Well, I’ve had a lot of fun with George-mats and Stanetta’s heels and Paulette with her plimsole. However, as readership is starting to drop on the series and Aeron fans have voted for a new story, it’s probably, in rhythm, to wrap up Paulette and the Bumblethorpe dance class’s story… I love the characters, so I might revisit them again but for now… I hope you enjoy catching up with Paulette and her friends.
As always, please excuse the typos.
Episode 64: Queer Tango
Paulette didn’t really get stage fright. She’d been performing for long enough and had been through enough berating by directors to find it easy to perform a well rehearsed role. However, this wasn’t a role and the only stage was at the front of her family and friends while she tried to remember her vows.
‘You look beautiful,’ her dad said as he held open the car door for her. ‘You look like your mother.’
Paulette smiled at him. ‘I take that as the perfect compliment then.’
He nodded and helped her pull her dress into the car.
‘You’re a pro.’ She managed to squeak her words and then had to inhale more than was usual for just walking a few steps from her house.
‘I’ve done this eight times,’ her dad said with a nod to the driver—her cousin Ricky—and perched next to her in the backseat. ‘Try not to commit moving traffic offences.’
Ricky grinned, all suited up and looking… well… still like he would commit some offence. ‘I have an escort, I’m good.’
Paulette raised her eyebrows then noticed Tracy’s son following them with his lights on. ‘He’s pulling us over?’
Her dad chuckled. ‘No, he’s making sure that Trevor keeps out of the way.’ He thumbed to the main street as they entered it. ‘He might be an annoyance to everyone else but if I catch him causing problems, he’ll meet my plimsole.’
‘What, Mum?’ Paulette asked as Ricky hunched at the mention of plimsoles.
‘No, my plimsole comes in the form of my mate at the station whose ready to stick him inside.’ Her dad waved to Janis’ mum who threw flowers at the car.
‘Isn’t she supposed to do that when I’ve gotten married?’ Paulette asked then waved as she passed George’s fish shop —Andy’s best Georgetta— and the door with Andy’s bright waterproofs still proudly flapping above it; Diane’s salon, which she’d been in that morning, with its transparent old sticker of a giant clippers and a pair of scissors; then Hedges’ Pruned Petal with its flowers overflowing from the windowsills—Paulette glanced at the bunch in her hand—they really were beautiful; She smiled over at Miriam’s surgery with it’s large tooth sculpture made of gum by Janis and painted by the girls—her teeth had been interrogated under bright lights by Miriam and were so shiny she wasn’t sure Andy would be able to see her without glasses; Then there was the Bee, where Ruby had enjoyed a girl’s night out and she’d made the ladies of the class dress up to have a Plimsole gentle-non-men’s night out. She never thought she’d see Hedges salsa with a sandbag on her head but she could swivel when drunk.
‘Glynnis thought you’d like the car,’ Ricky said with a wink in the mirror at her. ‘Make sure you tell her you recognised it was a nice car.’
Paulette looked at the seats. She didn’t really feel it was safe to ask questions about where the car came from with Ricky. ‘It is nice. It works unlike the hunk of junk you sold me.’
Ricky shrugged. ‘It fell off the back of a lorry, what you expect?’
‘Ricky,’ her dad said with a tut.
‘What… I don’t mean I nicked it… I really mean it fell off the back of a lorry… it was gonna go to the scrapie.’ He shrugged again as Paulette waved her bunch at him. ‘You needed a car. I couldn’t find you a car for twenty quid.’
‘I paid you two hundred for it,’ she muttered then sighed as they headed up the steep hill to the church. She spotted a bicycle outside and rolled her eyes. ‘Lanie even cycled to church.’
Her throat caught and she tried not to think of how tired and fed up she’d been when she wandered into Bumblethorpe. How that first class had gone with Tracy and Tammy kicking each other’s backsides instead of their own; Mary-Lou in her yoga pants and cropped top complaining of the cold, Janis who wouldn’t admit she was in the class, Ceri cleaning everything while Andy told Paulette off for being too binary. It was funny to think that Diane and George weren’t even an item; that Stan and Gaynor hadn’t had a baby; that Janis and Ceri hadn’t stepped into love together or Miriam and Lanie hadn’t so much as said they fancied each other… and none of them had been able to dance. She smiled to herself. The ability part was still in question but she’d never seen so many uncoordinated people manage to entertain audiences.
Ricky pulled over and mounted the kerb then knocked over a bin with a smile. ‘You getting out then, ‘cause I gotta run in so I’m not late.’
Her dad stared at the bin.
‘Don’t start, I’m not moving no more so it ain’t an offence.’ Ricky darted out of the car and sprinted into the church.
‘Please don’t have him arrested until we’ve had the reception. He’s providing extra tables and chairs.’ Paulette patted her dad on the knee. ‘And it’s a bin… he likes proving a point to Barry.’
‘I was thinking about how he’s going to explain to Glynnis why her Rolls Royce has a dent in the bumper.’ He got out and held the door for her while extending his hand. ‘Unless you’re going to dance off too?’
Dance away from Andy? Her ex had come back into town and tried. He’d even proposed and offered her a leading role in his now acclaimed international show. He’d even said that he would work around her ankle… but his jolly wave, his handsome face, his passable singing voice, lover of her shoes and always pinching her clothes off her. This was a person who had adopted a roof tile and had some weird bond with George that neither she nor Diane could explain. Yes, Andy with his blue eyes, his rather dance worthy body, and his absolute adoration of her and Little Agnes… she’d told her ex, once again, where he could stick his plimsole. She loved Bumblethorpe, she loved her class, her baby and she loved Ruby more than Tammy loved Snickers.
She smiled. ‘No, I’m good.’
He grinned and led her from the church as the music wafted softly, enticing her inside as her friends all stood with their dance class uniforms on holding up plimsoles as a guard of honour. She chuckled, shook her head, kissed Little Agnes on the cheek and peered down the aisle at Andy who looked like George might need to give him oxygen.
She took hold of her dad’s hand as the congregation sat down and her mother nodded to her then sat down at the organ… tango music filled the air… her dad stuck her tango hat on and they slid into hold.
Yes, to everyone there, it was normal because in Bumblethorpe, where there was a George-mat or a Billington—who was on Hedges’ lap—there was always just that little touch of queer tango.