(All of the characters in this story are completely ficticious and any resemblance to real persons, living or otherwise, is entirely coincidental. Also all of the charcters are well over the age of 18 – in fact the youngest is nearer 28.)
Sarah Worthington eyed the young – and not so young – hopefuls seated on plastic chairs in the room before her.
“Welcome to the Proud Holders Residential Course. You have all been through registration already but I need to do a roll call in order to make sure everybody’s here and, just as importantly, to make sure there’s nobody here who shouldn’t be.”
“Good. That appears to be everyone. Now there are a number of points which need to be gone through so please listen carefully. I don’t want to have to repeat myself more than necessary.”
“Firstly, let me make it plain that this is not a school or a prison and anyone is free to leave at anytime. Completing the course here and receiving your Diploma will look good on your CV. Should you choose to leave us before completing the course I must warn you that we are regularly approached for references and we have a duty of candour to those who approach us in good faith.
If you choose to leave us without completing the course it could well affect your career prospects.
I know some of you are old hands in the professions from which you are drawn but some aren’t and I understand a number are returners having taken a career break. Some however are not. It hasn’t escaped my notice that some of you have already made it big in the world of entertainment but we are living in uncertain times and you cannot rely on previously established reputations carrying you through alone. I cannot warn strongly enough that anyone who quits the course without completing it will be doing themselves no favours at all. The same warning applies to anyone expelled from the course for repeated and flagrant breaches of our house rules or persistent disobedience.
Having our Diploma will almost certainly make a big difference to your career and give you far more self confidence than you ever thought you had. So far no one has failed this course and it’s not going to happen whilst I’m running it. We don’t do failure here – only success.”
“Secondly, we have some house rules with which we expect students here to comply. In order to comply with the law of the land this is a non-smoking establishment. There will therefore be no smoking in any of the rooms. This includes the Dormitories and the Bathroom as well the Conference Room, Dining Room and Workshop area. For the benefit of any who choose to abuse their bodies with this vile and detestable vice there is an outdoor shelter which can be viewed from my room and, trust me, I will know who uses it. No drugs, other than those prescribed by a Medical Practitioner, will be allowed on the premises. Matron will supervise the taking of prescription medicines so if you need to take anything you must tell her at teatime. If we find anyone taking illegal substances they will be expelled from the course and the police will be informed. Similarly, no alcohol of any sort is permitted on the premises at any time. If we find any it will be confiscated and destroyed. We do, however, have vending machines containing chocolate, soft drinks and sweets which you are welcome to use. Anyone requiring change for the vending machines can come and see me or Matron and we will be most happy to oblige. We also have unlimited supplies of fresh bottled spring water which is provided ‘on the house’ and students are free to help themselves to as much as they want.”
“Thirdly, turning to the practical arrangements for your stay, the gentlemen will be housed in one dormitory and the ladies in another. You will share a common bathroom but will only be permitted to use it under the supervision of Matron or myself. The bathroom will be locked overnight and anyone wishing to use it during that time must buzz Matron. Buzzers have been provided by your beds for that purpose although I hope sincerely that you won’t have cause to bother her. Please note that all bathroom and toilet use will be strictly supervised at all times – either by Matron or myself. Evening ablutions will take place between between nine and ten so you should be in bed in time to hear the news if that’s your thing. Morning ablutions will take place between the hours of seven and eight. There will be no chamber pots, vases, she-wees or other ‘convenient receptacles’ in the dormitories. All beds are fitted with mattress protectors of a standard type used in hospitals and nursing homes, although I am supremely confident that they will not be required. Matron will check all beds every morning to make sure they’ve been left clean, dry and free of discharges.
In the gentleman’s dormitory she will also be checking for evidence of seminal discharges. If we find evidence of bedwetting or masturbation it will be raised at our Morning Meeting after breakfast and those responsible will be required to explain themselves. No adult nappies or other continence products are allowed on the premises. I appreciate that some of the ladies may come on their periods within the duration of the course. If any of the ladies foresee that happening you must tell Matron and she will issue you with our approved sanitary protection, your use of which will take place strictly under our close supervision.”
“Starting tomorrow the daily timetable will be as follows:
07.00-8.00 Morning Ablutions
08.45-10.45 Morning Meeting. This will be used to address any issues which have arisen overnight or the previous day and there will be opportunities for appropriate general discussion or questions if time permits.
10.45-11.00 Break for refreshments. Coffee, tea, water and soft drinks will be provided but no toilet visits will be permitted.
11.00-13.00 Practical work and exercises
14.00-15.00 Post-prandial Ablutions
15.00-16.00 Afternoon Meeting. This will include discussion of issues facing individuals as well as any goals and aspirations which students may have.
16.00-17.30 Practical work/exercises.
18.30-21.00 Recreation. This will include opportunities for students to watch television, play DVDs and make use of laptop computers or tablets if they so wish. We have free wifi and we are a censorship free zone. You’re all adults and Matron and I firmly believe you should be able to view whatever you wish during that generous allocation of ‘me time’ which we’ve worked into the timetable for you.
21.00-22.00 Evening Ablutions and preparation for bed.
22.30 Lights out”
“Last, but by no means least, we will have some respect. You will call me either ‘Miss’ or ‘Miss Sarah’ at all times. Matron is to be addressed as ‘Matron.’ Members of the domestic staff and any outside tutors brought in to assist with the course will be addressed as ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss’. Now does anyone have any questions?”
“Miss, what did you do before you came to run this course?”
“Holly, I worked as a senior nurse on a urology ward at a large hospital in the North of England. What I don’t know about the subject isn’t worth knowing. I was feared by patients and junior staff alike. Let that be a warning to all of you. I’m not without a sense of humour, as you will no doubt discover in due course, but I don’t suffer fools gladly and woe bedtide anyone who tries to make a monkey of me – because will wish they hadn’t. Some of the sudents I’ve had in the past have called me a ‘bitch’ although most, if pressed, have been willing to admit that I’m firm but fair.”
“Can I go to the toilet, Miss?”
“No Cathy. It’s four o’ clock and there will be supervised toileting for all students on the course at four thirty. I trust that you can wait half an hour. If you’re desperate I’ll make sure you’re first in the queue.”
“I’m not sure I can wait that long, Miss?”
“Trust me, Cathy. The idea that you can’t is all in your mind. If the worst comes to the worst I have a mop and bucket in the store room so you can clean up after yourself. I’m quite confident it won’t be necessary though. That reminds me – I trust everyone remembered to bring at least ten spare pairs of underclothes with them as per the instructions I sent out. If not, we have a strictly limited number of spares but I must warn you that there aren’t any shopping expeditions planned for the next few days at any rate.”
“Jonah, what is it?”
“Can we change the subject, Miss?”
“Because I’ve had a trans-atlantic flight to get here and, apart from a few spurts in my pants to ease the pressure whilst on that plane, I’ve not peed since leaving New York. All this is getting to me though and I don’t think I can hold out much longer.”
Miss Sarah smiled.
“Look Jonah, you’ve already done better than most people in this room will have done today so I’m sure you should be able to last until four thirty without any trouble. Anyone else in this room not been to the toilet for eight hours or longer?”
Anne, Cathy and Andrew all raised their hands.
A wicked glint was seen in Miss Sarah’s eyes.
“Well I am impressed. At this rate I think we can consider dispensing with the post-prandial early afternoon toileting session tomorrow. On second thoughts I won’t – not just yet. For this course to have the desired outcome which is for all of you to be able to hold comfortably for as long as you need to, we need to have a level playing field with realistic, manageable targets. Goodness it’s nearly half past four. I think Matron will be about ready to take you all to the toilet. Follow me and form an orderly queue. Cathy can go first followed by Jonah. Everyone else can then take their turn and, trust me, I’ll be keeping an eye on all of you.”