I’ve never before wanted to introduce any of my boyfriends to the other barristers in Chambers. I’ve always kept my personal and my professional life separate. But that was before I met Richard. I’m quite certain that he’s the love of my life and we are hoping to enter into a civil partnership next year. That’s not public knowledge yet. We haven’t even announced it to our families, although I think my mother suspects. She is beginning to drop hints about springtime weddings and I swear she’s already planning her outfit for the big day! But, as I say, there have been no official announcements yet. First of all I want to introduce Richard to my colleagues; I’m so proud of him and I want them all to meet my life partner.
My colleagues and I don’t socialise much outside work hours. The one exception is the Christmas party for the barristers, clerks and secretarial staff. Everyone is welcome to bring their partner, although it’s perfectly acceptable to come alone. I’ve always gone by myself and had a good time with a mixed group of singles and couples. It wasn’t that I ever expected to encounter any prejudice against same sex relationships. We do a lot of equal opportunities work here in Chambers and I know that even the most conservative of my colleagues would have no problem with my bringing a boyfriend. No; it was just that there was never anyone so special that I wanted him to share every aspect of my life.
And then I met Richard. I was contributing to a forum on medical ethics at the local hospital and Dr Richard Evans was a fellow speaker. He caught my attention immediately with his striking blonde hair, bright blue eyes and handsome features. During the breaks he always seemed to be in the centre of a laughing, animated group. I managed to work it so that we sat on the same table at lunchtime and we discovered that we had shared interests and a similar sense of humour. I was fairly sure that the attraction between us was mutual and I was delighted when he accepted my casually worded invitation to meet up for lunch one day the following week. And the rest, as they say, is history.
My life has been transformed since Richard and I began living together. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been before; which isn’t to say it has always been plain sailing. Richard is enchanting, exasperating, loving, professional, unpredictable, amusing, outrageous… I could go on but you get the picture, I’m sure. I like to think he is happier with me than he was managing his own chaotic lifestyle. I certainly try to ensure that he has the structure, stability and, yes, the discipline, to make the most of his talents. He is a splendid doctor, not just academically able but with an empathy for his patients which makes him hugely popular. I like to think I've addressed his disorganised habits and put a stop to the more outrageous exploits which were threatening to damage his reputation and his career prospects.
When he’s on his best behaviour Richard is a joy to have around. Given his classic good looks, heads turn as soon as he enters a room and he can charm the birds out of the trees. He is at ease in most social situations and his wide general knowledge makes him an entertaining conversationalist. I am looking forward to introducing him to my colleagues and I’m sure the Head of Chambers and senior partners will like him.
Unless, that is, he takes against one of them for some reason. He can be somewhat unpredictable. He has a ready wit which sometimes descends to sarcasm when he gets into an argument. He has a low boredom threshold and his methods of livening things up are not always well received. The first time I put him over my knee for a bare bottom spanking, it was a real turning point in our relationship. Initially I thought he was planning to leave me but he finally decided not to reject my love; even if it has to be rather tough love at times.
“You have remembered it’s our Chambers’ Christmas Party on Friday, haven’t you, Richard?”
“How can I forget? That’s the third time you’ve reminded me.”
“Well, I know how busy you are at the hospital, especially this time of year. Things slip your mind.”
“Well, not this. I’ve made arrangements to have the night off and, barring a major emergency, I shouldn’t be called in to work.”
“And you’ve remembered that it’s a fancy dress party?”
“Oh, no. You never told me that.”
Yes, I did, Richard. You just weren’t listening.”
“So that means I’ve got to get more time off work to go and hire an outfit.”
“No. I told you the plan is for us all to find things at home and improvise a bit. It will be more fun that way.”
“Oh yes! If I remember rightly from university days that usually means doing something creative with a black plastic bin liner and bed sheets!”
“No it doesn’t. We can plan something together: something complementary. Like Batman and Robin, for example.”
“If you think I am going to meet your colleagues wearing a pair of tights with my knickers over the top, then you’ve got another think coming.”
“I just said, ‘for example’. What would you like to wear?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t got time to think about it.”
“Well, I thought I could do something with that old pair of jeans you said I should throw out. If I cut and shred the bottoms a bit I could put together a pirate outfit. White shirt, leather belt. I see they sell plastic cutlasses in the corner shop.”
“And with a bit of eye shadow you could pass for Johnny Depp!”
“I look nothing like Johnny Depp. And as for eye shadow, I can’t think of anything less likely to improve my chances of being offered a partnership than turning up to the office Christmas party in make up!”
“Oh, I see. So this has nothing to do with celebrating the festive season and everything to do with impressing the bosses. Are you sure you want to take your boyfriend? I might let you down.”
“There’s no need to react like that and, remember, I don’t like being spoken to in that tone of voice. Okay, there’s always an element of office politics on these occasions but the partners will be impressed by you. I am looking forward to introducing you to my colleagues. I’m always proud of you and I know everyone will like you.”
“Have you told your colleagues that you’re bringing your partner to the party this year?”
“No, why should I?”
“Isn’t it going to be a bit of a surprise when you turn up with me?”
“Why should it be?”
“Oh, come on, John, don’t be naïve. It’s going to cause a stir if you’ve said nothing at all about your partner.”
“Are you suggesting I should have ‘come out’ at work? Pinned a notice to my back perhaps, saying ‘I am gay.’”
“Of course not. But you might at least have mentioned me at work. All my colleagues know about you. Are you sure you’re not just a bit ashamed of me?”
Well, the conversation went downhill after that, as you might imagine. John Hamilton-Smythe is a tolerant man but it seems that accusing him of being ashamed of me falls into an ever expanding category entitled ‘unacceptable behaviour’. That’s a category I try very hard to avoid these days, believe me. On this occasion I finished up spending a fair bit of time with my nose in the corner reconsidering my hasty words.
The truth is I’m getting more and more fed up about this party. When I agreed to go with John, I thought it would just be the usual office Christmas party: everyone the worse for wear; people taking pictures of their bums on the photocopier; quick snog in the stationery cupboard. You know the type of thing. Now I hear that the head of chambers will be there, and the senior partners. John keeps going on and on about making a good impression. I feel like he doesn’t trust me to behave properly.
I don’t need the constant nagging. He’s even been on at me to get my hair cut before the party. As though that mattered if we’re all going in fancy dress. If he wants to treat me like a child, well, maybe I’ll just behave like a child. I don’t even like fancy dress parties. I would never have agreed to go if I’d known about the fancy dress. He says he mentioned it right from the start, but I certainly don’t remember. I feel like I’ve been manoeuvred into this situation and I don’t like it.
I should have guessed that Richard would find it difficult to get away from the hospital early at this time of year. I'd been looking forward to us getting ready for the party together and I was disappointed when he rang to say he would have to go straight there. He said he wouldn’t have time to do much about fancy dress either so he would just wear scrubs and bring his stethoscope. I suppose a doctor can come dressed as a doctor to a fancy dress party!
I was standing chatting to my clerk when I saw a vision in red gauze get out of a taxi. It took me a moment to realise it wasn’t one of the secretaries but my own dear Richard dressed as a fairy and carrying a wand. And this was no homemade outfit either but the best that could be hired from the professional outfitters.
Apart from the amazing costume, his hair had been styled to set off the star encrusted tiara in a style once favoured by Princess Diana. As he came closer I realised he had had the full wax treatment: legs, chest; even his armpits were hairless. And his make up was flawless. Blue eye shadow and false eyelashes, a hint of rouge and a touch of fairy glitter. Not overdone, no hint of the drag artiste; he looked stunning and I admitted that to myself just as my anger reached boiling point.
And then he turned around and, as if to ensure that there could be no doubt about his identity, there was the name in big letters attached to the back of his costume: Sugar Plum Fairy.
The whole room went silent as he made his entrance and introduced himself to the head of chambers and his wife. I heard him making it quite clear that he was John Hamilton-Smythe’s partner. To give my boss his due, after an initial pause to recover from his astonishment, he began conversing with Richard and that set the tone for the evening. Richard lit up the room, in every sense; he was the sensation of the party and everyone took to him. He was charming, erudite, witty, relaxed and friendly. Everyone fell under his fairy spell — except me. He knew it and kept his distance for most of the evening. But I managed to get him on his own briefly and the message was simple: wait till I get you home my lad!
Lying in bed next to John I could feel his body vibrate with anger.
“A full body wax! I don’t believe it!”
“Not quite full body,” I ventured.
Immediately his hand plunged down the front of my pyjama bottoms and his fingers buried themselves in my remaining body hair. I’ve always wondered about the expression ‘being grabbed by the short and curlies’. Now I know what that feels like. I also knew that some very sensitive tissue lay in the immediate vicinity of John’s clutching hand. My medical training had at least taught me that. I kept very still; I didn’t want to do anything to annoy him further.
“But I behaved just as you asked me to. I spoke to everyone. I was polite. I didn’t drink too much. I tried to make a good impression.”
“As the Sugar Plum Fairy! What possessed you to come dressed like that? And what do you think the head of chambers made of the fact that you had the word ‘fairy’ pinned to the back of your costume!”
“He liked me, John. His wife has invited us both to spend a weekend with them in the New Year. She asked me to tell you that they would be in contact after Christmas to fix the date.”
Well that piece of news shut him up. In fact, he couldn’t have got a better outcome if he’d planned it himself. After that there wasn’t really anything else he could do. As I’ve said, John is generally a tolerant man and always a fair one. I hadn’t broken any of his rules. True, I set out to provoke him, to punish him really for being such a pain about the party. I think he knows it but I’m never going to admit to it. So honours even on that one then; ‘fifteen all’ as they say down the tennis club.
On Christmas morning Richard and I came downstairs early to open our gifts before going over to my mother’s for a late lunch. We sat on the floor beside our Christmas tree and exchanged gifts. We’re both in well paid jobs and so there were the luxury items we like to get for each other but also the little fun presents that make us laugh. Best of all perhaps are the presents we buy because we’ve picked up on small clues throughout the year: the book which I’d wanted to read and never got round to ordering, the gadget Richard played with in shops and put down regretfully. All of them real tokens of love and affection.
Both of us seemed to be saving up one present to give last of all. I let Richard go first. He handed his gift over with a slight look of uncertainty. As I started to undo his careful wrapping he began to babble, always a sign of nerves. He uttered disjointed phrases like ‘just a joke’, ‘bought them for your mother really’, ‘we can take them over at lunchtime’ and then lapsed into silence as I held up a box of sugar plums.
“Very nice, Richard, and very seasonal. I will enjoy these all myself, one at a time.”
I took one of the candied fruits from the box and bit into it very slowly while looking him straight in the eye. I didn’t offer him one and he knew better than to ask. In fact he was looking distinctly apprehensive under my gaze. Then I handed him my present and I could have sworn his hands shook slightly as he bent to undo the ribbon. There was an audible gasp when he opened the box and then lifted out the beautifully crafted object as though he feared it might bite. I don’t know whether he had ever seen one close up before. I know I hadn’t. I think they’re an American invention but you can order anything on the internet these days. This paddle was over a foot long, manufactured in thick leather with a reinforced handle.
“Come on then my little Sugar Plum Fairy. Let’s try it out.”
My boy isn’t stupid. He may have thought he’d got away with his antics at my office Christmas party but I could tell from the expression on his face that he knew payback time had arrived. I turned on the Christmas tree lights and the reading lamps and then pulled the curtains. I gave Richard just one word of command: strip. I accompanied the order with a look that warned him not to argue. Give him his due, he did it very prettily. Nothing lewd but I definitely got the Fully Monty performance, which was a special treat on Christmas morning. I did notice, though, that he kept a wary eye on the holly branches with which he had insisted on decorating the room.
Once he was totally naked I told him to bend over the arm of the settee. He complied at once, his bright blonde head bending onto his folded arms which he rested on the seat cushions. I inserted the paddle between his thighs and encouraged him to spread his legs wider. I then stood behind him and admired the view as I watched his buttocks clench in nervous anticipation. Did I mention my lover’s handsome features? I did. Well, his arse is one of his very best features: plump and beautifully rounded like…turkey breasts. Not the best simile perhaps but seasonal!
I had no intention of spoiling Richard’s Christmas morning with a serious spanking but I didn’t see any need to tell him that at the outset. My plan was to just warm his buttocks and give him something to think about while he was sitting at my mother’s dinner table later in the day. I began with just light taps, but the implement made a very satisfying slap against bare skin and I was tempted to put a bit more swing into my arm. Soon Richard began to squirm and make little mewling noises in his throat which just encouraged me to do more. When he finally flung a hand behind to try and intercept the paddle, his buttocks were glowing red like… like, well like two sugar plums sitting on a white plate. I grasped his wrist and dealt out two final swats as hard as I could, one on each cheek.
“That’s just to be going on with, my little Sugar Plum Fairy. I’ll give you a proper seeing to when we get back here tonight.”
“Oh, yes, please, John,” he whispered.