I hope you enjoy this week’s episode of Queer Tango. I wanted to write something a bit dafter than usual in honour of little Sybil who we sadly lost. So, as she did like a treat or two and running around… this week’s episode is dedicated to her.
As always, please excuse the typos.
Episode 63: The Great Jelly Relay of Dribbleston
Paulette wasn’t very competitive but she liked to win when she played badminton with her sisters; she didn’t really like losing when she attempted to cycle up Bumblethorpe Hill faster than Lanie… even when Lanie’s calves were highly defined from all her cycle-meetings; Paulette wasn’t overly impressed when she couldn’t beat Diane at hula-hooping (class was slow that session,) and it bugged her when Tracy could flick bar mats across bar at the Bee further. (It had been a Georgetta, Stanetta and Ruby night out.) So, this uncompetitive, mild mannered tango-lover was not at all set on winning the latest competition her class were entering for ‘team-building’ reasons. No, she hadn’t been training with Andy every morning for an hour and forcing him to run up and down through makeshift courses carrying a homemade jelly on his head… no, not at all.
‘Plimsole,’ Andy mumbled as he checked his aerodynamic shorts and t-shirt in the colours of a hamster and emblazoned with ‘Ruby, Agnes and Plimsole’s Elite Jelly Team,’ and pulled up his sports socks. ‘I’m not sure Agnes is old enough to toddle with a jelly on her head.’
‘She is from a long line of jelly-toddlers, Ruby,’ she said and smiled lovingly at Little Agnes in her frilly outfit with the same logo. ‘Every member of my family has won this competition. Every. Single. One.’
‘I know, your mother showed me the photos,’ Andy said with a shake of his head. ‘It’s fascinating that people have put jelly’s on babies’ heads for hundreds of years.’ He wrinkled up his face. ‘I didn’t think jelly was that old.’
‘I’m not sure if they always used jelly.’ Paulette studied him then smiled as she eyed the other father’s at the starting line: they could barely fit into their shorts and Andy was being suitably swooned over. Good, it would slow the mother’s down.
‘Alright,’ Stan said as he strutted over in a pair of furry shorts with a puppy-tail attached. ‘I’m glad someone else is doing this.’
Andy motioned to himself. ‘Paulette is very serious about jelly-toddling.’
Gaynor strutted over with a skin-tight leotard on and a pair of puppy paws on her feet. ‘All mother’s are serious about jelly-toddling.’
Paulette nodded and shook Gaynor’s hands. ‘How has Liza been in training?’
‘Like her father, slow and too busy wanting to check the oil level.’ Gaynor scowled at Stan who wagged his tail at Agnes. ‘He does like the uniform though.’
Little Liza toddled over to Agnes and kissed her on the cheek and they plonked down on their bottoms with giggle.
‘Toddlers, on your marks,’ the referee said as he held up his squeaky jelly.
‘Wait,’ George said as he hurried over in florescent trousers and white vest and Diane hurried along behind him in a matching outfit. ‘We have a toddler.’
Paulette raised her eyebrows. ‘You do?’
‘Yes, we borrowed one,’ Diane said with a chuckle. ‘My niece.’
‘We’ve got a toddler,’ Hedges yelled as she dragged Mary-Lou along to the start line. ‘We found a toddler.’
Mary-Lou held up her hand. ‘I think she means my nephew… right?’ She held up a young boy with a snapback on. ‘We can… er… go with the Jell-O.’
‘Jelly,’ Hedges translated and tidied her large furry ears.
‘That too,’ Mary-Lou said and adjusted her hamster teeth.
‘I’ve got one,’ Lanie cycled to a stop with Miriam on the back holding a baby. ‘We borrowed it from my sister.’
‘Does she know?’ Andy asked and looked at Paulette.
‘Yes, she’s teething. She’s happy for the break.’ Miriam held up the baby who burst into tears and Little Liza toddled over and handed her a teething ring. ‘Your hired. How much do you charge?’
Liza giggled and plonked onto her bottom then made engine noises.
‘I have two,’ Glynnis called and dragged Tracy behind her with two children. ‘They are distantly related but I examined the rules.’
Tracy chewed on her gum and blew a bubble at the babies. ‘I am always happy to have a jelly-toddle.’
Tammy whooped from the side lines and held up her Snickers. ‘I’m always happy to take footage to bribe people with.’
Tracy snorted. ‘Or play at the Bee.’
‘We have an entry,’ Janis said as she hoisted a baby up into her arms as Ceri toddled behind her—dressed head to toe like a duster. ‘She is my neighbour’s but we have two girls and I didn’t get to toddle so we should be allowed.’
Andy looked at Paulette. ‘Did you mention the jelly-toddle in class?’
‘No,’ she said and narrowed her eyes. ‘On purpose.’
‘You look very nice,’ Hedges said to Stan and Gaynor. ‘Billington will be supporting you.’
Billington barked and sat next to Tammy.
‘We have an entry,’ Trevor said in his sly tone as he and Barry stomped up in flashing spotted full length swimwear. ‘He’s our baby.’
Glynnis glared at them. ‘He looks like Aunty Billington’s granddaughter to me.’
‘We have her birth certificate.’ Barry flicked his arm out and swirled it around. ‘Here.’
‘That’s a receipt for your shopping,’ Ceri said with a roll of her eyes.
The referee stared. ‘I don’t care, I just want to squeak my jelly and get a cuppa off Agnes.’
Little Agnes slapped her plimsole to the floor and Little Liza followed.
The referee shrugged. ‘I’m very excited for you too… I just like tea.’
Andy nodded to Stan. ‘It’s worthwhile for a biscuit and so I can sleep in the mornings.’
Paulette patted him on the shoulder. ‘That’s the spirit.’
The referee held up his squeaky jelly. ‘On your marks, get set, toddle!’
Little Agnes toddled over to the table, giggling as Liza held her hand, they picked up the jelly on the plate and grinned at each other. Diane and George’s toddler was close behind with Lanie and Miriam’s toddling up the rear while eating an ice cream; Janis and Ceri’s toddler had drunk a bit too much milk so was staggering from side to side as Hedges’ and Mary-Lou’s toddler tried to go around her until they were weaving. Barry and Trevor’s toddler stumbled about and spotted Glynnis so stopped and waved.
Glynnis cheered and waved back as her toddlers spotted the inflatable jelly in the referee’s hands and went over to him.
‘That’s it… get the jelly,’ Paulette said crouched, ready to shove Andy into action.
Little Agnes held up her jelly.
‘Go, go, go!’ Paulette smacked Andy on the backside and he ‘ooh’d’ and toddled on his knees over to Agnes.
‘Don’t just stand there, move!’ Gaynor thwacked Stan with his tail and he dropped to his knees, toddling as fast as he could.
Diane and George’s toddler clattered into Stan and then righted herself and grabbed the jelly.
‘Go for it!’ Diane howled with laughter as George attempted to keep in a straight line as he ‘toddled’ over.
‘We’re lagging,’ Lanie mumbled as her toddler picked up the jelly and she started off.
‘Then toddle faster,’ Miriam yelled then sniggered. ‘I hope you’re getting this on camera.’
Tammy nodded as Ceri’s girls joined them and started a cheer and dance-step move with Billington.
Janis’ and Ceri’s toddler was still wobbling and crashed into George who rolled into Stan, then the little girl toddled on to the table.
‘That’s a good girl!’ Ceri clapped her hands and then shrugged at Diane and Gaynor. ‘Her mother plays squash.’
‘With her?’ Diane mumbled and patted Gaynor on the back as she muttered about getting out the clippers.
Mary-Lou’s nephew toddled on by to the table then stuck his head into the jelly.
‘Er… that count?’ Mary-Lou asked.
‘Who cares!’ Hedges leapt onto her knees and toddled at full speed.
‘You can’t have my jelly,’ the referee told Glynnis’ toddlers who glared up at him. ‘You can’t. You have to get your own jelly.’
‘Should have borrowed them,’ Trevor said with a smirk. ‘Tell them your name gentlemen.’
The toddlers looked over at Trevor and stuck up their noses.
Glynnis smirked back at Trevor. ‘If you will acquaint yourself with refuge collectors, don’t expect social greetings.’
Trevor scowled and threw Barry onto his knees. ‘Go get the jelly.’
‘But he hasn’t got to the table yet,’ Barry muttered.
‘I don’t care,’ Trevor yelled at him. ‘Toddle!’
Barry pushed out his lip. ‘You’re always so overly demanding. You know I don’t like being yelled at.’
‘If you don’t want me to yell…’ Trevor glared at him. ‘Then toddle!’
Paulette kept her focus on Andy and Agnes who were toddling together to the slide, jelly on Andy’s head. ‘That’s it, toddle on, my beautiful pair.’
Tammy chomped on her Snickers. ‘It’s intense.’
Billington barked and then growled as he spotted Barry toddling. He leapt into the air and pounced on him, rolling him off the course.
‘I protest, that is not legal!’ Trevor flapped his hands as his toddler turned and giggled at Barry who was toddling far faster just to get away from Billington who had part of his spotted swimwear in his mouth.
‘It is legal,’ Glynnis said with a cheer. ‘He’s assisting him.’
The referee held up his jelly… Glynnis’ toddlers booted him in the shin and he hopped around.
‘I don’t know where they got that idea from,’ Tracy said with a wink and a chew of her gum.
Stan and Liza toddled behind Andy and Agnes to the slide.
‘Up you go,’ Stan said and helped Agnes up. ‘Remember, arms in, like you’re on a toboggan.’
Liza made engine noises and squealed her way down, holding the jelly as Andy and Agnes headed to the bouncy castle; George and toddler fell into the table and knocked their jelly, George dived for it and caught it before it hit the floor.
Tammy, the girls and Diane all clapped. ‘What a catch.’
‘That’s why I married him, right there,’ Diane said with a punch of the air.
‘You married him to toddle with Jell-O?’ Mary-Lou asked with a crinkled up face. ‘I kinda thought it was the fries.’
‘Chips,’ Hedges translated. ‘And Jelly.’
‘I like that idea,’ George yelled over his shoulder. ‘It could be a jelly-toddle special.’
Diane cheered even louder. ‘I love him. I married him. Thank you.’
Gaynor scowled. ‘I am going to marry his backside if he doesn’t move faster!’
Stan hunched and waddled at pace but Liza was far faster and the jelly wobbled on the plate.
‘You can’t eat the jelly yet,’ Lanie muttered at her toddler as it tried to take the plate off her. ‘Have you not learned about team work?’
The toddler poked out its tongue.
‘You want to work for Trevor when you’re older?’ Lanie asked and pointed to Billington chasing Barry around on his knees.
The toddler burst into tears and stopped.
Lanie furrowed her brow. ‘Oh, no… don’t cry. I didn’t mean it… toddle and you can have the jelly… and I’ll buy you more ice cream?’
The toddler stopped crying, grabbed the plate and toddled off at speed with Lanie trailing after her.
Janis’ and Ceri’s toddler veered across the course again and took out Lanie who rolled into George whose jelly toppled again and he dived to catch it.
Janis pulled her mouth to the side. ‘I think I should have checked what Mum fed her.’
Ceri chuckled. ‘Her grandmother is George’s mother’s sister.’ She wiped her eyes then chuckled harder. ‘It’s clearly a family talent.’
George eyed the baby. ‘Hey, I could have borrowed her then.’
‘Stick to your own toddler, Georgetta,’ Ceri yelled and waved at Janis as their toddler remembered to get her own jelly. ‘Besides… with you both toddling together, we’d all need a George-Mat.’
George clambered to his knees as his toddler patted him on the arm. ‘Thanks.’
‘Will you stop kicking me,’ the referee muttered as he tried to get away from Glynnis’ toddlers. ‘I’m not giving you my jelly.’
‘They’ll probably just buy it off him when their older, huh?’ Tracy said with a chuckle then winced as Barry lost more pieces of clothes. ‘We’ll need a towel or something so the kids don’t have to look at his scrawny legs.’
Glynnis cheered as Billington made off with one of Barry’s shoes. ‘He’s trained only to go so far.’
‘I want a restart!’ Trevor yelled. ‘They’re cheating.’
‘Slightly stating the obvious, darling,’ Glynnis said to him. ‘But then, you aren’t known for your intellect.’
Trevor glared at her. ‘I get my intellect from you then.’
Glynnis whistled. Billington turned and sprinted at Trevor who shrieked and ran off flapping his arms.
‘You’ve waited a while to do that, haven’t you?’ Tracy said as she eyed the children jumping up to try and get the jelly.
‘Years.’ Glynnis let out a happy sigh as Barry re-joined the jelly-toddling.
‘You’ve got this,’ Paulette said as she dived onto her knees and toddled away as Andy and Agnes climbed through the bouncy castle and reached the second table. She wobbled her way over the airbed section focusing on her core strength not to flop into the waiting custard moat.
‘Come on, you slow-coach!’ Gaynor flapped her hands around as Stan bounced off the castle and Liza had to hold onto the jelly as he hit more waiting custard with a splat.
‘I want this on DVD please,’ Diane said with a howl of laughter. ‘I want to play this back to Liza when she’s older.’
‘Oi,’ George muttered over his shoulder then lifted his toddler onto the slide who held onto the jelly as he toddled around to the front to catch her.
Lanie’s toddler jumped up the steps, Jelly under her arm, jumped over George’s toddler and slid, surf-style to the floor.
‘Sorry.’ Lanie toddled and waddled after her. ‘I think she likes ice cream.’
The toddler handed-off George as she toddled by and George rolled into the custard with a squelch.
Miriam peered through her fingers. ‘It’s the e-numbers, it must be.’
‘Maybe you should start?’ Glynnis said to Tracy as the children chased the referee until he climbed on a foldout chair to save his ankles.
‘May as well,’ Tracy said and got onto her knees then thumbed at the referee. ‘Guess that’s why they call them chair umpires.’
Tammy and the girls cheered and Billington trotted back with parts of Trevor’s clothes in his mouth.
Paulette bounced onto the bouncy castle with a flourish and Liza who was on the other edge bounced up into the air. ‘Watch out!’
Stan held out his hand and made a diving save, caught Liza on his stomach and she held onto the jelly like a professional while making engine noises.
‘That’s right, don’t let her dirty tactics stop you!’ Gaynor said, toddling faster, custard on her knees and in her hair but she didn’t care, she was gaining on Paulette.
‘Dirty tactics?’ Paulette said over her shoulder as she bounced across the air filled castle. ‘I don’t need dirty tactics.’
‘Whatever, Plimsole, you tried to bounce my girl off the course.’ Gaynor waved her hand around as she toddled. ‘I’ll give you the clippers all over.’
Paulette bounced off the castle as Lanie and toddler bounced onto it. ‘I will make you dance with George then.’
‘I have a bloke with heels to dance with, thank you.’ Gaynor glared back at George who’d been flawed by Janis and Ceri’s baby who was trying to eat his jelly.
‘Oi,’ George flapped at Janis and Ceri’s baby as Hedges overtook them, carrying Mary-Lou’s nephew who had eaten half of their jelly.
‘We won’t have any jelly to carry at this rate,’ Hedges mumbled at him. ‘He doesn’t get sweets.’
‘No, candy isn’t good for him,’ Mary-Lou yelled and tugged at her yoga pants and rechecked her hamster paws on her knees. She needed padding.
‘When is sugar ever good for you?’ Glynnis got on her knees even though Tracy was only just at the jelly and her toddlers were trying to climb onto the chair with the referee. ‘That’s why we feed it to toddlers. It’s either that or rum.’
Trevor hurried back to the course as Barry slid down the slide with the toddler on his lap and the Jelly on his head. ‘You’re still behind!’
Barry shrugged, picked up the toddler and went around onto the slide again. ‘It’s fun.’
The toddler giggled and waved to Glynnis.
Paulette dived off the bouncy castle as Andy leaned onto his hands and knees. She put Agnes on his back and put the jelly on hers and they toddle-crawled to the ultimate obstacle… an air filled balance beam with custard on each side and Tammy waiting with an air-filled pole to knock the jelly off.
‘Plimsole, you look wonderful when you’re so set on something,’ Andy said with a sigh as they toddled away. ‘And when you wear that outfit to prove it.’
Paulette winked at him. ‘I’m delighted I could borrow it from your wardrobe.’
Gaynor caught up to Stan and Liza and dragged the jelly onto her back as she toddled along with a grimace. Stan rolled his eyes and toddled after her as Liza made engine noises and checked his oil pressure.
Lanie and toddler reached the table as Miriam hurried along on hands and knees, Diane giggling as she toddled alongside.
‘You’re supposed to be on your knees only,’ Diane whispered as they bounced along the airbed.
‘I can’t balance only on my knees,’ Miriam whispered back as she put her hand in the custard. ‘My feet get in the way.’
‘George says that about dancing.’ Diane flopped off the airbed into the custard with a howl of laughter. ‘Maybe that makes two of us.’
Tracy toddled over the slide and bounced onto the air filled castle as Glynnis just toddled through the custard and Mary-Lou followed. Barry went back around to try the slide again as his toddler bounced alone across the castle and Trevor tried to bounce on the airbed to catch up but Glynnis gave it a tug and he fell through the tape on the side next to Billington who growled.
‘You took part just to get your own back on him?’ Mary-Lou asked as she got custard up her nose. ‘I don’t get why you Brits gotta use candy for the course.’
‘Never know when you need a snack,’ Glynnis said with a wink as she hauled Mary-Lou with her onto the grass. ‘Or need to humiliate your wayward offspring.’
Lanie and Miriam caught up to Stan and Gaynor but Tammy was wild with the air-pole and punched Stan in the head. He rolled, Liza ejecting and bouncing onto the beam herself with a gear change noise as Gaynor had to hit the custard to save the jelly.
‘Hey,’ Andy yelped as Agnes thwacked him with a plimsole. ‘You’re far too much like your mother.’
Paulette focused on the line. ‘You love us, Ruby. Keep toddling.’
Mary-Lou and Glynnis caught up to Hedges who was trying to get off the bouncy castle as Mary-Lou’s nephew had left her and was taking the jelly and the plate and was run-toddling for the balance beam.
‘He said I wouldn’t make his little league team,’ Hedges mumbled as Glynnis and Mary-Lou helped her off. ‘He said I wouldn’t even make the bench.’
Mary-Lou raised her eyebrows. ‘Feed the kid Jell-O and he turns into his father.’ She shook her head. ‘I would have said you’d make a great pitcher.’
‘A jug?’ Tracy asked as she bounce-somersaulted her way to the table and grabbed the other jelly.
‘I think that’s the bowler,’ Glynnis said as she put Tracy on her back and made her hold both jellies.
Mary-Lou snorted and put Hedges on her back with one jelly. ‘I thought that was cricket?’
George and Diane got flattened by Tammy.
‘It’s violent, I’ll give you that,’ Janis said as she put her toddler under her arm and an empty plate as Ceri toddled to the table in front of them and grabbed a jelly.
‘It’s unfair,’ Trevor muttered as he caught up to his toddler while Barry played on the slide. ‘It’s illegal.’
‘You are a fine one to talk,’ Glynnis muttered at him. ‘Flashing spots?’
‘Our outfits were stolen,’ Trevor snapped as Ceri, Janis, toddler and Jelly hit the balance beam.
‘Can’t imagine who by,’ Tracy said with a smirk as she made engine noises and Glynnis chuckled.
Paulette ducked her head for the line with Andy and Agnes as the girls cheered. ‘We won!’
‘We did,’ Andy said, not sounding very overly excited. ‘And my knees need ice.’
‘We came second!’ Gaynor squealed as she dragged a wobbling Stan over the line. ‘We so didn’t get disqualified.’ She punched the air. ‘Justice for when I was toddling.’
Stan eyed her. ‘You got disqualified?’
Gaynor nodded. ‘I ate the jelly.’
Liza made engine noises and giggled at Agnes who put the jelly on Andy’s head and cheered.
‘We came third…’ Lanie said, then puffed out her cheeks. ‘Now we got to catch her.’
‘You promised her ice cream… you know what her mother is like.’ Miriam chased their toddler over the line and to the ice cream van.
George fell over his knees as his toddler got off him and got onto Diane’s back for her own safety. ‘I would say I’d take the jelly,’ he mumbled then rolled into the custard as he took an air pole to the backside.
Diane chuckled and toddled over the line then went back and dragged him over it. ‘I’m just impressed we managed to get through the course.’
Mary-Lou, Hedges, Tracy and Glynnis toddled over the line head-to-head with Janis and Ceri as the girls cheered them on.
Trevor was smacked into the custard then pounced by Billington as Barry went on the slide again and their toddler took her jelly and toddled over the line alone.
Paulette put her hands on her hips as the referee stared at Glynnis’ toddlers who calmly stopped trying to get at him and toddled over to Glynnis who led them to the ice cream van.
‘You were meant to squeak your jelly,’ Paulette said with a thwack of her plimsole.
Little Liza and Little Agnes did the same.
The referee blinked a few times and gave a weak squeak. ‘Can I have tea now?’
The grown-up Agnes’ kettle boiled and the class cheered.
‘That’s even better than the squeaky jelly,’ Andy said as he groaned to his feet. ‘Much better.’
Paulette looked at her class who were chuckling and gossiping their way to the tea tent or prising children from the ice cream van and smiled. Yes, she wasn’t competitive but she was completely satisfied and relieved to continue the long held champion tradition of her family while wearing a hamster-themed costume. Yes, she’d won a squeak of the jelly and biscuits from her mum. A true British tradition, a very Bumblethorpe tradition but the Ruby, Agnes and Plimsole’s Elite Jelly Team were winners of the Great Jelly Relay of Dribbleston.