar amount of Kolour Kind into the second soaking tub as well.

I then picked up one of the two bulging black plastic sacks that that bossy bint, Miss Pardew, had brought in, and I emptied the unsavoury-smelling contents into one of the two soaking tubs. Then I picked up the second sack, and I deposited its contents into the second soaking tub.

Some of the socks, I saw, were still floating on the surface water of the two tubs. So I grabbed the pair of long wooden tongs from the top step of the step-ladders, and I used them to push the stubbornly floating socks under ... and this action immediately caused the water to start bubbling and frothing up.

Ah ... good, I thought. The steaming-hot water was getting all nice and sudsy, already.

Job done: Now, the 200 (100 pairs) of long white socks – double-ringed near the tops, with either red, yellow, green or blue, as representative of the four Houses of Canford High – were beginning their 2-hour-minimum soak.

Later, I would have to begin the onerous, and tedious – not to mention soul-destroying, and humiliating – task, of thoroughly and diligently hand-washing every single one of those dirty, stinky, sweat-stained socks – the sports socks, of the Year Five schoolgirls of Canford High.

In the meantime, though, I had plenty of other things to be cracking on with.


I looked at my watch. It was now 11:05.

The day was getting away from me, and I'd hardly done anything yet. And it had just taken me thirty-five minutes, just to bin the sock-related litter, and to get the two tubs full of Year Five's dirty sports socks soaking. Oh – and to eavesdrop on my two movie-watching supervisors, as they outrageously slandered my character.

I could feel my face going red from my outrage and resentment, at my rememberance of their cruel and hurtful barbs and jibes ... And, what did C.S.O. Karen mean? I wondered, when she'd said to her cane-happy colleague: "Lindz, think about it: it's going to be as good as having our own, personal slave!"

And, my mood darkened – even more – at the soul-crushing thought of C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda, earning £400 per week. They were earning £400 per week, to so-called supervise me. Supervise me? They were sitting comfortably in their office, and watching the latest James Bond movie ("courtesy of the A.F.P."), while I ... Ah, I couldn't let myself think like this. Or I'd soon be heading for some kind of a breakdown.

I mean, £400! That was five times my £80 per week Unemployment Benefit – that C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda themselves, had been receiving, just over a week ago ... It didn't bear thinking about.

Even thinking about being forced to hand-wash the girls' and ladies of Canford's dirty, stinky socks, was preferable to that.


I picked up the flat piece of wood that was leaning against the dull-grey metal side of the laundry boiler tank, and I placed it over the six wooden steps to make a ramp – just as C.S.O. Linda had demonstrated, during my "Grand Tour" of the Sock Room.

As I was walking up the makeshift ramp, heading for the wheelie bins of dirty socks, from the comfort of her recliner, Mrs Newlove sniped, "So ... those socks will just have to wait, until you get around to them, will they, David? You've only got one pair of hands, have you? You can't drop everything else – just on her say-so – can you? Ha! Miss Pardew soon put you back in your place, didn't she, David?"

Mrs Newlove looked at me, smug-faced, as she then drank cola straight from the mouth of a 2-litre plastic bottle that she'd taken from her red leather sports bag ("I've come prepared."). She eyed me like a hawk, as she gulp, gulp, gulped cola down her throat. Then she smacked her lips in pleasure and satisfaction, and re-capped the plastic bottle.

"Oh, are you still here, Mrs Newlove?" I said, trying to sound totally indifferent to her highly annoying presence. "I'm surprised you haven't got something better to do."

Mrs Newlove sat up on her recliner, the better to follow my progress. "Something better to do? Something better to do – better than this? What could possibly be better? Oh, I'm not going anywhere, David. You can bank on that! I wouldn't miss this – your first day in the Sock Room – for the world! Like I told you before," she said, patting her red leather sports bag, "I'm here for the day ... So, come on, David – chop chop!! I want to see you earning your dole money! Ha ha ha ha!"

Oh, that woman! She was like some sort of self-appointed bane of my life.

"And – you've put too much detergent in those tubs!" she said to my back, as I went to the long row of wheelie bins.


Lined up against the left-hand wall of the upper level (street level) of the Sock Room, were situated twelve wheelie bins, for the sock-changing females of Canford to deposit their dirty socks.

Eight of the wheelie bins were painted white, indicating that they were for dirty white socks. Of the other four wheelie bins, one of the wheelie bins was painted black, indicating that it was for dirty black socks; one was painted navy blue, for dirty navy blue socks, and the other wheelie bin was painted rainbow-coloured, indicating that it was for both single-coloured, and multi-coloured category socks.

Upon lifting the lids of the twelve wheelie bins, my inspection revealed that these last four wheelie bins were all still well under half full.

But, three of the white-painted wheelie bins were now already more than half full. And so I decided to take these three, more-than-half-full wheelie bins straight to the main, open-topped hopper, that was clearly signed: 'White Socks Only!'

As I was steering the first of these three wheelie bins down the makeshift ramp, Mrs Newlove was taking another good swig of her cola and, upon her seeing me traipsing past her down the ramp with the first white-painted wheelie bin of dirty white socks, and struggling not to let the thing run away with me, her mirth got the better of her and she spluttered and choked on her cola as it went down the wrong way.

Heh heh heh, serves her right, I thought.

I placed the two wheels of the first white-painted wheelie bin onto the main hopper's two steel hoisting plates. Then I pushed the Start button ("It's all automatic – any fool can work it." C.S.O. Linda had assured me).

I stood back and watched as, with an electric thrum, the wheelie bin was hoisted to the top of the main hopper. At the height of its elevation, the wheelie bin was then tipped upside down, causing its lid to hang fully open. The more-than-half-full load of dirty white socks all came tumbling out, and they hit the metal floor of the as yet empty main hopper, making soft thuds as they landed. The electric motor thrummed again, as the emptied wheelie bin was then lowered to the floor.

I pushed the emptied wheelie bin back up the ramp, and returned it to its place. I then repeated this procedure with the second and third, more-than-half-full white-painted wheelie bins.

Having done so, I estimated there were now sufficient dirty white socks in the main hopper, with which to load the laundry boiler tank.

As Mrs Newlove watched me perform my Sock Room duties, there was a look of incredulous, delighted wonder on her face. And she was actually lost for words, for the moment ... But that wouldn't last long.


I had slid open the bolt in the small access door, near the bottom of the main hopper, and I was pulling out handfuls of the dirty white socks and throwing them into one of the two large white plastic laundry baskets, when I heard Mrs Newlove say pleasantly, in greeting, "Oh! Hiya, Gina, love. Come and join the fun!"

I looked over my shoulder, to see Gina Stainham sitting on the edge of the recliner to Mrs Newlove's right – the recliner situated opposite the laundry boiler tank – after having discarded her dirty white socks. She was now in the process (after having carelessly dropped the single-pack packaging on the floor!) of putting on a brand-new pair from the sock shelves ... Another, clean pair! Because I remembered her changing her socks earlier this morning, and taunting me about it.

What, the ...? Just what the hell is going on here? I thought. "Hey!" I complained. "You've already changed your socks once! This morning! I saw you!"

Gina Stainham's face set in hard, uncompromising lines, so taken aback, was she, at the astounding temerity of my challenge – of my actually daring to admonish her. Her face reddening with umbrage, she snapped, "So? Have you got a problem with that, then – community servant David? Because, if you have, I'm sure I could clear it up with your supervisors ..."

"No! No – there's no need for that ... Gina. I ... I apologise, Gina. I – I was ... out of order," I said, crimson-faced with shame, at being forced to so totally back down – at being forced to grovel for Gina's forgiveness.

With just a few well-chosen words, Gina Stainham had put me right back in my box – and both she and Mrs Newlove knew it.

But Gina Stainham wasn't leaving it at that. Oh, no. She wasn't letting me off the hook that easily. She wasn't going to miss an opportunity to slap me down – to exercise her authority, over a lowly community servant. Venomously glaring at me, she spat, "You bet your arse, you're out of order – sonny boy! And, it's Mrs Stainham, to you – community servant David!"

Mrs Newlove threw her head back and emitted a high, delighted laugh, followed by a few moments' worth of thigh-slapping giggles. "Oh, he's a right lippy little sod, Gina! You should have heard him before! The way he was talking back to Miss Pardew – Canford High's schoolgirls' PE teacher. He was giving her a right load of lip! Oh, she wasn't happy at all – I can tell you!"

Then Mrs Newlove was rummaging about in her red leather sports bag again.

Extracting a number of rounds of Cellophane-wrapped sandwiches, Mrs Newlove politely offered them to her friend. "Fancy a butty, Gina? I was just about to have one – it's making me feel peckish, all this watching community servant David hard at work – ha ha ha ha! I've got cheese and onion, ham and tomato, and corned beef and mustard pickle," she said, taking one of the latter for herself, and taking a healthy bite. "Here you are, Gina – take your pick," she said, through a mouthful of corned beef and mustard pickle sandwich.

"Ha ha ha!" laughed Gina. "Great minds think alike, eh, Norma?" she said, patting her own, blue leather hold-all. "I've come prepared, too. I've brought some lemon fondant cup-cakes, that I baked this morning, some chocolate biscuits, some cheese-flavoured crackers, and a big variety bag of crisps. And, to wash it all down, I've got a two-litre bottle of ginger beer. So we can share, Norma!"

Ye Gods! I couldn't believe it. Didn't these women have lives to lead?

Gina ("And, it's Mrs Stainham, to you – community servant david!") Stainham saw me looking over, and said, "So, community servant David, heh, heh, heh ... How are you enjoying your first day, then, working in the Sock Room?"

Ah, I wasn't going to dignify that with a reply. I turned my back on the pair of witches, and concentrated on filling up one of the two large white plastic laundry baskets, with girls' and women's dirty white socks.


Having filled up one of the two large white plastic laundry baskets with dirty white socks from the main hopper, I was now faced with what I considered to be, by far, the worst and most distasteful of my Sock Room duties: pulling the girls' and women's dirty socks inside out.

Having retrieved the folding seat from my janitor's closet, that I'd noticed earlier when getting the 5-litre container of Kolour Kind, I began this most distasteful, nauseating, and thoroughly depressing of tasks.

The worst thing, about this most abhorrent, this most soul-crushing, of chores, was that I had to use my bare hands.

Trying to pull the dirty socks inside out while wearing the rubber washing-up gloves, was just too awkward and fiddly – and too time-consuming. I certainly had no time to waste in fumbling and pfaffing about like that – not with my ever-increasing workload seemingly growing by the minute.

Fortunately (certainly, not done deliberately, as a kindness to me), some of the dirty socks were already pulled inside out. This was simply due, I had seen, to the way some of the girls and women took off their socks: pulling them down from the top, and in such a way that their socks were automatically turned inside out as they removed them from their feet.

The vast majority of the dirty socks, though, were not pulled inside out. And some of the girls and women had balled up their pair of dirty socks, before depositing them in one of the wheelie bins – or, as the case may be, into the main, open-topped hopper, clearly signed: 'White Socks Only!'

So I sat there, as miserable as a wet Wednesday in Wigan. Separating the balled-up pairs, turning them inside out, and transferring the turned-inside-out dirty socks into the other, empty large white plastic laundry basket.

The dirty socks that were already turned inside out, I gratefully threw straight into the other basket. But, for all of the other dirty, stinky, sweat-stained socks, I had to put my bare hand inside the loathsome things and get hold of the toe end with my fingers, so as to be able to pull them inside out ... Ugh. A horrible chore. It was awful, disgusting, and profoundly demoralising – an unspeakable business.

But, my two supervisors, C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda, had told me that I had to pull all of the dirty socks inside out, to make sure that I washed all of the dirt, sweat, and dead skin out of them ... Or else!


I pulled down the handle of the laundry boiler tank, and its lid lifted up, allowing wispy tendrils of steam to escape.

The laundry boiler tank's lid opened on its hinges, from right to left. This was to facilitate the transference of the dirty socks, after their 2-hour-minimum soak, from out of the laundry boiler tank, into the stainless-steel, hot-and-soapy-water sink, immediately to its right.

And I would accomplish this task, by standing on the raised platform, and simply transferring over dripping-wet clumps of the steaming, pre-soaked socks, using the pair of long wooden tongs to drop them in.

I carried the first large white plastic laundry basket full of dirty white socks up the step-ladders and, once I was on the platform, I tipped them into the laundry boiler tank. I used the pair of long wooden tongs to submerge any stubbornly floating socks, and then I closed the lid again.

I repeated this procedure another five times, up to the six-basket maximum ...

I went back to the main hopper, slid the bolt, opened the small door, pulled out more of the dirty white socks with my hands, and re-filled one of the two large white plastic laundry baskets with the foul things.

I then sat on my folding seat and, as necessary, I separated balled-up pairs, pulled the dirty socks inside out, and transferred them all to the other, empty large white plastic laundry basket.

I then climbed the step-ladders, got up onto the platform, and emptied the large basket of dirty white socks into the laundry boiler tank.

Now, at last, the four feet wide, three feet deep laundry boiler tank was full of girls' and women's dirty white socks.

Good ... Now I had to leave the dirty white socks in the laundry boiler tank, for their 2-hour-minimum soak.

I spent what little remaining time there was, leading up to my half-hour lunch break, at 1 p.m. by traipsing some of the now more-than-half-full white-painted wheelie bins up and down the ramp, transporting more and more of the dirty white socks, and tipping them into the main, open-topped hopper ... Repeatedly passing the smirking and chuckling, eating and drinking Norma Newlove, and Gina ("lemon fondant cup-cakes") Stainham.

* * *

Fortunately, as promised by the Community Service Liaison Officer, Harriet Harmman, someone had dropped my clothes off at the Sock Room. Fortunately, because I certainly had no intention of going into town to get something to eat, dressed in my community servant's uniform.

I went to Burger Heaven, a town centre fast-food joint, and bought a burger and fries.

The attractive, blue-eyed, pleasant and cheery eighteen-or-nineteen-year-old counter-girl who served me, who's blonde hair was tucked into her baseball cap style serving hat, and who's name tag proclaimed her to be 'Tina', greeted me with, "Hey! It may never happen! What's up? Why the long face?"

It's already happened – and you would have a long face, too, Tina, if you had to spend all day hand-washing girls' and women's dirty, stinky socks, I thought. But didn't say.

But I left most of my burger. I'd completely lost my appetite. I just sat there, gloomily staring into the middle-distance, and absentmindedly pushing my fries around my plate.

"See ya!" said the ebullient Tina as I got up to leave my table. She was still trying to cheer me up, and put a smile on my face. But it was a lost cause. I did my best, but I knew my return smile wasn't sitting right on my face. As if some of my facial muscles were now incapable of performing the functions they used to ... as if my 'smiling' muscles were already atrophying.

However, eating out was an extravagance I couldn't afford. From tomorrow, I would bring sandwiches. And, weather permitting, I would eat them sitting on my folding seat in the courtyard – out of sight of the likes of Mrs Newlove and Gina Stainham.

My half-hour lunch break went by quickly. Very quickly. Seemed to be over in a flash. And, all too soon, it was time to be heading back ... to the Sock Room.

* * *

Upon my return to the Sock Room, my two tormentors, Mrs Newlove and Gina Stainham, pointedly looked at their watches, and tapped the dials accusingly. But I knew I was back early. My own watch read: 1:28 – and I knew it was right. It was a radio-contolled watch, given to me by my dad on my eighteenth birthday ... Fortunately, it was waterproof.

My two tormentors, I saw with dismay, had now been joined by a third, with-nothing-better-to-do female – Cheryl Chubb. A friend of Gina Stainham.

A single mother, Cheryl Chubb was aged about twenty-five. She was reasonably attractive, with neck-length, brown hair, brown eyes and; yes, she was a bit on the chubby side.

This latest Sock Room spectator had settled herself on the third, of the four recliners – the first, of the two recliners to the right of the six wooden steps (as seen from the Sock Room entry door), and that was just about opposite the hot-and-soapy-water sink. The fourth, presently unoccupied recliner, was situated about three feet further on to the right, facing between the hot-and-soapy-water sink and the mangle.

I needed to change back into my community servant's uniform. So I nipped out into the privacy of the courtyard to put my white T-shirt, white shorts, and rubber flip flops back on.

As I was changing, I found myself thinking about Tina.

Tina ... the lovely, pleasant and cheery counter-girl at Burger Heaven, who'd gamely tried to engage me in conversation ... ("Hey! It may never happen! What's up? Why the long face?) ... she'd sounded as if she really wanted to know.

Tina, I'd noticed, had been pleasant and cheery to all of her customers – long-faced, or otherwise. But ... was it my imagination ... or had Tina been maybe just a little bit extra pleasant and cheery, towards me? Was it my imagination ... or had she looked at me in ... 'that way'? Both, while serving me at the counter, and the times when she'd, seemingly surreptitiously, occasionally glanced over at me, at my table.

And, when she'd said, "See ya!" ... had there been something more, to it? A thinly-veiled message, in her voice? An invitation? Was it my imagination ... or had Tina been showing 'an interest'. Actually ... well, for want of a better phrase: coming on to me?

But I'd been too dull to realise it? I hadn't picked up on it? I was unaware of the signals? I'd been criminally oblivious, to Tina's overtures?

Because, wrapped up in my woeful preoccupation, I hadn't been tuning in? Because, immersed in my own, self-pitying, bleak and disconsolate thoughts, I'd been unreceptive to those subtle signs? Because, intent on my miserable, mournful musings, and shutting out anything and everything else, I'd missed the vibe?

Ha! Dream on! I told myself. Who am I kidding? Get real! Of course, it was just my imagination! Just wishful thinking. I mean, come on! As if! A girl like her – interested in me? She's well out of my league. Of course, it was just my imagination. Must have been! She was just being personable, that's all. She was just being hospitable, that's all. She was just being courteous, and polite, that's all ...

... Or was she?

Having now changed back into my community servant's uniform, I returned to the Sock Room ... My thoughts, full of Tina.

The lovely, ebullient, and caring Tina. The beautiful Tina. The heaven, of Burger Heaven.

Maybe I could make my dwindling finances stretch to another burger, sometime later this week, after all ...


Cheryl Chubb also, had taken off her trainers, and had swung her dark blue with white piping tracksuit-bottomed legs up onto her recliner. The soles of her white cotton socks, I now saw, were grey-patched, like Mrs Newlove's. But they were grimy, too, as though Cheryl often walked about shoe-less.

Even more, hard work for me, I bemoaned – and so unnecessary! But I bemoaned silently, this time. I didn't want to provoke Cheryl Chubb's ire, and find myself having to grovel to her, as well – my ill-considered and ill-fated run-in with Gina Stainham, still painfully fresh and raw in my mind.

Unlike her two companions, Cheryl Chubb didn't ask me how I was enjoying my first day, working in the Sock Room. Instead, she just followed my movements, as though watching the eccentric and amusing antics of some exotic zoo animal. As if she was thinking: What, in the world, is he going to do next? Ha ha ha ha!

Just look at the three of them – just lying there! I thought disgustedly. Just lying there, like three well-to-do spa club members relaxing by the sauna. All that was missing were the pina coladas.

I went back up the makeshift ramp, and checked the current status of the wheelie bins.

My God! Lifting the lids, I found six of them to be more than half full: Four of the white-painted wheelie bins, the navy-blue-painted wheelie bin, and the black-painted wheelie bin.

Obviously, while I'd been out, some of the girls and ladies of Canford had visited the Sock Room during their lunch break. Changing their socks at lunch time – how extravagant was that! So Gina Stainham, then, was by no means a one-off.

And some of the schoolgirls of St Kate's, and St Esmeralda's, had come to the Sock Room and changed their black socks, and their navy blue socks, respectively, too – the little minxes!

I could only hope that the novelty value, for the females of Canford, would fade quickly ... But I knew that it wouldn't – and that, for many of the town's females, it never would.

But, I realised with dismay, it wouldn't matter if the novelty did start to wear a little thin, in time, for some of the town's females. Because, out of a sense of civic duty, the wanting-to-do-their-bit, girls and ladies of Canford would still come to the Sock Room in droves. Because of the whole point of the thing: To motivate me – the community servant sock washer – into finding gainful employment. And then, no doubt, C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda would frogmarch some other poor sod into the Sock Room.

Well ... for now, I could only deal with the white socks. Because the two large dark blue soaking tubs were already being fully utilised – fully loaded, with the Canford High Year Five schoolgirls' sports socks ... Which reminded me. Another half-hour or so, and I could begin hand-washing them.

I glanced over, at the two large dark blue soaking tubs. Thick, sudsy foam was spilling over the sides, and starting to spread out over the floor, three or four inches deep, towards the mangle ... Well, that's only to be expected, I supposed.

As I steered one of the more-than-half-full, white-painted wheelie bins down the ramp, I was acutely aware of the three pairs of gawping eyes, watching my every move. Acutely aware of those three spectating females' chuckles, giggles and titters, as I transported yet another load of dirty white socks – this load, the first of the afternoon – to the main hopper.

As I descended the makeshift ramp, I overheard Mrs Newlove say, to her two comfortably reclining companions, Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb, "Look at the state of those two tubs, heh, heh, heh. I told the idiot he's used far too much detergent ... There's going to be fun, later."

Rubbish! I thought, as I pushed the Start button of the main, open-topped hopper. Once again, the electric motor thrummed, as it hoisted up the latest wheelie bin of girls' and women's dirty white socks.


I looked at my watch. It read: 2:15.

Right then, I thought. Time to start hand-washing Year Five's sports socks.

This was going to be easy, I thought. A cinch. The two large dark blue tubs of socks had been frothing up a treat, and they would be sure to wash easily; just a quick, rub-a-scrub-dub, and then transfer them into one of the rinsing tubs.

I put on my rubber washing-up gloves, and got down to work. I plunged my gloved-up-to-the-elbows hands into the first of the two large dark blue soaking tubs. And, as instructed by my two supervisors, I agitated, one by one, dirty white sock after dirty white sock in the hot and soapy water, rubbing and scrubbing and mashing them in my hands.

And, as I did so, one by one I transferred the clean, but sudsy socks into the first of the two rinsing tubs ... Phew! It was hot work!

But I reckoned I'd have both tubs of sports socks – all 200 of them – washed, rinsed, mangled, and pegged up on the clothes-lines in the courtyard, by about four o'clock.

The weather was forecast to stay dry, so the socks could be left out overnight. And then I'd iron them tomorrow. Miss Pardew told me she would be here to collect the socks at four o'clock. So they would be done in plenty of time. Ready and waiting for her ... At least, that was the plan.


Hmm ... maybe Mrs Newlove did have a point, after all ... perhaps I had, been just a bit heavy-handed with the Kolour Kind detergent.

Rich, ultra-sudsy lather was now foaming out of the two tubs of Year Five's sports socks – especially the one I was stoically working my way through – and spreading out across the basement floor. It was already over my ankles, and rising and spreading all the time. And I wasn't even half way through the first of the two tubs of socks yet!

Oh, hell! I thought.

"See, David?" said Mrs Newlove smugly. "What did I tell you?"

Tell me how I can get rid of all of these suds, then, if you want to be of some use! I thought, but didn't say. Hell if I was going to ask her, for advice!

The foamy lather was now almost up to my knees. I started taking the socks; thick with the now gooey detergent, out of the two wash tubs, and I transferred them to the two colander-like rinsing tubs.

Having done so, I attached one end of the rubber hose-pipe to the cold tap of the rinsing sink, put the other end of the hose-pipe into one of the colander-like rinsing tubs, and spun the cold tap fully open.

But, when I began agitating the socks, trying to rinse them through with cold water, things only got worse – not better!

Oh, hell!! This was all going wrong. So wrong! How could it get this bad, this quick? Oh! Mrs Newlove had been right – damn the woman!

I went to my janitor's closet ... and came back with the long-handled, 12-inch long, 4-inch deep rubber-bladed squeegee I'd seen earlier.

But it was no good! The squeegee was useless; no match at all, for the ever increasing, rising tide of foam. Foam, that only seemed to get ever thicker. Too thick, to drain away down the grid under the mangle.

Mrs Newlove, Gina Stainham, Cheryl Chubb, and all of the other females present in the Sock Room, hooted with laughter at the spectacle of my self-imposed predicament. The girls and women laughed their heads off, as they watched my lamentable, wholly ineffectual efforts; scooping up handfuls of the gooey stuff, and slopping it down over the already severely congested drain.

Even though the hose-pipe was gushing out cold water full blast, it was proving impossible to rinse out the socks. The cream-coloured, highly-concentrated Kolour Kind had thickened considerably – and was continuing to thicken. Congealing into a gooey, greasy texture the consistency of whipped cream at the bottom of the rinsing tubs, and blocking up the 1-inch diameter holes.

It was a nightmare! Being laughed at and derided – ridiculed – by the sock-changing girls and women ... Not least, Mrs Newlove, Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb, the three reclining spectators.


Inevitably, the hullabaloo in the Sock Room soon brought my two supervisors hurrying to the scene.

"What, the ...?" said C.S.O. Karen, upon her seeing the mega-sudsy state of the basement floor.

"I've been flushing and flushing and flushing the socks through with cold water, Miss Karen, but I can't rinse the soapy suds out of them!" I told her despairingly.

"He used too much detergent – that's why! Much too much! I told him!" Mrs Newlove informed C.S.O. Karen – informed, on me!

I gave Mrs Newlove a look.

"Didn't you follow the simple directions on the label, David?" asked C.S.O. Karen.

"I – I might have ... maybe used a tad too much, Miss Karen," I admitted.

"And, he was cheeky this morning! Very rude, in fact, to Canford High's schoolgirls' PE teacher – a Miss Pardew!" blurted Mrs Newlove, seizing her opportunity to land me in even more hot water, as it were. "Miss Pardew asked him to do one little job for her – and he gave her a right load of lip!"

I gave her another look.

"What ...? Miss Pardew ... Polly Pardew?" said C.S.O. Karen, who sounded as if she knew the lady in question ... And, not only knew her, but also held her in high esteem. "Is this true, David?" C.S.O. Karen demanded, portentously.

"No ... Well, not exactly, Miss Karen," I hedged. "I – I only said—"

"It is! It is true!" interjected Mrs Newlove. "He bad-mouthed her. He said he wasn't going to drop everything – just on her say-so!"

"Is this true, David?" said C.S.O. Karen, even more ominously. "Did you actually say that? Because – for your sake – I hope you didn't!"

"I – I told her I was sorry, Miss Karen," I said uselessly. I was caught bang-to-rights, and I knew it.

"See!" cried Mrs Newlove triumphantly. "I told you it was true! And, that's not all! He disrespected Miss Pardew. He flapped his hand at her! He turned his back on her when she was still speaking to him – and he flapped his hand at her! In fact, he did it twice! And Miss Pardew was not happy. She wasn't happy at all – I can tell you!"

I glared at Mrs Newlove. Hell! Why couldn't the woman keep it zipped? Put a sock in it, as it were.

So Mrs Newlove fanned the flames. "Miss Pardew said that his manners left a lot to be desired. She said his behaviour was inexcusable. Quite intolerable. That his manners were not at all what they ought to be – for a community servant!"

"David ...?" prompted C.S.O. Karen, her face darkening by the second with deep displeasure.

"I did say sorry, to Miss Pardew, Miss Karen," I said, almost totally deflated.

"Only when she threatened to speak to your supervisors – and have you suitably brought to heel!" blabbed Mrs Newlove.

"And," piped up Gina Stainham, indignantly, "he even complained about me – changing my socks! Can you believe that? Changing my socks – in the Sock Room!"

"It was your second pair today!" I threw back.

Mrs Newlove yelled, in support of her friend, "Yes, he did! He did! I'm a witness to that! Perhaps ... perhaps it's time, that community servant David was taught a lesson in manners," she added suggestively.

Ah, I'd had enough of Mrs Newlove. I said to her, "Why can't you mind your own business?"

Addressing my two supervisors, Mrs Newlove said indignantly, "Surely, you're not going to let a community servant speak to me like that, are you?"

"No. No, we are not," said C.S.O. Linda, flexing her cane meaningfully.

To C.S.O. Karen, she said smugly, "See, Karen? What did I tell you? Didn't I tell you, eh? Didn't I tell you, that double-oh-seven was incapable of keeping a civil tongue in his head?"

C.S.O. Linda then intoned, officiously, "Community servant David double-oh-seven, I am awarding you six strokes of the cane. This is your chastisement, for speaking out of turn to a lady."

"Ha! Her? A lady? Don't make me laugh!" I responded foolishly.

To C.S.O. Linda, Mrs Newlove complained, "You're not going to let him get away with that, are you?"

"No. No, we are not," said C.S.O. Linda.

"Community servant David double-oh-seven, you have just compounded your offence. Your chastisement is therefore increased, to twelve strokes of the cane. To be administered to your bare bottom. By myself, and by C.S.O. Karen."

My two supervisors then pushed me against the wall, directly in front of Mrs Newlove's recliner. Taking their handcuffs from their utility belts, C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda used them to restrain my wrists to the recliner's front legs; my head, just under the lower bar, of the two-barred safety railing ... and the soles of Mrs Newlove's white-socked, toe-scrunching feet were right in my face.

"No ... oh, no ... oh, please ..." I moaned. This couldn't be happening.

And then I felt C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda's hands grabbing hold of either side of the elasticated waist of my white uniform shorts. Without further words, as per the C.S.O.'s chastisement manual, C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda pulled my shorts down around my ankles, preparatory to the administering of chastisement.

Oh my God! I thought. This was really going to happen ... There had to be a way of stopping it – there just had to be!

"Please ... please, Mrs Newlove. I'm – I'm sorry ... I'm very sorry. I – I was ... out of order. It won't happen again, Mrs Newlove ... I promise. You – you can stop this, Mrs Newlove ... Just – just one word from you, that's all it would take. I – I appologise ... You – you are a lady, Mrs Newlove. In ... in every sense of the word ... Please. Please ... Norma—"

"You can appologise all you want, and you can grovel all you want, David. But I want to see you get what's coming to you – what you deserve! Speak to me like that, will you? You need to be taught a lesson in manners. Miss Pardew is right: your manners are not at all what they ought to be – for a community servant! And, it's Mrs Newlove, to you – community servant David!"

I heard the dreadful, Whoo! sound of C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda's flexible, whippy canes as they stood to either side of me, preparing to deliver six strokes of the cane each to my totally exposed bare bottom.

As the unpleasantly tangy, cheesy odour of Mrs Newlove's white-socked feet began to infiltrate my nostrils, I heard the almost simultaneous Whoo! Whoo! and Crack! Crack! of C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda's canes as, in tandem, they administered the first of their six strokes each.

The pain was instant. And incredible. Mind-numbing and body-wracking. My bare buttocks were at once aflame. Burning with a red-hot, intolerable agony from the viciously delivered cane strokes.

I was shocked to the core, at experiencing such pain. I opened my mouth wide, but could only emit an indiscernible-at-the-level-of-human-hearing, almost silent scream.

After just the first of C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda's zealously-applied cane strokes, I'd already had enough – more than enough!

"No! No more!! Please ... Please, I promise ... I'll keep a civil tongue in my head, if—"

Whoo! Whoo! Crack! Crack!

"Aaaahhhh!! Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!" I wailed, finding my voice at last, as C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda's second cane strokes seared my bare buttocks again, like a pair red-hot irons, flash-branding my behind.

And Mrs Newlove, Gina Stainham, and Cheryl Chubb laughed delightedly.

The pain beggared belief. In a ferment of writhing, agonised agitation, I was flinging my head from side to side ... So Mrs Newlove pushed her cheesy-smelling, white-socked toes right under my nostrils, and kept me facing front.

C.S.O. Linda said derisively, "I knew double-oh-seven would be a baby about this: a lot of noise, over next to nothing ... Are you ready, Karen? Cane stroke number three?"

"No! No!! Please, Miss Linda! I've had enough! Please! I've learned my lesson! I have! I have! Honest, I have! I'll keep a civil tongue in my—"

"I know what'll keep community servant David quiet ..." said Mrs Newlove, peeling off, and automatically turning inside out her cheesy white socks, "... this!" she said, as she gleefully stuffed the first, and then the second of her cheesy-odoured, turned-inside-out, dirty white socks into my mouth.

She crammed them in. Her poking, slender, long-nailed fingers, filling up my cheeks with the upper parts of her socks; the turned-inside-out soles, covering my tongue, and the roof of my mouth – my palate.

"Ha ha ha ha!!" Mrs Newlove guffawed, at the sight of my bulging-cheeked face – bulging, with her noisome, dirty white socks!

"Pre-wash!" exclaimed Mrs Newlove with malicious glee. "You can pre-wash my dirty socks, David. Ha ha ha ha! That will keep you quiet!" she laughed uproariously. As did her highly amused recliner companions, Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb.

I had never felt so wretched. Just how bad, could things get? Surely, this was the lowest of the low – my nadir: My neighbour-from-hell, Mrs Newlove, personally stuffing her cheesy, turned-inside-out, dirty white socks into my mouth – while I was handcuffed to the front legs of her recliner; my captive face, right at her stinky bare feet!

But, no. It wasn't my nadir. Not yet. It was about to get even worse. As Mrs Newlove had already proven, she knew a thing or two, about laundry ...

At the horrible, disgusting, tangy-cheese taste of her dirty, sweaty socks, I felt the inside of my mouth getting increasingly wet ... Automatically forming saliva, I realised, to my absolute horror.

And, I had no control, over the natural reaction. Had no choice – as my mouth steadily filled with saliva, like a programmed washing machine flooding with water – but to "pre-wash" Mrs Newlove's turned-inside-out, dirty white socks.

Whoo! Whoo! Crack! Crack!

I yelled in agony, through my mouthful of Mrs Newlove's dirty white socks, "Uurrmmph! Uuuurrrrmmmmph!!"

And Mrs Newlove, Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb tittered, chuckled and giggled in great amusement.

Mrs Newlove gleefully cupped my nostrils in the tangy-cheese odoured toes of one bare foot, and exultantly flexed, splayed, wiggled and scrunched the toes of her other tormenting bare foot, right in front of my eyes, as C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda continued to administer my chastisement.

How unspeakably hideous! By the end of today, I knew, Mrs Newlove would have told all of her friends, and all of our neighbours, about this – her utter, comprehensive humiliation of me.

Whoo! Whoo! Crack! Crack!

"Uurrmmph! Uuuurrrrmmmmph!!" I moaned miserably, half out of my mind, by now, from such undreamed-of agony.

And Mrs Newlove, Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb tittered, chuckled and giggled some more.

I didn't know which was worse: C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda's devastating cane strokes to my bare bottom ... Or Mrs Newlove's devastating humiliation of me.

Whoo! Whoo! Crack! Crack!

Hmm ... There wasn't a lot in it, but ... Yep – it was definitely the caning, that was the hardest to endure.

Mrs Newlove had already humiliated me. And I couldn't turn the clock back. She would always have this glorious triumph, to mercilessly taunt me with. To hold over me – and never let me live it down.

And, although Mrs Newlove's cheesy-smelling feet were horrible and disgusting, and the harrowing ordeal of her thrusting them into my face, and being forced to watch her triumphal, exultant toe-wiggling, splaying, and scrunching, was a hideous experience, still, it in no way compared to the merciless caning of my bare bottom – my chastisement – by my two zealous supervisors, C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda.

Whoo! Whoo! Crack! Crack!

At last, my twelve-strokes-of-the-cane chastisement having been duly administered, C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda removed their handcuffs from my wrists.

C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda had stopped caning my bare bottom. But the pain didn't stop. And, it was going to keep on hurting – the fire was going to keep on raging – for a long while yet, I knew.

I pulled up my shorts, and moved away from the foot of Mrs Newlove's recliner – away from the soles of her stinky, tormenting bare feet. And I immediately pulled her noisome, tangy-cheese-flavoured dirty white socks out of my mouth, disgustedly spitting out bits of foul fluff, grit, and ... dead skin!

Ugh! I'd never get rid of her socks' sour, tangy-cheesy taste, I thought, as I disgustedly flung them into the open-topped, main hopper.

Mrs Newlove laughingly mock-complained, "Hey! What are you doing, David? You should pre-wash our dirty socks, for at least two hours – to loosen up all of the dirt, foot sweat and dead skin. Haven't you learned anything today? Ha ha ha ha!"

Surely, things couldn't get any worse, I thought ... And then the door to the Sock Room opened, and someone entered – Miss Pardew, Canford High's schoolgirls' PE teacher.

Upon her seeing me, Miss Pardew said, "Ah, community servant David. I've got another little job for you: Year Two's dirty sports socks. But there's not as much urgency for these socks. I won't be needing these back, until Fri—" she broke off abruptly, upon her seeing the still-rising sea of suds on the basement floor.

Miss Pardew said, concernedly, "Are – are those Year Five's sports socks in those tubs, by any chance, community servant David?"

"Er ..." I said.

C.S.O. Karen said, "Never mind about that for now, Miss Pardew – we've got some stuff that will kill the suds in no time ... Miss Pardew, I've just heard, that—"

"Karen, please," said Miss Pardew. "Your not at Canford High, any more. Call me Polly."

"Polly, I've just heard that community servant David, here, has been uncooperative and disrespectful, towards you ...?"

"Ah, yes! Yes! He has indeed! I wanted to have a word with you about that, Karen. To absolutely insist upon seeing community servant David being suitably brought to heel. But I was very pushed for time this morning, because I had to rush back for Year Two's volleyball class. Yes – his behaviour towards me this morning, was inexcusable! Quite intolerable. In fact, his manners are not at all what they ought to be – for a community servant!" complained Miss Pardew, and bearing out Mrs Newlove's litany of damning, word-for-word, eye-witness testimony against me.

In response, C.S.O. Linda said, "I think I've heard enough. Here you are, Miss Pard— sorry, I mean Polly. Here you are, Polly, here's my cane. You can teach him some manners – bring him to heel – yourself ... if you like?"

Oh, no ... oh, please ... no ... I thought.

"Miss Pardew," I said. "If you would just care to cast your mind back to this morning, I think you will remember that I did, actually apologise ...?"

"Do you know, Linda ... Actually, I don't mind if I do!" said Miss Pardew, eagerly accepting C.S.O. Linda's proffered cane.

"Community servant David double-oh-seven!" snapped C.S.O. Linda authoritatively. "Assume the position! Prepare to receive chastisement: Six strokes of the cane, administered to your bare bottom, by Miss Pardew."

I wanted to shout out, 'No! She can't – she's not official!' But I didn't. Because I knew that C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda would consider me to have compounded my offence, and award extra cane strokes accordingly.

Once again, as per the C.S.O.'s chastisement textbook, C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda grabbed either side of the elasticated waist of my uniform shorts, and pulled them down around my ankles, preparatory to the administering of chastisement.

Once again, I found myself handcuffed to the front legs of Mrs Newlove's recliner – helpless, at her mercilessly tormenting feet. And the lower bar, of the two-barred safety railing, was once again against the back of my neck, ensuring that I was held in place – not unlike the stocks in the town centre, I thought dismally.

And, once again, I found the Florida-holiday-tanned soles of Mrs Newlove's stinky bare feet, right in my face. The extreme-close-up details, inescapable: the medium-high arches of her feet, soft, and a creamy pale contrast; her rather wide soles, tinged a reddish-pink at the bottoms of her heels, the balls of her feet, and the pads of her toes.

Gleefully clutching my nostrils, in the undersides of the cheesy-odoured bare toes of one foot, ankles crossed, she exultantly flexed, splayed, wiggled and scrunched the toes of her other bare foot, right in front of my eyes. Her toenails, I saw, between her repeating toe-scrunches, were painted a pale pink colour.

Behind me, I heard the terrible whooshing sound of the cane again – as Miss Pardew, this time – readied herself to administer chastisement: Six strokes of the cane, to my bare bottom.

"No ... Miss Pardew. No. No, please ... no. I – I said I was sorry, didn't I, Miss Pardew? Didn't I? And – and I said I'd have Year Five's sports socks—"

Cheryl Chubb followed Mrs Newlove's example, and quickly put a stop to my pathetic whinging. I knew I was whinging pathetically, but I couldn't help it! I had to try and prevent what I knew was about to happen – again!

Cheryl Chubb peeled her dirty, grimy (from walking about shoeless) white socks from her feet; automatically turning them inside out, as she did so. She stuffed first one, and then her other sock into my mouth.

Just as Mrs Newlove had done, with her own socks, Cheryl Chubb crammed her own, turned-inside-out, dirty, grimy white socks into my mouth. Roughly inserting them, and pushing and prodding them in place with her stubby fingers: the upper parts of her long white leisure socks, stuffed into my cheeks, and causing them to bulge ridiculously; the soles of her socks, covering my tongue, and the roof of my mouth – my palate.

How unspeakably wretched did I feel as, upon my palate registering the repulsively sour, acidic and pungent flavours of Cheryl Chubb's turned-inside-out, dirty, sweaty, grimy white socks, like a programmed washing machine filling with water, my mouth automatically flooded with saliva, and began its "pre-wash" cycle.

Whoo! Crack! "Your manners leave a lot to be desired, community servant David!" Miss Pardew informed me.

Whoo! Crack! "You are insubordinate, insolent, and intransigent – and I am determined to bring you to heel!"

Whoo! Crack! "Your bahaviour towards me this morning, was inexcusable!"

Whoo! Crack! "Quite intolerable!"

Whoo! Crack! "In fact, your manners are not at all what they ought to be – for a community servant!"

Oh, my God!

It had been bad enough – more than enough! – after C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda had each given me their six chastising strokes of the cane. But now, with Miss Pardew getting in on the act as well – and, with a vengeance! – my bare buttocks felt as if they were literally ablaze.

Miss Pardew, I strongly suspected, was carefully aiming her cane strokes at the painful wounds C.S.O.'s Karen and Linda had inflicted. Deliberately targeting my tender, already agonisingly sore places.

And now – to add insult to injury – terribly sour, horrible tasting juice, was seeping into my mouth. Drenching my palate ... and leaving me no option, but to swallow.

And, it was to my absolute horror and dismay, that, in an awful, dreadful, unpreventable gagging reflex action, I felt my throat working. Gulping, of its own volition.

Whoo! Crack! "In future, you will address me with civility, with courtesy – with respect!" instructed Miss Pardew.

Mrs Newlove, Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb tittered, chuckled and giggled in amusement, at hearing my increasingly agonised, and increasingly anguished moans as, righteous-voiced, Miss Pardew mercilessly chastised me.

And, I had no option, as my throat continued to act of its own accord, but to continue to swallow the foul and revolting, sour and acidic, dirty-sock juice.

No option, but to actually consume the disgusting, vile liquid, consisting of the dirt, grime, foot sweat, and dead skin; the concentrated, stomach-turning, saliva-disolved, liquifying essence – the effluent – of Cheryl Chubb's turned-inside-out, dirty, grimy, sweaty white socks ...

... As, triggered by those hideous, loathsome and repugnant, palate-drenching flavours, my mouth continued to salivate. Continued to spurt more and more saliva, into Cheryl Chubb's turned-inside-out, dirty white socks, 'automatically' "pre-washing" them.

Whoo! Crack! "I shall bring you to heel, community servant David – if it is the last thing I do!" promised Miss Pardew.

The diabolically tormenting Mrs Newlove, and the almost equally infuriating Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb, tittered, chuckled and giggled some more.

"Ha ha ha ha!" laughed C.S.O. Linda. "That's right, Polly ... Teach double-oh-seven to keep a civil tongue in his head!"

"Yes! Ha ha ha ha!" laughed C.S.O. Karen. "Go on, Polly, let him have it – bring him to heel! Keep going, Polly – we're not counting! Have as many cane strokes as you like. Sock it to Sock Boy! Ha ha ha ha!"

"Yes!" agreed my neighbour-from-hell, Mrs Norma Newlove. "Yes! Bring him to heel!" she encouraged with great fervour, still clutching my nostrils in her cheesy-odoured bare toes; the toes of her other bare foot, exultantly flexing, wiggling, splaying and scrunching, right in front of my tearing-up eyes.

"Yes! Yes!!" urged Mrs Newlove gleefully. "His manners are not at all what they ought to be – for a community servant!"

Community Service continues, in Part 4.

This story is written by David, please send comments and appreciation to