I’m a bit under the weather but I was inspired to write a special episode of Queer Tango in honour of my aunt who is a wonderful actress. And, for a while, my aunt wanted me to write a daft monologue for her so, when I thought of Agnes, I knew that my reading wouldn’t quite match my aunt’s wonderful talent but… well… I did it to give her and you a big chuckle and a warm smile. Please doubly excuse bloopers and typos as being poorly isn’t good for your reading performance!
I very much hope you enjoy!
Episode 28: Plimsole-d Pink
The humble setting of Bumblethorpe was known for its Britishness: Quaint shops, a community hall, village pub, church, factory and dwellings. Its inhabitants were as peculiar as its one-way system that saw locals spend more time staring at the map than any tourist; its buildings were a bit on the grubby-side but just needed some love to scrub up nicely. Humble, yes, but upon its drafty lanes, a heroine had defeated dud accountants, taken a recycling bag to crooked counsellors and all while brewing the best batch of tea this side of Sludgeford.
Agnes grew up in the hills around Bumblethorpe on a farm with her doting parents. She had ten brothers and three sisters, of the furry variety, and a brother and two sisters. Her brother was well into his nineties but still stacked shelves at the local supermarket even when his grandson needed to come behind him and restack them properly. Her sisters were even older but they could still knit a sock better than any young ‘un.
Agnes, as the baby, had been a bit of a tearaway in her youth. She’d wanted to be on the stage, throwing flowers out to the doting audience, warmed by the footlights and dazzled by the spotlight as she belted out one of those showtunes. She’d once hotfooted it to a dance with the local forces when her mother thought she was over her friend, Gladys’, baking cakes. Oh, that night was a wonder. All the posh uniforms and the big band playing and the handsomest young man smiling as he twirled her around the ballroom. She’d tried a snowball or two, she’ll admit that now, and her gentleman suitor’s smile made her fuzzier still. It was a silver screen romance moment as he walked her to the community bus but, as tearaway as she was, her house had been a ten mile walk on foot so she waved from the backseat and sighed at the smile he shone her way.
Course, her dream of the stage was merely fleeting. Her mother needed help with the baking and she had siblings who did as they should and married young. Agnes didn’t really want to marry and the only boy within bus distance who was her age wasn’t the kind of chap you wanted conversation with. He asked, mind you, he asked her over and again to court him but he was an odd chap… bit miserly… bit… shifty so she told him no.
He didn’t take too well to it and he picked on her when he could. He’d steal her buns from her bicycle basket and sell them as his own, then he’d nick her crumpets and guzzle the lot. Gladys quite liked him but she was courting a bloke from Sludgeford who had his own car… fancy that… back in those days, cars were such a funny thing to see. It broke down more than it ran and Gladys would call Agnes from the local phone box for help so off she’d trot with her father’s tools in hand and with a bit of elbow grease and a strategically placed kick, Gladys would be off and rolling once more.
Agnes’ suitor made fun of that. He said that women shouldn’t know about cars, that was a man’s business but she turned to him and told him that if it was good enough for Her Majesty then it was good enough for her. Odd chap, he was but then he headed to college like those clever people do and she put him out of her mind.
Even though she was helping her mother, Agnes would still dance about the farmhouse kitchen with her dreams wrapped up in her mop and bucket but she had no real plans to wed and certainly none for children and the like even when Gladys told her she was marrying the bloke with a car because he’d gotten a job at the local factory called Squishy Billington and sons. They made furniture and Squishy was a man about town. He flashed his money and his smile and it was rumoured he had taken a liking to a local shop girl but Mrs Billington would have something to say about that.
It was a lonely existence for the young Agnes but a tranquil one until the odd boy returned from college to take up a place at the local accountants and thought he could sway her with his earnings. She turned him down flat because he weren’t a looker and his attitude was stinkier than the sheep droppings. He had some issues, that boy, he would follow her on her delivery round and tell her customers that she’d dropped their buns on the floor and demand they ask for new. They believed him too so she’d have not spoiled buns and have to cycle all the way back up the hill over and over to get more… at least… that’s what she pretended, and perhaps that’s when her liking for being not so good began. She’d simply swap her batch for another or even just wipe the buns down then she’d cycle to one shop and get Gladys to drive over in her car with another. Course, they’d have to push the car more than the bike but the accountant didn’t catch on. He thought he was clever, he did. He thought he had her working harder and harder so she’d give in and marry him only it made her more and more certain she weren’t never doing anything as silly.
The accountant got more sneaky and more mean and took to targeting her parent’s business and their farm. He was clever enough that her father nearly lost the farm altogether and was close to selling Agnes’ furry brothers and sisters.
It was then, the not so meek Agnes came upon her true calling. She was dancing around the kitchen doing one of her shows, mop in hand and scrubbing brush in the other. She placed the brush upon the floor and it had gone a funny stained colour… almost pink. She touched her foot to it thinking of how much it appeared to look like a ballet shoe… a plimsole. And, if she was a plimsole wearing prima donna, she would march up to that accountant and set him right. She would.
If she was… The Pink Plimsole… she would dance her way around his misdeeds and show him up as the crook he was. Yes, the Pink Plimsole could take him on. Agnes dropped her brush and mop and hurried the ten miles on foot to Glady’s new home.
‘Agnes, I weren’t expecting you,’ Gladys said with her curlers in her hair. ‘I’m not fit for company.’
‘I know how to sort him out,’ Agnes said, bustling in and sticking the kettle on the fire. ‘Where’s Fred?’
‘In pub,’ Gladys said with a roll of her eyes. ‘I tell him that if I known he was gonna spend so much time in the pub when we got married, I’d have taken up a job as a barmaid.’
‘I got a better idea, listen, Trevor is disreputable and we know he’s disreputable and he knows he’s disreputable but nobody else does.’ Agnes shovelled some more coal onto the fire. ‘I’m gonna prove he’s up to mischief.’
‘How are you gonna do that, you deliver buns,’ Gladys said but her curlers were bouncing with anticipation. She did love it when Agnes got her wild ideas. It was more interesting than listening to the radio.
‘I’m gonna make him look like the crook he is and then nobody will listen to him and my father won’t have to give up the farm.’ Agnes thwacked the sack bag to her skirt and coughed with the soot. ‘We know he’s got it in for me.’
‘He fancies you. Just marry him and he’ll find somebody else to bother,’ Gladys rubbed her hands together then smiled as the kettle whistled. ‘He’ll be down the pub with Fred then.’
Agnes put her hands on her hips. ‘I’m not marrying that toe-rag.’
‘He’s got a car.’ Gladys smirked as she poured the tea. ‘He’s got plenty of dosh.’
‘He’s an accountant,’ Agnes said hearing the disgust in her own voice. ‘No, no, I’m gonna show him up… and I need your help.’
Gladys sighed. ‘You need some kinda help… go on then… give us your plan.’
So Agnes flew into a frenzied, yet detailed, explanation of how she was going to show Bumblethorpe what kinda of a toe-rag Trevor was. It was ambitious, it was daring, and it involved a pair of Gladys’ bloomers and some shoe polish… yes, in that very room, the Pink Plimsole created her legendary disguise of pink mask, spotted head covering with the motif of a pink plimsole sewed upon it.
Agnes, AKA The Pink Plimsole took the three streets of Bumblethorpe and followed Trevor as he went about his misdeeds and his legal business. She realised he was taking money from old Mrs Williams’ purse, stealing the coppers out of Mrs Hughes’ jar and pinching the proceeds from the bake sale at the community centre.
The Pink Plimsole pulled on her bloomers and took the bonnet off his car and sold it through Fred down the pub; she broke into his house and removed all his dining room chairs—which were wobbly when they tied them to Gladys’ car—and donated them in recompense to the community centre. She took all his coppers and his silvers and left them anonymously in a plimsole she’d fashioned from an old wooden crate outside Mrs Hughes’ door then did the same for Mrs Williams.
Rumours and gossip spread through the town like juice from an old tea bag in the sink. Who was this Pink Plimsole and whose bloomers had she nicked?
The police force were clueless but Agnes took a job selling them tea and cakes in what would eventually become their canteen. She kept from view, kept her head down and out of sight but listened as they chatted about their Pink Plimsole pursuit over scones and a brew.
Night after night she targeted Trevor and his crooked friends; pursued by the plod, trailed by Trevor, but always that one dance step ahead. She meant to stop when her father secured his farm, when the locals saw Trevor as the toe-rag he was and he needed to move to Sludgeford but she’d gotten the taste for adventure and for justice. So, with Gladys in tow—as they pushed the car—The Pink Plimsole sought out new villains to take on.
The police investigation intensified but that only gave Agnes the added thrill of evading her adoring customers for, by day, her cakes and tea were famous, and by night her daring deeds were infamous until one evening in the back alley behind the pub…
Her current assignment was to rid the town of a crooked counsellor who had taken to adding an extra tax for baked goods. She’d caught him lovely with the shop girl—or Gladys dressed up—and taken a picture on her new wind up camera. But the police were on her trail and a young daring inspector had burst into the pub and sent her and Gladys running for it. Agnes was in the alley, sure she could outrun the policeman only Gladys got her heel caught in the drain and Agnes had to shove her over the wall to the chip shop and throw her bloomers after her as said plod rounded the corner.
‘Oi, stop!’ He shouted in a familiar voice.
Agnes turned and met the eyes of her handsome soldier from all those years before and her heart bubbled like a teapot. ‘Can I help you?’
He skidded to halt, his eyes drinking her in and his smile growing. ‘I thought you were someone else, sorry.’ He swallowed a few times. ‘I was looking for a criminal… rough and tough criminal… I take them on, I do… all… like… ten of them.’
Agnes smirked. ‘Is that why they stopped ruffling me up then.’
He scowled. ‘They better not have.’
‘Why, what business of it is yours?’ Agnes said hearing how dreamy her voice sounded. ‘Don’t you have a missus to be all brave for?’
‘No,’ he said with a shy and sweet smile. ‘I been trying to find you since you drove away on the bus.’
Agnes tensed for a moment thinking he meant when she’d borrowed the community bus to deposit some of the crooked counsellor’s furniture at the convalescence home. ‘You have?’
‘Yeah, I never danced before. I didn’t know I could,’ he said then took his hat off and tidied his hair.
He couldn’t dance, not really, but he was better than most blokes in Bumblethorpe. ‘I love dancing.’
‘You should be on stage,’ he said then held up his hands. ‘I mean, you’re good enough for people to come and see you.’
And Agnes’ heart whistled like her kettle. ‘You think?’
‘Yeah,’ he said then held out his hand. ‘I’d like to… I mean… would you fancy… I mean… there’s this amazing café in the canteen that sells the best tea. I love a cuppa… I mean… I know most like the pub… but I prefer a cuppa.’
Agnes leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. ‘I make those cuppas,’ she said with a wink. ‘I’ll even throw in a scone.’
‘I’m an inspector,’ he said, puffing out his chest. ‘I have a house… I… a police house… I’m not just a constable.’
‘I wouldn’t care if you were,’ Agnes said trying to act cool because Gladys was rolling around on the other side of the wall fighting the bloomers on her head. ‘Being so brave and all that.’
He gave her a dashing smile.
‘Shouldn’t you go and sort out those criminals?’ She said and thumbed down the alley.
‘I will.’ He puffed himself up.
She pecked him on the cheek a second time—well, she was a tearaway—and nodded. ‘Go on then.’
‘Alright.’ He touched his cheek, dazed expression on his handsome face and scarpered.
Agnes leaned against the wall and fanned herself.
‘Get off,’ Gladys muttered from behind her.
Agnes chuckled to herself and hauled herself up onto the bricks. ‘You’re not meant to stick them over your face.’
Gladys stopped her struggling and peered through the leg with frills on. ‘Nice of you to help…’ She smirked at the wall. ‘He sounded alright.’
Agnes shrugged and yanked her bloomers off Gladys’ head. ‘He isn’t bad.’
Gladys met her eyes then raised her eyebrows. ‘Oh, don’t you tell me that you’re gonna court one of the plod. We get into enough scrapes without him talking to Fred in the pub.’
‘They only go to the pub when you marry them.’ Agnes pulled Gladys back over the wall and shoved the bloomers and mask down her blouse. ‘And he prefers a cuppa.’
Gladys laughed so loud that it bounced off the brickwork. ‘Then you better learn how to spell his surname.’
‘Why?’ Agnes said as they walked, trying to be innocent, down the main street to Gladys’ car.
‘Because you’ll need to add “Mrs” before it,’ Gladys jumped into the driver’s seat and waved at the handsome inspector as he strolled toward his car. ‘Definitely need to add Mrs.’
‘Not likely,’ Agnes said but she got the feeling Gladys was right and she was. Within less than a year she was blissfully married to her handsome inspector, then eight daughters followed, all while she posed as the tea lady and he was dedicated to finding this infamous Pink Plimsole. He never did though but he did catch Trevor a few times. Shame he wasn’t still on the force to catch Trevor’s grandson… Trevor… The name said it all.
‘You going out, luv?’ her handsome retired inspector said as he tackled the criminal dealings of the oven.
‘I need to drop some scones off at Gladys’,’ she said, checking her bloomers were in her handbag but her mask must have been at Gladys’. ‘Fred is down the pub.’
‘When isn’t he?’ he said with a quiet nod. ‘Ricky called and said something about borrowing his friend’s van… I said you’d call back.’
Agnes nodded. ‘Do you want anything while I’m out?’
He shook his head, doting smile on his face. ‘Just you returning will do,’ he said like he had everytime she went out.
‘I can manage that but Gladys’ car might not,’ she said like she had since they were in their twenties.
‘True,’ he said then walked over and pecked her on the cheek. ‘Our Paulette is out at the theatre. Said she’s filling in for a friend.’
She pecked him back, wiped her lipstick off and popped a sweet in her mouth. ‘She does like to dance.’
And she headed out into the night to rediscover her inner plimsole.
‘Luv?’ her handsome inspector said from the doorway.
‘Yes, dear,’ she said and beamed back at him. He was still all kinds of lovely.
‘Forgot this,’ he said and handed her over her mask. ‘Wouldn’t look right without it.’
She stared at him.
He pecked her on the cheek. ‘There were ten of them, big blokes… I scared them off… remember.’ He winked then headed back to the door. ‘Brave and that.’
She clutched her mask and hurried to him then gave him a smacker. ‘Very brave, Gladys looked a right state with her bloomers on her head.’
He smirked then touched his lips like he was shocked she still thought he was alright. ‘Only way she could think Fred looks presentable.’ He rolled his eyes, gave her a hug then strolled off indoors.
Agnes held her mask to her whistling teapot of a heart and strode to the bus stop with an extra tearaway toe-tap to her step. Yes, the Pink Plimsole had a free bus pass, her trusty set of bloomers and the handsomest inspector at home to put the kettle on… she peeked her in handbag at the set of plimsoles her youngest daughter, Paulette, had given to her… yes, and she was about to make her debut on the stage alongside her daughter in a show about herself… only the audience didn’t know that even when they came from as far as Sludgeford.
Not bad for the girl who delivered buns. She nodded to the driver and took a seat, head full of her youthful dreams. Yes, as she told Paulette when she did something wonderful, she was truly plimsole-d pink.