Em and I are very under the weather and so I’m not sure how the reading will sound but I hope it makes you smile. Ferb is busy taking care of us and demanding mash potato for tea (yes, he eats better than we do) and he sends wags and high-paws to you… And he makes a cameo…
Please excuse bloopers, typos and heavy breathing!
Episode 29: Dress Rehearsal
Paulette peered through her fingers as her elite performers smacked into each other and landed in a groaning heap on the floor. They were meant to be doing the ensemble number when Mary-Lou and Hedges had reunited, the knitting factory was in good hands and Stan and Janis had decided to go into catering instead. It was a celebratory piece that was supposed to go a little something like this:
‘Honey, I want to tell the workforce we’ve landed the contract,’ Mary-Lou would say, doting smile on her face as she smiled down at her loving husband in the dodgiest looking stick on moustache. ‘Can we?’
‘Sounds like a wonderful idea, darling,’ Hedges would say in moustache and oversized power suit; then she’d swan through the doors, and the workforce who were busy dance-knitting would stop and look up, expectation on their faces as they wondered if Hedges would announce she was selling the business.
The spotlight’s focus would be on Hedges, the music quiet in the background. A dramatic moment, where her sheer personality would hold the audience’s attention… and hold it… hold it…
‘We’ll need volunteers for some overtime work,’ Hedge’s would say in a serious actorly tone.
‘Why?’ Diane would ask, clutching George and his attempt at knitting for support.
‘We landed the contract,’ Hedges would burst into a stunning smile and wave to the doors behind her. Mary-Lou would salsa in to her, take her hand and be spun into a hold. ‘And we’re keeping the business.’
Cue huge ensemble cheer.
‘And we’re renewing our vows too,’ Mary-Lou would say with a dreamy tone.
Hedges would twirl her into a jive. ‘We’re soooo those kinda friends.’
And the workforce would leap to their feet, knitted sweaters discarded and jive on down in perfect rhythm and style. Lanie would fling Miriam around with ease and then Stan and Janis who were in a blue lowlight to the side would throw away their mood and jive on down too. The audience would clap and cheer and sing along as Janis threw in a Charleston move, George would twist away, Ceri would do a feather duster special somersault, Mary-Lou a gymnastic backflip, Glynnis would do the splits, Gaynor and Liza would wiggle, Stan would throw in a touch of the cancan, Tammy and Tracy would do a cheeky little Argentine Tango and then Andy would take his shirt off and samba and the audience would swoon and cheer. Maybe even her mother, Agnes, would do her Pink Plimsole shimmy.
Yes, it was a wonderful, exciting showpiece that Paulette could dab her eyes at from the side only…
George had slipped, smacked into Hedges who’d clattered to the floor and slid along it like a wire-ry bowling ball. She took out Lanie, Miriam, Diane, Stan, Tracy and Glynnis. Glynnis tried to grab onto Andy for support but Tracy’s trailing leg had booted him in the shin and he was hopping so he’d done some kind of half-cartwheel all while Gaynor dodged around like a winger in rugby to get Liza out of the way. Gaynor might not have appreciated needing to dance all the time to get Liza to sleep but, Paulette had to admit as she peered through her fingers, that Gaynor moved with the kind of skill and deftness Paulette would expect from an elite athlete. Guess someone was benefiting from class then.
So, as the class lay in a groaning heap… again… Paulette rubbed a soothing hand over her bump.
‘Sorry,’ George mumbled to his glaring classmates. ‘I know… sorry.’
Lanie rolled onto her side with an exasperated grimace. ‘How did you fall over while sitting down?’
‘Chair gave way as I got up,’ George mumbled as he fished behind him for the perfectly fine chair. ‘I was sure it gave way.’
‘No, the floor did,’ Tracy said with a groan and pulled her hand out of the missing plank. ‘I don’t get why the floorboard was all messed up when Janis laid it.’
Janis sprang to her feet, lifted Ceri onto hers and dusted her off then hurried over to examine the floor. ‘It’s been tampered with.’
The class, Agnes behind kettle and Paulette all let out a unified groan.
‘Mum, haven’t you sorted him out yet?’ Paulette mumbled. Yes, her mother was in her eighties but someone needed to make Trevor do a Trevor from Bumblethorpe before she really did take a Plimsole to him.
‘Working on it,’ Agnes said peering over her glasses with the ‘I’m your mother, which means I know more than you do, pipsqueak’ look. ‘It is far harder to convince the police of his wrongdoing when there is CCTV everywhere.’
Tracy chewed on her gum with a nod. ‘Tis, we thought we had him with the copper pipe theft from the police station for a while… but my boy found where we’d stashed it and Trevor was supposed to be in a dinner party at the local counsellor’s house when it was stashed.’
Tammy pulled herself up to sitting and fished a Snickers from her sleeve. ‘Colin tried to get him to buy a telly he’d nicked from the counsellor’s house but Trevor made like he couldn’t afford electricity and never watches the telly.’
Ceri laughed. ‘He doesn’t just watch it, he’s glued to it.’ She dusted off Miriam who was trying to get close enough to Andy to check on him as he clutched his jaw and batted her off. ‘And knowing him, he has a line attached to the neighbour’s house again.’
Agnes perked up. ‘A line?’
‘Yes, he used to have a line in our house which he said saved electricity. He said that it was on a scheme.’ Ceri dusted off Lanie who was checking over her bicycle helmet for dents. ‘He said it was cheaper.’
‘Or free,’ Tracy said with a snort. ‘That’s right cheeky, that is.’
‘What?’ Stan pulled his wig off to straighten it out and rubbed over his bald head. ‘Being on a scheme?’
‘Nah,’ Tammy said around her Snickers. ‘He ain’t on a scheme but he is scheming.’
Ceri frowned. ‘What do you mean?’
‘It’s nicking electricity,’ Tracy said with a chew on her gum and a groan as she rubbed at her foot. ‘Or, as my son would say, abstracting electricity.’
Agnes smiled. ‘I’m just going to make a phone call.’
Paulette didn’t dare ask. Instead she winced at Andy rubbing his shin and his chin and still flapping at Miriam.
‘Let her look, you big baby,’ she said with a roll of her eyes.
Andy stopped, poked out a pouty lip then sighed. ‘You won’t be able to see much anyway.’
Gaynor held up Liza’s light up gum cooler. ‘Will this help?’
Miriam smiled and took it then peered inside as the gum cooler gave her a selection of multicoloured lights and sung her a song which Liza wiggled and giggled to.
‘You cracked your molar,’ Miriam said, wiggling with Liza. ‘You’ll need me to fix that… but I have painkillers in my bag that will help until we can get you in.’ She nodded to Lanie who limped over to her bag then presented it like a trophy.
‘You can’t find painkillers?’ Diane asked putting an ice pack on her arm that Ceri dished out from the ‘George kit’ because a medical kit wasn’t big enough for all of George’s accidents so had expanded to include an ice box with several ice packs, compression bandages, thermometers, oxygen masks… and Ceri had got excited with the medical supply catalogue.
‘She won’t look in my handbag,’ Miriam said, handing the cooling gum device back to Liza who chewed and dribbled on it then peered inside her bag. ‘She also won’t go in my underwear drawer or anywhere near my washing pile if it has underwear in it.’
Stan and George both nodded as if they understood but Andy cocked his head.
‘Why?’ he asked in a long protracted way.
‘Girls’ stuff,’ Gaynor said with a roll of her eyes. ‘Should see him when I hang my bras on the washing line.’
Paulette raised her eyebrow. ‘You’re afraid of her underwear?’
‘Paulette’s is fabulous. I do love those moulded ones, so comfy,’ Andy said to Glynnis who nodded.
‘Much better than underwired,’ Glynnis said and hoisted her own boobs.
‘And healthier for you,’ Mary-Lou said as she and Hedges groaned their way off the floor. ‘I had a friend whose wire stuck right into her ribs.’
Hedges and Ceri did a mutual putting hands over their mouths with a gasp.
Mary-Lou nodded. ‘Exactly, no way was I gonna wear one then.’
‘I would need more than wire for mine,’ Diane said then winked and wiggled her sizable chest at Tammy who did the same in response.
‘I could probably go for a training bra,’ Tracy said with a snort.
Stan and George… and Lanie edged toward the door.
‘Why are you scuttling?’ Ceri asked Lanie with a smirk on her face as Janis swore at the floor.
Miriam looked up from retrieving her painkillers from her handbag. ‘She blushes when I’m drying off my deodorant by flapping my arms about in my bra.’
Lanie put her helmet over her face.
George patted her on the back then hid behind Stan who was blushing enough he matched the ‘for sale’ poster someone from Squishy had shoved in out of the way.
‘I get the underwear,’ Paulette said trying not to yell at the class for wasting rehearsal slots… again. ‘But why the bag?’
‘They’ve got girl stuff in them,’ George said as the three blushers headed further toward the door. ‘Like… personal girl stuff.’
‘Tampons,’ Gaynor said between taking off Liza’s bonnet and smoothing over her growing hair.
Stan grimaced and hid behind George who hunched.
Andy raised both eyebrows. ‘And I am the one being called a baby.’
‘Need a pliers, he’s mashed the head,’ Janis grunted to the floor then straightened up.
‘Do you get flappy around my handbag or knickers?’ Ceri asked her dusting the chair George had been sitting on.
‘Panties,’ Hedges translated to Mary-Lou. ‘Not chocolate.’
‘I know, honey.’ Mary-Lou patted her on the shoulder as Tammy peeled another Snickers in celebration.
‘Why would I get flappy?’ Janis asked digging in her toolbox… yes, she brought it to class because for ‘George repairs.’ No explanation needed. ‘Do you get flappy around mine?’
Ceri fanned herself with her feather duster. ‘Only when you dig out your pliers.’ She winked at the ladies, and Andy, who snorted.
Janis squished her pliers together with a wink and headed back to tackle the ‘mashed up head.’
Diane put up her hand. ‘But… I still don’t get why Lanie would be flappy around sanitary products?’
‘It’s not those,’ Miriam said trying to corner Andy long enough that he’d take the painkillers. He was a baby with those too. ‘I keep a spare set of knickers in there.’
She winked at Lanie who was still hiding behind her bicycle helmet as the boys hid behind the ‘George mat.’ The ladies, and Andy, roared with laughter… even Liza giggled.
Mary-Lou looked to Hedges expectantly.
‘You said you knew what they were,’ Hedges said with a pout.
‘It don’t feel the same…’ Mary-Lou cupped her ear.
‘Panties,’ Hedges said with a delighted smile on her face. ‘Not Snickers.’
Tammy held up her empty packet.
Paulette lay back on a safety mat she’d fashioned into a daybed with the use of some old crates and Janis’ amazing skill with gum. ‘However delirious I am by this conversation, are we going to run the number because we are supposed to be performing.’
Janis looked up and wrinkled up her face then scratched at her beard. ‘He’s sawn through all the two-be-fours.’
Stan shrieked, dashed from behind the mat, grabbed Gaynor and Liza and sprinted into Squishy’s shop.
Andy raised his eyebrow at Paulette. ‘Maybe she flashed her handbag at him?’
Janis shook her head. ‘He thought I meant the joists… I think…’ She glanced at the doorway Stan was peering through. ‘I keep the supplies under the floor… have a route down to them ‘cause they kept disappearing.’
Mary-Lou narrowed her eyes. ‘He stole my stuff?’
‘Oh, I am so gonna kick his ass.’ She pulled out her mobile… or cell as she kept calling it… and strode out.
‘My cast keep disappearing,’ Paulette said from her daybed. ‘Do you have a pliers for that?’
Ceri snorted then blushed as Janis squeezed them in response.
‘So technically the floor is Janis’ handbag…’ Andy grimaced as Miriam pinned his hand to his side and shoved in the tablets. ‘It’s under where she keeps her pliers.’
Glynnis chuckled. ‘They do look like pants of wood.’
‘Trousers,’ Hedges translated to no one in particular.
‘Oh, this conversation is lowering the bra,’ Tammy said with a snigger then hid behind Tracy as Paulette glared. ‘There’s no need to get shirty.’
‘Best you button your lip,’ Tracy said with a smirk. ‘Our Paulette is meaner than she seams.’
‘She will sock you one,’ Andy said then shrugged as Paulette wagged her plimsole at him. ‘Sorry, I’m blousey at staying out of it.’
‘But you tie-d,’ Diane said then giggled.
‘You bib,’ Miriam added then patted him on the shoulder.
‘It’s hard when you’re a pullover,’ Ceri said then hid behind Janis and smirked from behind her.
‘He never belts up,’ George said, took one look at Paulette’s glare, squealed and hid back behind his George mat.
Everyone looked to Lanie and she shrugged. ‘I know we all seem lacey in class.’ She lowered her helmet. ‘But we all really lycra.’
Paulette groaned and flopped in defeat back onto the mat as the kettle whistled. She had no idea where her mother was, why she could see Gaynor, Stan and Liza testing out a sofa through the shop doorway, and if Mary-Lou had actually kicked Trevor’s ‘ass’ but she did know that her class were stiletto making references about clothing instead of dancing; hat she couldn’t get them to zip it and there was little else she could shoe but just accept that every class with her lot was a dress rehearsal.