It’s been an interesting week here. A wounded baby pigeon sat under our decking and the local bird hospitals and centres aren’t able to look after them at the moment but we weren’t happy not helping because, Feathers, as we’ve named them couldn’t fly. Em looked for any advice or help on how we could take care of the little fledgling and a very kind man from a rescue centre gave us plenty of his time and energy to talk us through how to help. So, Feathers was placed safely in an old gerbil home (which was really for guinea pigs but hey) but they needed somewhere to recuperate properly so… thanks to one of our kind neighbours who went and collected the cage… Feathers has a brand-spanking… terribly made… convalescent home.
The idea is that, if their wing is okay and only bruised, then in a week or so, we’ll return them to their mum and siblings. Feathers is being very calm and very helpful considering they must wonder why I’m singing to them and trying to coo like a pigeon but when you fly into crazy people’s gardens, that’s what you get.
Ooh, and I’ve had a few emails asking me about Full Circle (and I will reply… sorry I’m slow.) At the moment, your next scheduled story is from Morgan and Sophie called Hayefield Manor (and the typeset has now gone back to my publisher so yay!) and Full Circle will probably be a while after that but it’ll be dependent on if my editor feels I’ve made sense and if she hasn’t taken to drink because it’s a rather large book… I will keep you updated at each stage of the journey so you will know when I’m working on edits…
I hope you’ll love Hayefield Manor in the meantime because if you love Aeron, you will probably love Morgan and Sophie… you’ll also love it if you love grand English houses; noble and dashing aristocratic ladies who look great in a frilly shirt; mystery, romance, courageous imperfect heroes who take on the mean folks, sword fighting, action, eclectic casts and characters who you can’t quite figure out… hopefully that sounds like great company while Aeron fixes up Renee’s bug and Frei drags them both through a refresher of boot camp…
So, I hope that lifted your own wings and you are smiling and here’s this week’s episode of Queer Tango for you.
Episode 13: Tracy and her Ricky
A class of two sides both equal in sloppy dance moves gathered in fair Bumblethorpe Community Hall. One side, those purple people who followed, were full of chatter and excitement for this week’s class on jiving, and the other side of non-purple people—Paulette couldn’t remember which colour was which—who sort-of led ish but they were as happy as Agnes without a kettle.
Gaynor sat on her noble perch of safety mats with her scones and ketchup on her sizable bump and Stan, in his blue wig and gown regarded the lounging Gaynor with sheer delight.
‘Ay, you like them scones better than the three other batches,’ Stan said with a doting smile. ‘Ketchup is on the side.’
‘Ta.’ Gaynor beamed at her dashing wig-wearing macho man and chomped away. She didn’t mind dancing but Paulette had told her that she wasn’t allowed to jive because it wasn’t safe for anyone if they knocked over her scones.
‘The idea is to keep timing with your partner,’ Paulette said, trying to be serious but in reality, were they really going to accomplish it? ‘So each kick or step should match theirs.’
George groaned loudly enough Agnes checked the fuse on her kettle. ‘I preferred the waltz.’
‘Oh, don’t be a grump,’ Diane said and flicked out her arm and nearly poked Tammy in the eye. ‘It’s exuberant… inspiring…’ she looked at him but he was still pouting. ‘You know… a bit like rissoles… ever just that bit daring.’
George perked up. ‘I like a nice rissole.’
Paulette smiled hoping that, as George flailed about as though being electrocuted through every dance, he might suit jiving better.
‘Ricky loves rissoles,’ Tracy muttered, hands in pockets, e-cigarette unlit in her mouth. ‘He’s not getting any rissoles.’
Tammy patted her on the back. ‘Make him eat broccoli.’
‘And cabbage,’ Tracy said with a sigh and started hop-kicking alongside Tammy only her tag and Tammy’s ankle bracelet stuck so they were at least in time with those feet… and looked like they were in the three-legged race.
Miriam jived away with a beaming grin on her face, glancing over at Tammy’s teeth as she did so. ‘…Going to need a cap on that incisor,’ she mumbled to herself then glanced over at Lanie who was wince-jiving. ‘You don’t have to dance if it’s hurting so much.’
‘I’m… good.’ Lanie grimaced. ‘I haven’t seen you enough… it’s our couple activity.’ And she’d spent an entire two weeks hunched over meeting tables with Mary-Lou, Barney and the other managers thanks to Barney’s idea to add a garden centre to the side of the store. Mary-Lou was being supportive, as always, even if it was clear she didn’t understand why Barney thought opening a garden centre expansion to a furniture store was business-like.
‘It sure is, honey, even though Barney wanted another meeting, I said that our girl has got to have her leisure time and a girl can’t stay looking good if she can’t have her me-time.’ Mary-Lou said it while jiving in perfect timing, a poise most dancers would envy and her ‘dancing smile’ on.
‘Me-time is good.’ Hedges hopped beside her because she didn’t have the energy to jive and she couldn’t lift her arms—She’d needed to tackle a Leylandii tree that Mr Hedges said was the equivalent of about a thousand of her stacked on top of one another. He hadn’t found it so funny when she’d made him help her.
‘Sleep-time is also good,’ Andy said mid-yawn, still jiving like a pro even when his eyes were closed. ‘And not being on a roof.’
‘How is the school roof coming along?’ Ceri asked flinging herself around because Janis was pouring over a job application. ‘The girls said that they heard the teachers saying it was going to take some work.’
‘It’s ancient,’ Andy said peeking open one eye as Glynnis prodded him. ‘And dad thought it we needed to take it on in case Trevor went into roofing.’
‘That’s if he can get out of the shed. I’ve planted holly all around it.’ Glynnis cast a sympathetic smile at Ceri who was watching Janis mutter to herself. ‘I reported him and his father for squatting.’
‘I’ll need to squat if he keeps taking my customers,’ Hedges mumbled to herself mid-hop. ‘He persuaded Mrs Williams that he wasn’t Trevor but another company and did her entire garden for twenty quid…’ She threw her hands up. ‘He overwatered her hydrangeas… then she has the cheek to call me and ask me to rescue them.’
Paulette wasn’t sure if Hedges was throwing her hands up in protest or if she was trying to dance. Either way, she was hopping again, so Paulette was glad she picked a dance where that was allowed.
‘I ‘eard in the pub that Trevor wants custody,’ Tammy said with a wiggle. ‘I told the bloke that he needs to be in custody, that’s what.’
‘He does,’ Ceri stamped her foot—a new move or protest?—and waved her hand around. ‘He only went and found a friend in the council and now we’re out of a job… both of us…’ She hugged herself. ‘And, to think, Janis has been a loyal servant of this community hall since leaving school.’
Paulette thwacked her plimsole to the mat. ‘How can he get away with all this?’
Glynnis, startled by the plimsole thwack, tidied her hair, mid-step. ‘My husband told the men at the golf club that Janis’ mother was running a sweatshop and that Ceri was her pimp.’ She shrugged. ‘He doesn’t actually know what a sweatshop is.’
Ceri growled and flapped her feather duster. ‘I’m going to dust them both.’
Andy pulled her into a sleepy hug. ‘We’ll think of a way to get them back.’
‘You’ll have an uphill battle,’ Janis muttered as she tried to fill out the application form on Agnes’ biscuit table. ‘He told someone in the council that the community bus is being used to move illegal knitters… so they cancelled the community bus too. Mum isn’t happy.’
‘Neither is my mum,’ Tammy said with a twirl. ‘She loves driving that bus.’
Lanie and Miriam exchanged a glance and Miriam checked her bite.
‘Liza,’ Andy said still hugging his signed bar mat. ‘She was so gracious when we met her.’
Paulette nodded, the ‘yes, dear,’ nod then caught herself doing it. Cohabiting wardrobes, Andy falling asleep, and now the ‘yes, dear’ moment… if they weren’t careful she’d need to tell him off for leaving his clothes on the floor and remind him to put the bins out. Clearly, their relationship was getting serious.
‘Liza is a nice lady,’ Tracy said with a sad look in her eyes. ‘She sent us an anniversary card.’
Hedges stopped dancing, eyes-wide. ‘Oh, garden sheers.’ She turned and sprinted out.
Mary-Lou looked around for a translation but no one could help.
‘Maybe she left them somewhere?’ Stan said and wiggled over to Diane and George. ‘Or her boy did…’ He sighed. ‘I like the kid… but… is it normal for kids not to be able to read instructions?’
And Hedges’ boy was enthusiastic, polite and intelligent—but tried not to look it around his parents. He chatted to customers, made tea, even gave them advice on how they needed to take a cutting and plant it… but… he couldn’t stick a flatpack together no matter how hard he tried and tended to stare at the instructions with a blank expression.
‘How old is he?’ Diane said then held up her finger. ‘No, wait, he was in my eldest’s year in school… so… um… yes.’ She jived about trying to avoid George.
‘Can he read?’ George asked with a grunt because he’d left him a note to help his mother do the shopping and he’d give him a tenner and the boy had pretended he didn’t see it and ten quid wasn’t even minimum wage for mum-helping.
Diane furrowed her brow at him. ‘Yes, but only if it falls off the top shelf in the shop.’
Tammy snorted. ‘Ah, sounds like mine… and come to think of it… sounds like my Colin too.’
George sniggered then flailed out his leg and caught the wall with his foot. He crumpled to the floor with a yelp and cradled his shoe.
‘Plimsole, this is wig-wearer, the fryer has hit the floor,’ Stan said between making radio static noise. ‘Requesting Evac.’
Paulette waved her hand. ‘Gaynor needs the ketchup opened anyway.’
George felt over his painstakingly grown stubble and sighed then crawled over to the safety mats and pulled himself up beside her. ‘I have another batch in the shop for you to pick up on the way home.’
‘Ooh,’ Ceri said wiggling over to Diane and Stan. ‘I didn’t realise you made scones too, George?’
George opened another sachet for Gaynor glad he didn’t have to hop around. He’d been on his feet all day. ‘No, my sister’s kids do though.’
‘And my youngest boy,’ Diane said with a proud nod. George had come to her and confided that his sister had been working overtime, which she’d learned meant that she had found a whiskey bottle and was sleeping it off. She’d probed, like a woman needed to when dealing with such a stoic and principled man, and George had told her how his sister’s husband had done a Trevor and she hadn’t been strong like Ceri but too heartbroken to cope. He was paying two mortgages, trying to feed her children, and yet he could still whip up a fried cod fillet like nothing could faze him. Was she in love or in awe?
‘He did help, he’s good at it,’ George said and beamed back. Diane had been his fried rock cake and he’d found out how her youngest had struggled without his dad and so he couldn’t stand aside. Yes, the eldest was a lazy lump but the youngest, he was a good lad.
‘Because you took the time to show him,’ Diane said while boogying on down.
‘You took the time to sit down with my sister’s kids and help with their homework.’ He nodded back happy to rest his feet.
‘So, just marry her already,’ Andy said then snored as he slept-danced. ‘Then we can add you to the parade because she’ll be wearing the trousers.’
‘How binary, Ruby, how very binary,’ Paulette said in her best Plimsole voice.
Andy snorted then yawned and Glynnis led him over to the mats and placed him down where he curled up the other side of Gaynor and let out a sleepy sigh.
‘You’re overworking him, clearly,’ Glynnis said and jived back over to Stan, Diane and Mary-Lou, who had jived over.
‘He’s been trying to help me choreograph a show,’ Paulette said with a contented sigh. ‘I’m calling it Stepping Out for Step-Gran.’
Janis looked up and smiled for the first time all class. ‘You are, she’d love that.’
‘Yes, we’re going to perform it to raise money for the community bus and in protest that Trevor is a right Trevor.’ Paulette nodded and waved her plimsole around. She’d heard he’d gotten Janis and Ceri laid off and she wasn’t teaching anywhere that would side with him… and neither was the W.I thanks to her mother—who was currently behind the biscuit table concocting more Pink Plimsole antics.
‘Don’t you worry, dears,’ Agnes said on cue. ‘The W.I has got ideas for him.’ She lowered her steamed up glasses. ‘Yes, you’ll find some very interesting pictures posted in the Bumblethorpe Buzz evening edition, should you care to look.’
Paulette raised an eyebrow. Did the Bumblethorpe Buzz have an evening edition? Clearly the small community needed to keep abreast of George’s latest recipe for a fry up or Stan’s diary on how chrome plated taps are not as good and peeled when you used certain soaps.
Lanie winced her way over to the mats and slumped down. ‘I just need a break.’
‘It’s okay to rest, you shouldn’t be dancing with a bad back anyway,’ Miriam said mid-hop step with Mary-Lou. ‘You can hold the scone box.’
Lanie propped it on her stomach and collapsed in a heap.
Gaynor took a scone from the box, slathered on butter that George had perched on Andy’s hip and splodged it in George’s waiting Ketchup dip. ‘This class is fantastic.’
‘Is it?’ Tracy blurted. ‘It should be… I should be well happy… you know… because I’ve been married fifteen years to that bloke and I love him something awful but…’ she slumped her shoulders and slumped onto the mat next to Lanie. ‘He’s done a Trevor on my heart this time, he has.’
Janis glanced over as Tracy’s hat knocked the picture off the wall then shrugged and went back to her form.
Paulette enjoyed actually seeing her class dance, properly, and in some sort of coordinated style as if they really were all doing the same dance. It was like she was teacher… a real one.
‘Old Jeffries is retiring,’ Miriam said to Ceri as they boogied like they should have a handbag on the floor. ‘There won’t be a dentist for miles.’
Ceri nodded. ‘I know, the girls aren’t happy. It’s bad enough Trevor is pushing for full custody and they’d have to live in a shed, but having their braces tightened by Mr Mulligan in Sludgeford is just too much.’
‘He told me I’d have to buy him out,’ Miriam said not sure why she was voicing her thoughts. ‘And Mary-Lou has three customer service representatives who actually care that Mrs Wingebag bought her extendable leg raiser in the sale but doesn’t want it…. I don’t have the money.’
Diane, a mother of two, could decipher rambling in a way only a mother could turned to Miriam. ‘He wants you to be a dentist?’
‘I am one… I’m actually an orthodontist too but Neal thought it was weird I looked in people’s mouths.’ She shimmied around to face Ceri. ‘But… he did a Trevor… and well… if I find the money… you’d be fantastic as a nurse.’
Ceri’s eyes filled with hope. ‘I could clean and organise.’
‘Yes, and we’d need someone to maintain the place… Mr Jefferies’ equipment is older than him,’ Miriam glanced over at Janis who was nodding with hope in her eyes too.
Lanie lifted up her hand. ‘I’m just saying I love you but I can’t move.’
Glynnis and Mary-Lou exchanged a glance.
‘I know I’m always happy to go into a partnership. What about you?’ Glynnis said and held out her hand to Mary-Lou.
‘Hey, we could have medical plans for Squishy staff,’ Mary-Lou said and shook Glynnis’ hand and then they both turned to Miriam.
‘But Trevor doesn’t need any dental treatment as someone will eventually knock his teeth out anyway,’ Miriam said and shook both women’s hands.
Lanie waved her hand again. ‘I repeat that I love you.’
Stan, Diane and Tammy clapped.
Hedges hurried in with a huge bunch of flowers. ‘Sorry, with all the tree trimming, I forgot.’ She nodded to Agnes who ‘tinged’ her spoon to her kettle. ‘You were downright lush when we met in the pub,’ she said and Paulette thunked her plimsole as a drumbeat. ‘And I didn’t need beer to fancy you, baby.’
Andy, Tracy and Lanie sat up as George held up the dip for Gaynor to dunk her scone.
‘A poem?’ Andy asked, sleep forgotten. ‘But for whom?’
Hedges cleared her throat as Tammy sneaked over to the door.
‘Your even lusher than you was back then,’ Hedges said with a serious performer’s expression. ‘And I still loves you like crazy.’
Lanie leaned on Andy’s shoulder. ‘I’m not sure that’s grammatical but it’s… different.’
Mary-Lou, Glynnis, Ceri and Miriam joined in Paulette’s drumbeat by adding their steps to it.
‘I feel right lucky when I come home and you put me in a whirl…’ Hedges upped her voice and tone with the beat spurring her on. ‘And I’m glad I met you on remand and you gave me a chance.’
Everyone looked to Tracy who had tears in her eyes.
‘So, as you’re moving and a grooving with Big Colin’s girl,’ Hedges said and motioned to Tammy who twirled by the door. ‘How’s about we have a dance.’
The door burst open and Ricky in jogging bottoms and a tux-jacket salsa’d his way perfectly across the room, took the flowers off Hedges, and presented them on one knee to Tracy.
‘Like I’d forget you,’ he said with a cheesy grin and a box of chocolates. He handed her the flowers. ‘Freshly nicked from Trevor’s stock, just for you.’
Tracy melted into his arms and gave him a great big smacker. ‘I loves you right awful.’
Ricky pulled her up into his arms and winked at Agnes then fished the Bumblethorpe Buzz out of his back pocket. ‘The boy is on his way. He said the information you sent him was pucker.’
Agnes nodded and her kettle steamed.
‘Trevor has done a Trevor,’ Tracy announced, reading the paper. ‘Shocking pictures of a man who claims to have been misunderstood as he bribes councillors, kidnaps his own father and holds him hostage in the garden shed… and yes… he’s caught red handed with none other than Barry.’
The class cheered.
‘So they totally are those kinda friends?’ Mary-Lou peered at the paper then averted her gaze.
Tracy and Ricky’s son strode in and nodded to Tammy then blushed at Paulette. ‘I nicked him for criminal damage… he’s in the station… they dropped the charges against Janis’ Mum too.’ He flashed a very neatly polished set of teeth to Miriam’s delight. ‘And I don’t know how he got that load of stolen goods in his car… I really don’t but my sergeant thinks it was someone called the Pink Plimsole.’
Agnes smiled a knowing smile.
‘So, you can keep your jobs if you like,’ Ricky said with a cheeky wink and a pinch of Tracy’s bum. ‘The councillor said you do alright.’
Janis stood up. ‘Nope. People need their teeth taken care of.’
Ceri held out her hand. ‘They really do.’
Paulette nodded to Andy who pulled out his MP3 player and the most cheesy of jive songs blared through the air. ‘Then why aren’t we dancing?’
Ricky winked at Tracy and Colin strode in also wearing jogging bottoms and a tux-jacket—The Pink Plimsole had liberated them from Trevor and his father’s wardrobes… thanks to Glynnis.
‘You fancy a boogie, baby?’ Colin said and wiggled his beer belly then he held up a Snickers.
‘You’re on,’ Tammy grabbed him and the class jiggled and wiggled around with absolutely no ability whatsoever but Paulette was still delighted because Andy was awake.
Agnes grabbed her great-nephew and swung him around with the satisfaction that the Pink Plimsole had once again brought justice to a divided town.
There never was such a story of more jiggy than of Tracy and of her Ricky.