Chapter 7

Opportunity With New Opportunity

“Fara! We need to talk.” Phyllis Dangerfield called to her daughter.

“What is it, mom? I was just getting some things together for the New Opportunity meeting tonight. They’re collecting old magazines for a fund-raiser.”

“Well, what would they say about this?” Phyllis was holding up an empty bottle of vodka. “This was full last week, Fara. You know I don’t mind you having a drink. You’re eighteen, after all. But a whole bottle? In a week?”

“But I didn’t, mom. I wouldn’t take it without asking. I don’t even like it that much. I can’t … oh!”

“What is it?”

“I’ve just thought. Last night, I thought Jim and some of his friends had been drinking. I wondered where they’d got it from. He must have taken it when he was over here last. I’m sorry.”

Phyllis was inclined to believe her daughter. She knew she was usually truthful and she remembered seeing Jim, the last time he was over, slipping furtively out of the lounge where the drinks cabinet was. Even so, it was still her daughter’s responsibility. “Fara, it’s really not good enough. If you’re going to have Jim or other boyfriends round here, then you’ve got to be able to keep them in order.

“Don’t worry, I’ll see he doesn’t do it again.” Fara sounded determined.

Phyllis wasn’t completely convinced that she was going to be able to solve the problem but was keen to give her daughter every possible encouragement. “I’m sure you will,” she said, “but you’ve got to let Jim know who’s boss. He’ll be looking to find a sponsor soon and if he isn’t used to being kept in place it will hardly be fair to him, will it? Why don’t you have a word with the New Opportunity people? Maybe they’ve got some ideas or a course you could go on or something?”

Fara’s face took on an unconvinced expression. “Maybe. I’ll see what they have to say.”

“Fara,” Phyllis went on. She could tell by the way her daughter looked that she wasn’t happy with the idea. “What’s the problem with that?”

“Oh, you know how it is with New Opportunity. It’s a Government thing; none of the girls think New Order is cool. And all the leaders, they’re all so – well, dykey.”

“Fara!” It wasn’t so much that Phyllis disagreed with her daughter, but it just wasn’t the sort of thing you said about Party organisations. “And what if they are? It’s a lot safer than messing around with boys if you can’t control them.”

Fara shook her head. “I know, mum. I quite like being with the girls anyway but the New Opportunity people don’t really seem to know how to deal with the Jims of this world any more than I do. There’s no real system or method; it’s all just ‘don’t let him do this’ or ‘see he doesn’t do that.’ I mean, it’s all a bit feeble, really.”

She could see the trouble, thought Phyllis. When New Opportunity started, the leaders had a real reforming zeal. Plus, they’d been through all the hurt that men used to be able to hand out. Now, Phyllis could understand that they might sound out of touch. She thought back to when she had got started, learning how to keep the man who had been husband, then, under control. There had been plenty of self-help books around then. Ball Breaking – Your Guide to Continuous Control had been her favourite. She wondered if you could still get it. Mind you, the illustrations would look pretty odd now, she thought. The man in the book had seemed to be some sort of throw-back to the seventies: a pony tail, beard, and moustache, she remembered with a smile. Nowadays most women insisted on their men shaving: and that didn’t just mean the chin!

“Jim’s coming over later. I’ll have it out with him then. And I will think about the New Opportunity stuff.”

It was some time later, well after Jim had arrived, when Phyllis was about to leave that she knocked on her daughter’s bedroom door. “I’m off out now, Fara. Have fun at the meeting.”

A muffled grunt came from behind the door.

“Fara? Are you all right? What’s going on in there?”

“It’s OK, mum, really. Come on in.”

Fara was sprawled on her bed with her college books. A pile of magazines was stacked in one corner of the room, ready to be taken to Fara’s meeting. On the far side, Jim sat tied helpless in the chair at Fara’s dressing table. His trousers had been pulled down and Fara had tied the vodka bottle so that it was dangling painfully from a rope tied around the base of his prick. It was all Phyllis could do to stop herself laughing. Jim looked up at her with a pleading expression.

Fara got up and walked across to Jim. Wrenching off the tape that gagged him, she pulled cloth from his mouth and slapped his face. “You owe my mother an apology.”

Jim almost sobbed. “I’m sorry, Ms Dangerfield, really I mmphhh.”

Fara, satisfied that Jim had said enough, pushed the cloth back in, smoothed the tape down again and smiled at her mother.

“I’m proud of you, Fara. Well done.” She shook her head at the unfortunate Jim as he continued to struggle. Just as she was about to leave, Phyllis noticed a leaflet with the Party logo emblazoned on it, lying on the pile of magazines. She assumed that her daughter had brought it back from the last New Opportunity meeting. “What’s this, Fara?” she asked, picking it up.

“Oh. Yes. They passed it out at the last meeting. I was going to show it to you. It’s a new scheme they’ve got going on. It sounded like it might help.”

Phyllis looked at the brightly coloured leaflet. “JUMIST – the Junior Mistress Training Plan, Sponsored and Supported By Sunrise Industries” the title read. Phyllis looked inside. It offered a residential programme in London where participants would have the chance to learn from experienced trainers and – offering something that sounded just what Fara needed – get a coherent method for man management.

“This is interesting Fara,” Phyllis said. “I think you might apply for this. You’re obviously not short of ideas when it comes to keeping someone like Jim here under control.” Jim scowled up at Phyllis from his chair. “I think it’s just as you said, you need a method , a framework. Perhaps this will help.”

Fara looked again at the leaflet as Jim struggled and grunted, ignored by the two women. There was a phone number for applications. Attracted as much by the opportunity to spend some time in London as by any real expectations from the programme, Fara agreed to sign up. “All right, I’ll talk to the New Opportunity leader tonight.”

Phyllis looked at Jim and shook her head. “Were those your panties you took out of his mouth, Fara?”

Fara nodded.

“Well, make sure you get them back before he goes home. I’m going out. Have a nice evening.

“Thanks, Mum,” Fara smiled.

Jim whimpered as his one hope of being freed any time soon turned on her heels and headed for the bedroom door.

As Phyllis reached the foot of the stairs she encountered Harry.

“Have you got your plans for the evening? I’m just off out. Fara will be out later.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Harry replied respectfully. “Laundry to finish, then tidying downstairs, as usual. Then I wondered…”

“Yes, all right. When you finish that lot — and I mean finish properly — you can have an hour’s television upstairs. And no more than an hour — I’ll check.”

“No. Of course. Thank you, Mrs Dangerfield.” It was a small concession but he was grateful for it.

It was later, after Fara and Jim had left as well, and while he was tidying up, that Harry noticed the newspaper. The headline couldn’t be ignored. “Increased Penalties for Anti-Social Activities — Daniels Claims Deterrence Works” He read the article quickly as he was carrying the newspaper to its correct place in the magazine rack in the living room. The report said Home Affairs Minister Florence Daniels was determined to stamp out curfew violations, absconding from sponsorship, and other contraventions of Male Control Orders by using increased detention terms and stricter sponsorship licensing. It didn’t surprise Harry. He knew of some fairly lax sponsors. He knew of some others, too, other groups that hadn’t accepted the Government’s view of the way that men should be treated. Daniels was right, he thought. Cracking down on people like that would make life for people like him safer. He knew that others might think him mad, but he hoped, when the next round of elections came, that Phyllis and all her friends voted New Order back in again.