Wikipedia: Bulzip – mentioned in the Doomsday book as Bollstep, possibly after the low cliffs to the north which erode by regular strata to appear to be giant steps. Small natural harbour was used by Vikings during their incursions and then settled by them. Norman conquest came late because of the inaccessibility over the fells or along the rugged coast. Granite quarries supplied medium to poor quality roofing slates locally. Railway and the mine provided brief development from small rural settlement. See Castle Galshot, The Many-legged Fellman myth.
Heather sighed and looked in the mirror as she dressed. There were too many wobbly bits, she knew that. Her old dresses didn’t fit and she’d had to buy some in the next size up. She wasn’t unattractive, she was just unfit, overweight, and getting older. Looking round at her uninterested husband, getting ready for his part-time job as a trolley collector at the supermarket, she shrugged. What the fuck did it matter? She went to work.
The story went round the office faster than a re-tweet. The Axeman was coming to them! That could mean one of two things, neither were good. Downsizing or closure. The business had been a family concern until nine years ago. The Smythe family – grandpere - had started it as a market stall; his son had moved to a shop, then two, three and four shops, and finally a small manufactury; in turn the new son (only the one boy to inherit each time – that had helped) had taken the buisness national, sold off the factory and bought in from abroad, rationalised, harmonised, merged and then died at 85; much mourned by a company that revered his hands-on and interested approach. The children who inherited it sold it to a management buyout, who brought in venture capital, who sold the lot five years later to Impact Foresight, who started on a policy of maximising their investment – which as always meant chopping off bits until there was nothing worth keeping and then selling the rump. Business analysts probably would sell their own dicks as hidden assets (which in many cases of the overweight, overfed parasites, they were).
The Axeman was not in that mould; at least not the overweight part. Gareth Kilpatrick was 30-ish, handsome, always immaculately dressed, always polite, and always ruthless; hence his nickname in the company, he was a consultant from Brooks-Hymen-Dayglo and Partners (BHDP) and specialised in ‘business transformation’ which always meant slashing out the unprofitable and driving up directors’ bonuses. He was good at it.
He’d been a success at Smeckties where their three factories in Corby, Derby and Istanbul had been harmonised into one site in The Philippines. The factory workers had all been offered laughable transfer deals, including a ‘rice allowance’. They all left. The factory ran at 20% of the wage cost of the factories in the UK (and 40% of the cost in Istanbul), it produced the same products at 50% of the quality. Smeckties lost 15% market share, so on paper they came out ahead. They also went bust 3 years later, but of course that was nothing to do with shoddy goods, shoddy employment or poor investment.
At Impact Foresight Imacculate (the subsidiary they were in); he’d closed the Basingstoke office and transferred all the responsibilities to Woking. Only one job had transferred over – Suzy Q (her real name was lost in the mists of time, she’d turned up for work on day 1 dressed like Suzy Quattro on a bad day and the nickname stuck, she’d toned down her appearance since) – and what she had to do to keep her job was legendary. No, that wasn’t fair on Gareth, it was what she had offered to do, not what he had asked for. She had spent the night with him in his hotel, that much was known. And she kept her job, that was also known. It doesn’t take an A-level in maths to see how that adds up.
Southampton had been reduced to a third of its size with no loss of sales. You might say that shows he was good at his job, but then the number of senior managers never reduced even with the reduction in staff elsewhere; and the amount of time off for stress had increased, as had staff turnover. Experienced people moved to where they were appreciated, if they could; it was probably only a matter of time before the loss of experience showed through, but by then Gareth would have moved on. Some places didn’t have alternative employment of course.
Now he was coming to Bulzip. Bulzip had been a village of 200 or so people until 1825 when prestatine had been discovered there. Up to then the mineral had had to be imported at significant cost; essential as it was for an industrial process that was integral to the making of steam engine boiler pressure seals. Bulzip expanded, doubling or trebling in size every ten years until it was a burgeoning town of 20,000. All working in the mine or working in the ancillary industries essential for the mine, or the ancillary businesses essential to the ancillary industries. Bulzip Knee-Defenders was a case in point; using the local hard-wearing wool from Fell sheep, the knee defenders were essential to the miners in their narrow shafts, and then they became famous world-wide. Bulzip was on the up! Large Methodist churches (Weslyan Orthodox vied with Strict Methodist which competed with the ‘God is our Watchword and our Redeemer’ Primitive Methodist) overawed the old Anglican Parish church. And in 1905 the RCs came and stole a march on them all by building ‘Our Lady Star of the Valley’ on the hill just outside the town. Visible for miles it was; now it’s the Wetherspoons of course.
Bulzip had made it! Then came the discovery of the Frisch-Maxitoff process of creating compression joints and the need for prestatine was no more; though it took time since manufacturers were slow to change. The mine limped along for many years yet; a brief respite in WW1 as every ship of the Royal Navy needed their joints resealed for battle. Then diesel did for steam completely and the boom time was over. The ancillary industries survived for a while; but why buy Bulzip Knee-Defenders and ship them round the world if you could make your own? Why order a Bulzip Bicycle when Raleigh could have them made in China for less than a tenth of the cost of the hand-built, crafted perfection of the Bulzip Zippy?
The parish church continues of course, with its ever-dwindling congregation. The Methodists have put their differences aside and moved into the small old Baptist chapel. The three impressive Weslyan churches are now variously a carpet warehouse, derelict, and demolished (even though Edwin Lutyens said it had inspired him).
The downhill slide accelerated in the depression, was slowed in WWII when the harbour was used by three coastal patrol boats and a mine-sweeper (and eight fishing boats who made regular unofficial trips to Ireland for contraband – which the Navy personnel were not to proud to buy as well), then continued. By 1980 it was another post-industrial, unattractive town on the borders of the National Park.
2017 found Bulzip as a depressed urban area where the only coffee chain - Costa Coffee - had given up after three years; and the Penny Pound shop was the main employer on the high street. Woolworths had gone everywhere of course, but Marks and Spencer had shut in 2013, Bertram’s Hardware limped on because the farmers came in for their tools, Caesar’s Pizza Takeaway sold curry, chinese and kebabs – anything to stay above water. Outside the town the Tresco supermarket served all the food needs for the region so the butcher, the baker and the greengrocer all shut. In short, if the office shut, the only option was probably the static nylon tabard of one of the Penny Pound, Poundwish, FiftyPenceOrLess shops or one of the eight charity shops. Only Martha’s – the little cafe run by Martha’s granddaughter and decorated with Edwardian photos that showed when it opened – recalled happier days.
The irony was perhaps that the office was profitable, just. It serviced the whole area, north to Galshot, south and east to Turnmouth. The nearest alternative was two hours away. They weren’t ever going to make the company rich, but they were stable and moderately successful. Of course the problem with having no competition is that there is no competition to take custom from. The office was unlikely to increase its trade in the area. There was no expansion opportunity apparent. There is only so much people want (unless its Apple products, but that’s because Apple products are bought by empty headed god-awful shallow dunderheads).
Every woman – and it was an all woman office – considered their options. The younger ones thought they could try the Suzy Q option, but the brighter ones quickly realised that there would be competition here. One school leaver, four under twenty five year olds, three more under thirty. A quick check confirmed, they all looked good, slim, pretty. Yes, plenty of competition. Hell, even Mandy (thirty three, mother of two) looked hot! Only Angie (forty one), Susan (forty five) and Heather (admits to fifty) would probably be out of that race. And what if he took you up on it? The next office was hours away so they were unlikely to get a transfer. Downsizing? They were all realistic enough to see that was less likely, they hadn’t hit their sales targets since 1998. They were profitable but (from accounting terms) boring. So you could shag your tits off and still be out of work.
And yet ... and yet the possibility of sex preserving their jobs seemed the only possibility. Coffee discussion for the next week carefully hedged around the question; slowly, slowly getting closer to it.
“Did you see that film last year? Where that actress slept with the general to get her hubby off the front line?”
“Oh, you know, the one who was in the tv thing with Meryl Streep and Danny whats-is-name”
“No! You aren’t trying [laughter], no. You know, the Danny who was with the Terminator guy about them being twins”
and so on and so on.
“What do you think about what Suzy Q did? Was it, you know, fair?”
“Fair? What like you mean using her tits to keep her job”
“Not just her tits, you know she went all the way with this guy”
“Yeah, well, was that ... I don’t mean fair, I mean right. Was it right?”
“You mean if I had good legs and big tits and no morals would I sleep - “ “ - I doubt that sleep was in it - “ “- okay, would I bonk my way to keeping my job?”
“Bonk? Thats a word out of the eighties in’t it?”
“What would you say? Fuck?”
“Nah, bit crude, but yeah, would you?”
“Dunno ... maybe. I did wonder if...”
“What? You did think about it then?”
“I think we all did, don’t judge me!”
“Yeah, true. Nah, I wasn’t judging. I was just thinking” she giggled, “It’d be easier if he was gay”
“Easier in that we’d all be up sht creek” Susan couldn’t quite say the s****t word “Whereas I suppose you younger ones are contemplating the Suzy Q approach?”
Yes, they were getting closer.
He was due in a week’s time now, they still had no idea what to do. Heather ran the office in that she collected time sheets and sent them in once a week and gave out the wage slips that arrived every friday. That friday: “Girls, anyone fancy a drink?” Funny how women will call each other ‘girls’ even when they are well on the way to retirement; but if a man does it then its sexist. Bit like the N- word and who is allowed to use it. Language is just designed to trip up the unwary white male.
They went for a drink on Christmas Eve when the company let them close at 3pm, that was the extent of their socialising; but then this next could be the last week they were together. So the Spread Eagle found its empty Saloon Bar with its threadbare carpet and beautiful unimproved Victorian fireplace (with fire – the saloon would be busy later when the men came and played darts and their wives sat in the saloon with their Mackeson or sherry) suddenly populated.
“You old enough Mary?”
“She’s fine, she’ll be 18 in a few weeks”
“You know the condom machine in the toilets has been empty for ages?”
Sam, four months pregnant, patted herself “How do you think this happened? Think I’d voluntarily bring a sprog into this shithole?” She didn’t mind using the ‘s-word’.
They drank and smiled and talked about redundancy. Mary pointed out she’d get nothing because she was seventeen. Heather commiserated and explained that she’d get more because she was older, but it wouldn’t keep her hubby in ciggies for long. The prospects, they all agreed, were not bright.
A first round of drinks, bought by Heather, opened up discussion. The second, bought from a kitty because none of them could really afford to buy a round of twelve drinks, opened things up further. They kept coming back to ‘that bitch Suzy Q’, although really nobody blamed her. As someone said “You use the hand you’ve been dealt.” Clearly Suzy had been dealt something special. So if it was fair for ugly old men to marry attractive young totty then it was also fair for pretty young totty to use their looks to keep their jobs – however boring, pointless, banal and stupid it might be. That begged the question whether prostitution was acceptable and they went off on a diversion for a while; they slowly returned to the question in everyone’s mind, until one said “It should be all or nothing”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s here for 13 days”
“That’s twelve nights, and there’s twelve of us. All or nothing”
“Are you suggesting...”
“Yes, Suzy Q write large”
It doesn’t matter who said it, it was said. They all drank their drinks in silence and looked at each other, and drank again and...
“Okay, I’m in”
“I was joking”
Another girl joined in “Me too”
They all looked at each other, then down again, then looked up and a couple more smiled. Actually this was what Heather had thought could happen outside the office. In a neutral, non-threatening and slightly alcohol lubricated environment people were more willing to think outside the envelope – she smiled to herself at coming up with such a wanky phrase as ‘outside the envelope’. It turned out that the office administrator (she wasn’t called ‘manager’ because that would have meant more money) knew people better than her dowdy appearance suggested.
They talked more urgently now, they had to get the details sorted before the widows turned up. Three old women who always dressed in black. Actually only two were widows, and only one of them was a tragedy. Jim Bowen had just drunk himself to death (okay, so maybe that is a tragedy), Terry Smith had died in the mine collapse which sealed the west drift. Angela Carter had never been married but she dressed in black with the other two, looked like a witch and was a spiteful old crone like them. So she qualified, and they were grouped as ‘the widows’. They would arrive on a friday, play dominoes, listen to the wives talking and then spread malicious stories loosely based on what they had heard. But then all the rest of the town gleefully repeated the gossip, so who was at fault really?
Best to get this sorted before they turned up. Funny how old people can be totally deaf to ‘is it your round?’ but hear a whispered ‘and the baby isn’t his’ across the room.
And so the die was cast, a secret agreement. All would be involved, from seventeen year old Mary to fifty-something Heather. It had to be secret, for ever; there were plenty of boyfriends and husbands who felt emasculated (mostly unemployed or working part-time if they were lucky) enough already, without finding that the major bread winner in the family was giving her body away to try and keep her job. There were also a few who might get violent at the thought of ‘their woman’ having sex with someone else; violent with their partner or Gareth.
There were three Bed and Breakfast places, one pub with rooms and the TravelStay motel just out of the town on the same ‘industrial estate’ as Tresco. The industrial estate was called, rather pompously, “Mayor Bradock Estate’. It was named after the first mayor of Bulzip when it became a proper incorporated town in 1856. The estate had been a half-arsed attempt at regeneration, instead it housed a supermarket which closed the town centre shops, a motel which closed the Commercial Hotel (no loss really), a car repair business and briefly The Macadamia (a ‘nightclub’ which would be closed in 2015 for running prostitution rings). Still, it did mean that Gareth Kilpatrick could stay somewhere with double beds that hadn’t been new in the 19th century and never replaced since; motel was clean and new.
TravelStay (“Travel to us and you’ll want to Stay”) was clean. Corporate policy insisted that only paying guests were permitted in the rooms. Corporate policy had all sorts of rules that were ignored. Max Beerbohm had allowed Tracey – one of the out of work women since The Macademia had closed – to visit the three hikers in their three rooms only last week. He didn’t take a cut; he operated plausible deniability. The key-check on the door to the corridor was broken so he had no way to prevent visitors as far as he was concerned. The night manager who was on from 10pm to 8am was happy to sleep most of the time.
Mary walked down the corridor to room 117 (being an offshoot of American company it annoyingly called the ground floor the first floor, but what can you do?) and knocked. Gareth opened the door, he wasn’t even surprised, except perhaps that it was her. He stood back and let her in...
They had decided that the best approach would be to do it by age, youngest first. Only Marianne and Anri had had to toss for who went first since they had the same birthday. The (unspoken) thinking was that he might give in before the older members had to offer their bodies, since he might reject them anyway.
Mary had spent ages deciding what to wear. It wasn’t like she had drawers full of sexy underwear, but should she even wear any? After all her pants would be off pretty quick (she hoped, she wanted to get it over with). She finally went pink lace hipsters and a black bra. She didn’t think they needed to match. Gareth didn’t spend a lot of time admiring her clothes (as she’d expected), he had got used to this far more than the employees actually suspected. Suzy Q was the most obvious example, but he’d found he was in quite a lot of demand at several of the places he consulted. Basingstoke had offered much more than just a single female willing to lie back and let him have her, it was just that the others had been rejected as not quite the winners in the competition to fuck for a job.
Mary watched, almost an out of body experience, as he undressed her. She was down to her bra and pants and he then took off his clothes. He part laid, part pushed her onto the bed and didn’t even remove her panties, he simply pulled them to one side and fucked her. It was just sex, not ‘making love’, he was an animal really with animal emotions released by the power he possessed over these desperate women. That first time she hadn’t been ready; she gasped with the shock of being forced open. Later, when he had undressed her completely, sucked her nipples, and pushed her face down to suck his cock for a while, and then pulled her over and fucked her again; yes, later she was at least looser and readier to receive him. When he’d finished that second time he said she could go. She didn’t bother with her pants and bra, she just pulled on some clothes, left, went home and showered and douched thoroughly. She never cried, but she did lie in bed awake for the rest of the night wondering why she was so willing to give so much for such a crappy job. She knew then that if he ever told her to come again she’d kill him instead; but she never claimed rape or abuse, just put it down to experience; like when she gave her cherry to Billy Tone at the school dance. She’d never been sure she agreed, but she stood with her back against the toilet door while her fuck her standing, then she pulled up her pants and went back to the dance. It wasn’t a great introduction to the ‘act of love’. Like this latest event, it wasn’t anything like the soft focus delights she saw at the cinema in the local hall (the Regal having shut in 1967 and the Odeon in 1989). She began to look for ways to leave the dying town.
The next day Gareth started to collate material for his report; he acted as if nothing had happened.
That night Sarah arrived, he hadn’t been sure; would there be others or would the same girl, desperate for her pointless job in a pointless company return again and again to persuade him. In some ways he’d wished Mary had come back, she was young, and slim, and tight, and clearly unwilling. He liked that. Sarah was different. Not to be judgmental, but yes, Sarah was a slut. She lost her virginity at 13 to a boy who offered her a drink of his cider. By sixteen she had genuinely fucked the whole of the school rugby team (13, plus Tommy the reserve). She didn’t really like sex, but she did like to be liked and this was her sad and twisted way of trying to be liked. She lay on her back in Gareth’s room and let him fuck her three times, the last time he was barely able to make it. He never said one word of endearment, and she never said one word that suggested she liked it. She even kept her gum in her mouth.
Gareth started on the financial spreadsheets the following day.
Marianne wasn’t quite a virgin, none of them were, but she was pretty inexperienced. Her boyfriend was the same one she had at 15. He had little idea either. He’d fucked her every weekend since she was 17 and she’d never had an orgasm. Never. He left to join the army and gave her his laptop to look after. In his history she found his porn URLs, watched some of it; copied it and finally realised what she had been missing. When he came home on leave she tried to get him to pleasure her too, but he was just interested in her pleasuring him. He thought he was a hero though even in Iraq he had never seen anything more dangerous than a back-firing car. So she wasn’t surprised by Gareth’s selfish attitude to sex, just disappointed. She had hoped he might finally have been the one to give her a proper sexual climax. As she drove home she detoured to the layby out of town and frigged herself until she bled; then she cried. Then she drove home and swore off men for good. A year later, when she finally saved enough for her dream holiday in Cyprus, she met a drunken girl from Dagenham and had a night of such overwhelming, mind-blowing, intimate, messy, disgusting and enjoyable sex that she realised some of the things she’d been missing, and that ‘men’ was not one of those things.
Gareth spent the day looking at regional prospects, a trip to Galshot helped with perspective
When Anri turned up he began to the get the idea. Perhaps all these girls (he called them girls, not women) would accommodate his cock? She was willing, experienced and actually the first to properly enjoy it. Not that he gets credit for that. She had taken the trouble to use a vibrator for a while at home, and leave it in on the way to the motel. She nearly drove off the road when the battery operated ‘Manic Rabbit’ made her orgasm on Main Road. So she was wet and slippery inside, and she got him to enter her from behind. Whilst he was pumping up and down, she was stroking her clitoris from the front. She came roughly as he did and he thought he was God’s gift. She thanked him and left. Only one fuck that night, but he needed his rest.
A further trip out that day – this time the other way, to Turnmouth; now he had an idea of the whole sales area. He identified the prospects (small) and the downsides (large).
That girl who worked in the corner, who’s name was Manda or Amanda or Mandy or something. The girl that people always forgot to ask to parties, the girl that did her job, but no-one was quite sure what it was she did, the girl who had mousy blond hair (or was it mousy brown?). The girl who could disappear and no-one would be able to describe her. She was next. She’d kind of nodded when all the others agreed; Gareth had noticed her, that was his job after all. Noticed her and dismissed her. Now here she was, kneeling at his naked bollocks licking the salty sweat off them and making the noises that porn video girls make. Then lying on the bed and being pummelled by by sweaty body and shouting “Oh fuck yeah! Give it big to me you tiger!” If she orgasmed herself, he didn’t notice. He was too confused by how this wee timorous beasty in the office could be the sex-crazed bitch on heat in his bedroom. He let her let him have her four times and then he fell asleep and she left. As she went out of the door she returned to being a grey shadow no-one noticed.
He wrote the first draft of the report; it wasn’t difficult to be honest, he knew before he arrived that this office was going. How could it not? He had most of it in his mind already. Some sections were lifted from others (where they in turn had been lifted from previous engagements – that’s what consultants do, reuse, recycle, and charge for recycled rubbish). Then he went for a walk, came back, watched The Cruel Sea of Movies4Men and slept for a while; ready for the night’s fun.
Sam was showing, he wasn’t sure if he should fuck a pregnant woman, but she said it was fine, her husband fucked her three times a week. Now she was insisting on controlling how he did it. Again it was better from behind; this time she stayed standing and leant against the desk, she was reading the sales figures while he pumped the naked pregnant. The sales figures were a distraction from the vague sense of guilt at letting another man fill her cunt with sperm. But then at least she knew she couldn’t get pregnant. She also knew that hubby Mark was giving that bitch Magella, the bar maid in the Rose and Sixpence, a friday fuck each week. So she was no worse than him. Their marriage wasn’t going to survive pregnancy, nappies and redundancy; she knew that too.
Not one of his better nights, but come the morning he had decided to add a section on the geography and demography of the area. That would extend the report by several pages and make the customer grateful – customers judge by weight as well as content.