Somehow, I can really empathise with the narrator of this one..

"I love deadlines.
I love the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by"
                  Douglas Adams

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Homework

The Bosslady was already there, perched on my desk when I opened the office door.

"8.37, John, that's going to cost you."

I groaned. Inwardly I thought, but evidently it leaked out.

"The office rule is 'At your desk by eight thirty' not 'Roll in whenever takes your fancy'. You should be here at least five minutes early so you can get settled in an ordered fashion. I'm going to book this as 15 minutes late.

The Clancy file is on your desk and I expect you to have finished the outstanding points by 10.30."

She stood up and swept out of the room and heard the click of her heels receding down the corridor.

I slumped in my chair and stared at the file in distaste. I am not one of life's systematically ordered persons and my new boss and her detailed monitoring was not to my liking at all. Alright, maybe productivity was a little up, but at what cost to my comfort and convenience?

Rousing myself from my dark thoughts I set to work on the file. There would be hell to pay if it wasn't completed as directed and I was in enough trouble already. Fortunately there was a lot less work left to do on it than either she or I had anticipated and I was able to polish it off quickly and then relax over a cup of coffee or two and the crossword in my morning paper.

At 10.25 I sauntered down smugly to her office and deposited the completed file. She was tapping away at her computer like a woman possessed and paused just long enough to point at another file ready for my collection. Looking over her shoulder I could see what looked like the report I had completed earlier in the week hurrying across the screen and I wondered how much it would have been tinkered about with before it was finally winging its way to a grateful client.

Her notes clipped to the front of the new file were a model of a clear summary of the matters requiring attention and I settled down to it assuming I'd be left in peace with it until lunch. My assumption was, however, flawed.

She erupted into my office about an hour later waving the Clancy file about. Unfortunately I was lounging in my chair chatting over my weekend plans on the phone and I failed to register her approach and adopt my keenly-getting-down-to-it masquerade. The sight of me lounging back in my chair with my feet on my desk did little quench her ire and she stood and stared at me in silence until I hung up. Or possibly the phone melted. I forget.

"I can see that I was mistaken over the time needed to complete this work. There was no more than an hour's work here. Why was it not completed sooner?"

I could hardly protest that there had been at least an hour and a quarter's work there, in the circumstances, so I adopted my innocent and confused look while rambling on about how she was perhaps underestimating the time I had to give to carefully considering...etc etc.

She cut me off by picking my discarded newspaper, folded neatly to show the crossword, out of the waste bin. Trapped! I knew there was no way I could ever convince her I'd completed it on the journey to the office.

"So, you can't even admit you've been skiving off in working hours. I ought to wash your mouth out with soap."

I stared open mouthed at the sheer effrontery of the idea.

"That's going to cost you 3 demerits, which, if my memory serves correctly bring you to a total of 11, so my office, 5.30."

My complaints that she was being unreasonable were brushed aside.

"In fact," she continued "since we have the matter of your late arrival this morning and that odd left over demerit we can clear everything up for the end of the week. I know you have to go out this evening and I don't want to be delayed either. I won't make you work the extra quarter of an hour before you come to see me after work.."

The illusion of her being a reasonable person was quickly shattered...

"..you can take it out of your lunch break instead. I'm a reasonable woman."

My snort of derision was unwise, but involuntary.

"And since you find it funny you can spend the other half hour of your lunch break writing out 'I must not do crosswords in the office'."

That I could not tolerate. "I'm not at damn school any more and I'm not spending my lunch break writing lines, get it?"

She leant forward on my desk, staring down at me and said, quite calmly, "I'M in charge of discipline in this office. Since I started organising thing around here productivity has gone up by nearly a third, and we know which side our bread's buttered, don't we? So either you go along with the way I run things or there's going to be one less person working around here. Get it?"

I sank back in my chair, scowling, outmanoeuvred by superior economic logic.

As she left my office she called out "And yes I do know how many lines you should be able to write in half an hour."

At 12.25 she reappeared in my office, walked straight around to my side of the desk and started to look through my notes and workings on the current file. I ground my teeth in irritation as she casually flipped through the papers, seeing how much progress I had made. "Have you finished that?" she said, jabbing a razor sharp polished fingernail at one of the items in her list of points on the front of the file.

"Of course I have," I grumbled, "I'd hardly be doing this bit if I hadn't done that, would I?"

"Well then for goodness sake tick it off on the list as you do it - get organised!"

She picked a pen from my desk and placed a bold tick against the completed item.

"I suppose if I do a nice little piece of work you'll stick a gold star on it for me, will you?" I snarled.

"On present performance we're never likely to find out, are we." She smiled sweetly back at me. "But if it would make you happy I'll get some in, just in case."

And with that she swept the papers off my desk and into the file cover - deftly arranging them into a neat and logical order at the same time, of course, and dropped a pad of plain lined paper down in their place. "It's now 12.30 so you can come and collect this file back at 1pm sharp and bring me your lines at the same time. What was it you had to write out?"

"I must not do crosswords in the office," I mumbled.

"Exactly." She turned on her heel and left.

At 1pm on the dot I turned up in her office and surrendered the pad with as much bad grace as I felt I could safely muster. She flipped over the pages, obviously totting up how many I'd managed, and then detached the pages from the pad.

"Not very neat, are they," she observed drily, as she ripped them up and dropped them in the wastebasket. She handed the morning's file back to me. "You have learned your lesson, I trust?"

I grunted something which might possibly have been capable of being construed as assent and turned to slouch back down to my office.

"Actually, I'll take that down for you, you go and get a comfort break and then you can get straight down to clearing this job up before the weekend. The client should be truly amazed if we come in ahead of schedule for once."

I couldn't think of a suitably cutting retort, so having been excused, I went. When I returned to my office the file was sitting waiting, but so was a coffee and sandwich, which I presume she had procured for me in lieu of my lunchbreak. I wondered if I should report her to the Health and Safety people. Or maybe I just counted as a dumb animal around here.

I ground on with the file through a long and tedious afternoon and was gratified to find that I had, indeed finished it by the time 5 O'clock came around. I though of everyone else in other offices streaming homewards heading for trains, or bars, after a long hard week, and started to visualise a long cool beer.

She swept into my office and took in at a glance the completed folder, everything neatly filed and, yes, the list ticked, with unnecessarily large and elaborate ticks. "You finished?" she queried, accusingly.

"I've only just this moment finished putting the file together," I protested - damn, damn, damn, why hadn't I left a few of the last papers out?

"Oh, very well," she said, disbelievingly, picking up the file. "It's not worth starting another job now, but you have plenty of time to do your timesheets for the week and next week's work plan, and you can bring them to me, at 5.30." She placed a heavy and meaningful emphasis on the time. As she disappeared through the door she called back "And make sure your office is tidy before you come down."

I looked around furiously for something to kick and made a mental note to acquire a cute furry toy. That would annoy her and there was nothing in the blasted rules about cruelty to fluffy bunnies!

5.30 arrived unnecessarily quickly and I proceeded reluctantly from my uncomfortably tidy office to her office, bearing gifts of timesheets and work plans. She was waiting.

I dropped my papers on her desk and she examined them critically, but without comment, before filing them neatly in the appropriate folders, in appropriate files which were returned to the appropriate places in the appropriate filing cabinets. She is a deeply anally retentive person, although it was unwise of me to mutter a comment to that effect.

"WHAT was that?" She impaled me with a hard stare. I mumbled something about how it had just struck me that, well.. you know.

"Mentioning your being struck, and that portion of the anatomy is not a very clever thing to do right now, is it?"

She reached into her desk drawer and took out an old wooden clothes brush - a solid, substantial sort brush. "So now we might as well attend to the business at hand." She stood up and tapped her hand menacingly with the brush. "Trousers down, please."

I hesitated. "Come on, you've made your point: let's just leave now, it's been a long week."

"Underpants as well, or do I have to come over there and undress you myself? Any more delay is going to cost you dearly."

I reluctantly unbuckled my belt and dropped my trousers and underwear. I was growing embarrassingly erect which I did my best to cover with hand and shirt tails as I shuffled over to her. "Put your hand hands on your head and look at me!" she snapped. She indicated my prominent area. "I've seen it all before, you know, so I don't know what you're acting so coy about." She sat down on a straight backed visitors chair and glared at me.

I flushed several shades deeper as I stood there, hand on my head like a naughty schoolboy, being lectured on my late arrivals and general lack of diligence in the office. She tapped the clothes brush between my legs, indicating that I should spread them more.

Her voice softened slightly, as she concluded "..your work is really very good, WHEN you concentrate on what you're doing and the clients are really please with it, WHEN you actually manage to complete it on time." But as her voice grew softer her hand took over the chastising role, slapping the hard wooden back of the brush on the inside of my thighs at each emphasis. It stung like fury and I winced involuntarily at each slap.

She continued. "Talent at what you do ISN'T enough. A successful business needs DISCIPLINE and ORGANISATION, and I'M here to PROVIDE them, do you UNDERSTAND?"

"Yes, Ma'am, yes Ma'am, I see that" I said in a slightly shaky voice. I would rather not have compounded my embarrassment by agreeing with her, but at least my interruption brought a respite from the stinging slaps on my legs.

"Very well, let's get this over with." She indicated her lap. "Come on get down here."

I draped myself over her lap and she pulled me in close, locking my outside leg with hers and pulling my right arm up into the small of my back, immobilising me. I could feel the sheer nylon of her tights sliding and scraping against my legs and the warmth of her body against me. I could also feel the cold wooden brush resting on my backside, sizing up its target.

She slapped brush down hard, expertly, releasing the solid weight of the wooden back as it struck, so that it bounced back freely with no sustained impact to numb the oval print of stinging fire it pealed out of my skin. I yelped like a child receiving an unexpected smack.

She spanked me excruciatingly slowly. I could feel my flesh squeezed under the impact, the stabbing stinging peak at which I jerked and struggled, and the long slow after fire burning away as she poised for the next strike. Each slap was an individual statement of reproach to my working habits, left to sink in before the next bullet point.

"Have I made my point yet?" she enquired after an overlaid blow had extract a particularly loud, sobbing yell from me.

"Oh God, yes, I've had enough, pleeease."

"Alright, let's finish up then." And with that she launched a fusillade of gold medal 200 spm productivity. I bucked and yelled and struggled to no avail in the ten second torrent. If there had been anyone in the adjacent rooms we'd have surely had the police there.

She eased me off her lap and as I stood there whooping and gasping to replace the breath expended on my futile yelling, she bent down and picked up the concertina of my trousers and underpants and slipped them back into their rightful locations.

"There now, I'm glad that's all over and you've learned your lesson," she sympathised, as I limped towards the door. "We can begin the weekend with this all behind us." She sniggered slightly at the joke and followed me out, switching off the light in her office. "Turn off the rest of the lights, would you."

She headed towards the stairs up out of the basement level offices. "I'll pop up and run you a hot bath, and I'll leave a drink beside it, you look as if you could do with one.

We're due at the Petersons eight for eight thirty, so we'll have to leave by about seven to get there."

I walked slowly down the corridor to switch off the lights: this was certainly not the outcome I'd anticipated when I gladly accepted my dear wife's offer to help me run my consultancy practice from home.....

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