I hope you all enjoyed the blog yesterday and hopefully headed over to check out Morgan and Sophie’s story. Here’s this week’s episode of Queer Tango: A Bit of A Pullover. I hope you enjoy and are doing a smile salsa while reading!
Ps – if you missed yesterday’s blog… Hayefield Manor is out now so if you like romance, action, mystery and dashing heroes then chapter 1 and 2 are on the blog for you to read and Hayefield Manor is available on:
Or if you’re outside the UK and US, you can just head to Amazon and search for Jody Klaire!
Episode 14: A Bit Of A Pullover
The intrepid participants of Paulette’s class stood around the empty space in what would be Squishy’s new garden centre. Paulette, being a consummate professional had taught in many spaces… but never a building site before and she only hoped that the floorboards were more even than the ones in Bumblethorpe community centre since Trevor had been given the job as caretaker.
‘So, to raise money for the community bus, we’re putting on a dazzling show,’ Paulette said, hoping that if she blagged it, then she’d feel more confident about the class’s abilities. ‘In fact, we’re doing a series of shows.’
‘We’re going on tour?’ Andy clapped his hands.
‘Well, no,’ Paulette tried not to smile at his enthusiasm and his long eyelashes. ‘Mary-Lou has agreed that we can stage it here.’ She waved at the bare boards and brick.
Andy placed his finger to his lips. ‘I’m not feeling it.’
‘I’ve asked Ricky to acquire lights and a smoke machine,’ Tracy said with a wink and chomped on her Nicorette gum.
‘Keep talking,’ Andy turned to her with intensity in his sparkly blue eyes.
‘I’m hiring a big band,’ Glynnis said with a grin and swished her feather boa over one shoulder.
Andy cocked his head from side to side.
‘I’m going Plimsole,’ Paulette said—although she hadn’t been planning to—and shrugged.
Andy squealed. ‘I love it, but we’ll need to redo this roof because it is not going to cope with rain.’
Mary-Lou stared up at the ceiling. ‘It should, I paid the guy a whack-load to build this joint and if he doesn’t show me Ivy League, I’m going to sue his ass.’
Andy looked to Hedges who cleared her throat from behind an abandoned mitre saw.
‘She hired a man who has charged her lots of money so if he doesn’t make it look very posh then she will sue his donkey.’ Hedges nodded then rubbed her head. ‘Although she could be suing his bottom, I’m never really sure.’
Mary-Lou snorted. ‘His ass, Hedges, honey; his rosy-cheeked butt.’
Hedges averted her eyes. ‘That too.’
Paulette pointed to the area free of sawdust. ‘It’s a story led series so each show will have its own tale.’ She nodded to Mary-Lou. ‘Our first show will feature Mary-Lou and Hedges as the owners of Knotty Knitters factory.’
Tammy sniggered. ‘Any one who does Pilates in a baseball hat and their knickers is definitely knotty.’
Mary-Lou winked at her. ‘I didn’t have panties on either.’
Tracy and Tammy burst into laughter and whistled.
Paulette rolled her eyes. As always, her class were completely focused on her every word. ‘So, Hedges is being seduced by none other than Stan because he and Janis are rival knitwear owners vying to take over Knotty Knitters… all this being to tango.’
Glynnis clapped. ‘Ooh, I see the tension.’
Mary-Lou slunk onto one hip. ‘We’re not those kinda friends.’
Hedges poked her. ‘Well, we are for this show. Go pink, M-L, be in harmony with the pink.’ She shrugged when Mary-Lou raised an eyebrow. ‘Miriam dyed her hair pink.’
Miriam nodded. ‘I’m with Hedges on this one. Let’s see your moves.’ Which Miriam didn’t mind saying now that Mary-Lou wasn’t her boss but a business partner reliant on her for perfectly white teeth.
Mary-Lou grinned. ‘Sure.’
Paulette turned to Janis and Stan who both looked confused. ‘So, Stan, you’re the other woman who is trying to tango off with Hedges. So you just perform a simple tango routine with Hedges leading instead of Gaynor.’
Gaynor splodged mayonnaise on her cold tin of baked beans and nodded. ‘You could help fix that plastering over there too. Looks like George did it.’
‘Hey,’ George folded his arms but couldn’t really argue because he’d never plastered anything but it looked hard… he’d been plastered a fair few times though but that was down to Andy convincing him to support Tracy and Tammy’s new ownership of Bumblethorpe Bar by doing chasers.
‘That mix was all off,’ Stan said pursing his lips at the wall. ‘But, I’m happy to try my wig out for the community.’
‘Great,’ Paulette pulled her plimsole from her bag hoping that it would help focus them if she thwacked it to her thigh. ‘So, Stan and Janis are after the plans for Mary-Lou’s new jumper design.’
‘Sweater,’ Hedges translated. ‘I hope I’m not doing a Trevor.’
‘You appear to be…’ Paulette smiled her best ‘wouldn’t you like to know’ smile. ‘Your marriage is a bit rocky so Stan is muscling in.’
Mary-Lou nodded. ‘I don’t need a whole lot of acting for that. Barney and I are in talks.’ She sighed. ‘He’s done some weird stuff lately but wearing a dinner jacket and fluorescent shorts is too far.’
Glynnis patted her on the back. ‘If it helps, my husband has decided to leave and live in a garden room on his brother’s property with Trevor.’ She beamed. ‘Which is wonderful because that means he won’t get a penny off me.’
‘But you love him… sort of, don’t you?’ Ceri asked and fussed over Janis’ beard. It needed a trim if they were going to pose for engagement photos.
‘I think you’re getting me mixed up with someone else.’ Glynnis let out a wistful sigh. ‘I’ve put up with that bumbling fool since I was twenty one. I could have been released for several serious offences by now.’
‘You could, especially for good behaviour,’ Tracy said and bumped her shoulder to Tammy who sniggered. ‘I got out for good behaviour.’
‘Ricky got out ‘cause they didn’t want to put up with him no more,’ Tammy said and chomped on her Snickers.
‘But, I can’t be responsible for you getting divorced, Hedges being nearly run out of business as well as my children being subjected to social service interviews and Janis being made redundant… I can’t.’ Ceri sniffed then dabbed at her eyes with a wipe. Although she loved working for Miriam as a dental nurse, and she really loved working alongside Janis, Miriam and Glynnis, everyone had been put out because Trevor wanted her back home. But she didn’t want to go home to him, she wanted to marry Janis.
‘You didn’t make me redundant,’ Janis said certain that if Agnes and Ricky didn’t sort Trevor out soon, someone would have to let her out on good behaviour for pummelling him with her new floor polisher. ‘I’m happy with the change. I fitted three new shelves today, three and I didn’t have to fill in a form.’
‘Free of red tape.’ Miriam smiled. If she’d known how handy Janis really was, she’d have gotten her to build a new dental practice instead of trying fix up the decrepit old one.
‘My brother said your girls were very polite,’ Hedges said with a gentle smile at Ceri. ‘He even bought a step monitor.’ She winked at Glynnis. ‘Amazing how he so happened to take your case up, isn’t it?’ She patted Tracy on the shoulder. ‘And since Trevor was arrested, no one is hiring him.’
‘Unless you count the community centre,’ Agnes said from among screwdrivers, two power drills, a half sawn joist and her travel kettle. ‘He’s had ten complaints everyday against him too.’ She cleaned her glasses. ‘Can’t imagine who would do that.’
Paulette, half-ready to thwack her plimsole to restore order and half-interested in how underhand her class were, turned to Andy. ‘Should I know who my mother is making a reference to?’
‘W.I.,’ Andy whispered then pecked her on the cheek—because he could and he wanted her to know that he really liked her and wanted her to keep liking him… and maybe like him even more so that he could borrow her new knee-high boots.
‘Explains,’ Paulette said hoping he wouldn’t mind breaking in her new knee-high boots because they hurt her ankle. ‘So, Ceri, Glynnis, Tammy and Gaynor, you are working in Knotty Knitters and could lose your jobs… while jiving… because that’s how jumpers are made.’
‘By jiving?’ Agnes shook her head. ‘No, dear, they are done on a knitting machine.’
‘Not in my show,’ Paulette said in her patient tone although it sounded very impatient and suspicious since she’d learned how dodgy her mother and the W.I. were. ‘Then we’ll move into a quick-step number with Lanie, Miriam, Diane and George who are fans of Knotty Knitters and want their jumpers to continue being knotty.’
‘Do we have to dance in a jumper because it’s a bit warm?’ George asked and double checked Diane’s phone—He’d hired her boys to look after the shop; the youngest, he knew could handle a spatula but the eldest… they’d be lucky if he didn’t fry his hand thinking he could just pull out the fish.
‘We’ll give you… um… breathable jumpers,’ Paulette said, glowering at her mother and realising she probably looked far too much like her. ‘Right, Mum?’
‘I think the W.I. could rustle you up something,’ Agnes said with an ever-doting smile. She wanted Paulette and Andy to rustle up a wedding or a nice grandchild for her. Yes, she had sixteen grandchildren already but it wasn’t as easy lassoing children when you were in your eighties. ‘We could use that sparkly wool Ricky got us.’
Tracy smirked. ‘The Navy does like to keep a guy in glittery wool, Aunty Agnes.’
Paulette leaned on a pile of off-cuts or as Stan had dubbed them, oof-cuts—which were the ones when you got the angle wrong with your saw—or so he said. ‘So, the jumper lovers call in Ruby and Plimsole to investigate… to a stunning salsa number.’ Which she would now have to choreograph so Andy was happy.
‘You’ll dance with me?’ Andy put his hands to his mouth. ‘But you’re our teacher and a professional… and so much better than me.’
Glynnis waved her feather boa like a flag. ‘You can wiggle those hips, Saucy.’
Andy fanned himself. ‘I don’t know, what if I mess up and you have to rescue me?’
‘Then I’ll remind you that you’re learning and I don’t care because I love you,’ Paulette said then covered her mouth. Had she really just admitted that out loud?
Andy fanned himself harder. ‘I’m going to faint… she loves me…’ He turned to Agnes and fanned his eyes. ‘She really loves me.’
‘Anyway,’ Paulette said, clearing her throat and setting her jaw. She was ignoring the delight on everyone’s faces and the joyful squeal in her heart that Andy was dabbing at the joy-filled tears in his eyes with his t-shirt. ‘So Ruby and Plimsole take on the case because my mum tells us to or we won’t get cake—’
Agnes nodded. ‘I’ve heard a lot about this Ruby and this man called Plimsole and I’ve seen no wedding invitations.’ She pursed her lips. ‘I say that she demands to know whether he’s planning to marry or just stringing her along.’
Paulette studied her mother. ‘I’m Plimsole, Andy is Ruby… it’s our act.’
‘Are you sure?’ Agnes peered over her glasses. ‘I heard from Mavis that Plimsole takes off her shirt in the show…’
‘It’s Andy’s sister,’ Paulette said and nodded to Andy and everyone else in class daring them to disagree. If they did, she’d make them quick-step at a high tempo.
Oddly, the class nodded with her.
‘Hmmm…’ Agnes said in that suspicious tone mother’s used. ‘Andy, you must tell your sister that she needs to pin down her man and make him honest.’
Andy fanned himself again. ‘I’m fairly sure that she would really love to do that… but it’s hard for her when her man is so… legendary on a dance floor.’
‘Professional maybe… but legendary?’ Paulette didn’t know where Andy had gotten that idea from but her heart was squealing again because it sounded like she might really get an engagement. ‘Back to the show… Ruby and Plimsole salsa over to Glynnis in a three way duel and Glynnis leads them to where Janis, Ceri, Stan and Gaynor are waltzing together revealing their treachery.’
Paulette might have added a full stage voice and ‘oooh’ to her commentary because it was hard to take the ‘legendary’ performer from her.
Stan held up his hand. ‘Why does that reveal our treachery?’
‘Because you’re not dancing with Hedges when you’re pretending you love him, her… them…’ She held Andy’s gaze. ‘Non-binary can only get me so far before I get confused.’
‘I love that you tried,’ Andy said with a doting smile and a blush.
‘So, Glynnis, Ruby and Plimsole take pictures as they dance and then reveal them to Mary-Lou and Hedges who Paso Doble to represent they are in talks,’ Paulette smiled at Mary-Lou hoping that it meant they’d been arguing as opposed to seeking legal representation.
‘We would so be in talks, Hedges,’ Mary-Lou thwacked Hedges’ across the snapback. ‘How could you leave me for a woman with power tools?’
Hedges picked up her hat and chuckled. ‘She showed me her tree pruner and I was smitten.’
Stan chuckled and folded his arms. ‘I’ll leave the horticulture to the expert, thanks.’ He thumbed to the wall. ‘Like some people should leave plastering to someone who knows what they’re doing.’
‘I need more mayo,’ Gaynor mumbled then eyed the wall. ‘So, does Hedges ditch Mary-Lou?’
‘I hope not,’ George said with a frown and splodged more mayonnaise on Gaynor’s beans. ‘I’d have to take my jumper off then… No one needs to see me without a jumper on.’
‘I’ve seen you without one on,’ Diane said with a smile. ‘You can dance in just an apron.’
George wrinkled up his face. ‘No one ever needs to see me dance like that.’ His eyes lit up then he smirked. ‘Apart from you.’
Andy cheered. ‘And he didn’t even need chasers,’ he said and turned to Paulette. ‘How knotty your knitwear makes us.’
Paulette rolled her eyes, she did not want to see, think or even remember the mention of George and his apron even if Diane looked ready to leap on him.
‘As Mary-Lou and Hedges are battling it out, we have a backstory moment provided by Lanie and Miriam who rhumba their way through a sultry number which reminds Hedges how much she, he, they… love Mary-Lou,’ Paulette said in a dramatic tone then jumped because she leaned against the drill which whirred back. ‘And then George and Diane waltz in with pictures showing them how much Knotty Knitwear is needed… which leads us to an ensemble number when Mary-Lou and Hedges remain knotty together.’
The class cheered and Mary-Lou gave Hedges a high-five. ‘We’re still those kinda friends.’
‘It is very tense, Paulette,’ Andy said with a serious nod. ‘Do you really think we can pull it off?’
‘Yes,’ she said not convinced at all but it was for the community bus and she doubted many people would show up anyway. ‘Are you up for it?’
The class nodded back.
‘Can I just pause there,’ Lanie said then turned to Miriam. ‘I haven’t seen you in two weeks.’
Miriam nodded. ‘I know, we’ve both been busy, it’s okay.’
‘It isn’t,’ she turned to Paulette. ‘I think Plimsole should go for it.’ She took a breath. ‘I want you to move in, that way we can collapse into an exhausted heap in one place without mum asking if we need the toilet before she runs the bath.’
‘I spotted this nice place I thought might be nice?’ Miriam smiled up at her then grinned and launched herself into a kiss. ‘I don’t need chasers for that either.’
Paulette put her hands on her hips. ‘We were celebrating my genius, do you mind?’
Miriam and Lanie shrugged while holding hands and looking very smug.
‘We’re meant to be focused on the show.’ She thwacked her plimsole to her thigh. ‘You’re meant to be utterly thrilled that you’re doing the rhumba together.’ She pointed her plimsole at Andy. ‘And Plimsole is far too old for Ruby and what would Ruby want with a washed up dancer who can just about limp to class?’
‘That’s very ageist, Paulette,’ Andy said in his usual protesting tone. ‘And sooo wrong.’ He pursed his lips. ‘And not convincing now you’ve professed your love.’
‘Are we talking about Ruby or you?’ Agnes said as her kettle boiled.
‘I have no idea who they’re on about.’ Gaynor chomped on her beans. ‘But the baby likes the sound of her smacking her shoe to her leg.’
Stan beamed. ‘They’re excited to be in the show!’
‘I didn’t profess my love,’ Paulette muttered then sighed as the class pursed their lips at her. ‘Okay, I did… a bit… and we all know Andy just needs to flash his eyes at me… but this is about Knitwear, people, I spent at least ten minutes coming up with this… so focus.’ She smacked her plimsole hard to her thigh, the drill fell off the table, hit the piles of oof-cuts which catapulted into the badly plastered wall which cracked and dropped into a pile along with several tiles.
Mary-Lou folded her arms. ‘I’m going to sue the guy, his butt, and his donkey.’
Hedges patted her on the shoulder.
‘Which brings me to the title of this particular show,’ Paulette said and held up a biscuit as a peace offering. ‘It’s called “a bit of a pullover.”’