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Community Service Ch. 8.
Chapter 8: Things are going downhill fast -
in the Sock Room.
Week 4: Monday. 08:10.
"Once you've served our coffee - whether it
is our pre-work coffee or another coffee break - don't wait to be told what
to do next, double-oh-seven!" snapped Community Service Officer Linda.
"On your knees! Now - Sock Boy!" ordered
Community Service Officer Karen. "We shouldn't have to tell you, by now:
"Yes, it should be automatic, by now - second
nature," said CSO Linda. "And you know what to do then, double-oh-seven.
Without being told!"
I felt totally disinclined, this morning, at
the start of what promised to be another misery-laden week, to respond with
the expected obedient and respectful - reverential - 'Yes, Miss Karen' and
'Yes, Miss Linda'.
Saying nothing, I got to my knees upon the
Sock Room's office carpet, in obedient and compliant but reluctant and
resentful observance of the pre-work routine that CSOs Karen and Linda had
With its mean cushioned underlay and rough,
utilitarian-weave bristly scratchy synthetic fibres, wearing my community
servant issue white shorts the carpet's austere pile didn't feel too great
on my bare kneecaps.
But that was the least, of my
On their castor-wheeled office chairs, cups
of coffee in hands my two young Sock Room supervisors scooted out from
behind their desks. They rolled up to me, raised their legs and comfortably
rested their feet, ankles crossed, upon my obediently proffered shoulders.
CSO Karen, in front of me and slightly to my
left, used my left shoulder, while CSO Linda, in front of me and slightly to
my right, took the same advantage of my right shoulder.
Happily, for my two young supervisors, there
was no pesky need for them to adjust the accustomed height of their computer
chair seats. With their outstretched legs slightly elevated, on my knees the
height of my 'footrest' shoulders was just right for them: CSOs Karen and
Linda weren't the slightest bit inconvenienced, in putting their coffee-time
They'd both kicked off, under their desks,
their uniform clog-like, black leather, thick rubber soled backless shoes.
Shoes, that, in an additional, personal
service duty, my two young Sock Room supervisors had made me responsible for
keeping in spick and span order.
Every day without fail, somehow I had to find
the time to come into their office and clean and polish their AFP-issue
footwear for them as they sat at their desks: pry free any small stones and
suchlike stuck between the treads, and polish and buff up the black leather
to a gleaming shine.
And I knew what to expect, from CSOs Karen
and Linda, if they weren't happy with the daily maintenance cleaning and
polishing efforts of their conscripted shoeshine boy ...
I looked straight ahead, right between my two
young Sock Room supervisors' blue-blazered shoulders.
Though they were both looking right at me, I
tried not to look back, at the forbidding, ever reproving expressions on
CSOs Karen and Linda's very attractive but stern-looking faces.
Their uniform AFP-modified,
militaristic-looking concave bob hairstyle had a decidedly unsettling
effect. The somehow disturbing hairdo served to harden the softness of their
feminine lines, and brought to the fore and into sharp relief, their
underlying, authoritative and intimidating personas.
CSO Karen said, "Sock Boy seems a bit
sluggish this morning, Lindz. He didn't answer us respectfully. And he
didn't respond to our orders satisfactorily and with due promptness. But
more than that: I don't like his sullen, resentful, irreverent attitude,
Lindz, that he seems to think he can just stroll in here, all pouty faced,
and present to us."
"Anyone would think he doesn't want to be
here," replied CSO Linda. "With us."
"I don't expect to see a smile on his face -
and I don't want to: if I see a smile on his face, that tells me I'm not
doing my job properly. But, whenever he is attending us, Lindz, I don't want
to see a resentful pout - evidence, that he has not even reconciled, let
alone embraced himself, to committing himself wholeheartedly to our personal
"The sooner he reconciles himself to keeping
us sweet, Karen, the better off he'll be," said CSO Linda. "Because he'll
get no reward for good behaviour - only severe punishment, for bad."
"I want to see Sock Boy straining at the
leash, Lindz, yearning to do our bidding - yearning to run and fetch our
sticks. I want to see him chomping at the bit, eager to obey us - eager to
jump through our hoops ... Maybe we should wake his ideas up."
Crossing her uniform, yellow cotton
ankle-socked feet on 'her' shoulder, CSO Linda said, "You're right, Karen.
His heart isn't in it. Obviously, we've been too soft with him; cutting him
way too much slack. In his position, double-oh-seven should be wanting to
bend over backwards to please us. Doesn't he realise, yet, that keeping us
sweet should be his Number One priority? Doesn't he realise, yet, that we
can influence every facet of his standard of living? That we can exert
control, over his very quality of life? Doesn't he appreciate, our actual
"I don't think so, Lindz. It doesn't seem to
have sunk in yet, does it?" said CSO Karen. "Judging by his actions."
"How about we administer the Standard Six?"
suggested CSO Linda. "If he's not eager to please us? If he doesn't want to
keep us sweet? That should wake him up a bit. Help him to remember his
priorities. And if that fails, well, there's always his brother John ..."
"You always said, Lindz, that Sock Boy has a
lippy, rebellious streak that we'd always have to keep on top of, and
occasionally need to stamp down on ... But, yes: There's always the trusty
fallback of his brother John, isn't there, Lindz? Just one phone call is all
it would take, to set the wheels in motion. Just one phone call, from Ms
Harmman, and ..."
"No - you mean, set the rotor blades in
motion, Karen!" quipped CSO Linda.
Okay, okay, I thought resignedly ... I get
"Miss Karen, Miss Linda ..." I said politely
and respectfully - reverentially.
I was worried sick, that one of these days
they might finally deliver on their oft-repeated threat to have my brother
helicoptered off the Omega 3 oil rig in the North Sea, where he worked as
a chef, and instead be made to work for subsistence pay as a lowly community
That was the heinous, constant threat that my
two Sock Room supervisors held over me, whenever they deemed my obedience,
compliance, or reverence towards them to be showing the least signs of
At first, CSOs Karen and Linda had threatened
to cane me into submission.
But their cunning coercive idea to put my
brother John's future fortunes into my hands had been their callous clincher
- their malevolent masterstroke - in forcibly ensuring, that I stayed
strictly in line and utterly subservient to them both ... In forcibly
guaranteeing, that I continued to jump through their hoops.
Because I knew it was no idle threat: CSOs
Karen and Linda had had me listen in on their walkie-talkie radio
conversation with their superior. And I had heard Ms Harmman, laughing
delightedly at the malevolent machinations ("precocious genius") of my two
young Sock Room supervisors, as with her congratulations and commendations
the local Authoritarian Female Party representative and MP for Canford had
approved and signed-off on their sinister surety.
It was the way things were, now, in these
new, Femocratic times. Under the female-friendly, all-female rule of Prime
Minister Caroline Flynt and her Authoritarian Female Party government.
"Miss Karen, Miss Linda. I do, know my
priorities. I do, want to obey you, and ... to please you."
Oh, how it galled me, to say it!
How I hated, to hear the submissive sound of
my voice: My servile, supplications; my obsequious overtures; my pathetic
pleading; my excruciating entreaties ... The soul-destroying sound, of my
downtrodden, absolute, unconditional capitulation - to those two!
"So why, then - Sock Boy! - is that pouty,
sullen, resentful look still on your face?" demanded CSO Karen. "I've just
said: I don't want to see it! Whenever you attend us, you will look pleased
to do so!"
Maybe I should start thinking about Number
One, after all, I thought ... While John worked on the Omega 3 oil rig as a
chef, pulling in good money, I worked in the Sock Room as a sock washer,
pulling inside out, the females of Canford's dirty socks.
But I knew it was no use: Even if I told them
to go ahead and ruin John's life - influence horribly every facet of his
existence, and exert diabolical control over his very quality of life - CSOs
Karen and Linda would still do whatever it took to bend me to their will.
For as long as I remained a community servant
under CSOs Karen and Linda's supervision, I would remain under their
complete control, be ruled by their AFP-vested power ... And be vulnerable,
to the whims and wiles of their creative cruelties.
And worse: If I was being all pouty and
sullen and resentful and failing to keep them sweet, CSOs Karen and Linda
would be sure to exert their kiboshing influences, with any such prospective
employer as I might otherwise have successfully prevailed upon to offer me
gainful employment ... And a route out of the Sock Room.
But then again ... for all I knew, CSOs Karen
and Linda might already be doing exactly that: derailing my job
applications. I had no solid, evidential reason to suspect that they were
using their 'powers of office' to scupper my attempts at finding paid
employment - but it wouldn't surprise me!
With the toepads of her uppermost
ankle-socked foot, CSO Linda pushed my face leftwards until I was looking
directly at the inches away sole of CSO Karen's, uppermost foot.
I felt the familiar, unpleasant damp warmth,
as with the ball of her foot and the pads of her toes CSO Linda maintained a
gentle but insistent pressure, keeping me facing left.
The underside of the toe area of CSO Karen's
uniform thin yellow cotton ankle-socked sole was level with my nose. The
sock's bright yellow fabric there was damp and turned a darker,
English-mustardy, colour; as it was at the heel, and at the ball of her
My face was so close, to CSO Karen's foot,
that I was unable to avoid picking up her under-the-toes foot scent. It was
an unpleasant odour that, by now, I knew well. Just as I did CSO Linda's,
equally disagreeable foot scent.
CSO Linda took another sip of the pre-work
coffee I'd made for her. "Show us - double-oh-seven," she said, returning
her now half-empty coffee cup to its saucer. "CSO Karen, first."
"Yes. Show me - Sock Boy!" said CSO Karen.
"Get that pouty, sullen, resentful look off your face - and show me!"
I just got on with it, as I knew that I must
Burying my nostrils under and amid the toes
of CSO Karen's shoulder-perched, uppermost thin yellow cotton ankle-socked
foot, I showed her - I showed them both.
I showed, CSOs Karen and Linda, that if I
wasn't exactly yearning to do their bidding: that if I wasn't straining at
the leash, wanting to run and fetch their sticks; that if I wasn't chomping
at the bit, eager to jump through their hoops; that if I wasn't bending over
backwards, trying to keep them sweet - that if I wasn't reconciled, let
alone embraced, in wholehearted commitment to their Number One priority
personal service ... then, I was, at least, still indubitably in their
With my lips firmly sealed as dictated, I
inhaled deeply, and discernibly - loudly.
And when CSO Karen recrossed her ankles,
compliantly I pushed my nose under the yellow ankle-socked toes of her other
foot, where again it was warmly and welcomingly received in a
nostril-sealing embrace. And I sniffed again, deeply and loudly.
Because this, was what CSOs Karen and Linda
demanded of me: A daily, pre-work demonstration of my continuing obedience,
compliance, and reverence.
And so it began: Week 4.
The start of my fourth week, working as a
community servant in the Sock Room of Canford town, south London.
Where I had been assigned, by the local
Authoritarian Female Party representative and MP for Canford, Ms Harriet
Harmman, to earn my weekly Unemployment Benefits payments ... by
hand-washing, to a high and exacting standard, the females of Canford's
* * *
"Good morning - Community servant David
double-oh-seven!" greeted my across-the-road neighbour from hell Norma
Newlove, hectoring and goading me the moment I showed my face in the
lower-level of the Sock Room.
Finally dispensing with my pre-work coffee
footrest services, to my usual great relief CSOs Karen and Linda had told me
to wash up the coffee things, and then dismissed me from their office.
But, as always, it was a case of 'Out of the
frying pan, and into the fire'.
Looking down on me (both figuratively and
literally), Mrs Newlove was leaning back comfortably, upon her accustomed
black leather recliner: the nearest, of the six that were to my right of the
six wooden steps that connected the upper-level to the lower-level of the
To my left of the six wooden steps, on that
side of the 'Spectators' Gallery' overlook, were situated another six of the
Sock Room's well-padded, black leather recliners ... a total of twelve.
Originally the Sock Room had been furnished
with six recliners: three, on either side of the six wooden steps.
Last week, there had been ten recliners. But
with six recliners now, on both sides of the six wooden steps, and with only
the narrowest of gaps separating each of the recliners, at least now there
was simply no room left to instal any more of the blasted 'Lazy-Girl'
In the next two recliners along to Norma,
behind the two-barred safety rail of the 'Spectators' Gallery' overlook,
lounged Norma's Sock Room cronies Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb.
At the moment Norma, Gina and Cheryl were the
only sock-changing females attending the Sock Room.
But they were enough. More, than enough. They
were the bane of my life, these early-bird, long-stay, provisions-bringing,
Sock Room 'regulars'.
The Sock Room was their social club. Their
den. Their playground. And I, was their captive entertainment ... a rich,
endless source of malicious merriment.
"Community servant David - catch!" shouted
Cheryl Chubb, tossing down to me her balled-up pair of dirty white socks.
"There you go - sock washer! Get those clean! I've been wearing those socks
since Friday morning. Oh - and, before you hand-wash them clean - don't
forget to pull them inside out!"
"Thank you, Mrs Chubb," I said respectfully.
"I ... I won't forget."
"Ha ha ha!" cackled Cheryl Chubb - at once
again hearing in my voice, my pathetic unfailing reverence, and at seeing in
my face, my brought-to-heel submission and subservience, and at recognising
in my body language, my kowtowing obedience and compliance - no matter how
much, she and her ill-meaning ilk Sock Room associates might try to provoke
and goad me to a punishable indiscretion.
It was audible, in the tone, the pitch, the
timbre - the 'quality' - of the ghastly Cheryl Chubb's gleeful, gratified
giggling, that the measure of my descent into brought-to-heel obedience and
under-the-thumb servility could be discerned and comprehended - could be ...
By now, at the start of my fourth week as
Sock Room community servant, the predominantly overbearing, domineering,
subjugating sock-changing females of Canford, had, sad to say, stamped out
of me almost all of the initial resistance I'd shown. And Cheryl Chubb - one
of the very worse, of the 'stamper-outers' - knew it.
In fact, by now it was common knowledge:
Every girl, every woman, who came into the Sock Room to change her dirty
socks, knew it.
Even the town's non-sock-wearing girls and
women, who occasionally popped into the Sock Room just for the fun of
witnessing my humiliations, knew it.
And now, upon watching me reach up full
stretch for her discarded pair of casually tossed balled-up dirty socks, and
pull off a quite excellent one-handed catch like an outfielder cricketer
preventing six runs as he spectacularly caught out the disbelieving batsman
at the boundary, Cheryl Chubb cackled some more. "This is brilliant!"
enthused Cheryl. "Weekends are boring. But now it's Monday morning - and
normal service is resumed!"
"Come up here, double-oh-seven," Gina
Stainham told me.
Obediently I complied with Mrs Stainham's
order - in these new, Femocratic times, females didn't 'ask' community
servant's, to do their bidding: everything was an order. It was the new
"Turn around," ordered Gina, upon my
ascending the six wooden steps and reporting to her recliner. And upon my
duly obeying her and promptly turning around, Gina grabbed hold of the
elasticated waist of my community servant's uniform white shorts and yanked
them down to my knees.
"Oh yes ... We gave you a damn good caning -
Norma, Cheryl and me. Didn't we, double-oh-seven?" said Gina Stainham with
great satisfaction, as she took a good long look at the by now fading
evidence of her and Norma's and Cheryl's cruel handiwork (as per
regulations, I wasn't wearing any underpants). "We really, let you have it.
Didn't we?" said Gina, her tone wickedly prideful, and full of fond, wistful
Gina Stainham was referring to what had
happened, the Saturday before last.
When I had assumed upon myself, at
triple-rate, the Standard Six caning punishment, that my girlfriend Tina -
the heaven, of Burger Heaven - had been awarded, by Ms Harriet Harmman.
Eighteen strokes of the cane. Administered in
public, in the High Street's stocks.
Not, only before the gathered good folks of
But also, before a daunting array of the UK's
big channel big-name news teams; representations of all of the local, and
many of the regional, channels; and even an assemblage of journos from
foreign press and TV media, too.
Not least, among them, had been my (former!)
evening TV news darling: the blonde, bubbly and beautiful Kathy Newton.
"Yes, Mrs Stainham," I said respectfully, in
reply to her, hurtful, questions, about the many hurts that she and Norma
Newlove and Cheryl Chubb had taken such gleeful pleasure in inflicting upon
me. "You did."
Norma Newlove said, "Now, come here,
Community servant David double-oh-seven, and take off my dirty socks, for me
By now, the Sock Room was beginning to fill
Filling up, with first lesson free period
girls, who were popping in en route to one of the town's several High
Schools, or to one of the two Girls' Schools, or to Canford College. And
with women, who were on their way to work, or perhaps on their way to the
town centre shops.
And filling up, with women, who, such as
Norma Newlove and her Sock Room cronies Gina Stainham and Cheryl Chubb, were
officially designated 'Ladies of Leisure', and in receipt of the AFP
government's very generous, weekly Ladies' Living Allowance disbursements.
The Sock Room attending girls and women of
Canford were coming in to avail themselves of a clean pair of socks. And to
deposit their dirty socks, into one of the colour-coded wheelie bins, or
into the industrial-sized open-topped hopper, that was signed: 'White Socks
Except, all twenty of the colour-coded
wheelie bins, and even the open-topped hopper too, were all overflowing now,
with unprepossessing cascades of the females of Canford's dirty socks.
Sock-wearing, among the girls and women of
Canford, had never been so popular. Particularly it was the long white,
sport and leisure socks that were always in highest demand.
And I had no reason to believe, that my home
town's females' high-majority and high usage uptake of Canford's Sock Room
facilities, wasn't replicated in Sock Rooms all over the UK, by the
sock-changing female populations of every other town and city.
The backlog of dirty socks was growing
mountainous. The situation was out of control. My noisome, stinky workload
was unrelenting, overwhelming, and utterly unmanageable.
One thing was certain - it couldn't possibly
go on, like this.
Now, some of the sock-changing,
time-on-their-hands females, upon espying the availability of recliners,
eagerly availed themselves of one.
Still to change their socks, occupying their
recliners, some of these more malicious-minded Sock Room frequenters cruelly
did so to display to me as I worked, down in my one-man laundry 'domain',
the soles of their dirty socked feet.
Soon, all twelve of the Sock Room's
well-padded, black leather 'Lazy-Girl' recliners were occupied.
At the moment, of the twelve reclining
females, only Cheryl Chubb was barefoot.
And, as I'd come to know was usual for
Cheryl, since she'd become a Sock Room denizen, the soles of her
Monday-morning bare feet were dirty - days' unwashed, grimy, and
I felt that familiar wretched, painful
thickening of my throat. Signifying, that I was in imminent danger of
breaking down, and succumbing to a self-pitying bout of blubbing. Even in
front of this, all-female audience.
And it wouldn't be the first time.
I'd tried to resist, tried to be brave, tried
to man-up ... but, at times, it just all got on top of me.
Just like last Monday - and probably every
Monday, from now on - I was going to have to 'attend' Cheryl Chubb's filthy,
But first, I was going to have to ...
As bidden by my neighbour from hell Norma
Newlove, obediently I reported to her recliner as summoned. And, complying
with her personal service command to take off her dirty socks for her, I
said respectfully, "Yes, Mrs Newlove."
At hearing the
downtrodden, miserable-sounding monotone of my soul-crushed voice, Gina
Stainham and Cheryl Chubb tittered and chuckled happily.
As did most of the other, newly arrived,
reclining females. Girls and women, most, of whose unfriendly, gloating,
goading faces - I knew well, by now.
And I dreaded them, these, frequent-user,
time-on-their-hands, first-period-excused female students, and Ladies of
Leisure sock-changing females ... The Sock Room brought out the bitch in
"You, do the work - Community servant David
double-oh-seven!" snapped Norma Newlove haughtily, playing me off to her
sock-changing audience as I stood and waited for her to raise obligingly one
of her blue-tracksuit-bottomed legs.
Meaning that, rather than putting her to the
trouble of doing so, I should lift her 'Lady of Leisure' feet, and take the
weight of her bone idle legs, as I removed each of her dirty socks.
"Yes, Mrs Newlove," I said respectfully.
Which elicited another wave, of tickled-pink titters and gratified giggles
from the greatly amused onlooking, comfortably reclining females.
Norma Newlove loved an audience - and the
more, the merrier. Mercilessly, cruelly, she loved to play me off, to Sock
Room attending girls and women.
And to the further hilarity of the watching
Sock Room attending females, Norma didn't do a thing to help me - hindered
me, in fact - as with comical clumsiness I struggled to perform her
belittling little chore.
But finally, and despite her mischievous
ankle flexing, toe scrunching manoeuvrings, I'd managed to remove both of
Norma's dirty, long white socks.
I wondered if there was a Norma Newlove style
tormentress in every Sock Room, who ... for some reason, was taking full
advantage of the situation, and exacerbating, maliciously, her Sock Room
community servant's already wretched, unspeakably miserable predicament ...
I found it all too easy to believe.
At least, although somewhat stinky -
permeated, at the heels and the balls of the feet and the toe areas, with a
vaguely cheesy malodour - Norma's socks were still reasonably clean.
Norma had gotten into the habit, of taking
home from the Sock Room on Fridays two spare pairs of the long white sport
and leisure socks.
A practice, I'd noticed, adopted by many of
the Sock Room attending girls and women. Which was why, on Mondays, with a
snide smile on their face lots of these sock-changing females sauntered in
with not just one, but three pairs of dirty socks, for me to hand-wash.
"Now, before you hand-wash my dirty socks,
Community servant David double-oh-seven," said Norma Newlove, "I want you to
massage my feet."
How could things get any worse?
Here we go again I thought, miserably.
"You know the drill: Stand there, Community
servant David double-oh-seven, down in your miserable workplace, at the
safety rail," said Norma, pointing her finger. "At the foot of my recliner."
There was no question, of refusing or
resisting my across the road neighbour from hell Norma Newlove.
In these new, Femocratic times, in the
Authoritarian Female Party government's female-friendly UK, if any male
citizen - especially, a community servant - upon receiving a request from a
female citizen, denied, disobeyed, or even demurred ... serious, drastic
consequences would be sure to follow, for the foolhardy male citizen.
"Yes, Mrs Newlove," I said respectfully ...
Because I knew, the serious consequences that Norma Newlove would be sure to
bring to bear: She would snatch up the Sock Room's internal phone, dial 01,
to connect to CSOs Karen and Linda's office, and ...
I descended the six wooden steps.
And in compliance with Norma Newlove's order,
I stood in front of the bare brick wall at the two-barred safety rail, at
the foot of Norma's recliner - the nearest, to the six wooden steps, on
my right-hand side of the 'Spectators' Gallery' overlook.
It was going to be a long, long day, I
thought wretchedly, as now I saw more, standing, sock-changing girls and
women coming over to watch my humiliation ... and, to enjoy the notorious
Norma Newlove's showing off: Her famed (and, by some Canford females,
celebrated) Sock Room community servant baiting.
By now, at the start of the Sock Room's
fourth week since its much trumpeted grand opening, the sock-changing
females of Canford were coming to regard my neighbour from hell Norma
Newlove as Queen of the Sock Room.
And, esteemed in almost equally high regard
by many Sock Room attending females, were the uncongenial Gina Stainham and
the uncherubic Cheryl Chubb - Norma's sister Sock Room princesses.
"Start with my left foot, Community servant
David double-oh-seven," commanded Norma Newlove, like a queen talking down
to some, no-consequence, no-account, lowly palace serf. And, a lowly palace
serf, at that, who's one and only raison d'etre, was to attend and serve at
the feet of his royal mistresses, and of their female entourage.
As if she thought I might not know my left
from my right, Norma helpfully raised her bare left foot. And, as if
thinking that further direction might be needed, Norma signally scrunched
Yes, Queen Norma, Your Majestic Royal
Highness, I thought ... But didn't say.
"Yes, Mrs Newlove," I said respectfully. To
another, soul-destroying elicitation of delightedly amused titters and
chuckles, from Norma's appreciatively responding audience - from the
watching, time-on-their-hands, nothing-better-to-do Sock Room attending
girls and women of Canford.
Norma liked the sun, and I had to admit: she
did tan beautifully.
But the glamorous, glorious suntan that Norma
had sported upon returning home from her recent Florida holiday, and that
had made her skin glow like burnished gold, was fading now. The soles of her
slender, shapely feet, now only lightly tanned.
Maybe Norma would take herself off on another
of those AFP-subsidised sunshine holidays - with UK-based Sunshine Holidays.
And hopefully, she would fly away to top up her tan soon!
It had been the Sunshine Holidays travel
firm, that Norma had holidayed with recently. And I remembered her laughing,
about ... something.
There had been something; an unusual
occurrence - on both of her flights - that had tickled her half to death.
Something, about the airline's Air Purification Technicians.
Whoever they were, Norma said that the Air
Purification Technicians were now operating (and Norma had laughed at that,
when she'd said: 'operating') on all Sunshine Holidays aircraft. And, that
they were now operating on all flight destinations: short, medium - and,
from only recently, even long-haul.
On Norma's toes, I noticed, she was wearing
her usual cherry-red nail polish. That, from the day I'd complimentarily
told her that I thought it was 'her colour' - because it set off her
dark-brown eyes, and complemented her lustrous long black hair, and went so
well with her gorgeous deep suntan - she'd unfailingly favoured the shade,
From my own, lower-level side of the Sock
Room, I stood positioned at the foot of Norma Newlove's recliner. And very
carefully, I took hold of Norma's left foot - I didn't, just, carelessly
grab hold of it, as if it was just any old person's foot; oh no - this was
Queen Norma, after all.
It was an awkward business, using my hands at
my head's height. But I persevered as best I could.
"Don't stop until I tell you, Community
servant David double-oh-seven," instructed Norma Newlove.
Yes, Norma: I know the drill, I thought ...
But didn't say.
"Yes, Mrs Newlove," I said respectfully -
just as, who should enter the Sock Room, but no lesser personage than the
very woman who had assigned me to the dreadful establishment: The Community
Service Liaison Officer, and local Authoritarian Female Party official, and
MP for Canford - Ms Harriet Harmman.
"What sort of foot massage do you call this -
Community servant David double-oh-seven?" snapped Norma Newlove derisively,
belittling my efforts right from the get-go, as from the corner of my eye, I
watched Ms Harmman, assessing the state of affairs in the Sock Room.
"Press more firmly - Community servant David
double-oh-seven!" admonished Norma, as Ms Harmman made her way over to us.
"Get your thumbs working!"
"Yes, Mrs Newlove," I said respectfully, as
by now Ms Harmman was standing by, and looking on.
"Massage my right foot, now, Community
servant David double-oh-seven," said Norma, after a couple of minutes.
I heard the familiar, crinkly sound, as one
of the reclining onlooking females noisily opened another bag of crisps.
"Yes, Mrs Newlove," I said respectfully. And
I gently returned her left foot to the foot of her recliner, and carefully I
took hold of her right foot.
CSOs Karen and Linda now appeared on the
scene: Ms Harmman must have advised my two young supervisors that she was
coming over to see them, I thought.
"So - Community servant David
double-oh-seven!" said Ms Harriet Harmman, as I worked my left and right
thumbs counterclockwise and clockwise, respectively, into the ball of Norma
Newlove's right foot.
"So, this how you've let the Sock Room get
into such a state: I come in here, and what do I find? Instead of getting
on, and hand-washing all of these hundreds of dirty socks, you are spending
all of your time - playing with ladies' feet?"
"No, Ms Harmman - no! It's not like that!
It's Mrs Newlove! She ... keeps-"
"Concentrate - Community servant David
double-oh-seven!" ordered Norma Newlove. "Left foot again, now. And press
"There is nothing more unmanly," Ms Harmman
told me, shaking her head in mock disappointment and sadness, "as a
community servant, trying to attribute the blame for his ineptitude and
inadequacies, to a lady."
Ah ... what's the point? I thought.
This was just all one big, AFP joke.
A huge, female-devised, female-participant -
female-conspiracy - joke.
The big joke, that community servants like me
were the butt of.
But there was no question, of my saying 'No'
"Yes, Mrs Newlove," I said respectfully, as I
gently returned her right foot to the foot of her recliner, and carefully
took hold of her left foot again.
"Community servant David double-oh-seven,"
said Ms Harmman, as firmly I rotated my thumbs into the bottom of Norma
Newlove's left heel. "It can't possibly go on, like this."
"Switch back to my right foot, Community
servant David double-oh-seven," instructed Norma. "And now, do my arch. But
don't press quite so hard. Firmly - but just not, quite so hard."
"Yes, Mrs Newlove," I said respectfully.
Ms Harmman said sternly, "Until you have
cleared this appalling backlog of dirty socks, Community servant David
double-oh-seven, you'll work Saturdays."
"Yes, Ms Harmman," I said respectfully as
now, at this latest cruelty, I felt a tear of abject, utter wretchedness
seep from my right eye.
But there was no point, in arguing. Nothing
to be gained, in talking back: it would only lead to more cruelties. To more
"All day, Saturday," clarified the Community
Service Liaison Officer, uncompromisingly.
"Yes, Ms Harmman," I said respectfully.
"And, you will do it, for no extra
remuneration," added the local Authoritarian Female Party representative,
"Yes, Ms Harmman," I said respectfully, as
now, with the tears of misery freely coursing down both cheeks, I continued
to work my thumbs, rotating them firmly - but not, too hard - into the arch
of Norma Newlove's right foot.
"Yippee!" yelled Cheryl Chubb gleefully.
"From now on, our footboy is going to be working on Saturdays!"
"Yay! Saturday-opening!" cried Gina Stainham.
"And, if ... for some reason, double-oh-seven can't clear his backlog, maybe
Ms Harmman will make him work Sundays, too!"
With a wink - that she clearly intended me to
see, so that I'd be in on the 'joke' - Ms Harmman replied, "Well, Mrs
Stainham ... If Community servant David double-oh-seven can't concentrate on
the important work I put him in here to do, and reduce his shocking backlog
within the next two weeks - at least, to the extent that his workload is
contained within all of the dirty-sock receptacles, and with the lids all
closed - well, Mrs Stainham, I'm afraid it may come to that."
If their joyful, pleasureful cries of
approval were any indicator, all of the other sock-changing females present,
too, thought it was an excellent idea for Ms Harmman to extend my normal,
Monday to Friday working week, and make me work on the weekends, too.
Especially, Norma Newlove.
"Wahey!" whooped my exultant across the road
neighbour from hell. Her ecstatic, celebratory outpourings, much louder and
more heartfelt, than those emitted by any other Sock Room attending girl or
Momentarily, Norma raised her right foot from
my pampering, still massaging hands to wiggle her toes at me in a taunting
gesture of gleeful triumph - but only momentarily: she wanted me back in
Mrs Newlove was jubilant, ecstatic, blissful
... While my emotions, were the exact opposites.
It was yet another, crushing and
catastrophic, devastating and demoralising victory that Norma Newlove was
chalking up against me.
Ms Harriet Harmman said, "Community servant
David double-oh-seven. On Saturday morning, you will report to the Sock Room
at eight o'clock. And you shall continue to do so, every Saturday from now
on until I tell you differently. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Ms Harmman," I said respectfully.
Because there was no point, in arguing.
Nothing to be gained, in talking back.
Ms Harmman went on, "I shall send one of my
CSOs to open the Sock Room. And another CSO will come by in the afternoon to
lock up at five-thirty."
"Yes, Ms Harmman," I said respectfully.
Ms Harmman plundered on, "On Saturdays - and,
on Sundays too, should it ... come to it - you will work unsupervised. After
all ... I can rest assured, as to your motivation."
I saw a look, pass between my two young
supervisors ... And to my deepening despair, I knew what it meant.
CSO Karen said, "Um, Ma'am. If there's any
overtime going ..."
"Overtime, CSO Karen?"
"Yes, Ma'am. CSO Linda and I would welcome
the chance to earn some extra money."
"But of course, CSO Karen. And, it goes
without saying, that you and CSO Linda will be very generously remunerated.
Of course, had I known you wanted it, I would have offered the overtime to
you at once. But, as you are both already putting in a hard, Monday to
Friday full working week, I'd thought ..."
CSO Linda said, "And, if it ... comes to it,
Ma'am, CSO Karen and I would be available to work overtime on Sundays, too."
"Really? Naturally, you and CSO Karen would
be rewarded extremely well, for working Sundays, too, if it ... came to it.
But ... but why?"
CSO Karen said, "Ma'am, CSO Linda and I would
like to be able to retire before we are thirty."
"But you could both retire right now if you
wanted to," said Ms Harmman. "I mean, just claim the Ladies' Living
Allowance. You can live quite comfortably on that."
CSO Linda said, "Yes, Ma'am. But CSO Karen
and I want to go to the sun."
"Yes, Ma'am," said CSO Karen. "We were
thinking the Canary Islands."
"Oh. Oh, I see," said Ms Harmman. "Well, in
that case, I can see why you'd want to put in the overtime. And that won't
be a problem: there's always overtime available, for those CSOs, who want
it. But I can tell you now, CSOs Karen and Linda: the AFP would be very
sorry to lose you, at just thirty years of age. Very sorry, indeed. But, who
knows - perhaps by then, you'll have had a rethink?"
Their faces colouring a little, CSOs Karen
and Linda, deflecting, just said, noncommittally: "Ma'am."
From what I'd heard, during some of our
prework-coffee footrest routines, I didn't think my two young Sock Room
supervisors were going to rethink their early-retirement, going-to-the-sun
CSOs Karen and Linda needed the overtime
money, to be able to afford the considerable costs of setting themselves up
in their dream apartment, and to have sufficient funds in their bank
accounts to live comfortably and without any financial concerns, on their
sun-drenched island of choice.
But, just then, CSOs Karen and Linda were
saved from further uncomfortable conversation on this touchy topic with Ms
Harriet Harmman, when an attractive young woman with black hair and brown
eyes, and wearing blue overalls with the familiar sport and leisure socks
logo over the right breast pocket, entered the Sock Room and announced
cheerily: "Socks r Us!"
Ah, good, I thought: At least now, Norma
would have to let me go, in a minute.
Smiling in greeting, CSO Linda said
familiarly, "Hi, Stella. Be with you in a sec. Got much for us today, Stel?"
"Yeah, Lindz. I've got another big delivery
for you in the van," said Stella.
Reading from her delivery invoice, Stella
said, "Mostly, it's those long white sport and leisure socks - the ones that
you are getting through so many of," said the lady Socks r Us delivery van
driver. "But I've also got for you two more consignments of Girls' School
uniform socks: black, for St Esmerelda's, and navy blue, for St Kate's. And
I've also got another thousand-pair consignment of the thin cotton yellow
ankle socks, that you CSOs wear."
CSO Karen said, "That's great, Stel. Because
Sock Boy can't keep up with demand - ha ha ha! As you can see, Stel ...
you're just in time: The shelves are almost empty."
Ms Harriet Harmman said, "Stella, dear, would
it be too short notice, do you think, to have another, similar size order of
the long white sport and leisure socks delivered on Friday?"
"No problem at all, Ms Harmman!" replied the
attractive lady Socks r Us delivery van driver brightly - so brightly, in
fact, it made me wonder if Stella was getting a sales commission.
"Ah, good, Stella," said Ms Harmman. "Because
I think we'll be needing them. With the commencement, this coming Saturday
of our new Saturday-opening hours, the Sock Room is sure to be extra busy."
"Um ... I can see double-oh-seven's busy,"
said Stella, watching her 'little helper' massaging the reclining Norma
Newlove's right foot.
Mrs Newlove said, "Oh, that's okay, Stella.
I'm finished, with Community servant David double-oh-seven ... For now."
CSO Linda said, "Stel, while double-oh-seven
unloads your van for you, are you coming for a coffee with Karen and me, as
usual, down in the office?"
"Yeah, if that's okay. I'd love a coffee,"
said Stella. "Thanks, Lindz."
"Double-oh-seven," said CSO Linda brusquely.
"You know the routine: Unload the van for Stella - and be quick about it."
"Yes, Miss Linda," I said respectfully.
CSO Linda went on, "When you've done that,
you know what to do: stock up the shelves, making sure you put each of the
different types of socks on their own, designated shelves. But first - and
you can consider this another little job for you, from now on: remove the
socks' Cellophane wrapping or cardboard packaging, yourself, to save the
ladies from being inconvenienced in future."
"Yes, Miss Linda," I said respectfully.
"We'll probably be back up here, by the time
you've done all of that. But if we're not, just get back to work. And,
unless you want to work under my and CSO Karen's supervision on Sundays,
too, as well as Saturdays, for no further remuneration, you'll need to work
on reducing your backlog."
"Yes, Miss Linda," I said respectfully.
"I'll make sure he does, CSO Linda!" piped up
Was there ever, a bigger 'joke'? I wondered
In the palm of her hand, Stella held out to
me the keys to her Mercedes Sprinter delivery van.
And, addressing me with the brusque,
authoritative tone, that, living under the female-friendly rule of the
Authoritarian Female Party, seemed to come to females so easily now, Stella
said, "Here, double-oh-seven. Everything in the van is for Canford Sock
Room. So you'll unload the van quicker by using the sliding side door,
rather than the back doors."
"Yes, Miss Stella," I said respectfully.
The female Socks r Us delivery van driver
went on, "After you've unloaded the van, sweep out any bits of sock lint and
whatever. And then run a quick, just damp, mop over the floor for me. When
you've done that, make sure you lock up the van afterwards."
"Yes, Miss Stella," I said respectfully.
"And when I come back up here after I've had
my coffee, I'll change my socks," Stella told me. "Another pair of dirty
socks for you to hand-wash, double-oh-seven."
Stella wasn't from Canford. She was from
Heeling was the nearby, south London town
where the previously thriving - but, since the AFP's introduction of Sock
Rooms nationwide, absolutely booming - Socks r Us company headquarters were
based. It was also the site, of their main sock-production factory.
So, by rights, that was where Stella should
be changing her dirty socks: in Heeling.
I was quite happy, to unload Stella's
delivery van for her. I had no problem with that.
And I didn't really, mind, her
authoritative-toned instruction to sweep her van out, afterwards. Or even
find objectionable, her further, bossy command to run "a quick, just damp,
mop over the floor".
But, why should I, have to hand-wash Stella's
dirty socks? I thought resentfully.
Why should I, have to do the Heeling Sock
Room community servant's work for him? I had enough on my plate ... But I
wasn't about to put that point to Stella.
And why? Because I was a community servant,
with no rights. While Stella was a female citizen, with every right.
Stella was free to change her dirty socks, in
any Sock Room in the land - including Canford's.
Yes, Miss Stella," I said respectfully.
Ms Harriet Harmman said, "Well, CSOs Karen
and Linda ... I'll leave things in your more than capable hands, then."
"Yes, Ma'am," said my two Sock Room
Ms Harmman said, "I'll have to get back to
the Centre ... I'll need to see about getting some posters and notices
printed and posted. And I'll have to book some announcement slots on local
radio and TV, to let the females of Canford know that from now on their Sock
Room will be open on Saturdays."
"Yes, Ma'am," said CSO Linda. "I'll put a
couple of notices up here too, in the Sock Room. And then news of our
Saturday-opening will soon get around by word of mouth, too. Because good
news travels fast."
"Yes, it does. Good idea, CSO Linda," said Ms
Harmman approvingly. "Good work, officers."
CSO Karen said, "Thank you, Ma'am. And thank
you again, Ma'am. For the Saturday overtime."
"Oh, not at all, CSO Karen. Not at all. You
and CSO Linda are most welcome. And, for as long as you want the overtime,
you can always count on me to be able to find you, some sort, of community
servant supervisory assignments."
"Thank you, Ma'am," said CSOs Karen and
Ms Harmman said, "I'll let you know when I've
got the posters. So that you can send Community servant David
double-oh-seven over to the Centre for one. He can put it up in the Sock
"Yes, Ma'am," said CSOs Karen and Linda.
"And Stella, dear," said the local
Authoritarian Female Party representative and MP for Canford, "I'll confirm
with Socks r Us, over the phone, that other big order for the long white
sport and leisure socks."
"Thank you, Ms Harmman," said Stella. "And
I'm sure that supplying the socks to you on Friday won't be a problem: If we
have to, we'll just put in a request to the Heeling Community Service
"Of course," said Ms Harriet Harmman.
Stella went on, "The Liaison Officer, Ms
Jordon, will have some community servants drafted in; some extra, menial
labour, supplied to us at no cost. Ms Jordon will assign them to us for the
duration of our temporary emergency, to help us out on the factory floor and
in the warehouse with production and packing. Some, of the community
servants, will be assigned to work night-shift, and work solely on
"Excellent, Stella!" said Ms Harmman. "My
mind is at rest: Ms Jordon will certainly make things happen - the community
servants won't know what's hit them!"
And then, with a final wave goodbye the local
Authoritarian Female Party representative and MP for Canford was bustling
out through the Sock Room's double doors, on her way back to the Community
Service Liaison Centre, to phone the printers, the local radio and TV
stations, and ... Socks r Us.
Stella now followed CSOs Karen and Linda down
the six wooden steps, on their way to the office.
And, staring at the authoritarian threesome's
retreating, going-for-coffee backs, my simmering resentment bubbled over and
got the better of me.
"Enjoy your coffee ... Miss Stella," I said.
And even before the words were half-way out
of my mouth, I was thinking: Why, oh why, can't you just keep it zipped?
With a squeak of her rubber-soled white
trainers, the attractive lady Socks r Us delivery van driver spun around on
her heels. Stella's dark brown eyes were glinting ominously; the threat of
"If it wasn't, that I'd rather have you
unloading my van for me, and then sweeping it out and mopping it clean,"
Stella told me, "I would take up CSOs Karen and Linda, on their offer, to
let me make you sniff my stinky socked feet - while I used you as my
"I'm sorry, Miss Stella. Very sorry," I
But it was no use: I knew the damage was
"Miss Stella. I didn't mean, to-"
Interrupting me, CSO Linda said, "When we
return from our coffee-break, double-oh-seven, prepare to receive the
Standard Six. Administered, to your bared bottom, by Stella."
"Ha ha ha ha!" laughed my across the road
neighbour from hell Norma Newlove delightedly.
"Well, double-oh-seven ...?" said CSO Linda
"Yes, Miss Linda," I said respectfully,
realising I'd not responded promptly, as expected.
"You just never learn, do you - Community
servant David double-oh-seven?" said Norma gloatingly. "You are going to be
caned - at the foot of my recliner!"
Once again, Norma Newlove raised her right
foot from out of my still pampering, reverent hands. Goadingly, she again
wiggled her toes at me, in a taunting gesture of gleeful triumph.
Norma Newlove was happy. Blissful. Ecstatic.
While my emotions, were the exact opposites.
With the laughs, jeers and catcalls of the
Sock Room attending females ringing in my ears, I went outside.
At the kerb, where she had parked it, was
Stella's delivery van.
As instructed by the attractive lady Socks r
Us delivery driver, I unlocked and opened the sliding side door of her
white-painted Mercedes Sprinter van ... and I got busy.
And the only thing that was keeping me going;
all that was holding up my morale, as I unloaded, swept, and mopped Stella's
van for her, while she drank coffee with CSOs Karen and Linda, was the
thought of seeing Tina - the heaven, of Burger Heaven - just as soon as I
got out of the Sock Room.
Community Service continues, in Ch. 9.