Thursday, 25 March 2010

Miss Under-Handing Self-Arming

I hadn’t been a barmaid for five minutes (four years, to be exact) when the landlord announces: “The pub has just been granted university status”. Our ‘local’ is now a learning establishment… has become a franchise college”. And the landlord is now the dean.
Pub? University? Pole-dancing venue? 

Dean; Golf Course Management: Déjà view. But who was I to complain? I was allowed to keep my (barmaid’s” top on, and was promoted on the spot (well, on the barstool, actually). From now on my title was to be: Senior Barmaid on TAP, on a two-arm-pull ups fast track, foundation-studies-year in Bar Management. It works like this: if the student does enough two-armed-pull ups (thus passes the TAP) then they can go on to take an OAP (one-arm-pull ups) Honours Degree. They’d then be qualified to study for an MA in OFPs (one-finger-pull ups); followed by a PHD in OAPs and OFPs, combined. And then - and only then – after fifteen years of study (a long, hard, pull) – are they fit to go out into the pub as a barmaid.   
Here’s the scene. I’m summoned to the dean. And you guessed it: the dean’s a half-only-reformed pub landlord, with one hell of an over-manned arm (his other arm’s normal – girly even, some say). So you can imagine my surprise when the dean says, “This education establishment is over-armed, I intend to make cuts”. “Cuts in arms?” I protested. “Doesn’t that sort of thing have a name? Surely you can’t be suggesting self-arming?" But the dean doesn’t pull his punches. “Funding is down and we going to have to raise the bar (the pull-up bar). We are going to have to recruit younger OAPs - and it doesn’t matter if they’ve not got any GCSEs - we need to be seen to be training OAPs to work in breweries: they come to us straight from school, and graduate as OAPs”. "But that’ll bring the country to its knees – they’ll be pensioned-off before they’ve had chance to pay any contributions”, I reasoned.
The dean pulls his mobile out and scrolls to the photograph of a young girl, smoking. Her right arm – her smoking arm – is absolutely enormous; her left arm’s normal – girly – teeny even. “I sometimes wonder what good a university education is, for youngsters like this”, the dean lamented. “Look at the size of her arm? It’s almost as big as mine; and I’m a dean and she’s only a teen. Imagine how big her arm will be, compared to the rest of her, when she’s old enough to pull pints in pubs? A born-barmaid if I ever saw one… if the smoking doesn’t kill her first". “And I thought smoking stunted growth?” I interjected. “That’ll explain why she didn’t flinch when I pulled out a tape measure and measured her arm... to get her vital statistics before we offered her a place”, the dean said. “And she didn't respond to my request for a light. We should read this as a good sign; we don’t want them to listen, think - voice an opinion and the like. Let’s pull them all in, turn them round quick, and get them out again, out on the pull”. As he spoke, the dean was drawing on a cigar the size of a baby’s arm.
"Look, dean, forget the teen”, I said, as I drew my own mobile out of my shoulder holster (well, my beige bra, to be exact), pointed it at the former pub landlord, and scrolled to a photograph of a woman on her knees with her arm stuck up a downpipe. “Look at this mature student who graduated with TAP, OFP, OAP honours last year: a model student who went out into the real world and wasn’t afraid to get her hand dirty; wasn’t coy about her plumbing". “Did you give her one?” inquired the dean (although he could grasp a beer-tap, our dean still didn’t possess a clear grasp of academic lingo). “I gave her a first, if that’s what you mean. Of course I did, she more-than deserved it”, I replied. “And furthermore, I think it’s scandalous that we are thinking of cutting an arm like hers in times like these”. “First. My arse”, blurted the dean.
I undid my Timex, loosened my cufflinks, and was about to roll-up my shirtsleeve, when the dean, with the look of a man looking to a dark-future, said, “Stop. You can’t have heard me right.” Then he paused. “No, on second thoughts, my door is always open to Miss Under-Handing. That’s it. Let’s open a university of misunderstanding. Do you still want to be a woman? Good. You can be Miss Under- Handing. Go on, go out and get yourself a new Kimono; and brush-up your Chinese. You are now our new head of Misunderstanding. Go out. No. Get out. Recruit me an army of cack-handers".

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