Court in the Rain I.P.
I knew it was going to rain. My bunion was shooting. My rheumatism was playing up and I was going to be late. The bus hadn’t turned up and so I had to get a taxi. Seven pounds it cost and that’s a lot out of my pension. Still…if it works out, it might be money well spent. Anyway the Taxi driver, nice young man, needed to do something about his dandruff though, dropped me off right outside. Not really supposed to stop there but he said that as it looked like rain, he didn’t want my hair to get messed up.
Fancy him noticing my hair like that. Not many men would. Looked a bit disappointed with his tip though. Still, nice of him to mention my hair. Suzanne, that’s my hairdresser, must have done it all right. She can be a bit hit and miss but when she’s on form there’s no one to touch her. Mrs Trollop had put me on to her and she’s a very smart woman. She’ll be there… at the Tea Dance, Mrs Trollop. Now, she’s never short of a partner, always very smartly dressed and she’s a lovely mover.
Though she came unstuck with that last partner of hers, two left feet…not her…him! Anyway, they only came third, in the competition, so she got shot… Can’t say as I blame her though, she’s not used to coming third. Not in anything, I shouldn’t wonder. She said to me when we were sat in the Hairdressers and Suzanne was dealing with her split ends.
“Mrs Margin, You know I always come first in the Paso Doble and my Latin American steps are executed with such precision that I expect to come first in all of them too, even the Rumba so, as I’m sure you will understand, it was a humiliation that could not be borne.”
“Mrs Trollop,” I said “I thought he was all wrong for you right from the start. I don’t know why she paired you up with him. He’s not in your class.”
“No, exactly, Mrs Margin, I think she did it out of spite.”
“She can be like that,” I said, “Got a vindictive streak, that one. I wouldn’t like to cross her.”
“Well, she’s come unstuck this time.”
“Oh, why?” I said, pretending not to know.
“Well because, I’ve found myself a new partner now and he’s the dog’s …if you’ll pardon the expression.” She said, giving me a knowing little grin.
I didn’t know what she was on about but I thought The Alhambra Dance School was hardly the place to bring a dog. Perhaps he’s a Guide dog? That would explain it…though how the three of them would manage the Argentinian Tango was beyond me? I know them Guide dogs are marvellous with what they can do but I’ve never seen one that could do a Tango…not well enough to win a dance competition, anyway! So, if her present thinking was still leaning towards getting a First with her Latin American then I’m of the opinion the dog was on its way to Battersea.
Shame, I’ve always liked dogs though even I wouldn’t choose one as a dance partner. Not for competition…
Still, I need to find out a bit more about this new partner of Mrs Trollop’s. Gladys is sure to ask and I always like to be one step ahead, if you catch my drift. Don’t want her lording it over me. She does, you know? Not this time…I’ll be ready for her when she wants to know his name, where he comes from and what his inside leg measurement is. She’s so nosy, she wants to know the inside of a duck’s… well the only bit of information I want to know about a duck is what it’s been stuffed with.
One can be too well informed, you know? For example, I now can’t go anywhere near a crab. No, not since my Albert, God rest him, got discharged from the army after he’d been doing a stint in foreign climes. Egypt! I thought Egypt was all desert…didn’t know it was near water. Anyway, back to Mrs Trollop.
“So what’s his name, how long have you known him and where does he come from?” I said, trying to look nonchalant or she’ll not part with a word…
“His name is Arthur Bentwhistle and he comes from Bolton,” She replied.
“Oh,” I said, “That’s not a name to be conjured with now, is it? I can just see you and him cascading onto the floor. You with your five layers of pink tulle and seven thousand sequins…all sewn on by your own fair hand! Him wearing his shiny black patents, dressed in his tails, with his little dickie firmly in place. For some reason Suzanne started laughing but I ignored her and started speaking as if I was the commentator
“And now, please welcome, COUPLE NUMBER FIVE, Doll Trollop and Arthur Bentwhistle dancing a Viennese Waltz. I must say it’s got a certain ring to it, hasn’t it?”
“Well, that’s just what I thought!” She said. Then she started to get into her coat because Suzanne had finished with her and had moved on to her next client, a light trim.
“I’ll see you this afternoon at The Alhambra” she said, looking in her bag, probably for her bus pass.
“Yes,” I said “Oh, and this chap Bentwhistle…What’s his inside leg measurement?”
With that Suzanne started chortling again and I saw she had unintentionally cut a chunk from her light trim. I didn’t know how she was going to get out of that one. But she did by not giving the woman her glasses until after she got the mirror and showed her the back.
Anyway, Mrs Trollop got almost to the door before she shouted back.
“His inside leg measurement…Plenty big enough when I last measured!” She said, and I’m sure she winked.
Don’t know what that was all about. Still it’s nice to know they’ll be a good fit if they’re jigging about. Anyway, it’s still looking like rain so as the Taxi driver’s been good enough to drop me outside I best go in before it starts and before it messes my hair up.
End of Part One