Disaster! Chained 4 Charity isn't going to happen. And why? Health & Safety!!
This was going to be the plan for my friend J and me on Red Nose Day:
As soon as we're dressed on Friday morning our husbands fit the anklets and chains on us and padlock them. They won't come off again until midnight. We note the time, take pictures, and have breakfast.
Then J's husband drops us both off at the pub where we hand all the keys to the landlord and take more pictures. We walk ankle-chained to the station where we spend an hour or so at the entrance with our "Chained 4 Charity" posters explaining what we're doing and collecting money. Then when the rush hour is easing off we get on the train to Waterloo. The keys are still back at the pub so we know we'll stay chained at least until we get back that evening.
By the time we get to Waterloo it shouldn't be too crowded, and we do our normal Tube journey (we've checked it has no stairs) and walk the few hundred yards from our tube station to the building where we work. This is the longest walk we have to do, so we'll take it slowly, and we'll probably phone someone from the office to come and meet us. (As well as helping us, this shows them that we really have made the whole journey ankle-chained.)
Once we're in the building (which has lifts) things should be a lot easier. The first thing we do is pass round a signed statement from the landlord that he has the keys and we don't, so everyone knows we can't cheat. Then we just get on with our normal work! (With pauses to take round the collecting bucket, of course.)
We ask to leave early and reach our home station at about five, where we stand and collect money from the people who passed us on the way out in the morning. We'll have lots of photos to prove we actually did stay in our chains all day. Then when the evening rush is over we walk with very short steps back to the pub.
But the day is only half over for us. As soon as our coats are off, our wrists are handcuffed, and the landlord keeps those keys too. We won't be freed till midnight. Why? Well, the general feeling in the pub was that we should do something extra for the evening, after all just sitting around eating and drinking in ankle-chains isn't that challenging. So we agreed to be handcuffed for the night.
We wait in the pub, wrists and ankles both chained now, until our husbands get home from work and pick us up. Hopefully we collect a lot of money and have some drinks bought for us! Then we have reservations for dinner at a local restaurant along the High Street. We don't need to be discreet about eating in handcuffs - after all the idea is to attract attention and raise money. If the weather is reasonable we walk there and back with our "Chained 4 Charity" collection buckets.
Finally we end the evening back at the pub watching the Red Nose Day programmes on the big-screen TV. On the stroke of midnight we're released from our chains, and we can start counting the money we've raised for Comic Relief!
Well, that was the plan. J's boss and my boss were fine with it ( we work for the same company but two floors apart). The staff in the pub were more than happy, and so were the restaurant where we were going to eat. J and I started practising living with chained ankles at the weekend. I have a pair of strong chain anklets, one of which I wear all the time anyway, and I spent most of Sunday with an 18 inch chain locked between them just to get used to it. The first few hours were uncomfortable, the chain kept pulling tight when I wasn't expecting it, and I almost gave up on the whole idea. But my husband refused to unlock me, he said the sooner I learned to live with it, the more comfortable I'd be on the day.
And sure enough, by the end of Sunday I was finding it much easier. I came to the conclusion that the secret is to surrender to the chain, don't fight it; it's stronger than you are.
By Monday I'd pretty much decided that 18 inches would be about right. Then I read julesm47's post (thanks for that!) and thought, maybe I'm not being ambitious enough. So I actually wore a 9 inch chain for a few hours on Monday night.
Wow! What a different feeling! It's not like wearing a stepping-chain, it's like being tied up! I could stand, but I couldn’t really walk at all. I felt seriously helpless, and the feeling didn't go away as the hours passed. I was very happy to be freed at the end. I decided I would not want to go out in public feeling so vulnerable.
So, back to 18 inches then. I think grace56 convinced me that it would be silly to try anything shorter, at least to start with. Someone who has her ankles chained 24/7 should know, after all. Then I compared notes with J; she'd decided to go with leather cuffs fastened with padlocks and a 16 inch chain. To my surprise, I was overcome by a surge of competitiveness, and told my husband to cut my chain down to 15 inches. So that was decided. I thought if I could get used to 18 inches over Sunday, I could manage 15 inches by Friday.
So, I thought everything was settled. Then, at work on Wednesday, my boss called J and me in and said he was sorry, but we couldn't do it after all. The building manager had decided we'd be a fire risk, and he wouldn't allow us to work with our ankles chained. In fact, he wouldn't allow us above the ground floor with our ankles chained. Our first reaction was that this was "Health & Safety gone mad!" and we went down to see him.
He turned out to be surprisingly sympathetic. He said it was a great idea, he would have sponsored us himself, but he was responsible for fire safety in the building, and did we really, honestly, think we could manage to run down six quite narrow flights of stairs (no lifts in a fire) with our ankles chained? With a hundred other people crowding down the stairs? With smoke filling the stairwell? What if we tripped, and people fell over us and couldn't get out?
By this time J and I realised we had already lost the argument, so we gave in gracefully, went back to work and told everyone it was off.
They were disappointed, and so was I; I'd been really looking forward to it in a butterflies-in-the-stomach sort of way. It was a bit like if you find your bungee jump has been cancelled when you were all nerved up for it.
So, "Chained 4 Charity" is not happening. We may do something in the pub in the evening, I don't know. But thank you to julesm47 and grace56 for your help and advice!
We aren't being,
Chained 4 Charity