I hope you enjoy this week’s episode of Queer Tango. As always, please excuse the typos.
Episode 62: Two sugars and a Splash of Milk
Diane did like to fluff up hair and make it look pretty. She had a knack for plumping up a style; a touch for curling, straightening, and was a dab hand at blow-drying. Yes, she could take a dodgy overgrown mop of hair and turn it into a fabulous statement of Bumblethorpe’s flair.
She would be even better… if she had some customers. She sighed as she swung around on one of the washing hair chairs and stared out of the window at George’s shop with Andy’s waterproofs still draped above the door.
‘They’ll soon realise he’s not very good,’ Gaynor said in a grumpy tone as she helped Little Liza change the spark plugs on her cardboard tube car. ‘He’s just cheap and they are investigating.’
‘They have been coming to my shop for twenty years… or so,’ Diane muttered as she leaned her head back into the sink with a groan. ‘And they have deserted me… for a refuge collector and a fired accountant.’
‘I thought you had the shop thirty odd years,’ Gaynor said then crinkled up her eyes as she tried to thread a replacement cardboard tube with a spark plug made out of those wiry plastic bits they tied hairbrushes to packaging with. ‘Or thirty five or something.’
‘I’m not old enough to have had a shop that long,’ Diane muttered then sobbed out a breath. ‘I’m not old enough to have two sons that are so tall either.’
‘I would have said you’re not old enough to have needed to marry George either,’ Gaynor attached the plug to the engine made out of an old hair ointment pot. ‘But you say you love him.’
‘I do love him,’ she said with a wistful sigh. ‘He brought me chips with chocolate.’
Gaynor rolled her eyes. ‘You’d think living with him and being married to him would have sorted the sighing teenager look.’ She leaned in and met Liza’s giggle-filled eyes. ‘It’s okay to like boys but you don’t need to be so…’ She pointed at Diane. ‘…sighing about it.’
Diane pursed her lips. ‘I am going to shave his nostril hair with a hedge trimmer.’
Gaynor nodded without looking up from assessing the drive shaft made of a de-toothed old comb. ‘That’s more like how you deal with boys.’
Liza made engine noises.
‘Or girls or anyone of whatever genders Andy keeps wittering on about,’ Gaynor said and made engine noises back.
‘Not Andy,’ Diane said, leapt to her feet and stomped to the window. ‘Trevor.’
‘I don’t know what gender he is but I know he’s a plonker.’ Gaynor said then checked the wheels were properly lined up. ‘What’s he done now?’
‘He’s permed Mrs Jenkins hair.’ Diane swiped her finger through the air and thwacked over the portable dryer. ‘She never let me perm her hair.’
Gaynor looked up, walked to the window and snorted. ‘I agree with her then, she looks like something Stan yanked out of someone’s drainpipes.’
Diane turned to her. ‘That’s because she has special hair that needs a real hairdresser.’
Mrs Jenkins glanced over at the salon, winced and shoved up her hood only to scurry into George’s shop.
Diane marched to her phone and picked it up. ‘George, if you want your toenails painted again, you tell Mrs Jenkins she’s not having any of your specials until she comes over here and explains herself.’
‘Mum?’ her eldest asked through a howling chuckle.
‘You want to borrow the car or do you want me to drive you to your meal with Bryony?’ Diane snapped and wagged her finger at the shop.
‘Mrs Jenkins, you’re not getting no food until you go explain to Mum.’ Her son said it with her own tone to the point she held her throat to quell the tears. Such a well trained boy. ‘I dunno… you were naughty I guess.’
‘I need food. I’m a pensioner,’ Mrs Jenkins muttered.
Diane clutched her chest. ‘You just tell her that not only isn’t she getting specials but that I’m not sorting out that hair when she realises he’s bleached where he should have dyed the roots and she looks like someone splashed her with paint.’
Diane’s eldest cleared his throat. ‘You’re not getting specials and Mum isn’t bleaching your hair because someone dyed your roots and you shouldn’t splash her with paint.’
‘I didn’t splash anyone with paint,’ Mrs Jenkins said. ‘It’s just gossip.’
Gaynor rolled her eyes and turned to Liza. ‘He is a lot like his step-father… a bit… empty in the brain.’
‘You shouldn’t be listening,’ Diane muttered at her then tried not to agree.
‘Your speaker is up loud enough that George can probably hear it,’ Gaynor shot back then checked the exhaust pipes made of more de-toothed combs.
‘Mrs Jenkins,’ Diane’s eldest said. ‘You shouldn’t be listening.’
‘I’m not listening to the gossip. I only had the paintbrush from Mavis for two minutes. I didn’t paint anyone.’ Mrs Jenkins sounded very uncertain about it.
Gaynor pulled a face and smiled at Liza. ‘Bumblethorpe is full of empty in the brain people.’
Liza made engine noises.
‘I said he bleached her hair not dyed it,’ Diane said and waved at the shop through the window.
‘Mum said you bleached her hair and dieted.’ Her eldest sounded confused.
‘I didn’t know it had brush cleaner on it,’ Mrs Jenkins said in a wobbly tone. ‘It wasn’t because she won the art group contest three years running either.’
Gaynor stopped, turned to Diane and furrowed her brow. ‘Did she inhale the bleach?’
‘Why did she win so much?’ Diane’s eldest asked and something clattered in the background. Diane looked over and spotted George stumbling into the shop door.
‘Because she has a perm,’ Mrs Jenkins shot and something slammed.
Diane spotted George picking himself up off the floor and her heart swelled. He was so handsome.
‘Who has?’ George asked and headed behind the counter looking every inch a dancer with his lean muscled… ish… frame. ‘Ooh, Diane won’t be happy with you going to Trevor.’
‘Liza,’ Mrs Jenkins said in a dramatic voice.
Little Liza made engine noises.
‘Tammy’s mother has a perm?’ Gaynor screwed up her face. ‘When did she do that?’
‘I dunno, but she’s not to have a special either,’ Diane shot down the phone. ‘You hear, no specials!’
‘Liza doesn’t have a perm,’ George said in an Andy-like tone. ‘I saw her earlier and she uses straighteners.’
Gaynor stared at Diane. ‘He really hangs out with Andy too much.’
Little Liza made an engine noise.
‘Not the Liza,’ Mrs Jenkins said like George was empty brained. ‘Barry.’
‘Okay, now I’m really confused,’ Gaynor marched over and took the phone off Diane. ‘Hand me over to Mrs Jenkins. Now.’
Diane’s eldest squeaked.
‘Watch the fryer,’ George muttered then sighed and put his apron on looking delicious and dashing as per always. ‘The phone is attached to the wall.’
‘Whatever,’ Diane’s eldest mumbled.
‘Hello?’ Mrs Jenkins said in a strained voice.
Diane winced as it looked like her son had slipped and crashed onto her with the phone. He was getting a lot like George.
‘Why is Barry being Liza, why do you have a perm and why aren’t you in our salon getting a proper haircut?’ Gaynor shot down the phone.
Little Liza pulled out her plimsole and slapped it to the floor.
Diane stared at her.
‘Barry is in my art class but he calls himself Liza,’ Mrs Jenkins said with a sigh. ‘How can I compete with his abilities when he has won awards for his creative designs.’
‘Barry?’ Gaynor let out a snort. ‘He’s a refuge collector.’
‘He told our teacher that he’s only posing as one. He’s really an international artiste.’ Mrs Jenkins sounded as happy about it as Diane was about the waterproof canopy over George’s shop. ‘He has been giving our class free hair modelling experience.’
Diane held her chest again. She’d need an indecent proportion to calm herself at this rate.
‘He’s a lying Trevor,’ Gaynor said and laughed again. ‘You look like you had bleach in your hand and danced with George.’
Little Liza slapped her plimsole again.
‘I do worry about the influence Paulette has on the children,’ Diane mumbled still staring at Liza as she made engine noises and redid the spark plug more neatly and ran through testing the engine.
Gaynor looked around. ‘Oh, she got that from Colin.’
‘What do you mean, my hair is nice,’ Mrs Jenkins mumbled. ‘Barry… Liza… said it was fashionable… and I didn’t have much other options… and you recommended him and you are closed… If you hurry up redecorating, I can come and have my tea there.’
Diane raised her eyebrow. ‘Redecorating?’
Gaynor held up her hand. ‘When do you have tea here?’
Liza made engine noises.
‘Yes, I have the nicest tea at yours.’ Mrs Jenkins sighed like Diane did over chocolate and chips. ‘You have lovely teabags.’
Diane glanced at the kettle. ‘I learned from the best.’
‘We’re not redecorating,’ Gaynor said and waved at Hedges being dragged along by Billington. ‘And we have tea.’
Mrs Jenkins huffed out a breath. ‘Then please sort out my hair.’
Diane let out a wistful sigh. ‘I’ll put your tea on.’
Little Liza took the wheels off the car and placed it on bottle tops, placed the wheels in the plimsole and ran it over the floor making tyre screeching noises.
‘That bit has to be Ricky,’ Diane mumbled.
‘Hope so, otherwise Paulette is borrowing tyres and she has a dodgy ankle,’ Gaynor said as George started yelling at Diane’s son to get back to work.
Mrs Jenkins waited at the side of the road, Andy hopped down off his ladder over Hedges’ shop and carried her across. She blushed then chuckled as he held the door open for her.
Gaynor went back to playing with Liza on the floor as Diane put on the kettle.
‘What did you do to Barry anyway?’ she asked Mrs Jenkins as she headed over to Little Liza and gave her a hug.
‘I heard he was trying to do a Liza… as if she’d have a perm,’ Andy muttered and stuck his nose up. ‘Disgusting.’
‘Oh, I threw paint remover over his wig,’ she said with a guilty expression. ‘A moment of anger and frustration. I don’t know how the teacher thinks borrowed toenail clippings are art.’
Diane met Gaynor’s eyes and grinned. ‘I think we’ll fix your hair on the house.’
Gaynor nodded. ‘And we’ll give you more than one cup of tea if you tell the rest of our customers that we’re open and Barry really is a refuge collector.’
‘Happy to.’ Mrs Jenkins pulled out her phone and fixed on it much like Diane’s sons did with theirs.
‘And he is definitely not Liza,’ Andy said with a wag of his hand.
Little Liza scowled and slapped her plimsole then tutted.
‘Exactly, Barry is a right Trevor,’ Gaynor said and then smiled at Diane as she wheeled Mrs Jenkins, tea cup and phone over to the hair washing sink.
Diane nodded as she shampooed Mrs Jenkins’ hair. Yes, she liked to fluff hair and the like but even better, she made a great cuppa and her customers still loved her for that. She sniffed. Yes all Bumblethorpe flair clearly needed was two sugars with a splash of milk.