The story so far
Veronica Harmsworth had answered a tempting advertisement and accepted the eccentric Andrew Vane-Clatworthy’s offer of one million pounds in return for the performance of certain services to be rendered on a Wednesday in April. She had already found that great embarrassment was in store for her before she could finally grasp the coveted cheque in her hot and sweaty hand.
She had endured a highly humiliating ride on a 168 bus, being obliged to sit in a prominent position with her luscious and lovely legs exposed for all to see from the tip of her brightly painted toes right up to her shapely hips. A lewd and unpleasant man had sat next to her and fondled her. Another man had almost started a fight over her. Truly, her cup of embarrassment was full to the brim and running over today!
At Waterloo, the two large men had disembarked and Veronica prepared to enjoy the short remainder of her journey in relative peace. Most other passengers had left the vehicle by now and only two remained - a pair of elderly Japanese tourists who very politely refrained from looking in her direction. One stop before journey‘s end, this couple rose to get off. The lady nimbly ran up to Veronica and smilingly took an envelope out of her bag and handed it to her, bowing gravely and with extreme politeness. She rejoined her husband and both departed, leaving Veronica as the sole remaining passenger.
Before she herself had to disembark she opened the envelope and took out the enclosure. It read simply, "Remove your remaining shoe and carry it to Conti’s Café in Borough High Street. You will order a cup of tea and a cheese sandwich and await further instructions. I hope you are enjoying your day!" ‘Oh - very bloody funny,’ she thought with unaccustomed savagery!
It was great relief, though, that she read this latest instruction! Any more hobbling around as she had on her way to the George would have effectively finished her! The feel of the dirty pavement under her feet did not please her, but she soon realised that a childhood spent barefoot had been excellent preparation for her walk this morning and she soon found herself walking briskly and enjoyably. After a while she even began to hum to herself. The day was bright and sunny for the present, but a chill easterly wind was blowing and her skirt continued to misbehave to her continuing though increasingly resigned displeasure.
It was about twenty minutes before noon when she got to the café and by this time she felt in dire need of refreshment and something to eat. Although this place would doubtless be very busy before too long, it was still reasonably quiet. She drew her newspaper out of her bag and tried to make a start on the crossword. The coffee arrived after a couple of minutes and she nibbled away and sipped, trying to make sense out of the cryptic clues. Today was obviously not a good one for her brain and she made slow progress.
After twenty minutes she began to wonder if she had perhaps mistaken the name of the café and looked again at the letter. NO. No mistake, but this was a long wait!
Just as she was beginning to think something had gone terribly wrong with the old man’s arrangements, a disheveled man staggered into the café and came over to her, with the manager hot on his heels, obviously anxious to eject him. Before he could be cast back out into the increasingly busy street, he dropped a greasy and crumpled envelope on the table before her. No sooner had he discharged his obligation to the ancient financier, than he was very forcibly ejected.
Veronica felt a pang of pity for him and went to the door to see if she could thank him and maybe offer some help, as he looked to be one of life’s unfortunates in a big way. She just had time to see him walk briskly over the road and get into a very smart car, which promptly drove away - another put up job! She went back to her table and opened the envelope.
"Dear Veronica (I hope I can presume to this familiarity?)
"Would you please be so good as to finish your no doubt welcome meal and refreshing cup of strong tea. After you have done so I wonder if you would like to walk over London Bridge and make your barefoot and I feel sure charming way to The Lamb Tavern in Leadenhall Market. Order a large brandy and go and sit upstairs. Please do not fail to pass a friendly word or two with the good lady behind the bar! Before paying your bill and leaving this café, do be sure to toss your remaining shoe casually over the counter, taking care not to hurry out, but walk away slowly and with great dignity.
At least she wouldn’t have to cart that horrible shoe around with her any more. Good riddance to it!
She did as directed tossing it with casual nonchalance over the counter, to the amazement of the Italian owner/manager. The clatter as it fell noisily on the floor made her wish to run out as fast as her long supple legs and bare feet could carry her, but she recalled the injunction to move slowly and with dignity.
Outside in the street, she turned right and made her way North over the River Thames. The icy wind was blowing straight upriver and seemed determined to blow right up between her legs, freezing her to the marrow as well as blowing the doubly split skirt in all directions at once, flapping noisily away like the Union Jack on her office flagstaff. A policeman passed her, going in the opposite direction. She felt sure he was about to arrest her for indecency, but he continued on his majestic and impassive way, without so much as a sideways glance at the goodly expanse of female flesh that was causing so many others to turn their heads in sheer amazement.
Once over the bridge, the wind abated a little, but it was still strong enough to raise a myriad of goose pimples and kept lifting her skirt to sometimes almost eye level. She prayed that none of her colleagues or business acquaintances would see her. If they did she was sure she would die from very shame!
She turned off Gracechurch Street into Leadenhall Market and soon found the Lamb Tavern. It was not one of her favourite watering holes, being too far away from her place of work. She had been there a few times and had always liked the place as well as the small Victorian market with its fish and poultry shops, now sadly being replaced by boutiques and Coffee houses.
The Lamb was not too crowded and for a change she had time to look at a photograph on the wall behind the bar. It was a picture of the late John Wayne, standing beside what appeared to be the staff in the same bar that she was in.
"I didn’t know he was ever here," she exclaimed to the barmaid. "When was that?"
"Oh, yes! He was in a film called "Brannigan." It was about an American cop who pursued a killer over here. There was a scene filmed in here."
"Yes, I remember now," said Veronica. Silly of me not to recognise this place in it! Wasn’t there a fight scene in which the place was smashed to bits?"
The lady laughed and said that that particular scene had been filmed in the studio using a mock up - not the pub!
Having thus obeyed her benefactor by chatting to the bar lady, she walked up the spiral iron staircase to the upper floor and sat down. She sipped her brandy and soon began to feel the effects. As I have mentioned Veronica was not really a dedicated drinker, being in the habit of making a very small drink go a very long way. Those readers who do not know what I mean when I say that the effects of a strong drink on those unused to spirits can be profound and mood changing, had better try it out for themselves. I have neither the time nor the inclination to waste on giving a description myself.
Suffice it to say that a degree of mellowness began imperceptibly to steal over her. She relaxed and stretched out her long legs, crossing her ankles and sighing with more content than she had felt thus far all day. She took another and longer sip, coughing slightly and feeling warmth and complacent contentment permeate her entire being.
"I wonder what comes next?" she thought.
The lunch hour time was well advanced by now and the bar was beginning to fill with the usual mixture of sober suited City men and women. The women were all smartly and decorously dressed, in stark contrast to the brazenly and scantily attired Veronica with her striped sleeveless blouse, bare abdomen, voluptuous cleavage and scarlet slit skirt. Many glances were directed in her direction. Thank Heaven none of the other drinkers were people she knew!
With the fumes of her brandy doing their relaxing work, Veronica had failed to notice how the skirt was slipping off her legs, revealing again that wealth of milk white skin that had so enlivened the journey of dozens of passengers on the 168 bus earlier that day.
"Is there anybody sitting here?" Veronica glanced up sharply, her euphoria temporarily dissipated. A tall young man, not quite so smartly dressed as most of the other customers, was standing over her, a glass in his hand and smiling politely.
"No. I’m alone, do sit down."
The man did as invited and proceeded to take some papers out of his attaché case. Soon he was immersed in them and seemingly oblivious to the cleavage opposite him at eye level and the length of bare leg and bare feet stretched out below him. Veronica returned to her contemplation of the immediate future. She saw that her glass was nearly empty and downed the last of the brandy with some regret that there was no more left. That drink had been just what her shattered nerves had needed!
No sooner had she put the glass back on the table than the young man raised his eyes from his papers and fixed her with a blue eyed gaze of startling directness.
"Can I get you another? I’m about empty myself" he pointed to his own glass. "What would you like?"
"Oh. It’s very nice of you! I don’t know if I should have another. I’m not exactly my own boss today, I’m afraid."
"I’m sure Andrew would love you to have another, my dear. Brandy, wasn’t it?"
"Andrew" asked Veronica waveringly.
"Yes. That’s right! Andrew Vane-Clatworthy. My boss. Asked me to keep an eye on you for a minute or two. Can’t have an attractive young thing like you drinking alone, can we?"
The young man disappeared back downstairs and was soon back with a pint of Special Bitter for himself and a large brandy for her. A VERY large brandy for her! She stared at her refilled glass with no little concern. Whatever she was still to be asked to do later on, she hoped that a visit to a swimming pool would not be on the itinerary. She knew it was unwise to swim whilst under the influence. But what was the swimwear in aid of, she wondered anxiously?
The man introduced himself as Douglass MacTavish of That Ilk. "Call me Douglass." he told her with grand condescension.
"What does ‘That Ilk‘ mean, Douglass?" she asked. She had often wondered.
"Oh! It just means that I take my name from a place called MacTavish. The MacTavish of MacTavish - that’s yours truly. I like the skirt, by the way. But then - I would, since it was I who chose it, along with the rest of your outfit!"
She spluttered at this, being in the process of taking a rather large sip at the time. The young man was by her side in a trice, ready to administer help if she seemed in danger of choking, but she soon recovered, thanking him for his concern.
As soon as she had cleared her throat, she gasped croakily. "I can’t say I think a lot of your taste in clothes - or women, come to that if you go for the sort of girl who wears this kind of thing!"
Douglass laughed heartily at this, his ruddy face a picture of honest mirth.
"I can’t say exactly what sort of girl I ‘go for’ as you put it! I suppose that outfit is a bit revealing, but that was what I was instructed to get you. I think it suits you - seriously I do! You repress yourself the way you dress, both for work and leisure! Don‘t you feel just a little bit more alive today, even after the first stages of your ordeal? Come on! Admit it - this is fun in a way as well as bloody embarrassing - right?"
Veronica blushed half in anger and half because she knew there was a germ of truth in what the man had just said. Yes! It was a revelation to her to see what she was capable of doing. The power of greed!
Douglass continued. "I hope you get a bit of sun on those legs this summer! They’d look great with a rich deep tan. I bet you had one all the year round when you lived near Jo’burg as a girl. What happened to you when you came to England to change you? Mind you - I quite like your skin as it is today, especially after all that fresh air it’s had blowing over it! Very tasteful!"
She ignored all this and asked. "How much worse does it get today, Douglass? I suppose I get to display this excuse for a swimsuit at some stage of the proceedings?"
He laughed again - even more merrily this time.
"Indeed you do, my dear. Indeed you do!" After getting these words out, his amusement became so intense that he was bereft of speech for some minutes. Finally he recovered; his healthy young face redder than ever.
"Yes, my dear, strait-laced and conventional Veronica. You get to display that creation soon. Very soon!"
Veronica had been enjoying her chat with Douglass until his mention of the swimming gear and its coming revelation to a watching world. It was a cold day outside, something which the warmth of the Lamb Tavern had almost, but not quite, caused her to forget. This chat with another, and friendly, human being was a welcome change from her day thus far.
As I have said earlier, Veronica was not one to display her charms too blatantly and openly. She would dress decorously even in the summer, never exposing much of herself. Even in her work-outs and jogging sessions she would wear all-enveloping Lycra exercise wear. Only at the swimming pool would she let her bare arms and legs be seen, and then she was mostly under water.
She would never shower with the other girls and women, preferring to go home and do this in privacy. Ever since the fifteen year old Veronica had come to England to complete her education, she had been becoming more and more prudish. What had happened to her today would obviously have embarrassed most women but, for Veronica, it is difficult to exaggerate the awfulness of her mortification and shame.
That was why the conversation with this tall and very aristocratic gentleman with his artless knack of putting people at their ease had been such a welcome relief to the ultra-embarrassed girl. Then he had told her she was soon to display her swimwear to a watching and wondering world and had collapsed into paroxysms of helplessly abandoned mirth.
Finally he recovered and wiped the tears away from his eyes, apologising for any distress he might have caused. He turned the conversation deftly to other matters. He was obviously highly knowledgeable about current financial and business trends and events, including the downturn of business in Veronica’s own chosen field. He sympathised with her discontent and unease at her immediate job prospects.
Then he switched to the subject of the theatre and asked what shows she had seen lately. When he heard that she had not been to the West End in years he slapped her playfully on the hand. "Well - we must surely do something about that! All that wealth of the world’s finest talent to be seen day by day and you stick at home or in the pub! Shame on you, my girl! I’ll be in touch after today is over! We must go to a few shows together - if you like?"
Veronica said she would very much like and the chat paused for a few minutes as both enjoyed a spell of convivial silence. Then Douglass looked at his watch and whistled.
"Wow! Time certainly goes fast when you’re enjoying yourself! Time for you to get your next instructions. Here you are. I’ll wait while you read them and then be getting along."
He produced one of the by now familiar envelopes from his brief case and passed it to her with a friendly and sympathetic smile. She opened it and read the following:-
"After your revivifying drink and no doubt pleasant conversation with the excellent MacTavish ( a very able and delightful gentleman, as you no doubt realise by now), I fear that the time has now come for you to venture forth and present that fair and beauteous body anew to the rude gaze of the wondering and delighted hoi polloi. How sad that the weather on this, your great day of destiny, has proved to be less than ideal for the exposure of that tender flesh to the elements!
"Would you please be so kind as to go to the Ladies and restore the ravages which time and several cups of tea and coffee etc. have done to your make - up - and at the same time, remove your blouse. As you make your stately and dignified way down the stairs and leave this most excellent of establishments, you will hand the discarded garment, with a warm smile and friendly word or two, to whatever smartly dressed City Gent is standing nearest the door. Leave the Market and walk north up Gracechurch Street and along Bishopsgate. Do not hurry. Further directions will be given to you, all in good time.
"Yours most sincerely
"PS I have hugely enjoyed watching the videotapes of your earlier adventures! You have shown great style and élan thus far. I really like the skirt - I expect you will miss it when the time comes for you to part company with it!"
Douglass was watching her as she read this, seeing with amusement her face lose its pallor and become redder with rage and shame. Finally she put the letter in her shoulder bag along with the others and went over to the Ladies. Douglass got up and bid her farewell for now. She hoped that she would see him again. He was just about the one and only decent thing that had happened to her all day!
Once inside the small ladies’ room she quickly complied with the first part of her new directions. As she leant across the washbasin she saw her breasts ripple and shimmer with the movement. She told herself by way of comfort that removing the blouse would not really expose a lot more of them. She had already shown far more of herself than ever in her young life before. It took only a few seconds to restore her make up. It certainly was eye-catching she thought again!
And then came the first difficult bit. Button by button she undid the blouse, until it hung down exposing the remainder of her stomach and chest to view. She looked at herself and quivered in horror. This was the City! The heart of the Nation’s financial and business life, a place with a thousand years of tradition! And she was about to parade half naked before a phalanx of respectable business men and women. Oh - the sheer awful shame of it all! And then the thought of the million pounds came to her rescue and her courage and resolve were restored.
It was only with an effort that she was able to make herself remove the blouse altogether. As she folded it up and prepared to leave after first relieving the strain on her bladder, she passed another and older woman on her way out. This good lady stared angrily at her. "I think you’re in the wrong pub, you tart! Try Browns in Shoreditch - you’d go down a treat there - bloody whore!"
Her face burning with shame at this, Veronica walked across the floor over to the staircase, watched by some approving men and disapproving women who were enjoying a lunch time drink or two. One couple was kissing each other with great enthusiasm, until the man espied Veronica and diverted his attention to her, to the fury of his lady companion. There was the sound of a face being loudly slapped and a chair being roughly pushed back, scraping over the floor; and the angry woman pushed past Veronica, giving her a look in which a venomous rage predominated and quickly left the pub. The poor young man looked about three times as embarrassed as even poor Veronica was feeling.
Before she went down the stairs she had time to hear a man’s voice call out to the young ex kisser, "Never mind, old chap! It’s worth a slap in the face to get a good look at that chick. By Jove, it is - glad my wife’s not around to cramp my style!"
"CHICK! So I’m a bloody chick, am I?" she thought as she began her slow and dramatic descent to the ground floor. "Never mind, it’s worth it if I get the million smackers tonight!"
By this time it was well past one o’clock and the lower floor bar was crowded with city workers all talking away nineteen to the dozen and raising Cain as is the way of things at these times. As Veronica’s perfectly formed and beautifully arched bare right foot with its scarlet painted toenails came into view, those drinkers nearest the staircase ceased talking and looked to see what female charms were to follow this wondrous extremity. Although our heroine was scrupulously adhering to the instruction to move slowly and with dignity, they did not have long to wait. With each downward step, the skirt parted to reveal those, by this time, much viewed thighs and calves with their well toned muscles and complete absence of that curse of the female sex, cellulite.
When the trim and equally well toned stomach, together with its sweet and utterly adorable navel, came into view, more and more people noticed her and the Babel of chatter began to fall away with an accelerating diminuendo until by the time the flawless breasts, looking as if they wanted nothing better than to burst out of their delicate lacy prison , the better to proclaim their glory in all their lovely entirety, were presented to the patrons’ astounded gaze, there was total silence for maybe the first lunch hour in the Lamb’s long and honourable history as a place of refreshment and brotherly conviviality.
When, finally, Veronica’s head with its marvelous covering of golden hair arrived to complete the picture there were one or two voices raised to break the silence, including one muttered exclamation from a man whom Veronica did not see or hear - fortunately for her peace of mind, such as it was by this time! "Bloody Hell! What DOES our Veronica think she’s playing at! So this is the important business that forces her to ask me for the day off! I‘d never have thought she had it in her! Maybe I won‘t sack her, after all! That‘s much too nice a sight not to have around the jolly old place!"
She was so utterly frozen inside herself by the horror of what she was doing that she almost forgot that she must hand her blouse to one of the customers, with a friendly word and smile. Just in time she remembered and looked at the group of men standing nearest the entrance. It did not take her long to make up her mind and she handed the red-striped monstrosity to the tallest of them. He was a man in his fifties, with wavy graying hair which made him look very distinguished, and one of those long Roman noses and jutting chins which she had always admired in men - almost an older version of Douglass, she thought.
"Hi there - lover boy! Like something to remember me by?" And, with these amazing and utterly uncharacteristic words, she thrust the blouse into his free hand, at the same time stepping on tiptoe and lightly kissing his cheek, leaving a trace of vermilion where her lips had briefly rested. She could see that the man was almost as embarrassed by this as was she! With a parting smile of incredible sweetness, she ruffled his hair in an affectionate manner and left.
"I never knew you had friends like that, Jim!" one of the red-faced man’s companions joked as the door swung to behind the departing Veronica.
"I don’t - worse luck!" replied the still blushing, but highly gratified Jim. "If only! I should be so lucky!"
His companions indicated their disbelief, calling him a sly old dog. Then they, in common with all the other drinkers, resumed their delightfully interrupted conversation.
Meanwhile Veronica was just emerging from the crowded market and walking, as enjoined by the maliciously humorous Vane-Clatworthy, along Gracechurch Street. She walked slowly as she had been directed, and began to feel colder and colder. She hadn’t found the sleeveless blouse, now being laughingly passed from hand to hand in the Lamb, much of a protection from the weather, but now that it was no longer enclosing her upper body, she realised that its loss had made a huge and very unwelcome difference to her state of bodily discomfort. If only she could hurry and generate a bit of heat!
She had not gone too far when what she had long dreaded happened.
"Are you alright, Miss?" The very tall policeman looked down from a great height, even at the tall and slender Veronica. He looked concerned.
"Oh, yes! Quite - thanks, Officer. Never felt better!"
"It’s not a warm day today, Miss. I thought maybe you were in some kind of trouble. And it’s not exactly the way people usually dress round this part of the City. Still - you’re not showing any vital parts and what you are showing is very nice to see, if you don‘t mind my saying so! Take care, now, and mind how you go!" The constable proceeded along his southward path and Veronica continued northwards, wondering when she was to receive her next instructions. She pressed slowly on, relieved that she had not been arrested on the spot. Thank heavens the wind was not whipping her skirt up into the air any more! She was not quite sure what the sight of her exposed butt cheeks would have done to this supremely tolerant officer of the law, and had no wish to find out!
The encounter had raised a flush in her face and caused a rush of blood to her body surface doing something to drive away the feeling of cold. Even so, she was completely covered in gooseflesh and as she stroked one arm with her other hand, the surface felt like sandpaper, so erect were all the little golden hairs which covered it.
Even though she was not walking very quickly, she could feel her breasts move up and down and imagined very vividly how they must be looking to passers-by. She was receiving many glances, some amused, some admiring and a very few disapproving. Bit by bit she was becoming aware that she had power to cause devastation in many a male breast! It was a good feeling in a way, but still insignificant when compared to her continuing shame, humiliation and embarrassment. "One million pounds, one million pounds, one million lovely pounds" she muttered under her breath.
As soon as she had passed the Broadgate office complex and Liverpool Street Station, the area became progressively and rapidly seedier and more run down. This was unfamiliar territory to her, quite unlike the smart offices and leafy suburbs that were her usual milieu. The reactions of the men she passed became increasingly more forthright and richer in good old Anglo-Saxon monosyllables than those of the more well bred City workers.
"Fuck me! Look at the arse on that!" cried one delighted horny handed son of toil, reminding the poor girl that the wind was blowing harder once again and doing its wicked work of revealing her handsome firmly rounded rear to the appreciative gaze of the London proletariat. Who dares to say that the workers of the world have no sense of beauty or ability to cherish and value the finer things of life?
Veronica’s journey through the capital had led her from Hampstead to Southwark and now, after a somewhat bibulous sojourn in the heart of the Square Mile, she was making her barefoot and ever more exposed way towards Shoreditch. Many complimentary, if somewhat earthy and obscene, comments had been passed in tones loud and clear enough for her ever burning ears to apprehend. It was nice to be approved of, she reflected, but the terms in which that approval was expressed left much to be desired!
Outside a shabby looking public house she saw a man standing and handing out notices to passers-by. As she drew level with him, this person drew an envelope form his pocket and handed it to her. Thank Heaven! She had been thinking she must have taken a wrong turning. By this time she was well and truly in the midst of a part of London she had rarely, if ever, seen before. Veronica, as she looked around her at the crumbling seediness of this blighted region, could well imagine how this kind of area had been the exclusive preserve of pimps and gangsters since time immemorial!
Thanking the man with her never failing courtesy and inbred politeness, she walked on, opening the envelope as she went. It read "My dear lovely Veronica! I do so hope you are enjoying today as much as I most certainly am! Will you please be so kind as to keep on your northward way until you come to that ever bustling and cosmopolitan area called Shoreditch. You will espy ahead of you, once you come upon Hackney Road, a pub which goes by the simple and honest name of "Browns". I would like you to make your sweet way into this unique establishment and buy a glass of cider shandy and a ham sandwich. (I feel that you may have already imbibed a little too freely of the more intoxicating beverages!) Do not feel obliged, on account of me, to comply with any unwelcome demands that might be made of you. If you wish to do so yourself, however, please feel free! You must be ready to move on after three hours rest and recreation in this place! Yours ever A V-Clatworthy."
Three hours. That would bring her up to just after five in the evening. She only hoped that the place in question would be not too noisy and ghastly. Young as she was, the exertions of the day had begun to take their toll on her and she would dearly like to rest and nap for a while. Her feet were beginning to feel very sore after their long walk and the effect of the cold wind against her skin had been severely to deplete her reserves of energy. Yes! She could certainly use a break right now!
And then the words, spat out with such venom, of the other woman in the ladies room, came back to her! What had she said? That’s right! "Try Browns in Shoreditch - you’d go down a treat there - bloody whore!"
Suddenly the thought of spending a few hours in this place seemed a little less attractive. It was obviously no place for a respectable lady. But! She had ceased to be a respectable lady, the moment she had agreed to this ever more shameful bargain. She had never seen Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, but, if she had, the moral would by no means have been lost upon her!
She had, however, shaken this infernally malicious ancient’s hand, and felt in consequence, that she was ineluctably obliged to see the thing through to the end. So on she went, her feet slapping onto the pavement as she picked up speed and sent the blood flowing through her veins to warm her chilled body just a little. Soon she was at the nineteen thirties building called "Browns".
She noticed that opposite the pub was a church. She saw something on the church notice board that greatly interested her. "THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS - A Series of Lent Lectures. Next Wednesday The Right Reverend Vernon Vane-Clatworthy will talk about "Avarice" at 3.30 pm All Welcome." She recalled that her benefactor's only surviving relative, a distant cousin, was a Bishop.
"Well, I don’t suppose I’D be all that welcome, not dressed like this!" thought a rueful Veronica. She remembered that she had always worn a hat in church in the past. Now she was scarcely decently covered at all! Shame overcame her once again and she hurried across the road to go into the pub and find out what new horrors were in store for her.
The moment she entered the place she realised that she was in the kind of den of iniquity that she had heard her male colleagues talk about from time to time.
The whole place was filled with a pulsating rhythm that hurt her ears. At one end of the room was a small stage upon which a lady even more scantily dressed than she was "dancing". It was a grossly suggestive dance that this woman was performing and it was clear from the glassy stares of the group of onlookers, that it was reaching a vital stage. Sure enough, within seconds of Veronica entering the place, the last remaining item of clothing, apart from a pair of plastic shiny thigh length boots, was whipped off exposing her shaven pubic mound to view. There was a ripple of applause from the watching throng.
The "lady" then approached the edge of the stage, squatting lewdly and gave the men in the front row an opportunity to view in clinical detail those parts referred to - in this case ironically! - as "Private." Veronica could not bear to look any longer as the woman gently massaged her slit with her right hand index finger that she then pressed against the lips of one of the onlookers, an elderly gentleman who obviously thought that Christmas had arrived over eight months early this year!
She walked over to the bar. As she did so another, only slightly less undressed female brushed against her and hissed menacingly in her ear. "You don’t work here. Trying to muscle in on our territory? Watch out for that pretty face, sister!"
Veronica smiled nervously and assured the young person that she was merely a customer, come to buy a drink and a sandwich. This only half convinced her interlocutor, who slid away muttering threats under her breath.
The barmaid stared at her in disbelief. "You sure you’re a customer, dear? You look like you want a job here, the way you’re dressed!"
"Yes. A cider shandy, please and a couple of ham sandwiches."
She looked around for somewhere to sit, preferably as far away from the loathsome spectacle being enacted on stage as possible. As she stood waiting for her food and drink to arrive, she felt a hand lightly placed for an instant on her shoulder.
"Hello, again. Having an interesting day?" spoke a cultured and very pleasant voice. She looked round and was astonished to see the black stud from the 168 bus earlier in the day! He was still wearing his spotless white vest and he still looked a dream with his splendid muscles and trim athletic body. She felt herself give a little at the knees, although, frankly, he wasn’t really her type!
"Oh. Hello. I wish I could say it was nice to see you again. As it is, in answer to your behaviour earlier on - take that!" and she slapped his face - hard. The man made no move to retaliate and apologised to her for the way he had so horribly fondled her thigh earlier on.
"I was just obeying instructions - as was my partner. Don’t think I enjoyed what I was doing. I’m not really much of a ladies man, if you get my drift. Not my scene at all, ducky!"
"You mean, you’re..."
"That’s correct my dear! I’m as queer as the proverbial three dollar bill! That makes me an ideal guy to employ around here as a bouncer and general minder of the girls. I‘m not likely to try to handle the merchandise!"
"And the other fellow - the one who pretended to challenge you to a fight. Him too?"
"Indeed he is. He’s called Jerry and he really does talk in that awful coarse Cockney way. Such a rough man - but I do like him! And he gets pretty rough with me on occasion, especially if I’m a naughty boy - but I love it really!"
As he said this, Veronica saw more and more clearly the effeminacy of the man and she felt deep sorrow at such a waste of two such splendid guys as these well built macho looking fellows. ‘Hells bells,’ she thought, ‘it’s not as if you come across magnificent specimens like this every day, and when you do they’re a couple of fairies!’ She refrained from saying so, however, owing both to her own ingrained politeness and the fashionable politically correct liberal views picked up over the years by keeping bad company in trendy Hampstead.
The man, who had meanwhile introduced himself as Reginald, escorted her over to a table set in a bit of a recess. She thanked him and asked if he would care to join her for a few minutes. He might be gay, but his muscles were still great to look at!
"Where did you go to school Reginald?" she asked. "And I’m sorry I slapped you! It was just so frustrating this morning not being allowed to do anything about it. Actually, in a way I quite liked it, even if you didn’t!"
"I should hope you did! And my school was Winchester, followed by Balliol. I think I may be a bit of a disappointment to my dear old Ma and Pa to say nothing of the jolly old Alma Mater! A man with a First in Classics working as a bouncer in a far from elite establishment such as this! To say nothing of my sexual orientation being the worst crime in the book as far as my family is concerned! But - we‘re none of us perfect, are we?"
"But - don’t you have any ambition?" asked a surprised and very interested Veronica, forgetting for a while, her own semi nudity and the sleazy surroundings she was in.
"I can read Plato, Homer, Euripides and Sophocles in the original - to say nothing of Virgil, Cicero, Tacitus & Co. Can you claim as much?"
"No" She felt a little ashamed of herself for her materialism. Her University education had been strictly career oriented and she had never had much time for art or literature. She loved music, but had sadly neglected even that interest, having a promising soprano voice which she had failed to develop despite the high hopes that had once been held for her. Maybe money isn’t everything, she half thought. Still - with one million pounds in the bank she would be able to broaden her interests a bit in the months and years ahead.
"I bet you were a Rugby Blue" she said looking again at his incredible physique with an aching sorrow that no woman was ever to enjoy that wonderful body!
"Oh, yes! That and rowing and Cricket. Best fast bowler of my generation, although I say it myself. I wasn‘t such a bad boxer, either. Comes in handy here on occasion!"
She settled back in her seat and sighed once again. Such a terrible waste. The world was a funny place, so full of the most bitter irony!