I hope you’re smiling and ready to enjoy this week’s Queer Tango: All About Feeling! There is also an audio recording for those with difficulties reading or just prefer to hear the episode. Feathers is doing well and checking in daily and we are pleased to report that another furry (well spiky) friend Prickles the hedgehog was rescued, warmed up, fed and went a-scurrying on her way! Hurray!
Episode 18: All About Feeling
Effective rehearsal was vital to a show’s success and the best directors/choreographers and their ilk commanded each session with precision to create a cohesive cast that could not only perform but adapt to malfunctions, music bloopers and all the wonderful challenges live performance could throw… Yes, it was about feeling every step.
Paulette was just hoping she could get her cast to remember some steps and not injure any audience members. Even that was pushing it in reality but she liked to keep positive, she needed to keep positive, she had to keep positive especially as her ex wanted to come to the show with his stuck-up stick-thin fiancé. Now, don’t worry, she didn’t want her ex and Andy was bordering on a dream man/woman/non-binary gender fluid person of non-discriminate gender because gender was but a prison for a free spirit—She was still working on the inclusive part of her vocabulary. But either way, Andy was more delicious than a custard cream, had more muscles, looked better in a skirt and was far more fun to shop with than the ex. No, the reason she wanted the show to be a success was more a professional sense because her ex was in an award winning show on the best stages, and TV, dancing alongside his disgustingly talented and attractive fiancé… and where was Paulette? On a building site with a leaky roof teaching George how to jive… Paulette hung her head—the sheer sufferings of an artist.
During this rehearsal her challenges were thus: Mary-Lou and Hedges were meant to be in a tense, sparky tango as they fired up the passion for each other in a heated debate about Hedges potential affair with Stan. It was meant to be a dramatic showdown between two dynamic partners and during it, they needed to rediscover their sheer adoration for each other through the alternating backflash Rhumba Lanie and Miriam were spicing up… and what was Paulette getting, hmm?
Well, Mary-Lou was in an argument but with her husband via text over somebody or other thinking that, ‘she’d married the guy who took out the garbage.’ Which seemed odd to Paulette because that was Barry who Trevor had run off with. This was while one-handedly marching about with Hedges who was on a Bluetooth connected headset and would start randomly launching into instructions about how to trim a petunia, expressing regret that the saucy poetry hadn’t been meant for the elderly Mrs Green but in fact for her next door neighbour the very sought after Miss Griffiths.
Whereas, her rhumba-rocking couple were rocking but because Miriam was staggering with a glazed over smile and burst into random fits of giggles as Lanie tried to hold her steady. Lanie’s show-stopping move where she tugged the prone Miriam from the floor up to a lifted headstand before she slid her down into submission… you remember the move? You know, the one where they discussed organic versus shop brand onions? Yes, that undeniably sexy move had seen Lanie yank Miriam who missed the catch—she needed to grasp Lanie’s hand—and so Miriam had flown past into a safety mat Ricky had ‘borrowed’ from the community hall to stop George knocking down the plasterboard.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Diane of starting on the wrong foot, George of safety-mat-dancing, Tammy of Snickers addiction, Tracy of Nicorette, Stan of Ruby wig and Gaynor of Marmite love were performing something that looked more like line dancing than jive as they ‘acted’ out being factory workers making knitted jumpers. This was all to the constant bawling of Liza who, even at mere days old, knew the routine was a bigger stinker than her nappy.
Andy might have brought his very swish sound system attached to his swish phone which communicated by some high-tech jargon Andy knew in detail but Paulette had no idea about. Then again, he tended to sing and dance to a computer screen with a mat and Paulette… she could barely manage to text someone without her phone deciding it knew what she wanted to say better than she did. She was a dancer, not a technical guru. Either way, Andy had found better music but his high-tech swish device didn’t have a boyband sticker on it, did it? No. And, before you ask, she still couldn’t remember the name of them but she did know that she no longer fancied her favourite and she had no idea why she’d thought he was ‘lush-fab-uuu-gorge-lus’ as she’d written in correction fluid next to him.
Yes, Andy was deep in technical speak with Glynnis over how to get Janis to hold a woman with authority and poise while trying to keep Ceri from kissing the kettle because she thought it looked the spit of Janis and she was lush-fab-uuu-gorge-lus.
Paulette put her feet up on the workbench and stared at the leaky ceiling above. Her ex would be laughing his BAFTA off.
‘Maybe it was Mum’s cake?’ Janis asked, perplexed, as Ceri giggled uncontrollably into her shoulder. ‘I mean, Trevor did make a complaint ‘bout her slipping vodka in them.’
Agnes peered up from polishing the lipstick off her kettle. ‘I didn’t know she’d borrowed my recipe book?’
Janis rubbed over her beard and adjusted her tango-hat, yes, they still called them tango hats. ‘She does like to increase the amount of treat-parts.’
Andy wrinkled up his lovely mouth. ‘I think she’d do more than giggle with that much vodka… ask George.’
‘It was dark,’ George muttered untangling himself from the safety mat, again. ‘Don’t remember kissing kettles though.’
Lanie lifted a giggling Miriam into her arms. ‘And you said the rest of the staff had cake too.’
‘No, Mrs Cherry, you’re not meant to get a proposal with your palm tree. No, the poetry was not for you and Miss Rogers doesn’t want your babies,’ Hedges said mid tango turn. ‘I’m sure you’re not those kinda friends.’
Mary-Lou twirled in her arms and placed her cheek to Hedges’. ‘Honey, I want to set the scene here. I was marrying Bill who had shares in every energy business you can name; my girlfriends all married those kinda guys… you gotta work with me, honey.’
Clearly Mary-Lou was on her phone too or she’d had Janis’ Mum’s cakes.
‘I think you should wear your suit, the one you wore when they did you for burglary?’ Tammy said, half-jiving, half munching her Snickers.
‘Yeah but, they’ve seen that outfit before. I want my boy to feel like I made an effort for his constabulary friends.’ Tracy chomped on her gum throwing imaginary knitted jumpers around mid-flappy jive.
‘Maybe you should wear handcuffs?’ George muttered. Paulette didn’t know what dance he was doing but he looked like he was doing floppy jazz hands or trying to shake off some insect.
‘Ooh, I’ve got a pair of them earrings,’ Tracy said with a grin. ‘Nice one, Georgy.’
George glanced over at Andy who sniggered and placed his finger to his lips. ‘Go with it, you like having a bar tab.’
‘I think I’ll wear something simple. We don’t need extravagant,’ Diane said to George as if he wasn’t flapping around like his arms might come off. ‘I’d like a low-key affair, a few friends.’
‘Did you see the centre forward’s tackle?’ Stan muttered blocking one ear and trying to feed a bottle to Liza who bawled back up at him. ‘It was never a red card.’
‘What match were you watching?’ Glynnis fired back, twirling with Janis who had Ceri cuddled into her back. ‘He should have been sent off ten minutes earlier for that challenge on the goalkeeper.’
‘What, that’s his job,’ Stan waved Liza around not the bottle. ‘A forward’s gotta let him know he’s there.’
Gaynor took Liza off him and poked him in the stomach. ‘And he was offside.’
Stan glared down at her. ‘How was he offside?’
‘The stupid television line said he was,’ Gaynor muttered then held the bawling Liza up to examine her. ‘Can I take the batteries out?’
‘I want your babies,’ Ceri said to Janis, gazing up at her. ‘I love you.’
Janis raised her eyebrows. ‘Um…’ She looked to Andy. ‘Ummm?’
‘I’m not sure, darling, but it would involve some kind of procedure,’ Andy said and twirled a spirit level around that he’d commandeered to use as a cane. ‘Implant of eggs?’
‘I want your babies too,’ Miriam said up to Lanie and flopped into her arms. ‘As long as your wear your bicycle helmet.’
Lanie raised her eyebrows and looked to Andy.
‘Helmets are important road safety devices,’ he said as if he’d considered it at great length then pursed his lips. ‘And maybe she likes fluorescent yellow?’
Agnes peered over her steaming kettle. ‘Or they’ve both had too much tea.’ She pushed up her glasses. ‘Tea can make you think the oddest things are worth marrying someone for.’ She placed cakes out with a distant smile. ‘I remember Greta, she was a sensible girl until she had one too many teas and married an American Naval seaman.’
Mary-Lou paused mid dance-come-spouse-discussion. ‘How is that insensible?’
‘She was terribly seasick.’ Agnes gave her a sad smile. ‘And he liked to go by boat everywhere… was living on barge when we spoke a few years ago… still blames the tea.’
Paulette folded her arms across her mini-bump. Yes, the deeply technical conversations of a dance troop. She was so delighted how many hours she’d slaved over steps and sections because her class were so utterly focused and appreciative. It was absolutely fine that she had morning sickness even with her mother’s tea-concoctions and that the more she stared at Liza bawling, the more she realized her bump was going to produce one of those; she’d have to push something that size out of her; and if Gaynor couldn’t be bothered to do her hair after giving birth then what chance did she have?
‘How about,’ she snapped wanting to hurl her plimsole at Andy for daring to be so sneaky and lush-fab-uuu-gorge-lus that she was in this position. ‘You try focusing on dancing.’
Hedges tapped her ear. ‘No, just put me on speaker, will you?’ She snapped, threw Mary-Lou over one arm and stared down at her with intensity. ‘Your skin is smoother than any silk I’ve touched; your lips are sweeter than a cherry; for it is you, my love who stills my thudding heart, and makes my spirit merry.’
Mary-Lou blinked a few times then threw herself up and yanked Hedges into her, chest to chest, anger in her eyes. ‘You can sweet talk all you like, the sofa is moving.’
‘You make me merry,’ Ceri said to Janis and kissed her on the lips, then grabbed her, fed her hands through her hair and really got into it.
‘You make me sleepy,’ Miriam said to Lanie and snored onto her shoulder. ‘Gas makes me sleepy.’
‘I haven’t slept in a week,’ Gaynor mumbled and shoved one hand into her Hedges-like hair then looked down at Liza. ‘You hear me? A week.’
Stan took Liza from her. ‘It wasn’t offside. I don’t care what you say about the video referee.’
‘He still needed the red card though,’ Glynnis said trying to extract herself from between Janis and Ceri.
‘Whatever, the ref is a plonker.’ Stan jiggled a bawling Liza around.
‘What do you mean, gas?’ Lanie asked Miriam, shaking her. ‘What gas?’
‘My predecessor didn’t know what health and safety was… or that you needed to label sedative gases… and not put them next to the stopcock for the water.’ She giggled then sighed then giggled some more. ‘We had a leak.’
Janis pulled herself away from Ceri with shock in her eyes. ‘A leak? What leak? Why didn’t you say?’ She handed Ceri to Glynnis and hurried out.
Lanie furrowed her brow. ‘Umm… is the gas something that we need a doctor for?’
‘Oh no,’ Miriam said with a snort. ‘It’ll wear off. It’s the stuff I give you to pull out teeth, we just didn’t realise it was on until the plumber passed out.’
Glynnis glanced at Agnes. ‘Do you have a tea for that?’
‘I do,’ Agnes threw something in a tea cup. ‘Rustling them up as we speak.’
‘How is the plumber?’ Lanie asked.
‘Yes, Miss Thomas, the poetry was from Mrs Green and she says that your attempt needed better punctuation if you were going to try swaying Miss Griffiths so to try hers instead.’ Hedges steered Mary-Lou across the floor with intensity. ‘Yes, she said she’d be happy to give you a recipe for tea cakes too, if you like.’
‘Barney, honey, I love you but I don’t think you are respecting my need for individual expression.’ Mary-Lou slammed her foot into the floor over Hedges. The plank shot up the other side and thwacked Ceri on the bum who ‘oi’d’ turned around and booted poor George in the knee.
Liza bawled on. Paulette fought the urge to join her.
‘Hey, I didn’t hit you,’ George mumbled. ‘I was talking about Marmite to Gaynor.’
Ceri threw herself into his arms and sobbed. ‘I’m sorry.’
He patted her and shot a ‘help me’ glance at Diane. ‘It’s okay, but we can’t have babies.’
Diane nodded. ‘You got that right, honey.’
Miriam tapped Lanie on the head and winked. ‘Bicycle helmet.’
Andy snorted. ‘Better than chasers that cake, clearly.’
‘We’re sooo those kinda friends.’ Miriam smiled up at Lanie and kissed her on the chin. ‘Even going organic.’
Lanie nodded. ‘Well, that’s nice… but… where’s the plumber?’
‘Oh, he needed a crown. I gave him two for one.’ Miriam nodded then snorted and she and Ceri burst into fits of laughter.
Andy wrinkled up his mouth with his fingers and winced at Paulette. ‘My tooth is better now. I don’t need gas… we’re already having a baby.’
Liza bawled on.
Paulette stood up, took Hedges and Mary-Lou’s earpieces out and put them in the discarded teabag pot; took two cups of tea and shoved them at Ceri and Miriam; grabbed Glynnis and plonked her into Miriam’s dancing space, moved Diane’s foot back an inch and tapped her left one; took Tammy’s snickers off her and placed it on the tea table; took a tissue out of Gaynor’s baby-bag and held it up for Tracy to spit out the gum; went to Stan and glared up at him, ‘he was offside,’ she said in the most calm-scary of voices; she took Liza off Gaynor, the marmite pot off George and dance swirled around, singing a the Liza number to her, twirled over to Andy and kissed him on the lips then back over to her workbench.
‘If you don’t dance, I’ll ban tea breaks for a month,’ she whispered in that calm, scary tone.
The class exchanged glances as Miriam and Ceri downed their teas.
‘Someone fill in for Janis,’ Paulette said, humming to Liza.
‘No need,’ Janis said hurrying in. ‘Plumber is fine, he said he just needed a cuppa and he was right again.’ She led Ceri to the middle of the floor. ‘You look better already… even if I didn’t much mind.’
Ceri rubbed at her head. ‘I get the feeling, I’m going to have a hangover.’
Miriam nodded. ‘I’m quite sure the plumber didn’t really need a crown.’
‘My tooth is fine,’ Andy mumbled to Paulette then winced then grabbed Glynnis. ‘Dance, Saucy, Plimsole is not to be trifled with.’
The class launched into rehearsal with fervour as Agnes brewed up a calming tea for her Marmite munching daughter.
‘She’s stopped crying,’ Gaynor said with relief on her face. ‘Am I just hearing that… I mean, there’s actually really bad music playing.’
‘Oi,’ Andy said and poked out his tongue. ‘And there was you thinking you wouldn’t be a natural mum,’ he said to Paulette as she stared down at Liza in disbelief. ‘Think she likes a dance.’
Stan nodded. ‘Can we hire you for baby rehearsal too?’
Gaynor nodded with him. ‘We can pay you.’
Paulette rolled her eyes, chomped on her Marmite and smiled. ‘Liza is a true performer, she just needs a good dance and she’s happy.’
Liza snoozed with a contented smile on her face.
Paulette tapped her plimsole with her Marmite pot. ‘I said dance.’
The class burst into frenzied dancing and she looked down at the little bundle of Stan and Gaynor in her arms. Oddly, annoyance about her ex seemed to fade because she was growing one of her own and some glowing feeling eased through her until she was sure she chuckled a bit like Miriam.
Andy slid his arm around her and pecked her on the cheek then leaned into her ear. ‘You look like Mum did in the pictures Dad took of her when they were having me.’ He held up his hands as she glowered at him. ‘I will dance too, I’m just soaking in the moment, Plimsole, don’t yell.’
She smiled up at him. ‘I will kiss you with Marmite lips.’
Andy shuddered and scurried back to Glynnis. The class twirled and chatted and bounced off safety mats as Agnes steamed and tinkled the cups and biscuit tins and Paulette wasn’t sure if she’d sucked in dentist’s gas or if she really didn’t care that her ex had awards because the feeling inside felt better than any applause. Hmm… She glanced over at her mother who nodded as if she knew full well what was going on inside her head. Yes, her ex was a shallow loser who would dump his fiancé like he’d dumped her; she didn’t miss shuttling around city to city or sleeping in digs which made Trevor’s shed look glamourous; instead she had a far better award… it was called joy, contentment… love and, like any performer she was happy to take her Marmite and admit that on or off stage, it truly was all about feeling.