Here’s this week’s episode of Queer Tango for you to enjoy with Trevor doing his best to stop Ceri’s wedding. I hope it gives you a smile and you enjoy catching up with the Bumblethorpe lot… and don’t forget that there’s also a new scene from Renee and Frei too!
Episode 24: Wedding Dresses and Tango Hats
Paulette did love a nice wedding. In her mind, it was much like a performance with costumes, stars of the show having their pictures taken, lines being recited out, flowers being thrown and then people getting drunk in a bar.
She’d decided, with her trusty Andy, that they would call Diane and George’s wedding the morning matinee and Ceri and Janis’ wedding the afternoon matinee. And, yes, they had corresponding complementing outfits for both. They did love shopping.
‘I would have liked to have bought us more designer outfits,’ Andy said with a sigh but straightened out his shirt. ‘I couldn’t afford more though.’
‘They are wonderful,’ Paulette pecked him on the lips. ‘You’re wonderful and we make the outfits look wonderful.’
He smiled but he was still sad about it. He wanted to spoil her and they both knew it. ‘I still can’t believe that Saucy can actually pole dance,’ he said, changing the topic, as he touched up his concealer in the mirror. ‘I think that it will be a Bumblethorpe tale for quite some time.’
Paulette chuckled. ‘She said it was fashionable to learn how to pole dance years ago.’ She checked her lipstick then scrunched her fingernails to the back of Andy’s short hair. He always had his haircut by Gaynor which meant it was precise but very short. ‘She’ll be after you with a scissors.’
‘If she does, I’ll wake Liza up and then she’ll have to dance.’ He smirked up at her then rubbed his thumb over her chin. ‘I’m not sure how we’re going to keep Trevor from disrupting the marriages though.’
Paulette tapped her nose.
Andy raised his styled eyebrow. ‘I do hope our baby develops their Plimsole-side.’ He patted her bump. ‘I do love when you and your mother are up to something.’
‘Ruby-Plimsole will definitely have that side. All of my sisters do.’ She winked and picked up her handbag. ‘Hopefully we won’t need a safety mat for George today.’
‘We will. You saw him at the engagement do, he only had bottle water and he still tripped over the step.’ Andy rolled his eyes, picked their coats and led them out of the little annex. ‘I say it’s because he’s used to the floor being greasy in his shop. When it isn’t, he gets confused.’
Paulette followed him to the car then smiled as he held the door open for her mother then her.
‘Well trained already, I see,’ Agnes said with a doting smile at Andy.
‘He was well trained before I knew him,’ Paulette also using a doting smile. ‘Must be all those bitumen fumes.’
Andy poked out his tongue and started the car—well, large van with ‘Jazz Up Your Roof with Oakley and Son,’ written across it with their contact details.
‘Are you planning to work in between weddings, dear?’ Agnes asked holding up a stray tile.
‘No, that was from my first job,’ Andy said as he tried to navigate the odd looking roadworks on the main street. ‘I call him Teddy.’
‘The tile?’ Agnes asked, surveying it with her ever-maternal gaze.
‘Yes, Teddy is essentially clay but he had a chink out of him which would have caused him to crack if my dad had tapped a nail through him.’ Andy frowned at the large, seemingly drawn or painted stop sign. ‘I felt an affinity with dear Teddy as I felt as fragile as an unstable tile myself back then. So, we bonded and he lives behind my passenger seat because he prefers the view and he doesn’t get squished as much with me sliding my chair in and out.’
Paulette tapped Teddy. For a while she had wondered about Andy and his tile but she’d had to admit as Andy told Teddy to ‘hang on’ when they went around a corner or roundabout that it was… cute… odd… but cute.
‘The traffic the other side of these roadworks are stopped too,’ Paulette said and peered out of her window. ‘And I’m not sure cardboard traffic cones are allowed.’
Andy tutted. ‘Trevor, must be.’ He got out, pulled the stop sign down, then shoved the cardboard to one side.
Agnes chuckled and tapped the tile. ‘I do like his thinking, Teddy.’
Paulette nodded as Andy finished boxing in a car that looked like Barry’s. ‘Considering Barry got ditched, he seems to help Trevor a lot.’
‘Don’t believe it,’ Agnes muttered and adjusted her glasses then placed Teddy on her lap. ‘I have reason to believe that Trevor has been visiting Barry.’
‘So then why is Trevor trying to stop Ceri getting married?’ Paulette let many of Bumblethorpe inhabitants odd leanings go over her head, but some were too confusing not to pass comment on.
‘You wouldn’t understand how competitive divorced couples can be,’ Agnes said as if she was an expert in the subject. ‘Take Hyacinth for example, now she married well but he could have children and her ex-husband left her for their next door neighbour Monika.’ She smiled as Andy got in with another tut. ‘Hyacinth deliberately married his foe in school and had fourteen children.’
Andy started the car and glanced in the mirror. ‘I know Mrs Berry. I went to school with one of the Berries too.’
‘I don’t know if that’s proving a point or insanity,’ Paulette said and rubbed over her bump. ‘Fourteen?’
‘Ah, but then her ex-husband wanted to go one better and because he couldn’t produce children, a fact that half of Bumblethorpe had gossiped about, he adopted fifteen children.’ Agnes cuddled Teddy the tile as they rounded the corner to head up a long lane over the hill to the reservoir where the wedding was.
‘Why?’ Paulette turned in the seat. ‘Just buy a bigger car or something.’
‘They did, they bought bigger and bigger houses until Hyacinth’s now husband and Monika ran off together and left them with all thirty one children.’ Agnes held onto Teddy as they navigated the bumpier than usual road. ‘So they got remarried and moved into a huge house together.’
Andy slowed the car. ‘Plimsole, it’s not good for the baby if we try and drive along here.’
Paulette looked out at the windswept fields. The kind where the trees grew sideways because it was easier. ‘My dress isn’t up to blow drying.’
Andy chuckled. ‘I think he’s put sandbags down and painted them the same colour as the road.’ He opened his door, took off his waistcoat and rolled up his sleeves. ‘I don’t think we need to give George any more excuse to feel queasy.’
He shut the door, retrieved some gloves from the back of the van, and set about hauling sandbags from the road to the side.
‘I’m not sure how that works as a competition,’ Paulette said, turning back to her mother. ‘Thirty one kids?’
Agnes nodded. ‘There are quite a few Berries in Bumblethorpe.’ She tidied her dress then brushed over Teddy as if tidying him too. ‘Gaynor is one of them.’
‘Didn’t she say her mother drinks?’ Paulette looked for wet wipes and deodorant in the glove compartment. It wouldn’t do to have the best man handing George the rings with mucky hands.
‘Copiously,’ Agnes said with a nod. ‘Monika and the ex-husband however live on a farm somewhere toward Fuddleford… they drink very little but then they only have one daughter who moved abroad.’
‘They left thirty one children?’ Paulette scowled. ‘That’s… I’m not sure what level of Trevor that is but… I hope they paid maintenance.’
‘They did, which is why Hyacinth drinks expensive spirits.’ Agnes crinkled up her face with a chuckle. ‘But, it evidences the fact that divorced couples get competitive.’
Andy finished throwing the sandbags to the side and hurried back to the car as a stream of traffic passed by—Stan and Gaynor waved from one car.
‘Gaynor is a multi-berry,’ Paulette mumbled and hand wipes and deodorant to Andy as he got in. ‘No wonder she wasn’t sure if she wanted children.’
Andy took the wipes and let out a wheeze. ‘I should say, Plimsole. However having so many siblings did give her ample practice at cutting hair.’ He started the car again as Glynnis in her Bentley flashed them out. ‘Thank you, Saucy,’ he called out of the window. ‘George isn’t going to be pleased if we turn up at the same time as Diane.’
Paulette wiped at some dirt on his forearm. ‘George will be too busy fainting or tripping over to notice.’
Andy drove them down the lane then sighed as the line of cars stacked up. ‘I’m going to mis-tile Trevor’s side parting if he’s not careful.’
Paulette peered down the line of cars as Stan argued with a large stack of something planted across the road. ‘I don’t understand why Trevor is putting all this effort in now when, if he’d loved Ceri so much, he could have made that effort when they were together?’
‘You misunderstood Hyacinth’s tale, didn’t you?’ Agnes said and placed Teddy on the seat beside her as Andy and Stan grappled with the large stack of bricks… then realised that even as manly as they were, they’d have to do it one at a time. ‘Oh, look, Mary-Lou has sent her husband out to help.’
‘To do what?’ Paulette rolled her eyes. ‘He works in an office.’
‘I know, dear, but he is showing willing.’ Agnes shook her head then met Paulette’s eyes. ‘Now, Liza’s husband ran off with an airhostess when Tammy was only a girl. Liza worked hours and hours to provide for her children while he got free airmiles and first class.’
‘I see Colin and Ricky have been sent to help,’ Paulette rubbed at her bump which wriggled in response. ‘I don’t know what they will do either.’
‘Ricky is probably assessing their value. If he thinks they’re expensive, you’ll be surprised how fast he can move them.’ Agnes fussed in her back and produced a travel kettle. ‘Does Andy have a voltage connection?’
‘Um…’ Paulette searched around.
‘Where the cigarette lighters used to be, dear.’ Agnes leaned over, found it, and plugged in her kettle, poured in some bottled water, produced three travel cups and a packet of biscuits. ‘But back to Liza. She worked hard to get her house and then he swanned into Bumblethorpe and realized she was doing fine without him so he deliberately set up his own taxi firm to annoy her.’
‘Can’t imagine his airhostess was happy with that,’ Paulette said as Ricky must have felt the bricks were worth nicking because he and Colin threw them, at speed onto the back of his flatbed truck as Tammy and Tracy cheered them on.
‘The airhostess was relieved he was out of her hair.’ Agnes produced milk in pots and opened them. ‘You see, it’s easy to be keen at first but when domestic reality sets in, romance tends to become frayed for some.’ She smiled to herself. ‘Which is when you know if it really works.’
‘Liza is still on her own, though, right?’ Paulette took a cup and added Andy’s ‘touch of sugar’ which was about three spoonful’s.
‘Liza loves that her house is clean, she cuts her own grass when she wants to and her taxi firm outlasted his by forty years.’ Agnes beamed then added milk and sugar for Paulette. ‘I think he got the idea she wasn’t ever letting him come back to her when she drove over his foot by accident, then reversed to do it again.’
Paulette winced. ‘Did he press charges?’
‘Tried to, but your father is very well trained,’ Agnes checked the steaming kettle. ‘I do hope Teddy won’t be bothered by the steam.’
‘No, he’s been baked before.’ Paulette smiled and handed a bedraggled looking Andy as he slumped into his seat, dripping with sweat and covered in brick dust. ‘Refreshments?’
Andy raised his eyebrows at the cup. ‘Was I out there that long?’
Agnes and Paulette nodded.
‘George is going to be pacing, pacing I tell you.’ Andy took the cup, pecked Paulette on the lips and Agnes on the cheek. ‘This is one of many reasons why I’m delighted to share a car with you both.’
‘I’m surprised Miriam didn’t make Lanie help you,’ Agnes said as she offered biscuits.
‘Lanie wanted to but Miriam told her that her hair would be too effected to wear her top hat if she did,’ Andy said then checked over Paulette, then her bump, then Agnes, then Teddy as the traffic started moving again. ‘Ricky is not as unfit as he looks.’ He downed his cup, groaned with relief and started the car again as Paulette took the cup.
‘He is related to me,’ Agnes said with a smile. ‘We spring into life when there are goods to be retrieved.’
‘How do I have five sisters in the police force?’ Paulette mumbled and dunked her biscuit in her tea as they drove around the bend then came to a stop. ‘I’m pretty sure there is a road traffic act for this.’
‘There is but your sisters aren’t in traffic and your father has been retired for years.’ Agnes sipped at her tea. ‘I’m not sure if my great-nephew is traffic orientated as yet.’
Tracy hung out of her window and fired abuse at the large van blocking the road.
Andy shoved open his door. ‘I’ll get them to move.’
Paulette nodded as Andy, Stan, Ricky, Colin, Barney, Mr Hedges and Glynnis’ husband all got out to examine the van which looked to empty. ‘You always seem happy with dad.’
‘Because I love him and he worked long shifts.’ Agnes dipped the tip of her biscuit. ‘He always keeps the garden nice too.’ She chewed more biscuit. ‘He knows not to have any conversation with me before I’ve had three cups of tea and I know that after nine o’clock, he is likely to be asleep. We tend to converse at a mutually beneficially window over lunch.’
‘I like talking to Andy whatever time of day,’ Paulette said as Andy and co. waved hands and chatted over what to do with the immobile van. ‘I like just sitting there with him sometimes.’
‘I noticed,’ Agnes said with a knowing smile as Ricky searched his pockets then glanced at their car. ‘That’s why I know he matches you. Your father and I don’t need to speak to enjoy each other’s company.’
Ricky tapped on the window. ‘Aunty Agnes, can we borrow you?’
Agnes pulled something out of her bag. ‘It will offset the immobiliser then you just need to follow standard practice.’
‘Ooh, ta.’ He took it and hurried off as Paulette stared.
‘Don’t give me that look, I might be retired but continuing professional development is still important.’ Agnes sipped on her tea. ‘And two of your sisters make wonderful use of those skills.’
‘One is an accountant and the other works in transport…’ Paulette frowned then groaned. ‘How didn’t dad ever twig.’
‘The wonder of mutual silence,’ Agnes said and poured another cup for Andy as he and the others rolled the van to the side of the road as Colin steered and then Ricky removed the tyres and placed the van on bricks, sticking the wheels on his flatbed for good measure to the cheers of Tracy, Tammy and… yes… most of the other cars.
Ricky took a bow as Andy hurried back to the car with whatever contraption Agnes had provided.
‘He can quite heroic when he gets going,’ Andy said as he jumped in, covered in oil and sweat and dust. He took his cup and downed it with a grateful smile then started the car.
‘You’ll need to get in front of everyone and take a left before the reservoir,’ Agnes said then took the cups and stashed them in her handbag.
Andy glanced at Paulette for an answer but she nodded.
‘The mysterious Plimsoles,’ he said then sped to the front and hung out of the window. ‘Follow us!’
Andy whooped then sped them down the little lane right up to a large manmade beach along a deserted stretch where a very grand pleasure boat sat decked out in lights and flowers.
‘But, I can see Gaynor’s cousin’s boat over there,’ Andy said squinting across to where they were supposed to have been heading.
‘Yes, but we’re borrowing one Glynnis bought,’ Agnes said with a knowing smile.
‘Oh,’ Andy said and looked down at himself. ‘George hasn’t arrived yet.’
‘Nope,’ Paulette said, got out and held the door for her mother then Andy. ‘We moved the showtimes.’
‘You did?’ Andy and the others got out with confused looks on their faces.
‘Yes, Ceri and Diane slept in cabins on one floor and George and Janis slept in cabins on another,’ Agnes said as she placed Teddy back behind the seat and patted him. ‘They’ve had separate breakfasts too.’
‘So, we’re all here early?’ Ricky asked as he eyed the boat. ‘Do they have a bar?’
‘They do, dear, they also have a cabin each.’ Agnes smiled at Glynnis who curtseyed. ‘And as they’ll be getting married when we’re in the middle of the water and a few of my old friends will be celebrating their golden wedding anniversary on the other boat. It’ll be hard for Trevor to know which one it is.’
‘Especially as we hid his boat,’ Ricky said with a snigger then grinned at Tracy kissed him.
‘And I might have let the tyres down on his car,’ Glynnis’ husband said with a smirk.
Lanie tapped her top hat. ‘And I have Ceri and Janis’ rings in here so he’s only managed to pick up the fake ones that we put in the jewellers.’
Andy glanced at Paulette.
‘I did the same.’ She smiled and threaded her arm through his. ‘We have a cabin with a shower and a new set of clothes.’ She shook her head. ‘I bought you a designer suit, Ruby and an even more designer dress for the reception.’ She winked. ‘I love to spoil you.’
‘One of those rings in there going spare?’ Andy mumbled with glee in his eyes as he followed her onto the boat.
‘We could always rustle one up,’ Ricky said nodding to Tracy who chewed back with a grin. ‘That’s if you can stop Paulette jumping ship.’
Paulette pursed her lips. ‘I’m busy growing our baby,’ she mumbled then shook her head at Andy. ‘I told you it wasn’t professional to date you, didn’t I?’
Andy nodded. ‘You told me I was too young… and you said that you weren’t having children with me… and you didn’t think we should move in together.’
Agnes tutted. ‘You do like to keep the boy on his toes.’
‘It’s a good work out for his calves.’ Paulette strode onto the boat then glanced over her shoulder. ‘A plimsole always excels in evading capture.’
Agnes tottered by. ‘Took your father three children before I gave in.’ She pulled out her kettle then smiled as she spotted the large silver tea making machine. ‘And I only did because he threatened to handcuff me and drag me to the church.’
‘I could threaten you with Teddy?’ Andy mumbled then sighed. ‘But I’ll settle for a shower and clean clothes.’
‘Good, because we need to wrestle Janis into her suit and then help Diane with her wedding dress.’ Paulette led Andy to their cabin then grinned as he set eyes on his very, very expensive tailored suit, complete with top hat and a stunning split leg dress with a brand new elite-made wig. ‘I think you’ll find they fit.’
Andy put his hands to his mouth. ‘I love you, this is far better than a wedding… I’m not sure who you robbed but I love you for it and I will point the police at Trevor if they question me.’
Paulette chuckled. ‘I got paid for helping my friend in the show and did a few extra when you were helping complete the roof for Squishy.’ She beamed as he grabbed her and kissed her. ‘A Plimsole has her own way of saying she loves you.’
Andy sniffed himself then headed into the bathroom but she could hear him sniffing.
‘It’s not supposed to make you teary,’ she said as she rechecked her makeup.
‘It is because you’re still going to wear the dress I bought you.’ Andy poked his head around the door. ‘And you’re delighted I bought it for you.’
She held up new shoes. ‘I got you your own set.’
He sniffed again. ‘Plimsole, I will cry enough watching George stuff up his lines.’
And George, no doubt, would stuff up his lines as in rehearsal he’d managed to say his and the vicar’s and then object to his own wedding by accident.
‘George will cry harder,’ Paulette said as they fell into that beautiful mutual silence her mother had been telling her about in the van. Yes, weddings might be a performance and there was nothing like watching a clumsy, tongue-tied friends marry true loves and Ceri enjoy a wedding without Trevor being anywhere near. Yes, a wonderful evening performance of wedding dresses and tango hats.