Bagenders – Fog Over the Job Centre

Season 1, Episode 8

By Lady Alyssa and Random Dent

Disclaimer: Tolkein owns all, except for the porn titles which we made up; if they actually exist there is more wrong with the world than we ever imagined.
Rating: PG-13 (language; large amount of implied m/f filth)
Story notes: Would help to read in order. We’re sorry that we’ve neglected Gimli in the past, so this one’s all about him.
For non-Brits: ‘Blue Peter’ a children’s TV show that middle class kids are forced against their will to watch because it’s Educational. John Noakes and Valerie Singleton presented it in the 1960s (yes, its been going that long, and it’s still on), and the incident with the elephant really did happen. On live TV.

At breakfast Frodo was aware that something was subtly different.

“The house is…changing.”

“I feel it in my water,” Said Merry

“I feel it in my muesli,” said Legolas.

“I smell it in the air,” said Aragorn.

“No,” said Frodo. “That’s just the breakfast burning.”

Frodo plonked a breakfast down in front of Pippin, who looked at it. “A shadow has fallen across my black pudding.”

“Whispers of a too-high grill setting,” agreed Merry.

“Any chance of some black pudding over here?”

The fellowship turned to look at the unfamiliar face at the breakfast table. Then they realised what was different.

“Gimli? What the hell are you doing here?” asked Aragorn.

“Och, I was made redundant.”

“You mean it’s shut. The… factory” Merry and Pippin made hand gestures which made them look like they were auditioning for parts in the next big Bollywood movie.

“Aye, the rubber factory’s shut.”

Legolas choked on his muesli. “It’s no every day you see an elf blow milk doon his nose at the breakfast table,” commented Pippin.

Gimli looked annoyed. “Noo that kind of rubber, boyo. The kind that you put on the end of your pencil.” Gimli went from annoyed to confused when Merry and Pippin laughed so hard they fell off their chairs and the other, more mature, members of the fellowship were working hard to stifle their giggles. “Erasers. For rubbing things out.”

The laughing from under the table merely increased in intensity.

“Gimli, just be quiet. You remember when we were watching TV together and it was the ‘Blue Peter’ anniversary special and they showed the clip where the baby elephant peed down John Noakes’ leg then stood on his foot? If you make them laugh so much that they throw up again you can clean it up.” Frodo did not look impressed.

“Ye didnae make John Noakes clean it up.” Grumbled Gimli.

“That’s because John Noakes doesn’t live with us.”

“I’d rather live with John Noakes than you lot,” muttered Aragorn.

“Really?” said Legolas. “And here’s me thinking you only fancied Valerie Singleton.”

There were sniggering comments from under the table along the lines of “Here’s one he made earlier” and some unrepeatable ones about “sticky back plastic”.

The rest of the Fellowship went off to work and Gimli ambled into the living room to join Gandalf in his daytime TV marathon. Gimli managed to watch 20 minutes of a debate on how wearing glasses affects your life before feeling that he was slipping into a catatonic state and really should find something else to do, at least until ‘Quincy’ started.

Gimli wandered aimlessly into the kitchen where Frodo was cleaning the kitchen floor with a pink spotted handkerchief tied round his head. However, the handkerchief did not catch Gimli’s attention quite as much as the fact that Frodo was naked. Gimli and Frodo screamed simultaneously and Gimli shielded his eyes as Frodo attempted to cover his modesty with the mop.

“Is it safe to look yet?”

“Um… I think so.”

Gimli kept his eyes shut anyway, just as a precaution. “Um? Frodo? Why exactly would you be washing the kitchen floor naked… without your clothes on?”

“It’s… I always do. There’s never anyone else in the house, and I quite like it like this.”

“But what about me and Gandalf? We’re in the house.”

“Yes, but you’re asleep and when was the last time you saw Gandalf voluntarily get out of his chair?”

“Well, there was that time with the -”

“Yes, but his chair was actually, you know, actively on fire.”

“Did he see you?”

“No, he was too busy trying to save the vodka.”

“Just promise me one thing.”

“What?”

“If I get another job on the nightshift and you’re cleaning when I’m upstairs in bed you’ll at least wear an apron when you hoover the upstairs landing.”

Gimli wandered outside. The garden was blooming, thanks to Sam’s efforts. Gimli thought that it could be helpful to do a little weeding (not that much needed doing), and reached for a weed, then remembered exactly how Sam kept the garden so verdant and sprang backwards throwing his arms into the air. He got on well with Legolas, but not that well.

“Are you alright?”

Gimli spun round and was confronted by Mrs. Wainthrop peering over the garden fence. “Um, yes, fine. It was… a nettle. I realised it was a nettle. Och,” added Gimli for emphasis.

“That nice Mr. Gamgee never usually lets nettles grow.” She proffered a hand over the fence, “Mrs. Wainthrop.”

Gimli shook it uncertainly. “I know, I’ve seen you around.” He wished he had the courage to add ‘peering suspiciously through a gap in the net curtains’, but he’d also heard what Merry and Pippin had to say about her and wisely kept his mouth shut.

“You used to work nights didn’t you.” The implication of ‘as a brothel slave’ dripped from the end of every word.

Gimli decided he neither liked, nor cared about the opinions of, Mrs. Wainthrop. “In the rubber factory. But it’s closed down the noo.”

Mrs. Wainthrop’s expression froze, her smile becoming a rictus. “I’d better be going in now, the cake needs taking out of the oven.”

“Nice to know you’ve got a bun in the oven” said Gimli completely innocently after the departing Mrs. Wainthrop.

Gimli walked back into the house again, and paused outside the kitchen door.

“Frodo?”

“Yes?”

“Are you dressed?”

“Not really, but I’m decent.”

Gimli cautiously opened the door, unsure whether to trust a definition of ‘decent’ given by someone who hoovers naked. He saw Frodo thankfully wearing a pair of boxer shorts that came nearly to his knees.

“Gimli? can’t you go out somewhere or do something?”

“Why? Like what?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Perhaps going down to the job centre and getting some application forms?”

“Are you trying to get rid of me?”

“Oh, no, its just you seem so bored, you seem like the kind of person who needs a job to define who they are.” Frodo had learned much from watching daytime discussion programmes.

Gimli was unsure whether or not to take this as an insult. “I was going to go there anyway. I’ll be back for lunch.” Gimli stomped off to the job centre.

There was one consolation to being unemployed, thought Gimli as he tucked into his lunch; Frodo was a very good cook, and a firm believer in 6 good square meals a day – a good combination.

“Um… Gimli. I don’t suppose you want to go out anywhere this afternoon?” asked Frodo.

“No, why?”

“It’s just, well, I’m having a meeting here this afternoon, and you’d only feel out of place.”

“Meeting? What kind of meeting?”

“Just some people. A… society. You can’t come.” Added Frodo hurriedly.

Gimli looked at Frodo suspiciously. He extended his hand and attempted to give Frodo a very complex handshake. Frodo looked at him confusedly. “What are you trying to do?”

“Can I come to the meeting now?”

“No! Gimli what are you trying to do to my hand?”

“Nothing, nothing.”

Gimli retired upstairs to think on this. It was quite obvious that unbeknownst to the household Frodo had joined the Freemasons, and Gimli had therefore attempted to replicate a freemason handshake that some bloke had shown him in a pub 40 years previously. Like all non-members given the opportunity to find out exactly what the Freemasons got up to Gimli was going to grab it with both hands.

Gimli was going through his wardrobe; he knew that the only way for a non-member to get into a Freemasons meeting was through subterfuge and espionage and for this he would have to look the part, the part of course being Tom Cruise in ‘Mission Impossible’. However, neither Gimli’s wardrobe or physique were suited to this, but he did the best he could with the available materials and time. On his head he wore a black bobble hat, but as he was reluctant to part with his traditional dwarf helmet, this was also worn underneath. On his hands, a pair of oversized padded ski gloves, his feet, hobnailed boots which clanged when he walked as if a troupe of overweight elephants were attempting to replicate dance routines from ‘Singing in the Rain’. The only black jumper he could find was the one Aragorn wore when there was more than four inches of snow and came down to Gimli’s mid calf, which was a good thing as the only black trousers he could find were his swimming trunks. Swimming trunks worn with iron underpants is an unusual fashion statement.

He surveyed himself in the mirror. Where other people would have rung for the police or possibly the nearest mental hospital, Gimli smiled at his reflection because all he could see was the dashing, debonair secret agent double-oh-Gimli, licensed to chop people’s legs off at the knee.

Downstairs, Frodo was welcoming ladies to the Women’s Institute meeting and feeling very impressed with himself; the homemade raspberry jam even came up to Mrs Wainthrop’s standards and his scones were almost perfect. He gradually relaxed, he’d been worrying about hosting his first meeting for weeks and as they sat down to drink their tea – the right kind and not overbrewed – everyone was too polite to mention that the living room door appeared to have been barricaded and nailed shut.

Upstairs in the Hobbits’ bedroom Gimli was tying Pippin’s black satin bed sheets round one of the bedposts of a set of bunk beds and was edging back over the windowsill. Slowly, he abseiled down the side of the house, gouging holes in the brickwork and humming the theme tune from ‘The Avengers’. Reaching the top of the kitchen window he paused, let out some slack on the bed sheet, locked his knees, swung back and burst in through the open kitchen window with the war cry of “Derek Nimmo!”.

Mrs Wainthrop was in the middle of the middle of giving some grudging praise to Frodo’s jam while Mrs Ramsbottom was in raptures about his scones when Gimli made his dramatic entrance. He skidded across the table and landed on the floor with a thump, covered in raspberry jam.

“Ooh, Frodo, did you get a stripper?” asked Mrs Cartwright, one of the younger and more impressionable members who Mrs Wainthrop disapproved of so much.

Gimli attempted dazedly to stand up and assume the fight stances of about three different martial arts and, since each of them involved taking a different leg of the ground, he fell over, looking like he was trying to do the actions to ‘I’m a Little Teapot’.

Frodo muttered some hurried apologies and tried to drag him out of the kitchen by the beard, to which Gimli responded with a cry of “Nobody tosses a dwarf!”. All of the Women’s institute, apart from the four most upstanding members – one of them being Mrs Wainthrop – began to giggle. Mrs Wainthrop gave them a death stare.

Frodo had given up trying to drag Gimli out of the room and had crossed the mountains of anger to reach the plateau of calm where someone was about to get hurt.

“What do you think you are doing?”

“You mean you’re not the Freemasons?”

“No, we’re not.”

“Then what the hell are you?”

“We’re the Women’s Institute, the WI, yes, I, Frodo Baggins am a member of the Women’s Institute. Satisfied?”

“Yes,” squeaked Gimli. He’d seen the amount of damage Frodo had done to Aragorn in the past and decided not to push his luck, especially as Frodo’s hands were round his neck. But there was one question that was still unanswered.

“So how long have you… you know?”

“What?”

“Wanted to be a woman?”

“I do not want to be a woman! I never have wanted to be a woman and I don’t dress up in women’s clothing!” Frodo mentally added the ‘at least not very often’.

“So why are you in the WI?”

“I like making jam. And scones. And knitting with very sharp needles.”

Gimli became aware that the women were Looking at him. And Looking with a capital ‘L’. He was alone, unarmed and outnumbered. He made a tactical retreat.

*****

Legolas actually enjoyed having Gimli around the place; the friendship that had been cemented during the time of the Fellowship had actually lasted, finding they had lots of interests in common, such as mass orc slaughter and chess. Therefore, they spent evenings in actual conversations about current affairs, as opposed to the strange and circular ramblings he had with the hobbits. Gimli on the other hand was enjoying talking about matters that didn’t pertain to the breaking point of rubber products.

A week later Frodo was gradually getting used to doing the housework while fully dressed and generally having Gimli under his feet. It was getting to that time of year again when the bedrooms needed to be given their annual spring clean, which usually involved having half of their possessions thrown out and three weeks of arguments over the four year old, fluff-covered stick of Blackpool rock which someone had really wanted to keep. Since today’s task was to spring clean the Hobbits’ bedroom, it was likely that the services of Rentokil would also be required.

When they were almost finished, Frodo gave Gimli the task of changing the sheets on all the beds whilst he went downstairs to do the ironing. Having made Sam and Merry’s beds, Gimli turned to Pippin’s, dreading it because satin sheets were so much more difficult to tuck in, when he saw something sticking out of the side of it. Closer inspection showed that, not only was there something sticking out, but also that there was a two foot long gash in the side of the mattress. Gimli attempted to investigate further, and pulled out what appeared to be a copy of ‘Enormous Bosoms Monthly’, dated February 1973. On closer inspection there didn’t actually appear to be any mattress in it at all – just porn. He delved back into the sordid depths of Pippin’s mattress to reveal a copy of ‘Short Busty Women Annual 1985’.

“Frodo?”

“What is it?” called Frodo from downstairs.

“About Pippin’s mattress…?”

There was the sound of washing being dropped and bare feet running up the stairs. “WhataboutPippinsmattress?” he gasped skidding round the corner as Gimli pulled out some 17th Century erotic woodcuts and a late Victorian photograph of a woman of ample proportions wearing an excellent example of contemporary cantilevered engineering as a corset.

“Oh.” Said Frodo.

“Yes, ‘oh’ indeed. No wonder he’s always complaining about how his back hurts in the mornings.”

Frodo sighed. “I’ve never understood it myself. All of the rest of us know about it and it’s not like we mind. We’ve suggested that he keeps them in the cupboard or we get him a set of box files, but he insists on keeping them in the mattress.” Frodo looked uncomfortable. “Are you nearly finished? Why don’t I just make my own bed and you go downstairs and put the kettle on?”

The suspicious nature of this statement entirely bypassed Gimli, who had become engrossed in another engraving. “Hang on a minute. This looks familiar. Is that… is that Pippin? With the…?” Gimli cocked his head to one side. “Nononononono.” He dropped the engraving as if it was on fire.

“You should just be glad that his papyrus collection all disintegrated years ago. Really.”

*****

When Merry and Pippin came home from work Gimli hid and was fortunately not present when Pippin gave them all the good news about recent success at work.

“Ah’ve bin made employee of the month!”

Aragorn, Legolas, Frodo and Sam looked at him, open mouthed.

“You have been made employee of the month? You, Peregrin Took, have actually been made employee of the month? Who else are they employing? Orcs? Trained gerbils?”

Merry was looking at Pippin. If looks could kill this one would have ripped out Pippin’s still beating heart and shown it to him before he died.

“He ‘ant told you ‘ow, ‘as he?” Merry’s voice was very quiet and very threatening.

“Ok, so how did you manage to get made employee of the month?”

“Ah shagged ma line manager,” announced Pippin proudly.

“Did you get a pay rise as well?”

Pippin looked confused.

“You shagged your line manager, the woman they call ‘Big Bertha’, for employee of the month and didn’t bring up the subject of money during the, ahem, negotiations?”

“Well, no, we had tae be quick, we were in the walk in fridge after all. And anyway, that wid huv been prostitution.”

Legolas shuddered. “I’m living off tinned food for the rest of the month.”

*****

After dinner Gimli hid from Pippin behind his copy of the Guardian. The Hobbits stared in stunned silence as they watched Gimli and Legolas simultaneously finish reading their sections of the newspaper and wordlessly swapped them over. They even shared a red pen to correct the spelling mistakes with.

The next night at dinner Gimli was looking Elvishly smug. That morning he had received a large brown envelope through the post, which had lead to salacious comments from Pippin about things that came in plain brown envelopes and Gimli going pale again.

“So you’ve got a new job then?”

“Yes, as of next Monday I’m a night watchman in a warehouse.”

“Warehoose? Are you sure y’read that right?” asked Pippin, sniggering.

“Yes. I’m very sure.”

“So what kind of warehouse is it?”

“It belongs to a, um, well regarded chain of high street stores.”

“What’s tha tryin’ to hide?”

“Nothing, it’s an old and well known company.”

“Well known as in notorious?”

It was Pippin who made the connection. “There’s a new Ann Summers warehoose just opened on the industrial estate, isn’t there? Ye’ve got a job there, haven’t you?”

Gimli blushed.

“Do y’get a staff discount, because, well, there was this thing in their catalogue…”

“Yeah, it’s Susan at the WI’s birthday next week and she’d really like one of those suggestive ice cube trays.”

“And think of what you could do with…” Aragorn suddenly realised what he was saying and shut his mouth suddenly in a very determined fashion.

“Yeah and they have a really good selection o’bras.” all eyes flicked from Aragorn to Pippin.

“What?”

“Not for mahself of course. It’s just that over the years I’ve learned a few things and the quickest way tae see women in sexy lingerie is tae buy them some. No that they stay in it for very long…”

Gimli fought down the waves of nausea brought on by the image burned into the lids of his eyes by the engravings. He was going to be glad to be going on the nightshift again to get a bit of peace and quiet.

Author note: The Grauniad’s spelling these days is a lot better than it used to be.