But first, the working week rundown. If this leaves you, poor reader, feeling drained and like you’re trapped in a never-ending retelling of the same old dreary shite, then welcome to my world, I have succeeded. Also, sorry about that.
Monday. Day off! Woo! Blue skies and a clear diary! I spent it scrubbing down the Bossman’s flat, for he has been more than generous of late and deserves payback; alas, while my education tends to the eclectic and finely-honed, my skillset is skulking around the ‘menial labour and eighty words a minute’ mark.
There was a slight snag when I misheard who he said was coming round – I thought it was his mate who makes weapons for a living; alas, it turned out to be his newly-hired Minion, so technically a Colleague of mine. I was in daisy dukes and a croptop, with my hair in a bun, because the first rule of cleaning new pads is, Wear As Little As Possible (because you hose down afterwards better than clothes do). He looked rather delighted to meet me. Perhaps he is rather delighted to meet everyone. I hope.
Well, he was in full motorcycle clobber, so there. We had an animated discussion about potholes, despite my not having driven in half a lifetime. Check me out with the Schmoozing!
Tuesday: No work got done because the phone just would not quit. And I had two dozen messages from Monday alone. Chances of getting workload done before Hellday: fading rapidly. And while my Colleague of Cakes helped me out bigtime last week, she is not doing so this week, she tells me; which is (alas) within her rights. And fair enough, she has extra clinics this week. However. How come I still have responsibility for four people’s work, dammit? They promised me after my previous sick-leave for stress that things would change! The only thing that appears to have changed is I am now not allowed to take sick-leave for anything!
I suppose things did change, at that – here comes more work from the Rival Hospital on top of it all. And what with the blacksmithing and then the scrubbing an oven for an hour yesterday, my hands are like dinosaur claws.
I got horribly wankered on port to compensate, then took last week’s overtime as a lie-in. Woo, the boss will be happy I don’t have those unauthorised extra hours hanging around now! And at least Stupid Question Day is out of the way!
Wednesday. Against all odds, Wednesday was also Stupid Question Day.
Thursday: Having gotten nothing done at all for the last two days*, I panicked, ignored the phone and spent today putting in a workload so vast that even I am still astounded by it. Did I really just put in two and a half days’ work in a oner? I said to my Colleague of Cakes on the way out the door. I can barely walk and my hands feel like there are fire-ants in them!
*(Technically, answering the phone, giving out answers, finding out answers, typing up the question and then searching out and printing off a sheaf of last letters and results so that when Dr Anonymous is consulted, he doesn’t just scrawl, ‘I have no idea what you are talking about’ in the margin and that’s that for another week, finding casenotes, taking them round yourself, etc, etc, IS work. But not to the boss, you see. Only the number of tapes you have to type is Work!
Going through an inch-high stack of results and painstakingly noting down whether the patient is to have a further appointment, whether they have that further appointment, and whether someone promised they’d write to the GP about the result and not just scrawl ‘file’ in the margin is not work either; which is unfortunate, because it takes a whole afternoon a week. But some people don’t have to do it at all, because of the differential in treatment of different ailments. Guess what, I am not one of them.)
Friday: Apparently, I put in three days’ work in a oner. I found this out when the rest of my team came through in a body and said, we have been into the system to find your stats and this is they. Bow down in awe! I nearly said. Shut it you idiot, if anyone finds out you did this, you are dead meat and so is everyone else in the department, they said. And see that poor woman who was crying because the boss wants 25 letters a day minimum – and you just did thrice that? YOU WILL KILL HER!
So it turns out I am in the doghouse once again.
While I can totally see their point, it might be nice if I didn’t have to put in such a mighty effort just to keep up to date. I can also see the counterpoint that was raised, namely, if I wasn’t up to date, I might not have such a mighty workload. But. CANCER PATIENTS! You know damn well, if I let things slide, there will be something that speed would have made a difference to and then I WILL HAVE KILLED SOMEONE.
Well as far as I can see, I’m just screwed.
So it was nice to get out and get to Edinburgh to see the Bossman. Which I screwed up spectacularly by failing to mention I was on a bus, so he pegged it down the train station hours before I was due to arrive. He was very nice about it, despite having explicitly told me to give him plenty of notice because he was doing his legs, and having to dive straight out of the bath… before hanging around for hours. God, this week, I can get nothing right. We went to the pub to meet his best mate, and I told him the story of my Heroic Overdose of Work yesterday. You bloody idiot, if anyone finds out you did this, you are dead meat, he said. Then it turned out we were both intending to wear the same skirt on Saturday.
I can honestly say, this has never come up in a relationship before.
Well, I guess anyone who has waded through the preceding whine-fest ‘deserves’ to get to the punch-line; the Bossman was taking me to Torture Garden. I’m not really sure what its official description is, and I’ve never been before; however, it was billed to me as a massively expensive Three Levels of Dungeon, strict dress code, drinks served. Okay, ‘strict dress code’ apparently spanned ‘full ballgown’ through ‘elaborate fancy dress’ to ‘total nudity’ (which the Bossman was very keen I should pursue, but I told him to drop dead), so if anyone wants to stop reading now, feel free.
However, put it this way: I did my nails for the occasion. It has been nigh-on a decade since I did my nails, and it was even more hassle than I remember; rather like watching paint dry, except without being able to fidget either. There was the, But I was going to do my nails purple! and there was the, What do you mean you cannot recognise basecoat when you see it, and there was the, Jesus dude, you have a separate bag for the basecoats? I have like four colours my colleague gave me for Christmas!
But a lot of hints and tips later, I finally had shiny ends on my fingers. And at least we didn’t have matching suspenders, because I had left mine at home. How did I become this completely disorganised? I blame the workload.
So there I was, kitted out in shiny shiny PVC from toe to thigh and thigh to waist and a bit around the boob area, and while I was technically very covered up, it was not in the socially more accepted areas.
Now, I have been to a dungeon precisely once, in that pub where I was warned that the Rug Is Lava (well, the carpet is in an ‘old man’s pub’ and has not been cleaned in two full generations, so anything you drop can be considered destroyed) and it was all very low-key and friendly and full of people in very little clothing, discussing their allotments over pints and occasionally being spanked in the corner. (At that cover price, damn right I had a go). It was all very non-alarming once I got into it; although I was pushed out of the way in the queue for the bar by a gimp (a gimp! It’s like being savaged by a Hare Krishna!)
I wasn’t sure what to expect from something a bit more high octane, but I had dark suspicions that looking all subby might be a really bad plan. So I had gotten out all my darkest makeup and gone for the Supervamp! look. Alas, the makeup refused to cooperate, and the end result looked more demure than if I’d had my bare face on; and with a palette of black, blood red and royal purple, that was quite a feat.
If anyone tries to steal me, am I allowed to punch them? And will I instantly overbalance in these heels if I try?
And are we taking the bus, because this coat had one button that promptly fell off; but my only other option was a great big raincoat that, alas, would give entirely the right impression at the moment.
Woo, the Bossman is driving! Hurrah! Boo, he cannot drink! (Note to self: might be a good thing, would not do to be caned while being caned, as it were). We still had no end of trouble getting into the car without flashing the entire neighbourhood.
The first thing I noticed on arrival was that I was staggeringly under-dressed. And I don’t mean, I should have put more clothes on. Everyone there was wearing things so adventurous I had no idea many of them even existed. We looked like total weekend warriors. Well I did; the Bossman was at least in a leather corset. But we were waved in, and I was relieved to see it was permissible to drink pints here also. And my god, the costumes inside! There were several couples leading each other about on ropes; there was one ferociously attractive bloke in a gasmask which had actual electrical storm stuff going on in it, on a chain which his girlfriend had a very tight grip on the other end of. Good call, doll. There was a Roman Centurion, there was a rather far-out Captain Jack Sparrow who even did the walk, there were American cops, there were people wearing only tape over their nipples, and people not even wearing tape over their nipples, and ballgowns and Venetian masks and dreadlocks and fairy lights and pomanders and ohmygod I nearly died of Christmas.
Thisplaceisfuckingawesomelet’sgocheckoutthedungeonsbeforeitgetsbusy! I shouted at the Bossman, but I was told to finish my pint first. There is no hurry! he kept saying. Yeah, but we spent about three weeks in the cloakroom queue. Response: And we will have to wait three months to get our stuff if we wanted to leave any time soon!
Also, balls, once again, every bastard in here can dance better than I can, and by the time I’ve had enough to dare dance I won’t be able to in these heels and besides, it would be rude to my partner to get trollied when he can’t. So dancing is off the agenda. Phew.
It took forever to navigate around the place because around three hundred thousand people, mostly also in costumes you can’t move swiftly in, were also trying to get down the very narrow passages (god, I have sat for five minutes trying to think of a better way to put that) and it was single-file only, but eventually we had covered the whole area and found pretty much The Only Level of Dungeon. Which was roped off. And which consisted of one St Andrews Cross, one padded bench and one rail for tying people to, so I suppose that counts as three levels, if you count, ‘standing’, ‘lying down’ and ‘suspended’, but I was somewhat disappointed. It’s like being promised you’re going to a really cool playpark when you’re a kid and when you get there, there’s a swing, a seesaw and a slide. Ach, maybe there aren’t any other Things, who knows?
Maybe there was some other stuff, but we did hunt high and low. And then we came back and I had a shot on the St Andrew’s Cross. I was a bit worried about this, because the last time, nobody had been paying a blind bit of attention, but this time they might be, and they were all rather formidably dressed, and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing (although When Harry Met Sally impressions were right out). It was a bit like the difference between singstar in your mate’s livingroom and going on a Proper Talent Show.
Although I suppose I had nothing to worry about, because I just had to stand there and get chained up and the Bossman had to do all the work with the cat’o’ninetails and make it look good. (Oh come on, you saw this coming, right?) The cuffs were surprisingly generous, and I had to hang onto the chains just to stay in them, but apart from that, everything was great. And nobody seemed to be paying a blind bit of attention, woo!
Until we went back to the bar and the Bossman’s best mate was there, giving it, Cooee, I saw you guys and I was telling my friends, look, there are people using the dungeon, oh look I know them – come and say hi! Yeah, hi, people who have just seen my arse before being introduced to the rest of me. You couldn’t even be some of the nude people, oh no. Although nobody but me seemed the least perturbed, so there you go.
However, as the night went on, it was surprising how quickly you got used to being surrounded by people wearing very little, and mostly in outrageous colours, and only the occasional OHMYGODWHEREDIDYOUGETTHAT floated through my head. A knot of people in civvies would have looked distinctly unusual, in fact. And we caught some rather cool cabaret, including a guy in (practically) nothing but gold bodypaint, a turban and fake fruit, who gyrated and poured hot wax all over himself from gigantic candelabras to Indian-esque music and he was very good indeed.
What do you want to do next? said the Bossman. Back to the dungeon, these heels are totally killing me!
By this time, I realised why the dungeon was roped off – also, fair play, they had signs everywhere saying – I paraphrase – See if you grope or harass anyone, you are totally out on your arse and will NOT get a refund because you are RUDE, and also, if anyone gropes or harasses you, here is where to go and who to tell. There was a fairly large crowd of people watching now, and even joining in, and though it was obviously by consent, I was all murmuring in the ear, By the way, that is so not happening with us, alright. (Just to save embarrassment if someone’s all, ooh can I spank her!? and I’m all, DROP DEAD BITCH. I mean, No thankyou, thankyou for asking!)
There was a short, if very informal, queue, but a very charming wee blond guy helping organise everything and wearing nothing but an even coating of soot asked what we were after and promised he would get us a go as soon as he could; and fair play, he did. Do you need any help? he added, but I think I kinda growled, because he was very swift in saying, So anyway, extra toys over there, have a lovely time! and vanishing.
Whoops. But feh, I am not here to play with others. It’s taken overcoming a lifetime of bad (and entirely civvy) experiences to get this far, and I am soooo happy I can trust the Bossman not to take any liberties. And to lay it on thick around the shoulder-blades, where all the tension lives, when I ask him to, ohmygod yes, it is like a massage. Well, a really brutal massage. And most importantly of all, it was half an hour of not having to take any responsibility for anything at all, which is a really nice change because at the moment if feels like I have reponsibility for sodding everything 24/7 and yet absolutely no power over any of it.
And all credit, the Bossman says he has roughly as much experience as I do, but he didn’t get all macho about it and be all, Ima whip you till you BLEED! or anything, started off slow like I’d asked him to, didn’t pressure me to do anything I didn’t want to, didn’t try to embarrass me… full-on perfect gentleman! Although I realise it may seem a bit odd to some that I’m saying this about a guy in a corset and a miniskirt, wielding a whip, but there you go. After all, there’s plenty out there dress in socially acceptable ways, with socially acceptable hobbies, and just pour on the put-downs.
The only fly in my ointment was there was this lassie who was really staring at me the whole time. (Well, I expect she figured I would be okay with that, under the circumstances and all.) Since I wasn’t, being unused to all this, I tried to pretend she wasn’t there, mostly.
Well, that and I swear, that wee guy with the soot on totally ran away when I tried to be polite and thank him afterwards. Oops.
That was an awesome night out, but these heels hurt like hell, and it is one in the morning, and I am old.
Let us go home and do what happens naturally after one party has just taken cat’oninetails to the other! I said merrily.
So we went home and had a cup of tea.
But! Over the cup of tea, it occurred to me that if I manage to make a go of Surviving Without Sharing My Livingspace, I would have room for a very small dungeonette of my very own! And we looked at each other. We Could Make Our Own St Andrew’s Cross! we said. Woo! Joint carpentry project! I am finally living the dream! Now if that doesn’t drive a stake through our relationship (as it were) I will be impressed.