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The one thing about coppers is that they cannot be nonchalant, no matter how hard they try. It's not just the uniform, but the way they constantly look suspicious and suspiciously look for a crime in progress. Right now, Angua could spot a concealment of evidence. It was slightly sad actually, they were so excited that they had forgotten she had excellent hearing and could pick up their entire conversation before she'd even walked down the corridor.
"D'you think she's seen it yet?"
"Doubt it, we'd know by now."
"I don't see why she'd be angry, it looks just fine!"
"This is Captain Angua we're talking about, she's hardly known for-"
She pushed open the door and gave them a nano-second pause, long enough for the conversation to screech to a halt and for the iconographic evidence to be hidden under a convenient bottom. Angua entered the Ladies' Changing room and looked at a row of guilty faces. None of them could meet her eye, even Constable Iskandra (the Watch's resident gorgon) was staring hard into her locker. Angua rolled her eyes "Come on, I'd expected better from you lot, where is it?"
Sergeant Littlebottom shuffled guiltily and looked at Constable Jolson.
"Um… the pictures are through from the photo shoot," Jolson said, not meeting her gaze "We… well; we know you weren't keen on the whole thing and… um…"
Angua sighed, no, she wasn't keen on the whole thing, but that made no difference really. She didn't want to let down the others for one thing, but mostly it would look more suspicious if she flat out refused. "Let's have a look," Angua said, as breezily as she could manage, "Have you all been interviewed now?"
"Yup," Corporal Sally smiled "don't worry, it's mostly stuff like 'What made you join the Watch?' or 'How does it affect your personal life?'"
Angua snorted "Sounds riveting, who'd be interested in that?"
"The readers of the Times Octaday supplement apparently," Sally replied shrugging "different strokes."
The iconograph was retrieved from beneath Constable Jolson's substantial bottom and handed over. Angua looked upon it and felt her soul die a little. Oh ye Gods, she thought, well, it could be worse. Maybe they'll think I was doing an impression of my boss.
"It looks nice!" Said Cheery reassuringly, "Anton said you look… intense."
"I think that's iconographer's talk for 'grumpy'," Angua groaned "is this really the one they're going with?"
"Oh cheer up," Sally looked over Angua's shoulder "you look great, Anton said that you had the eyes an iconographer could only dream of."
Oh vomit, Angua scoffed inwardly; aloud she said "Well, he's the expert I suppose."
"We all look good don't we?" Jolson beamed "he's really captured us hasn't he? Otto says he's done him proud! Couldn't ask for a better apprentice!"
Angua had to admit she had a point; young Anton Prosser was a master in the making. He didn't fuss like Otto, but carefully rearranged, purposefully striding to and fro. He even bit his lip with conviction. He didn't really overly flatter either, but when he told you he liked what you were doing; let's go with that, some part of you felt oddly reassured that he was right.
In the picture were the five of them standing in front of the duty desk, Angua had found that particularly uncomfortable, especially with the barely concealed snorts of derision coming from her various male colleagues. She had to stand in the middle, with Cheery in front, Sally to the right, Jolson on her left and Iskandra next to Jolson. It had taken far too long for her liking; she found it difficult to maintain a smile in the best of times, but having an iconograph poised and trained at her face for over an hour made her feel particularly… vulnerable. Funnily enough, it was only when her face finally settled into her Watch-trained poker face* that Anton finally seemed satisfied to snap away. She distinctly heard the little imp inside muttering "Cheer up love, it might never happen!"
He did capture a very good likeness, Iskandra looked serpentine and aloof, Precious looked cheerful and radiant, Cheery was modest yet assured and Sally looked impishly (Angua spat the word) sexy… Whilst she looked… well… intense. Arms crossed, leaning against the desk, looking evasive and distant, Angua felt a pang of guilt for effectively being the sour face in an otherwise perfectly happy looking picture.
"Um…" Jolson piped up nervously "We were thinking of clubbing together to buy a framed print? They said we can have one for about $30 and if we all put in six we could easily afford it! I mean we all look so great and it'd really cheer the place up a bit…" She trailed off when there was no response.
Angua could sense the intake of breath around her, were they seriously suggesting displaying this picture? Permanently? Where people could see it?
"Fine," she said reaching into her pocket "here's six dollars, but please can we only put it up in here?"
"Sure!" said Cheery brightly, to the sounds of relieved sighs "We can put it up by our notice board. Thanks Captain!"
"That's okay," Angua replied as she felt her insides tie up in knots at the thought of her own sour-looking expression staring at her from noticeboard. That wasn't the worst of it either. Oh no.
"When's Ms Cripslock going to speak to you?" asked Cheery, putting the money in an envelope "She was pretty keen to get hold of you."
"Was she now?" Oh joy, Angua pinched the bridge of her nose.
"Well, you were the first woman to join, and the highest ranking," Cheery pointed out "not because of… you know…the werewolf thing."
"Well, I should think not," Angua sighed "it's none of her business."
"When's she coming to see you?" Sally asked, glancing at the iconograph again.
"In about ten minutes," Angua went to her locker, opened it and took out her make up bag.
"Have you had lunch yet? Only I'm just popping over to Dad's to grab a bite for us before I go back on duty," said Jolson with a salute.
"That's very kind, I wouldn't say no to one of his celery chowders," Angua fished in her pocket again.
"No problem!" Jolson trilled, taking three dollars "I'll be back in a jiffy!"
Angua watched as the others almost floated out of the room with relief, I probably am being a miserable bitch today Angua thought as she reapplied her eyeliner, but if Mr Vimes is allowed, I think they can allow me the indulgence just this once. After all, if it's my work she wants to talk about fine, but my personal life is not relevant to anyone but me.
Feeling a bit more relaxed, she locked up and walked back up to her office. As she passed the duty desk, Sergeant Littlebottom caught her eye and indicated upstairs, "Miss Cripslock's here for you; I asked if she could wait outside till you turned up."
"Thank you," Angua smiled weakly, "when Constable Jolson turns up could you ask her to bring my chowder to my office? And if anyone asks where I am…"
"I'm sure some emergency will come up that'll require your attention," said Cheery with a wink.
"Thanks sergeant," Angua nodded, "carry on."
Good old Cheery, she thought, heading down the corridor, how well she knows me.

It always struck Angua how Ms Cripslock was able to wear off-the-rail outfits as if they were the finest haute-couture stitching. She sat on a bench outside Angua's office in a fetching, yet subtle blue and green bustle skirt suit, note book and pen on her lap. She gave her a bright smile "Captain, thank you for agreeing to speak to me," She said standing up "I've been hoping to catch you."
"Happy to help," said Angua, hoping that passed for friendly "please step this way, do you want anything? Tea? Coffee?"
"Uh…" Ms Cripslock began.
"Don't worry, our cafeteria's has vastly improved since our Quirm exchange officer came in, he'll even make a nice hot chocolate at a push. Whipped cream and everything."
"I see," chuckled Ms Cripslock, taking a seat opposite Angua's desk, "well, I'm fine, but thank you all the same."
There was a nervous barely-there knock at the door; Angua cursed inwardly when she smelt it was not Cheery delivering an emergency that required her attention, but Constable Jolson with her lunch and, on a positive note, a steaming mug of tea. Ha well.
"Come in Constable Jolson," Angua called.
She pushed the door open her shoulder and came in carrying lunch, she set it down on the table, nodded at Miss Cripslock, winked at Angua and left. Angua noted a supressed little cry of glee.
"That looks nice," said Miss Cripslock conversationally, "what is it?"
"Celery chowder," Angua replied taking out a fork, "I hate to talk with my mouth full, Miss Cripslock, but I haven't had time to eat my lunch yet."
"Call me Sacharissa and it's not a problem, it smells lovely! Is that from All Jolson's place?"
"Yes, since Constable Jolson joined up he's keen to supply us with discounted meals, including a half decent selection of vegetarian food which I can't get in our cafeteria."
"As talented as Emile is, he can't really get his head around people not eating meat; he thinks foie gras 'izz vegetarian enuff sure-ly'?"
"I see, well, it's nice to know the uniform curries a bit of favour," said Sacharissa "No pun intended."
I know this one, Angua thought, trying to use the small talk to drive in a wedge for the big talk; nice try, but I've learned from the master.
"Well, I'd better make a start," Sacharissa found the right page and scribble a few lines, "I know it's a standard opener, but what made you join up in the first place?"
Angua poked a large lump of sweet potato with her fork; well at least I can be honest in this regard.
"At the time," she said retrieving the soya, "I only had three options when I first moved to Ankh Morpork, barmaid, someone's wife or a seamstress. I didn't fancy any of those really; I wanted a job where I could be useful I suppose. Not that any of those jobs aren't useful," Angua added hastily, "but they just weren't for me."
"But you are very attractive Captain, if you don't mind me saying," Sacharissa leaned back in her chair "you could have gone far in those positions."
"Thank you for saying so, but I doubt I'd have gone far at all, that's the point. I wouldn't be Captain, I wouldn't be in such a good position and… well, I probably wouldn't be as… satisfied, with my work."
"But why the Watch? There are plenty of other jobs in the city."
"There weren't at the time," Angua pointed out, swallowing to stop herself thinking of ways to disembowel someone with a fork "I saw the recruiting poster and thought, well, maybe they'll be desperate enough to employ me. I hadn't got a lot to lose."
"I hear Lord Vetinari himself appointed you along with Sergeant Detritus and the late Constable Cuddy as some sort of affirmative action hiring procedure," Ms Cripslock said, scribbling furiously.
"Yes, but I did apply as did Cuddy and Detritus," Angua stirred her chowder, "Vetinari approved our applications on the proviso that we'd do a good job."
"Even though none of you had any experience?"
"Where would we have got that from?" Angua pointed out "We were the first of a wave; there hadn't been trolls, dwarves or w- women in the Watch before."
"Do you think you opened up opportunities for others?"
"With all honesty, yes," Angua winced at the cliché, but continued "I'm one of the longest serving officers in the Watch, along with Mr Vimes, Captain Carrot, Sergeant Colon, Corporal Nobbs and Sergeant Detritus. You'll note I'm the only woman in that bunch."
"Yes I do," Sacharissa nodded "why were you a sergeant for so long?"
"I liked being one," Angua shrugged "it was a good mid-way point. I was offered promotion a few times, but I only finally accepted when Vimes needed to spend more time with his wife and son and the work was far too much to heap on Captain Carrot."
"He's a big shadow to step into," Ms Cripslock said "how will you overcome that?"
"I work with him," said Angua stonily.
"He's still very much in charge though, to an extent."
"That's your perception, with all due respect, but I don't see it that way."
Okay, pick your next words with care, Angua told herself, she's on to something.
"I have a lot of respect for him, he's part of why the Watch works as well as it does," Angua said, carefully, "I take my cues from him certainly, but that's because he's a bloody good copper and my – friend. He's a lot to live up to, but he's only one man, he can't do it all himself, despite what he says and so I step in as his equal."
"Does he see you as an equal?"
"If he didn't, I wouldn't be captain," Angua said curtly, "I'd still be a sergeant."
"It was Commander Vimes who promoted you wasn't it? I have heard Captain Carrot played no part in your promotion, why's that?"
Oh Gods, Angua thought, feeling her face freeze up, how does she know that?!
"I honestly don't know, but Mr Vimes does not need permission from Captain Carrot to promote officers."
"But surely he'd consult his second in command?"
"Perhaps… We have been friends for a long time, Captain Carrot's always been keen to separate the personal from the professional and perhaps Mr Vimes did not want to put Captain Carrot in an awkward position."
That's all you're getting you nosy cow, Angua's eyes flicked to the door to double check that Cheery was there with an emergency.
"I see, fair enough," Sacharissa scribbled a few more lines, "So would you say that your personal life has implications for your professional life?"
"It does, but my personal is so laughably stunted that it hardly makes any difference anyway."
"Oh yes, outside of work I catch up on reports, keep fit," which was a fine euphemism for running as a wolf through Hide Park and hunting chickens "read books… oh, I also drink at The Bucket, but that place is practically a Watch house anyway. I also run a ladies self-defence class at the YMPA. We're learning the Vimes Elbow next week."
"I see. Do you think of a personal life as important?"
"If I did, I would have one."
"Your fellow female officers seem to get personal lives," Sacharissa said mildly, "why not you?"
"Because I'm… well, I suppose it is partly out of choice," Angua conceded, "but it's also because things have changed for the women who have joined after me, I had to work a bit harder when it was just me and now that I'm Captain, obviously things are a bit busier."
For a light fluffy interview for an Octeday supplement, Angua thought, this is getting a bit uncomfortable.
"So, would you say you have to make a choice between being a woman and a Watchman?"
Make that very uncomfortable.
"Depends what you think 'being a woman' means," Angua said "I don't think I've given up being a woman for my job. I still very much feel like one."
"What would you say being a woman is?"
"Well... if you think you are a woman, that's probably good enough. I know there are men out there who wear more face paint than I do and higher heels, but I would've thought the fact I have the necessary... equipment is a good start."
"But do you not think your male peers have not taken you seriously because you wear makeup and because of your physical attractiveness?"
Angua took a deep breath and said, slowly "Well, Miss Cripslock, I would ask you this; who finds me attractive?"
"Sorry, should it be 'to whom am I attractive'?"
"Well, yes, but what I mean is why would anyone not find you attractive? I'm not telling you as flattery, it seems pretty obvious."
"Is it obvious? Have you asked, for example, a troll? A gnome? A banshee? How about a dwarf? Or even another woman? Would any of those find me attractive?"
Well, there is one dwarf who does, Angua corrected herself, but he is a big exception in many ways.
Sacharissa seemed to consider this "I suppose not for the most part, but they are in the minority in the city."
"Women aren't, there's at least as many women as men in Ankh Morpork according to the records, but even if they are in the minority, do their opinions count for naught? We should only go with the opinion of human males?"
"Good point Captain," Sacharissa smiled, "I had not thought of that."
"Besides, not once have my 'looks' ever helped me in my job. Not once, because if I did rely on them I might as well have become a seamstress. Looks are... temporary, women who rely on them tend to get a shock when they fade. I'm not a captain because of how I look, I'm a captain because, modesty aside, I'm a fantastic copper.  I'm not here to look pretty, just do my job."
There's the quote on the article sorted out.
"But it could be argued that you pander to it," Sacharissa said carefully turning over a page in her notebook.
"Could it?" Asked Angua feeling the inner wolf begin to stir "how so?"
"Well, you clearly take care of yourself, you wear makeup and style your hair and do any of these things add value to your work as a Watch Captain?"
Angua thought of a long string of swear words.
"No. They don't," she said, teeth clenched.
"Why bother then?"
Angua took a long deep breath and leaned back in her chair "Well, Sacharissa, let me ask you this; has this particular question of looks and being taken seriously ever cropped up in an interview with, say, Corporal Rasheed?"
"No, why do you ask?"
"Would you not agree with me that he is one of the most devastatingly handsome men you've ever met?"
There was a little pause as, despite both women being very much spoken for, they pictured the tussled, dark handsomeness of Corporal Rasheed.
"Well, yes I suppose I would," Sacharissa conceded, although Angua noted that she didn't write that down.
"Have you ever asked him whether his looks have affected his work? I can tell you now he's a great copper, despite being so handsome that he's made iconograph imps weep with delight. I know he spends more time on his hair than me; he takes about an hour to make it look as if he's just fallen out of bed."
"Really?" Sacharissa looked surprised, but quickly got back to the matter in hand "Surely that's different?"
"I don't see how, last week when you talked to him about rescuing that mugging victim, did you once ask him about his hair? Or how he juggles his personal life? Or why he wears eyeliner?"
"He does?"
"Oh yes, the same brand as me, but has it cropped up in interviews?"
"Well… no, not to my knowledge."
"Have you asked the same of any of my other attractive male colleagues? Corporal Nobbs for example?"
That was cruel of me, Angua thought, but I'm not feeling particularly generous today.
"I'm sorry… what?"
"Corporal Nobbs," said Angua, a little too smugly "is like goblin catnip, a fine specimen of man...thing, a real catch for a goblin lady. He's going out with one at the moment I believe."
"Well that doesn't mean –"
"That the opinions of goblin women have any value? Do you see my point? Attractiveness is not the ace in the pack, nor does it have to be, pardon my mixing of metaphors, a burden. It's just part of me, like Nobby's burden of staggering handsomeness, it is not something we 'use', merely happen to have. Like having green eyes instead of blue, or blonde hair instead of lichen, it is all irrelevant to my job. It's just personal that's all."
"I thought personal wasn't important."
"It isn't important to the job, but it is important to me. I value the chance to take five minutes, yes that's all I need, to apply a bit of eyeliner, a touch of eye shadow and lipstick and go back to work. It helps me feel better, like another Watch officer collecting stamps or going to pole dancing classes. The City takes the rest of our time, I don't think it's a crime to take five minutes to apply a bit of face paint and before you ask, it's not to attract. If it was, I wear a lot more and probably wear a dress every so often instead of a uniform. It's for me, a little bit of personal to make the important stuff more bearable."
That's a good quote to; maybe I'm better at this than I thought.
"So your happiness depends on your looks?" Sacharissa filled the brief pause with a glance back in her notebook. Angua took a deep breath and put her food on the table.
"I wouldn't go that far, but I suppose if that is the case, it's probably a toxic by-product of being asked about it every five bloody minutes."
"How long does your hair take then?" Sacharissa asked, wryly "if you don't mind me asking."
"Ten minutes, I just need to wash and brush it, although I do see a specialist stylist every month in Elm Street."
"I have… um… easily split ends," Angua said, face as straight as a plank of wood, "Very serious. Needs special shampoo and everything."
There was another pause where, to Angua's slight relief, she found they were both supressing grins.
"You wouldn't say that's vain then?" Sacharissa said, scribbling again.
"No more vain than picking out a nice two piece bustle skirt suit in a half-price sale."
Sacharissa stopped for a second, looked up and smiled "I see, touché!"
"Anything else?"
"Well, I was going to ask you about whether you plan on one day settling down with a husband and a family but..." Sacharissa closed her notebook "I think I know the answer."
"I don't see why I would have to give up my job," said Angua calmly, "Mr Vimes manages, I'm sure I can to. We also have Watch members who are parents, they seem to cope. On the other hand, I can't stand children...Well, for longer than five minutes, too sticky."
"Fair enough," Sacharissa shrugged "that'll do. Thank you Captain, I'll see myself out."
Angua breathed a little sigh of relief as Sacharissa opened the door to leave. Well thank the Gods that's over.
"Is that it?" Asked Angua, reluctantly poking the bear.
"Oh yes, I've just got to write it all up, it'll be ready this weekend and you'll all get your own bound copies free of charge."
"Thanks," said Angua flatly, "I'll be able to keep it forever."
"Well, it's been useful Captain, lovely to talk to you, I shall see you around I suppose."

Angua sat for a while after Sacharissa left, staring at her half eaten lunch. That hadn't been so bad, but she was in no hurry to do it again. No wonder Mr Vimes always puts off his interviews with the Times, this is exhausting.
She checked the time, wolfed down her lunch as best she could and headed out for street duty. As she passed the duty desk, Sergeant Littlebottom looked apologetic "Sorry Captain, I did try to find emergencies..."
"Don't worry; she'd have caught me any way. It wasn't so bad," Angua smiled "although if I see one bloody word about my hair, I'll have to write a strongly worded letter."
Cheery smiled back "I'll bet Carrot will be impressed."
"Maybe," she shrugged "but I think he knows it all already."

*Known in gambling circles as 'The Vimes' or 'The Old Stone-face'.
I promised myself I would NEVER write fan-fiction again, partly because I don't have time (I've just signed up for Teacher Training), but also I really ought to be writing my own stuff. However, I just could not exorcise this from my head, so I needed to commit to paper... so to speak.
Sorry, I couldn't be arsed to edit it, I just copy 'n' pasted from Word.
It's pretty much just a feminist rant thinly veiled as fan-fiction. I'm sick of women in jobs like teaching and the police being told that if they're 'too attractive' they can't be expected to be taken seriously. It's not a problem for me (I'm not exactly an oil painting myself... more of a collage), but I hardly hear good looking MEN being told no one will taken them seriously if they 'Pander' to their so-called attractiveness. Yes, there's dressing professionally and observing a dress code, but I doubt slapping on some eye-liner or lip gloss is really going to affect your work. Attractiveness is so subjective anyway (especially on Discworld, where there are so many different species to choose from) that picking on a person because they happen to fit the mold of the mainly Western idea of 'hot' is stupid at best. Sorry, rant over. I obviously can't explain myself in person, I have to speak through someone else's fictional characters. Sylvia Pankhurst would be so proud.

I stole the name Iskandra from this work of art : [link]
Go see!
apeculiarpersonage Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2012
I saw that no one else had commnted on this piece yet, and thought I would tell you that I like it.
heart-of-glass Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012
Why thank you!
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