Donald Uptight leans forward in his leather chair and looks over the top of his steel-rimmed glasses.
‘So, Ms Nebilenko –’ he says
‘Please – call me Tatjana.’
‘So, Ms – Tatty-yana, I see from your application form that you have a first class degree in Mathematics from Cambridge, and currently work as an actuary. We are looking for suitable people to offer fun activities here at the leisure centre. Are you in the right place?’
‘Yes, I think so, Mr Uptight.’
‘Ah, excellent, that we cleared that up. And what activity would you like to run, then?’
‘It’s on my application form. In the box, where it says ‘what activity would you like to offer?’’
There is much rustling of paper whilst Donald Uptight attempts to find Tatjana’s form. His colleague, Ms Clark, hands it to him. She whispers something to him, and smiles apologetically at Tatjana.
‘Pole dancing?’ he sneers. His eyebrows are now so high they have almost met his hairline.
‘Yes,’ she says. ‘I’m offering to run a pole dancing class for anyone who would like to learn how to do it. Everyone is welcome! Even men. Perhaps you would like to come along, Mr Uptight? You could even bring your wife!’
The grey-haired man coughs and splutters at Tatjana’s suggestion.
‘A pole dancing class? I don’t really think that’s the sort of thing that the council had in mind, Ms Nebilenko –’
‘Yes – Tatty-yana – the thing is – I mean – isn’t it a bit, um –?’
‘A bit what, Mr Uptight? Did you know pole dancing has greater cardiovascular benefit than using a cross trainer and adds more muscle tone than a step class? In fact, it is going to be included in the 2012 Olympics. But you probably know that!’
Ms Clark is beaming.
‘I think it’s an excellent idea,’ she says. ‘They’ll love it. People are bored stiff with Pilates and yoga and aerobics classes. We will be one of very few local authority leisure centres to offer pole dancing classes. It’ll be wicked! They will be queuing up. Would you want to run it as a continuous course for all levels, or as a six-week beginners’ course?’
Mr Uptight’s mouth is gaping.
‘Ms Smith, don’t you think that pole dancing is –?’
‘Tacky?’chime Ms Smith and Tatjana in unison.
‘Perhaps we should let our clientele be the judge of that, Donald?’ suggests Ms Smith. ‘We could offer a trial six-week course and see how many takers we get. What do you think?’
‘Ms Nebilenko –’ Mr Uptight says.
‘Tatty-yana, are you quite sure that –?’
‘– that I’m not going to turn your leisure centre into a strip club?’
‘Well – um – yes! As the manager here, I have responsibilities, and –‘
‘Mr Uptight, don’t we all? As I have said, it’s an Olympic sport. Surely you don’t want to discourage such a valuable, healthy and fun activity? You did say in your advertisement that you were looking for fun activities, didn’t you?’
‘Um – I – yes –’
‘Great, Tatjana,’ Ms Smith interrupts. ‘We can start from September 1st with a trial six-week course. And, please, put my name down on the sign-up sheet!’
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