Queer Tango Episode 15: Perfect Cup of Tea

Hey there!

We were so happy this week because Feathers flew! Yes, she’s on the wonky side and she looks a bit dishevelled but our fledgling was able to fly free. We’re happy to report that she’s visited and said hello each evening so please keep sending up your good thoughts and love for her.

Don’t forget that Hayefield Manor is out and ready for you to meet Morgan, Sophie and the cast here….

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Or if you’re outside the UK and US, you can just head to Amazon and search for Jody Klaire!

And, here’s this week’s episode of Queer Tango – Perfect Cup of Tea— which I hope that you enjoy and chuckle to!

Big Smiles

Jody

Queer Tango

Episode 15: Perfect Cup of Tea

Janis wasn’t the kind of woman who got annoyed easily; Years of peeling gum from radiators, repairing floors and being a person others only glanced at as they walked by had seen to that. She hadn’t expected to ever find someone to hold her hand or even spend much time talking to but Ceri seemed to have decided she was worth more than a glance. When Ceri had started working in the community hall not long after Trevor had done a Trevor, Janis had been confused by someone actually saying hello and then asking questions about her and then remembering the answers to ask how her mother was doing or how her new drill set was going.

It had been confusing because she wasn’t really anyone. She was just a dancer in the background who never really got a story, but Ceri started having tea with her and bringing her girls and then they would go out for a walk—steps were essential, of course—and soon, Janis’ mother was teasing her about how much Ceri wanted to know her and suggesting that she ‘ask the girl out.’

Janis grew facial hair and when you were a nobody, facial hair was something people teased you about before they forgot you but then she joined Paulette’s class—mostly to be around Ceri—and suddenly Ceri wanted to dance with her, liked her facial hair, liked her house, liked her mum, liked holding her hand and kissing her and… well, you get the idea. Now she was engaged to Ceri and went to dance class, people talked to her, really talked to her and asked her opinion. Her mum was so proud of her that she had taken all the police investigations on the chin with a smile because she was happy if Janis was happy.

Yes, she’d gone from a nobody to nobody in particular but she had a fiancé, two step-children she loved, and she suspected she might have a few friends too. She liked that change, a lot, and Trevor was threatening to remove all that and send her back to being the nobody in the background.

‘You need to place your hand lower,’ Paulette said, perched on stacks of bricks in Squishy’s building site of a garden centre. ‘It’s okay to hold her, Janis, you’re marrying her.’

Ceri smiled up and placed Janis’ hand on the small of her back. ‘You manage it just fine when we’re alone.’

Janis shrugged. She’d read a lot of books.

Ceri’s phone rang and she paused, pecked Janis on the lips, and headed over to her handbag. ‘It’s probably Sally reporting her step count.’

‘Or Bailey asking if she can run around the garden to boost hers,’ Janis said with a smile. She really liked Ceri’s kids and they seemed to really like her to the point Bailey had worn a fake cotton wool beard for three weeks in support of her mum being investigated.

Paulette rubbed at her ankle and checked her own phone then smirked at it and texted away with a roguish grin on her face—Must be Andy… again.

Janis wandered over to the joists on the side and examined them for defects. She wasn’t sure who Mary-Lou had ordered to build the garden centre but she suspected they must be related to Ricky.

‘Oh,’ Ceri said then sighed. ‘It’s Trevor.’

Janis’ hackles rose. ‘He want something?’

Ceri stood staring at her phone with a worry crease on her brow. ‘Um… yes… um… when doesn’t he want something?’

She laughed but it was strained and Paulette looked up from her phone while Janis tried not to throw joists around.

‘What does he want because if it’s private lessons, he can push off,’ Paulette said but her voice was too jolly.

‘He wants a chat,’ Ceri said then rolled her eyes. ‘It’s probably just about Glynnis cutting his father off.’ She pocketed her phone and hurried back over. ‘Either way, I’m far too busy dancing with you to respond.’

Janis smiled and let Ceri drag her back to the centre of the dented and uneven floor. But, even though Paulette played the beautiful music and Ceri placed her hand lower again, Janis still wanted to throw joists. Yes, Trevor was up to something and she might not of had many conversations with people over the years but Ceri chatted away freely… unless Trevor was involved…

***

Agnes of blue rinse and pink plimsole sat among her dearest of friends in the W.I meeting. Ceri’s mother, Nancy, had been full of smiles since Ceri had met Janis—although she thought Janis was a male because she led in dance classes. And yes, that meant she thought Hedges and Lanie were male, Stan was female and that Mavis wanted a parade because she liked pink. There was only so much you could do with Nancy, bless her stockings.

‘Is Janis going to wear a dress?’ Liza asked Janis’ Mum, Shirley, as she handed out the biscuits.

‘No, Janis doesn’t like dresses. We tried to make her wear one when she was a toddler and she adjusted it so it had a seam up the middle,’ Shirley said with a chuckle then produced photographic evidence. ‘Even managed to back stitch.’

Nancy frowned. ‘Good lad. You don’t want a lad in a dress or he’ll turn into Andy.’ She chuckled then nibbled her biscuit. ‘He looks much better in trousers.’

Agnes wasn’t sure whether Nancy meant Andy or Janis but, after so many years of knowing Nancy, everyone just agreed. It was easier.

‘Trevor should have worn shackles,’ Nancy muttered as if to the plant beside her—which she did sometimes. ‘That boy is always up to no good.’

The ladies of the W.I all nodded, sipped tea, and withheld their own impolite thoughts on him. 

‘He has the girls playing Ceri something rotten.’ Nancy continued to tell the plastic palm. ‘Wants her to stop playing away and bring the family back together… says she needs to allow the girls family time.’

Agnes scowled. Hadn’t she thwarted Trevor enough? ‘And Ceri is allowing this?’

Nancy nodded. ‘Yes, she tries to make the girls feel that, although they aren’t together, that both of them work together to love them.’

‘What rubbish,’ Liza grunted and folded her arms. ‘I think the Pink Plimsole should sort him out, I do.’

‘I don’t know,’ Nancy said then smiled at Shirley who was scowling. ‘I mean, they were a family unit until she ran off with Janis.’

Agnes and Liza exchanged a look.

‘You been talking to Trevor, Nancy?’ Shirley asked with a tone a lot like her daughter’s grunt when she found chewing gum.

‘Yes, he came for tea three times this week. He said that although Ceri has wronged him, he wants the girls to be happy and that’s what counts.’ Nancy turned back to the plant. ‘It’s very good of him… I’m just not sure if Janis would like that.’

‘She certainly would not,’ Shirley muttered then dunked her biscuit. ‘He’s telling you tales again.’ She tapped her biscuit to the rim of her cup and chomped it. ‘He left her penniless and alone with those girls. They love him, as any good kid does, but they are happy at home with Ceri and Janis.’

‘That’s what I thought had happened.’ Nancy rubbed at her head then sighed. ‘He told me that I was muddling it up again.’

Agnes would say it was down to her age or some injury but Nancy had always been a forgetful drip. ‘I think the Pink Plimsole may need to intercede… yet again.’

Shirley nodded. ‘Please. Janis cares about her.’

Because Shirley didn’t? Agnes smiled and patted her on the knee. ‘We’ll see what we can do.’

***

Paulette meanwhile was trying to help Janis with her steps because Ceri had gone off to ring Trevor who had called continuously throughout the session.

‘Start on this foot,’ Paulette said and placed Janis’ hand to the small of her back. ‘I know I’m not Ceri but you’re allowed to touch people during dance.’

Janis sighed, gaze locked on the joists. ‘I guess.’

‘He’s causing trouble, we both know that, but she loves you,’ Paulette said and smiled at her. ‘She really does.’

‘Don’t know why,’ Janis mumbled then glanced over at the door. ‘He’s a somebody… I’m not.’

‘Everybody is a somebody,’ Paulette said and pursed her lips. ‘Don’t let anyone make you believe differently.’

‘I’m just the caretaker… or was… I don’t know really know what I do at Miriam’s.’ She concentrated on her steps. It was hard and she wasn’t really elegant so it just felt like stomping around in a circle.

‘Work, like you do everywhere else.’ Paulette looked down at her feet too. ‘They’re attached, you don’t need to supervise them.’

‘Can’t help it, they don’t usually have to move to a beat.’ She shrugged then glanced at the door yet again. ‘You think he’s realised how much he loves her?’

‘I’ve met Trevor twice and I can say that he loves himself but anyone beyond that would involve braincells, sensibility and a heart.’ Paulette lifted up Janis’ chin. ‘As Andy would say, you have it in oodles.’

Janis laughed. ‘You say a lot about Andy.’

‘Yes, well, we’ve established I love him.’ Paulette waved it off.

Janis cocked her head. ‘He must be thrilled you’re eating for two.’

Paulette froze then closed her eyes.

‘Weren’t meant to bother you, sorry.’ Janis went back to her feet. Not having many conversations made it difficult to know what to say or what not to say.

‘You didn’t… you haven’t…’ Paulette shook her head with an exasperated smile. ‘Have I put on weight or something?’

‘No, you just look lovely like Gaynor does… your cheeks and that.’ Janis glanced at the doorway again. ‘Like Ceri must have had.’

Paulette patted her on the arms. ‘You’re a somebody she loves.’

‘But he’s a somebody she married… and would still be married to… if he hadn’t done a Trevor,’ Janis said then shrugged, glad that Paulette wasn’t annoyed with her.

‘She didn’t know you then,’ Paulette tutted and lifted up her chin again. ‘They are still attached.’

‘I went to school with her and Trevor… doubt they remember it… Ceri used to bring the girls to playgroup at the community hall… and she never glanced at me. Not really sure she even noticed I was there.’ Janis tried not to look at her feet then sighed as she stepped on Paulette’s toe. ‘I don’t like stepping on your toes.’

‘I don’t mind because I’m your teacher.’ Paulette smiled then glanced at the door too. ‘I was never a favourite in dance troops and it felt like no one ever noticed me either… I worked my way up but it didn’t do me any favours when I hurt myself.’ She patted Janis’ hand and moved it lower. ‘I learned that people got angry when I stepped on their toes so I avoided the hassle… which saw me with a messed up ankle and foot and them with no regret at all that I’m no longer competition… I doubt they remember me.’

Janis raised her eyebrows. ‘I can’t see you being looked over.’

‘Well, I was… yet I seem to part of a town with friends and smitten with an incredibly attractive and fluid person.’ Paulette rolled her eyes. ‘I thought I would pine for the dream… for the drug that is fame… but I don’t. I’m weirdly delighted I’ve been knocked up by a roofer.’

Janis blurted out her laugh. ‘You sound like George.’

‘Well it was dark but I wasn’t hammered.’ Paulette winked and tapped Janis’ chin again. ‘Concentrate so you don’t have to step on Ceri’s toes when you’ve married her.’

Janis nodded but it felt nice to know someone understood how she felt… without the roofer part.

***

Glynnis wasn’t someone who enjoyed being bothered. Her husband had bothered her for far too many years and it didn’t matter if his solicitor was demanding she give him access to their accounts because he had no money to pay his golf club membership, she wasn’t giving in.

‘Saucy, I need your wonderful assistance,’ Andy chimed as he strutted in through her front door with a muscle vest on.

Not for the first time, she unabashedly drooled. She didn’t mind Andy bothering her in the slightest. ‘How can I help?’

‘Trevor,’ he said and held up his hands. ‘He has tootled on into Ceri’s conscience and is getting Bailey to plead with her that they need family time together.’

Glynnis sipped on her gin and tonic. ‘Then he’s trying to split them up.’

‘Yes.’ Andy put his hands on his hips. ‘We can’t let him do that, Ceri loves Janis and Janis loves her… You can’t have a good cuppa without the right mix of sugar and milk.’

Glynnis had no idea what that meant but Andy’s biceps had ridges and smooth skin.

‘Janis thinks that he’s a somebody and she’s a nobody and that Ceri wants a somebody not a nobody and that Trevor will just waltz off with her.’ Andy flung his hands around then tidied his hair. ‘Ruby will not stand for it.’

‘Agnes has been talking to me,’ Glynnis said, swirling her glass around. ‘She’s been doing some digging for me because I’m not sure how Trevor is managing with the upkeep of the new house he’s been donated.’ She got up in a dramatic movement and strode to the window. ‘He was successful in finance, the best.’ She glanced back at Andy and his lovely biceps. ‘They were rich… spectacularly but Ceri never seemed to have much.’ She paused to adjust her perfect brow. ‘Then we learn that he had tried to take over the firm he worked for with dishonesty… and they found out and caught him before he could succeed.’

Andy raised both eyebrows. ‘He did Trevor in work?’

‘He did… He blamed Ceri because she let something slip to a work colleague that tipped them off. Of course, she didn’t know what he was up to.’ Glynnis twirled to face Andy. ‘He divorced her within months and claimed that he had nothing… which is why she resorted to any job that would help feed the girls… Yet I suspect he’s kept that money all along.’

‘So he got away with it?’ Andy flopped onto her sofa. ‘What do we do, Saucy, what do we do?’

‘Trust that Ceri knows what he’s like… but help Janis to show her the woman she is inside and how much Ceri needs her.’ Glynnis picked up her G and T and downed it. ‘He’s never been able to dance.’

Andy tapped his finger to his lip. ‘Neither has Janis… even with my Paulette’s help.’

‘I know… it’s worth thinking over.’ Glynnis nodded then returned to her window and her thoughts. She hated to be bothered and her son bothered her the most.

***

Janis made dinner without saying a lot. Her mum had enjoyed the tea and headed into the living room and Janis was happy to concentrate on the dishes but the girls and Ceri had decided to walk around the breakfast bar and she wasn’t all that keen on their conversation topic.

‘Dad said that we should see him more,’ Bailey said marching to and fro the stools. ‘He said we could go to the park after school… with you, Mum.’

‘I don’t want to go to the park with him,’ Sally shot as she marched between the living room doorway and the kitchen door. ‘I don’t like him.’

‘He’s your father,’ Ceri said with a sigh. ‘It’s only fair you put up with him.’

‘No.’ Sally folded her arms while walking. ‘I’m staying with Janis.’

Bailey blew a kiss to Janis mid step. ‘I love you too. I just think Dad needs to play on the park.’ She shrugged. ‘Maybe he’d stop annoying step-gran then?’

‘Doubt it.’ Sally sped up. ‘He annoys everyone.’

‘Sally,’ Ceri muttered while avoiding eye contact with Janis. ‘We’ll go to the park… you should spend time with him… then we can come home and see Janis.’

Sally ran over to Janis and hugged her waist. ‘I prefer you.’

‘Sally!’ Ceri put her hands on her hips but Sally ran off up the stairs.

‘I prefer you both,’ Bailey said then wrinkled up her brow then turned and headed off after Sally.

‘He just wants to see them… and they won’t see him unless I go,’ Ceri said then cleared away the plates. ‘I have to go.’

‘Sure.’ Janis focused on the washing up.

‘I’m not doing a Trevor.’ Ceri kissed her on the cheek. ‘Come and help me run a bath.’

Janis shrugged and followed because she didn’t think she could argue anyway. She wondered if Mary-Lou had a job going on the building site, she could throw joists then.

***

As was the case with a small class and a town of gossips, word spread to Lanie and Miriam about this development and they discussed it with Andy and Paulette then with Diane, George, Stan and Gaynor during the class break. The conclusion was that Lanie, being management at Squishy, needed to broach Mary-Lou for some idea how to make Janis a somebody… because, in reality, no one really knew what a somebody was in comparison to an anybody or a nobody… and whether that was a binary label anyway—Andy did feel strongly about it too—and Paulette and the others agreed that if any label should be given to Andy, it should be that he had a nice body.

But, back to gossips, Lanie cleared up her papers after the board meeting and took a breath. She hadn’t been so tense since she asked Mary-Lou for extra time off to move in with Miriam—Which was going incredibly well, thank you for asking, even when Lanie still couldn’t find her favourite bicycle pump.

‘Can I talk to you?’ Lanie blurted out much like a small kid talking to a teacher.

Mary-Lou turned and flashed her perfect smile. ‘Sure… this about Janis?’

Lanie nodded. ‘You know?’

‘I heard from Hedges that he’s thrown a curveball and is trying to get Ceri to switch teams.’ Mary-Lou flexed her neck. ‘He ain’t good for her.’

‘No.’ And Lanie needed Hedges for translations.

‘So, here’s the deal… I told Paulette and Andy to give our girl Janis some extra workouts ‘cause Hedges came up with a team play that will get Ceri going crazy.’ Mary-Lou studied her then smirked. ‘The guy can’t dance so they’re gonna get Janis to dance so Ceri swoons.’

Lanie grinned. ‘Fantastic.’

‘Yeah… Although, I don’t think Janis has enough to keep her busy at Miriam’s so I offered her the manager’s job at the centre if she don’t mind training Hedges’ boy.’ Mary-Lou put her hand through her smooth locks. ‘So, she’s definitely got the credentials to keep a family happy.’

Lanie grinned again. ‘Wow, you’re so cool.’ She chewed on her lip. Mary-Lou was clearly good with fixing things so… ‘I don’t suppose you know where I put my bicycle pump?’

***

So… the class were tense… Ceri was late—and she was never late—and Janis had a full tuxedo on and a cane. Paulette glanced nervously over to Agnes who seemed to be up to something and then at Andy who had fainted for ten minutes when she told him they were having a baby. He clapped back because he had every reason to pop his question now she was pregnant… only he needed more chasers with George for the courage.

Gaynor chewed on her chips and gravy—she was relieved to have a normal craving—while Stan mopped his shiny forehead. Diane handed George another biscuit while Tracy handed Tammy a Snickers…

‘And she’s through the door,’ Glynnis yelled and hid behind the stack of buckets as Ceri tottered in with the girls. ‘Hit it.’

Agnes hit play and the blaring strains of a really badly played show number rattled their way from the keyboard’s speakers.

‘Sorry I’m late, I…’ Ceri stopped as Janis pranced into the centre of the floor and bundled her way through what could have been tap or a grand dance routine but Janis was too busy trying not to look at her feet so not even Paulette quite knew what the steps were meant to be.

Janis toppled over a chair and stumbled to Ceri as the number built to a crescendo and then the keyboard speaker buzzed like it was in pain.

‘I don’t want you to do a Trevor,’ she said as Sally and Bailey darted out of the way not sure if Janis was drunk. ‘I love you and I want you to love me.’

The number finished and Ceri stared up at her with complete shock on her face. ‘But I’m marrying you.’

‘You’re going to the park with Trevor,’ Glynnis said from the doorway. ‘He wants you.’

‘I know he does,’ Ceri said.

‘And he’s somebody… I’m not.’ Janis shrugged. ‘But I love you.’

‘You are somebody, thank you.’ Ceri put her hands on her hips. ‘I’ve told you this before. I do remember you from school but you were shy and I didn’t like to annoy you.’

‘So, are you doing a Trevor with Trevor because we’ve been working hard for Janis to… well… dance.’ Andy wasn’t sure what to call the piece but Janis had been far better at it in rehearsal but she was shaking, bless her. He knew how that felt… Paulette made him shake just looking at her.

‘I’m not doing anything with Trevor.’ Ceri glared at Andy then up at Janis. ‘He wants me to get back with him but he’s only saying it because I love you… I married him… I know him… he’s a spineless slimy creep.’

Glynnis nodded. ‘His father would agree now.’

Ceri smiled. ‘Yes, thanks to the Pink Plimsole and Bailey… who has been led astray by your mother.’ She nodded up to Janis. ‘Bailey got him to let slip he has a collection of classic cars.’

Tracy raised her eyebrows. ‘You mean the ones Ricky just sold on?’

‘Yes.’ Ceri winked at her. ‘The proceeds can go to the community bus because Trevor can’t report cars stolen he isn’t supposed to own.’

‘And my husband,’ Glynnis said with a smirk. ‘Has come grovelling home because Trevor let him live in a shed and he misses golf.’

‘You knew?’ Diane folded her arms. ‘And you let Janis dance?’

‘Yes.’ Glynnis winked at Ceri. ‘It was more fun than Hedges reciting poetry again.’

Hedges nodded. She didn’t mind but sometimes a girl needed to say it with a top hat. ‘We wanted Janis to know how much she’s somebody to us too.’

Janis sniffed then smiled as Ceri beamed up at her.

‘I’m not doing a Trevor.’ She took Janis’ cane off her and cleaned it. ‘And that was the best dance I’ve ever seen.’ She kissed Janis on the lips. ‘We love you.’

‘We do,’ the girls chimed.

‘I prefer you as much,’ Bailey said with a wink then winked at Agnes who smiled a knowing smile.

‘See,’ Ceri said and led Janis to the centre of the floor. ‘You just have to be you for that.’ She put her arms around Janis’ shoulders. ‘You’re the right amount of milk and sugar as Andy would say.’ She pecked her on the lips. ‘My perfect cup of tea.’   

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