I’m slowly getting better and again intended to give you a short episode… and then wrote a lot but it’s always fun to hang out with Paulette and the cast so I hope that you enjoy this week’s episode and it makes you smile! As always, please forgive any typos in the blog or slips during my reading 😊
Episode 21: A Bit of a Plank
Rehearsal was oddly going to plan and Paulette was resting her feet on a nice comfortable sofa Mary-Lou had placed on the side of the now completed space in Squishy’s garden centre to be. In fact, Mary Lou had given Janis the extra task of making one section into a dance theatre/gymnasium for her staff to encourage the cake loving members of Squishy to try such elite feats as walking to work instead of driving.
Paulette thought it was hilarious because the only members who would walk further than the coffee machine were Mary-Lou herself, Barney and Lanie. But, in fairness to Mary-Lou, if you’d asked Paulette, when she started classes, how successful getting her pupils to exercise would be, she would have laughed.
‘Watch that pile of offcuts,’ Lanie muttered as Miriam hung upside down in hold. ‘There’s no point being a dentist if you don’t have any teeth left yourself.’
Miriam snorted with laughter. ‘I don’t know, I might sell more dentures.’
‘Sorry,’ Janis mumbled and shifted the stack of offcuts to the side. ‘I don’t have anywhere to store them.’
‘You don’t have to store them, honey,’ Mary-Lou said mid-jive swing with Hedges. ‘You just buy more wood if you need it.’
‘I asked her to keep them,’ Lanie mumbled then blushed enough her ears were very pink against her high visibility bicycle helmet. ‘We could use them or Janis could.’
Janis nodded. ‘It’s always useful.’ She tucked a load under her arm and hurried out.
‘If you’re going to store building supplies here, can I get a helmet too?’ Miriam asked with a cheeky smile, grabbed then slid down in hold.
Lanie sniggered, face screwed up with effort as she flipped Miriam upward to look into her eyes and lunge into a new position. ‘Won’t help you keep your teeth though.’
‘No, but we all agree that fluorescent is a good look on you,’ Andy said with a wink as he twirled Glynnis around in a similar rhumba hold. ‘You’re allowed to wear matching fluorescent when you’re an item.’
‘You think matching clothes is okay?’ Tammy asked while waltzing with Tracy, no Snickers in sight and concentration on her face. ‘My Colin would look crazy in leopard print.’
‘Ricky and me got matching tags,’ Tracy said without a hint of Nicorette gum… instead she’d moved to bubble gum much to her doctor’s relief.
‘I can believe that.’ Miriam nodded then nearly headbutted a stack of joists. ‘Why are you keeping wood in here when you’ve finished the space?’
‘I figured I’d get Janis building a whole tiered section out back so we can show off Hedges ideas for water features,’ Mary Lou said and twirled at high-speed as Hedges hurried along trying to grab for any arm or elbow she could grasp.
‘Is that your way of saying the roof is leaking again?’ Andy asked and looked up while Glynnis shimmied around him. ‘I pride myself on roofing but I don’t understand how everyone’s roofs keep leaking when I’ve fixed them.’
Agnes raised an eyebrow and went back to her tea cup placement. ‘Yes, Gladys keeps telling me her roof needs fixing weekly.’
Lanie chuckled. ‘Oddly, our roof is watertight even if we love seeing you.’
‘Don’t tell Mrs Jonson that,’ Miriam ducked to avoid a large selection of recycled timber. ‘I said that Andy was coming in for a filling and she demanded a root canal before him.’ She glanced over at Ceri who let out a soft laugh. ‘Then she asked if you were single… again.’
‘She keeps trying to set me up with her son,’ Ceri said with complete seriousness. ‘It doesn’t matter how much she tells me he can put up a shelf, the man makes Trevor look loyal.’
‘You’d have to join the prison service to date him then. He was one of the fellas who got put inside for nicking the judge’s property,’ Tracy said with a roll of her eyes as she wobbled on her turn and fell onto one side of the sofa. ‘Hey, this is comfy.’
‘It’s twenty grand,’ Lanie whispered.
Tracy got off the sofa like it would bite her. ‘Why, what’s it made of, Snickers?’
Tammy stared at it longingly. ‘I like that idea.’
‘It’s a bespoke piece,’ Mary-Lou said as she cartwheeled by. ‘Designed by a guy who reworks antique furniture.’
Paulette would move due to the extortionate price but didn’t because being pregnant was exhausting normally and it was hot and humid which made it even more exhausting.
‘Need fans in here,’ Janis said and furrowed her brow as she hurried back in. ‘It’s sweating.’
‘What’s sweating?’ Andy said checking under his hairless armpits.
‘The wood,’ Janis said like he’d asked a stupid question. ‘They haven’t fitted the air conditioning yet.’
‘I can’t get anyone to do it within budget is why,’ Lanie said then sighed and yanked Miriam to her to stop her from falling over two large beams on the floor. ‘It’s not like we need a lot of cooling buildings down in Bumblethorpe.’ She wiped her head with her fluorescent vest. ‘Usually.’
‘Does that need any kind of expertise?’ Ceri shook her head at Janis glaring up at the wall. ‘I don’t mind renting her out to you for that too.’
‘Oi,’ Janis said, turned from the wall and hoisted Ceri up into a hug. ‘I’ll make you do extra steps if you’re not careful.’
Ceri hugged her back with a contented smile. ‘As long as you hug me, I’m happy to do extra steps.’
‘I’m sweating more than the building.’ Tammy yanked Tracy over and hugged her. ‘’Gis some love.’
‘Quit sharing your B.O. with me, I’ve got enough of my own.’ Tracy snorted.
Lanie cocked her head at Janis. ‘Can you fit air con?’
‘Dunno, never needed to at the community centre.’ Janis stroked over her beard. ‘I could read a book on it and give it a shot.’
‘So, you don’t want my roofing but you fawn all over Janis’ handiness,’ Andy shot from twirling around Glynnis who flopped backward into pose. ‘Ruby feels very unloved.’
‘I’ve been following you around reciting poetry from countless customers for months.’ Hedges mock wagged her finger at him. ‘Ruby gets enough love to keep me sweating with stage nerves.’
‘She’s right, honey. Even Barney said you looked quite something in your blue number.’ Mary-Lou winked then did a triple forward flip.
Lanie stepped over Miriam’s leg and two blocks jutting out from a pile. ‘We love Ruby but she needs more bicycle gear.’
Miriam nodded then ducked as Janis hauled more wood past her. ‘And maybe a new tooth x-raying machine. Mine’s broken.’
‘Was anything in clinic in one piece when the other guy retired?’ Lanie folded her arms, face stoic. ‘And does he know Trevor?’
‘Why must we mention him?’ Glynnis pulled her lips into a thin line as she pirouetted. ‘I had to pay three different solicitors to stop the police arresting Janis’ mother again.’ She sighed. ‘I don’t know how he produced pictures of her running a sweatshop abroad.’
‘I don’t know when he found the time,’ Andy mumbled peering around Glynnis’ shoulder at Paulette. ‘He’s been sending Ruby love letters… again.’
Hedges tried to hurry after Mary-Lou as she shimmied on past. ‘But not through me, he’s banned.’
‘He tried to tell environmental health that I wasn’t cleaning my equipment,’ Miriam ducked another plank Janis hauled overhead. ‘If he comes into my surgery, I’ll give him dentures, alright.’
‘It’s like your version of the plimsole,’ Lanie said with a curt nod.
Diane tutted. ‘He demanded that I didn’t style Ceri’s hair for the wedding because she was cheating on him when she’d left him and run off with all his money.’ She looked at George who was extracting himself from the safety mat. ‘I told him that if he came in my salon again, I’d set Gaynor on him.’
George shuddered. ‘He’ll stay clear with that.’
‘Careful, Gorgy,’ Tracy said with a smirk, gold tooth on show. ‘Gaynor might do your hair.’
Gaynor wasn’t paying attention but was singing to Liza who gurgled in response.
‘Diane might protect you if you don’t mention chasers with roofers,’ Tammy added then pulled a Snickers from her handbag and tore it open.
‘It was dark and I was hammered.’ George wheezed out a breath then turned to Diane. ‘You’re beautiful and wonderful and please don’t let her shave my hair off.’
Diane pecked George on the on the lips. ‘You’d look ridiculous bald.’
Agnes peered over her glasses. ‘I’m still interested to understand why Trevor is reporting Janis’ mother… and Miriam.’ She gave them a stern look. ‘Do I need to dust off the Pink Plimsole once more?’
Miriam shook her head. ‘No, but the environment officer who showed up enjoyed getting a free check up and I got to try out my new whitening powder that really gets the enamel looking spotless.’
‘Yes, clean teeth are important.’ Agnes took her glasses off and cleaned them. ‘What other crimes is this Trevor up to?’
Andy placed his finger to his lip. ‘He sent me, Andy, a letter telling me that Ruby was in love with him and we’d never work out.’
Tracy cocked her head. ‘You’re breaking up with yourself?’
‘I’m not sure he knew they were both me,’ Andy mumbled then smiled his most innocent smile at Paulette. ‘I wrote him a letter back assuring him that we were so close that we could almost be one person.’
Paulette laughed. ‘Very clever, dear.’ She smacked her plimsole to the sofa. ‘Now, get on with dancing.’
‘Did you tell him you only take love letters through Hedges?’ Lanie asked with a cheeky smile. Lanie had come a long way since they’d first begun lessons. She had been nervous about Mary-Lou taking over Squishy and kept herself locked in her office most of the day. Going to classes had given her the confidence to talk to her work colleagues… with the incentive that she could talk to Miriam too… and each class, she’d slowly come out of her shell. Mary-Lou had been impressed with her and had mentored her and had now entrusted her with getting the workforce fit by running spinning classes and gym classes throughout the work day. So Lanie didn’t do a lot of work in her office anymore. She did it while cycling in the gym.
‘Stop smiling so much, they’ll think you enjoy dancing with me,’ Miriam whispered up to her as they slid into a sideward step-over.
‘We’re those kinda friends so I’m allowed.’ Lanie smiled even wider and pecked her on the cheek. Yes, she was still quiet, reserved and dancing with Miriam looked like a technical drawing instead of a expressive work.
‘Try dancing like you fancy her then,’ Paulette heckled from the side and rolled her eyes. Seriously, it was like watching someone fill out paperwork. ‘Even Hedges does better than you.’
‘I dance like I fancy Mary-Lou?’ Hedges asked with a sigh. ‘It’s the poetry, it has to be.’
Mary-Lou patted her on the shoulder. ‘I’m good with it, honey, we’re those kinda dance friends.’ She twirled and mock swooned. ‘No sending me love letters though ‘cause Barney would have to step up his game and he ain’t real good at writing letters.’
‘Ricky wrote me letters from inside once,’ Tracy said then chomped on her bubble gum. ‘But he didn’t get that telling me where he’d stashed his haul in them would get picked up.’
‘Even Colin knows that,’ Tammy said producing a second Snickers from her handbag and munching on it. ‘How come he didn’t know they read letters then?’
‘Dunno but it was before we was married so I sorted him out.’ Tracy blew a bubble. ‘He writes me notes asking me to pick up more milk now.’
‘Unlike Lanie who is trying to subdue and sway Miriam in this dance not discuss organic vegetables again,’ Paulette thwacked her plimsole to the sofa. ‘How can you rhumba that way?’
‘Because her helmet reminds me of onions,’ Miriam said and poked out her tongue at Paulette.
‘I’ll make her take it off then,’ Paulette muttered back.
Miriam shot a glare her way. ‘She needs a helmet on with all the off-cuts.’
Since the first class, Miriam had also come out of her shell. She’d been polite and enthusiastic but it was clear she, like Paulette and Ceri, was starting again. She carried the look of a broken relationship in her eyes. Personally Paulette couldn’t figure out how someone qualified to be a dentist had never been in practice because her husband didn’t want her earning more than him. She was a good dentist too, if Andy’s happy face when he came home was anything to go by. Still, it was good that Miriam had taken the job in Squishy when she came home because it would have taken Lanie a lot longer to pluck up the courage not to faint if they’d only seen each other in class. Yes, Lanie might rhumba like a technical drawing but Miriam gazed at her like she was throwing her around with passion.
‘I want more than an onion on her head,’ Paulette said and thwacked her plimsole again. ‘She’s not even gripping you with energy and we can’t keep buying her a new bike.’
Lanie glanced over. ‘I’m subtle, Plimsole, not everyone can be a diva.’
Andy snorted. ‘Sooo true.’
‘You can be subtle off stage, on it you need to find your inner diva so we can see that you want to sway her.’ Paulette held up her plimsole. ‘Or I’ll steal that organic onion on your head and make you wear Stan’s wig.’
‘She’s my dream bicycle, okay.’ Lanie threw Miriam around her back. ‘It’s hard believing that I actually get to dance with her let alone live with her.’ Lanie blew out a huffy breath. ‘Even if she feeds me organic food.’
Miriam smiled up at her in that adoring way. ‘That’s her version of saying I’m well fit, she loves me and she’s not doing a Trevor.’
Diane glanced at Glynnis who held up her hands.
‘Again we are dragged back to him.’ Glynnis twirled and sank into Andy’s arms. ‘Janis, can you rewire him?’
‘Do you really do rewiring?’ Hedges asked with amazement, which could have been more to do with Mary-Lou backflipping during their routine. ‘I need electric running out to my garage.’
Stan turned with a sleepy frown. ‘I’m technically supposed to be the local handyman, you get that, right?’
‘You’re on paternity leave,’ Glynnis said with pursed lips. ‘And you can barely talk without snoring.’
Stan leaned onto a stack of planks and snored in response.
‘My husband snores. I can hear him from my room.’ Glynnis swished around three beams running across the floor. ‘He came crawling home to me, much in the style of our son, saying he wanted to show me he could be the man I needed and take care of me and hold open the door for me.’ She leaned back into hold with a scowl. ‘I told him, I didn’t need him and if he wants to hold the door open for me, he needs to realise that I own it.’
Andy raised his eyebrow with a dashing smile. ‘You’re a strong woman, Saucy. It flows from you.’
‘Ricky breaks open the window for me,’ Tracy said with a snigger.
Diane chewed on her lip as George flew into the safety mat again. ‘George opens the door for me but I don’t think we own that many of them.’
George pulled his head out of the mat. ‘You held the door for me the other day when I was carrying boxes.’ He smiled ‘So, we hold open doors for each other.’
Paulette smiled. Diane had been his ever-loving admirer and had eaten fried food for lunch everyday for years just to be close to him. George was as smitten but neither of them had found that extra push then again, Diane’s late husband had been loved and George had no idea how to live up to him until he realised that the best way to get Diane was to hurl himself into a safety mat once a week, get his beard cut off and let her ask him out instead.
‘And we cook together,’ Diane said with delight. ‘I showed him spices the other day.’
Andy ‘oooh’d’ which could have been at Mary-Lou’s triple somersault.
‘Didn’t mind it,’ George said with a smile. ‘I grew up with my mother’s love of curry powders… but I’ve never tried pineapples with food before.’
Diane patted him on the back as he limped over. ‘You haven’t tried fruit in general before… but we’re fixing that or the doctor will take my Snickers away too.’
George hugged her and squeezed her. ‘I’ll take his brandy away if he tries it.’
Diane chuckled then squeezed him back and pulled him into hold.
Miriam exchanged a glance with Andy. Yes, who could have imagined that George would be so comfortable that he’d hug Diane without thinking and all while extracting sawdust from his hair.
‘I tried suggesting brandy,’ Stan said with a yawn as he sleep-danced around with Gaynor, Liza in between them in a pouch. ‘It’s easier to sleep with brandy.’
‘You’re not feeding Liza alcohol,’ Gaynor said and kissed Liza on the head as she twirled Stan and his wig flapped about.
‘Not Liza, us,’ Stan said as he flicked out his leg in a kick, pursed his lips like Andy had shown him then scratched his stubbled chin. ‘Ay, I changed her nappy solo earlier…’ He nodded to the mothers in the room. ‘Solo.’
Andy stopped and clapped. ‘Did you wear PPE?’
Stan nodded. ‘Nose plug, goggles, gloves and overalls… well… a plastic apron that I used to stop sick on my shoulder.’
George’s face went ashen. ‘Gross.’
Diane poked him. ‘You were that age once.’
‘Still is mentally, isn’t he?’ Andy fired then poked out his tongue as George scowled. ‘Protest all you like, no self respecting adult makes models of boats.’ He smirked in the way he always did when teasing. ‘They are toys, Georgy dear, toys.’
‘They are intricate replicas of yachts,’ George muttered back.
Gaynor ignored the bickering and fixed on Stan with a confused look which could have been because of the shape his wig was in. ‘You wore safety goggles to change a nappy?’
‘Yes, I heard they fire pee,’ Stan said with a shudder. ‘But I changed her nappy and it didn’t fall off again.’
Gaynor patted him on the arm. ‘Girls don’t fire pee.’
‘Oh,’ Stan said then patted her on the arm. ‘Well… health and safety best observed in case.’
Paulette enjoyed watching Stan and Gaynor smile at each other and Gaynor poke him to wake him up as they twirled with Liza. Their ability to dance had jumped several levels due to the fact that Liza only seemed to sleep when they danced… So they danced constantly. Paulette hadn’t been sure about Gaynor when she’d showed up to class. Her reputation for being in a mood had been legendary but… since she’d become a mum, she’d calmed. In fact, she smiled between scowls.
Whereas Stan, he’d been sleeping in his garage, unsure what he’d done to upset her when they’d started classes. He’d thought it was because she was going through menopause when it was actually because she was pregnant. He’d tried poetry and flower arranging and his poetry was now even more legendary than her moods. Just ask Hedges.
‘I think health and safety is important too,’ Paulette said smiling over at Hedges who couldn’t do an over head kick like Mary-Lou so just hopped on one foot. ‘Which means avoiding dangerous tasks that involve solvents and long handled tools.’
Andy put his hands on his hips as Glynnis flicked her leg over his shoulder. ‘Plimsole, soap, a mop and bucket are not hazardous.’ He sighed and caught Glynnis’ leg then hoisted her up so she could kick out her other leg. ‘She forgets to hoover the tops of the skirting boards.’
Paulette frowned. ‘What are they?’
He threw his hands in the air as Glynnis dropped into a new move. ‘You may be a dancer, Plimsole but acting dumb is not a strength of yours.’
Hedges smirked mostly because George had hit the safety mat with an unintended somersault.
‘But, Ruby, you are far better at housework and enjoy it, so I’ll put out the bins.’ Paulette batted her eyelids. ‘And your foot needs to be extended more there.’
Andy adjusted his foot with all the eagerness he showed for anything dance related and for her. ‘Better?’
‘Better,’ she said with a soft smile. ‘And I really don’t know what a skirting board is.’
‘I’ve got a few spare if you need one?’ Janis asked as she shifted more wood around. ‘I can sand them but I don’t really want to hoover them too.’
‘Mary-Lou donated some to us when I re-fixed her roof,’ he pointed upwards as if there weren’t groups of people detouring by Squishy to stare at him dancing across the tiles. ‘I don’t know why your house keeps leaking though.’
‘No idea, honey.’ Mary-Lou whistled to herself and twirled around as Hedges tried to follow.
‘Mrs Jenkins keeps asking me if I’ll marry her daughter when I’m fixing her roof even when I tell them that I have a partner.’ Andy pursed his lips then sighed. ‘Ruby is just as partnered but they don’t listen.’
And the term partner made Paulette feel like they were line dancing but Andy told everyone and informed everyone they were partners. She’d even made him a Ruby P.I. badge.
‘Send your dad to fix the roof instead then,’ Stan said in a sleepy tone as he sashayed around while making baby noises.
‘Dad is busy on the school roof. So I have to run around doing the little jobs.’ Andy said with a confused look. ‘He always sends me to do a job with a sneaky smile on his face.’
Agnes but she was in tea brewing mode with her glasses steaming. ‘I do like your father, Andy.’ She smiled then tinkled cups. ‘Good business sense… even if he is a partner.’
‘No, Paulette is my partner.’ Andy placed his finger to his lips. ‘And Plimsole.’
Agnes tutted. ‘Your sister Ruby wouldn’t like that kind of nonsense. Don’t tease Paulette, she’s growing babies.’
‘And needs a lasso, partner,’ Paulette rolled her eyes.
‘Hmm…’ Andy line danced around on the spot. ‘I could see you in those knee high boots, Plimsole.’
George tripped over a plank and thunked into Diane. ‘I need a helmet too.’
‘You just need to step off your other foot in that section,’ Diane said to him and stroked over his back. ‘You’ll get it.’
Paulette doubted that.
George stepped off the wrong foot, tripped over his own trouser leg and… yep… the safety mat came to his rescue yet again.
‘Did I leave wood over there too?’ Janis pointed to her cut-off piles as if checking them.
Ceri wiped over Janis’ hands with an antiseptic wipe then took off her hat and dusted it.
‘No his dancing is wooden,’ Tammy said opening another chocolate bar.
‘Same as your bar,’ Tracy said with a proud smile. ‘It’s done much better with you in charge.’
Yes, even Tammy had grown, shrunk in size and was now a business owner. The pub was doing well and the villagers were all supportive. Tracy was even feeling the benefit. People weren’t hiding goods from them or ignoring them but waving and smiling too.
‘I’m always in charge so my daughters were always confused when I sold Squishy,’ Glynnis said as Andy continued to line dance and Tammy and Tracy joined in. ‘They seemed to distance themselves.’
‘That was probably the distance they live away,’ Mary-Lou paused from her gymnastic-style routine to smile at her. ‘It’s hard feeling close when your kids are so far away.’
‘Perhaps,’ Glynnis said and strolled over to her as Andy dragged Janis into the dance routine and Stan and Gaynor… and Liza stopped to clap them along. ‘I thought it might be to do with how Trevor has acted but they visited me in the week.’
‘How did it go?’ Hedges hopped over as Ceri and Miriam joined in the line dancing.
‘Strained at first until they realised I’d been opposed to Trevor. Turns out they dislike him immensely.’ Glynnis shook her head, disbelief in her eyes. ‘I always thought they were close but they really loved Ceri not him.’
Ceri slapped her thigh. ‘They were always so supportive.’
Janis strode by with a wooden frame of some sort.
‘Did you make up?’ Mary-Lou asked as Tracy jumped on Tammy’s back and pretended to have a lasso.
‘Yes, they want to talk more. They want to go for lunch and shopping.’ Glynnis let through a warm smile. ‘I think my daughters might actually like me.’
Agnes held up a tea cup. ‘They do bother to let you know it occasionally. Always takes you by surprise.’
‘Why are you line dancing?’ Paulette slapped her plimsole to the sofa then turned to her mother. ‘I don’t just like you, I love you.’
Agnes put an extra biscuit on a plate. ‘See, they just don’t do it diva-style… as my dear daughter would say.’
Lanie snorted with laughter. ‘She’s like a technical drawing not an expressive work of art.’
Paulette thwacked her plimsole to the sofa but the whole class was now line dancing around Janis hauling wood thanks to Andy who’d now made up some lyrics to George and Stan’s attempt at singing a tune.
Agnes’ kettle boiled and Paulette threw her plimsole to the side groaned. Yes, her class had grown and dancing had instilled them with confidence; yes, she viewed them as friends and dear to her heart but, they did tend to do a Trevor on her class plan.
‘Stop and have tea,’ Ceri said to Janis as she headed to the table and Janis turned, swinging her floorboard and knocked George flying into the safety mat, smacked Lanie on the bum who clattered into Mary-Lou who squashed Hedges against the opposite wall.
Paulette got up and headed for her biscuits. Yes, some people changed but some people, like Trevor, would always be a bit of a plank.
I hope you have your bicycle pump, your water bottle and a sneaky bar of chocolate to enjoy this week’s episode of Queer Tango!
As always, please excuse the typos,
We had a furry friend who needed some assistance this week. Prickles Junior (PJ) is a baby hedgehog who was out in the daytime and Ferb told us he was stopping by for some help.
So, we gave him some food and water, kept him warm and he’s headed off to a hedgehog rescue centre who’ll take care of him train him how to hibernate and then release him back in our area when he’s ready! Yay!
It shows how gentle Ferb is because PJ didn’t so much as curl up when Ferb found him, sniffed him then went and got Em to show her.
I hope you enjoy this week’s episode of Renee and Frei and, as always, please excuse the typos.
I wanted to share a review of Aeron’s series from The Lesbian Review (TLR), The Empath by Jody Klaire: Book Review that made me smile.