I hope you enjoy this week’s episode of Queer Tango and wiggling at The Bee with Tracy and Tammy.
As always, please excuse the typos.
Episode 50: The Bumblethorpe Bee
Tracy didn’t mind working hard because the punters in The Bee were alright and Tammy was her best friend. She liked that Ricky popped in for his breakfast, mid-afternoon on the account that he worked nights, and he tended to bring her a bit of this and that to say that he thought she was a bit of alright. He was soft like that.
Tammy would stop and decide they was gonna have lunch too so she would head into the kitchen and make something scrummy or, on occasion, head to George’s for a greasy snack. The lunchtime punters were the usual: Stan grabbing a full three course with Hedges’ Junior; Andy and his dad grabbing a bite and a pint between scurrying on the roofs; Lanie liked to meet Miriam there—which was always enjoyable to poke fun at—and they’d sit there and whisper to each other like no one knew they was living together; Recently, Glynnis had dropped in a few times with Mary-Lou, Hedges and Billington who enjoyed getting a fuss off the customers. They didn’t drink nothing alcoholic but then golden retrievers shouldn’t have beer. Tracy was sure they shouldn’t. He had sausages off Tammy though. He liked them as much as George liked his beer and chasers in the evenings.
At tea time, now and again, Janis would bring ‘her girls’—Ceri, Bailey, Sally and her mum and they’d have a proper meal out. They were more exhausting to watch than Billington because at least he sat down when you gave him a sausage. Janis was the only one who ever sat to eat her meal. Tracy wasn’t sure how she didn’t get dizzy. She loved it though, by the doting smile on her face and she loved it when Ceri pecked her on the cheek. Soppy, just like her Ricky.
Tracy was in charge of stocking up, which meant a lot considering how Tammy was trusting her not to nick anything. She wouldn’t from Tammy but reputations was hard to put aside sometimes. Tracy didn’t mind stock checking because she’d done addition in school. She was pretty sure she got kicked out of that class a fair few times—with Tammy—but Ricky had let her stock check his takings since they’d been married so she was pretty good with a calculator.
The punters loved it when, on occasion, Ruby and Plimsole would show up for an evening to themselves and with some encouragement from Georgetta, Stanetta and all the class, they’d sing and dance and the punters would cheer and buy more drinks and Tammy would be muttering about having to work so hard while trying not to smile at how that meant she could have more Snickers. Tracy liked watching her in that mood because she was proud of her best friend.
‘You realise you ain’t those kinda friends, huh?’ Mary-Lou said as she took her wine from Tracy.
‘We is those kinda friends on the dance floor,’ Tracy said with a smirk then winked at Tammy who snorted. ‘She shows me her Snickers.’
‘Pants,’ Hedges chimed from underneath Billington who was pinning her to the floor again.
‘She meant the chocolate, honey,’ Mary-Lou said over her shoulder and sipped at her wine. ‘You practicing for your show?’
Tracy cocked her head. ‘You what?’
‘You were kind of gazing,’ Mary-Lou batted her eyelids. ‘Lovingly.’
Tracy shrugged. ‘She looks beautiful this evening.’ She winked at Tammy who fanned herself with an empty glass. ‘And she’s doing alright.’
Tammy waved her off. ‘She’s been on the pop, she has.’ She leaned onto the bar and smiled at Hedges’ Junior who tried not to peer down her top. ‘Ricky needs to step up his activities to beat my dancing.’
Hedges Junior blushed until his nose was pink and hid behind Mary-Lou.
‘He’s kinda young for that talk,’ Mary-Lou said with a tut.
Tracy snorted. ‘She meant that she’s doing alright with the pub.’ She winked at Hedges who hurried back to his mum and hid himself as best he could. It was hard with hair like Hedges. ‘When we was in school, our teachers said she’d only ever manage to make parole.’
Mary-Lou sipped at her wine with a frown. ‘That is not a positive way to talk to children.’
‘No, it ain’t,’ Tammy said as she pulled a pint for Georgetta. ‘She said that Tracy wouldn’t manage to make it out of her cell.’
‘Did you complain?’ Mary-Lou said with disgust.
‘No, there wasn’t a lot of use.’ Tracy thumbed to Ceri. ‘It was her mother.’
Ceri looked up. ‘You were tying her to a chair.’
‘True,’ Tammy said with a smirk. ‘We was practicing hairdressing.’
Lanie wandered up to the bar. ‘You’re not meant to cut hair with a paper cutter.’ She smiled at Mary-Lou and placed her empty glasses down. ‘That was when they weren’t firing ink at every other teacher.’
‘Or painting their seat,’ Tracy added with a smirk. ‘I liked that move.’
‘Why were you so mean?’ Mary-Lou pursed her lips but with a smile twinkling away in her eyes. ‘Did you just get PMS?’
‘PMT,’ Hedges called out from under Billington who was now on her lap on the seat.
Hedges Junior flushed pink again and hid behind his hands.
‘No, we got suspended a lot though,’ Tammy said with a chuckle. ‘Either way, I left school before exams and I own a pub.’
Tracy nodded. ‘And I work in one so studying is for kids who like it.’
‘Your girls study though,’ Lanie said to Tammy. ‘And Tracy’s son.’
‘They were being difficult,’ Tracy said with a wag of her rings on her fingers. ‘Kids just don’t want to be their parents.’
Hedges Junior glanced at his mum with Billington on her and his dad attempting to play Pool with Stanetta and shook his head.
‘I get that,’ Mary-Lou said with a sip on her wine and glazed eyes. ‘My mom was so into studying but when I flew college, I told her that I was not going for a masters ‘cause I wanted to have kids.’ She pulled her lips around. ‘Then I got married, had kids, and did more college.’
‘I wanted to join the fire brigade,’ Janis said as Ceri walked on the spot beside her. ‘Mr Hedges came into school and I got to wear his helmet.’
Lanie nodded with a happy smile. ‘I got to wear the helmet too.’
‘That’s where your love for them comes from?’ Miriam said as she took her drink from Tammy. ‘You don’t need to hide your teeth, George, I’m off-duty.’
‘It’s Georgetta, thank you,’ George muttered back while covering his mouth then hunched as Diane stomped in. ‘Luv?’
‘I have the tea on,’ she shot at him, took the Pool cue, potted the balls in perfect order, gave him a smacker on the lips, downed his pint, picked up his handbag and dragged him out of the door.
Stan smirked. ‘He’s been told.’ He reapplied his lipstick and nodded to Mr Hedges who was staring at the table. ‘You want to play me again?’
Mr Hedges nodded. ‘I don’t want to play Diane though…’ He rubbed at his receding hair. ‘I’m happy if I pot a few in one go.’
‘I didn’t know you wanted to be in the fire brigade,’ Ceri said mid-walk on the spot. ‘You went into serving the community which I thought you wanted to do?’
Janis smiled up at her. ‘I was only five.’
‘You would have still looked beautiful.’ Ceri beamed at her and pecked her on the cheek and Janis had a contented smile on her face.
‘She’s like my Ricky,’ Tracy said to Tammy who nodded back.
‘She is.’ Tammy said pulling out a Snickers. ‘He would have nicked the helmet though.’
‘True,’ Tracy said to Mary-Lou who chuckled.
Hedges dislodged Billington from her lap who trotted over to Janis for a cuddle. ‘I’m glad he didn’t. My dad wouldn’t be happy if he didn’t have his helmet on.’
Mary-Lou wrapped an arm around her. ‘It doesn’t go with his loafers though, honey.’
‘Slippers,’ Hedges said up to her then giggled. ‘How many glasses did you have?’
‘I kinda had a few with Glynnis at lunch… we were in a meeting.’ Mary-Lou waved her glass around. ‘It made business kinda fun.’
Barney popped his head in then frowned. ‘Honey, you haven’t been in work this afternoon.’
Mary-Lou wandered to him and kissed him on the lips. ‘I am networking.’
Tracy sniggered and then shrugged when Lanie stared at her. ‘I just served her. I didn’t drink with her.’ She nodded to Barney who raised his eyebrows. ‘I blame Glynnis.’
Hedges winced as Billington launched onto the Pool table, stole a ball and rolled over on his back. ‘I blame Glynnis too.’
‘I blame Glynnis for Trevor a lot,’ Janis muttered. ‘But she’s a nice lady.’
Hedges nodded. ‘She’s lovely.’
And the rest of the class present nodded too.
‘I guess you’ve been told too,’ Stan said to Mr Hedges as Billington barked at him and stole his cue.
Gaynor stomped in with Little Liza then glared at Stan who hid behind his handbag. ‘You were meant to meet us in Grumbleton.’
‘Was I?’ Stan peered over his bag. ‘Why?’
‘We were getting photos.’ She looked him up and down, threw his cue to Janis, took his hand and dragged him out.
‘Guess he’s been told then,’ Tammy said with a snort and handed Lanie her drink. ‘Baby photos, Luv.’
Lanie, who was staring after Stan, nodded. ‘I guessed that but I didn’t get why they had them done in Grumbleton.’
‘Because Stan’s mother would pass out if she knew he was in a wig and a frock,’ Tracy said popping in a chewing gum and winking at Hedges Junior who sniggered behind his fingers.
‘She’s been to the show,’ Lanie said with a frown. ‘She is very supportive when we have bake sales in Squishy.’
‘Because she thinks you have taken in Miriam because she got dumped.’ Tracy chewed just that much more happily as Miriam rolled her eyes. ‘She thinks Janis is a bloke though.’
Janis rubbed a hand over her beard. ‘Ceri’s mother does too.’
‘Yes, but she liked Trevor,’ Ceri muttered then nodded to Tracy and Tammy. ‘Which is why I’m not bothered she got haircuts at the moment.’
Tammy high-fived Tracy then smirked at Mary-Lou who was draped over Barney’s shoulder giggling.
‘See, we wasn’t mean, we was just sorting her out for when she married Ceri off to Trevor.’ Tracy smiled at the girls who stopped walking on the spot to nod and clap. ‘Thank you. Being so dedicated to the town is a hard job but we love it.’
Lanie rolled her eyes. ‘I’ll remind you of that when your son is yelling at you for getting your tag renewed.’
Tracy shrugged. ‘I been good. I don’t got one anymore.’ She flashed her leg. ‘It’s just a bracelet… felt weird without something on my ankle.’
Tammy pointed to herself with a glass. ‘Which I bought.’
‘You did.’ Tracy nodded. ‘She gave me a Snickers too.’
‘Pants,’ Hedges chimed as she climbed up the stool and jumped off it to grab her bag of snacks from the bar.
Mary-Lou giggled and swayed as Barney headed over to play Mr Hedges and Billington at Pool. ‘I ain’t sure what kinda friends you are but you sure are fun to know.’
Tracy leaned on the bar and handed down Hedges’ drink—jumping with liquids got messy. ‘We’re the kind you make in a place like Bumblethorpe,’ she said as Ruby and Plimsole strutted in to a big cheer. ‘The kind who’s happy to see you and happy to tell everyone your business.’
Tammy lifted up her Snickers. ‘And tie up your parents and pelt them with ink.’
‘But without stealing my dad’s helmet.’ Hedges sipped on her drink, headed back to her seat only for Billington to charge over and sit on her lap again. ‘Even if those friends give you overgrown pieces of fur.’
Billington gave her a slobbery kiss in response as Plimsole grabbed Ruby and they started to dance.
Tracy grabbed Tammy and twirled her so Mary-Lou grabbed Hedges Junior—she couldn’t reach Hedges and he had the same hair—and twirled into his arms. He blushed then attempted to step to and fro like he had a cue inserted in his spine; Janis hoisted up Ceri and twirled her, the girls and her mother in turn; Lanie twirled Miriam over to their table—she had to put her helmet on.
Mr Hedges shrugged at Barney. ‘I don’t dance… or wear handbags.’
Barney nodded. ‘I wore pink lycra?’
Mr Hedges put down the cue and took him into a waltz hold. ‘It’s better we try or my wife will only say I’m being no fun.’
Hedges peered around Billington, then shoved him off her and held out her hands. Billington took her paws with his and waltzed better than Mr Hedges and Barney who were as bad with their foot placement as Diane.
Tracy grinned as Plimsole started to sing and shimmy about. ‘I like working hard,’ she said to Tammy.
‘I know,’ Tammy said and served a punter with one hand while wiggling. ‘I wouldn’t want nobody different.’
‘Now you sound like my Ricky,’ Tracy said with a smile and cheered as Ruby tried to reach the same note as Plimsole and squeaked instead. Maybe the best kind of friends then outside of class, for her at least, were those found at The Bumblethorpe Bee.