Well, I’m no sooner through the door than Gladys comes rushing up.
“Have you seen who Doll Trollops new partner is?” she says.
“No, not yet.” I said holding out.
“I wonder what his name is and where he’s from?”
“His name is Arthur Bentwhistle and he comes from Bolton!” I said with a triumphant flourish. “And before you ask… I have it on good authority his inside leg measurement is plenty big enough!” and with that I left Gladys open-mouthed while I went in search of Miss Hetty because she had told me she had, at last, found a partner for me. I had been coming to the Alhambra for nigh on a twelve month but never had a partner so always ended up either sitting on the side watching or dancing the Military Two Step with Gladys and she’s hardly what you might call ‘Stately as A Galleon’ material.
“Ooh, Miss Hetty” I called as I spotted her coming out of her office with the Running Order Sheet. “You haven’t forgotten you said you had a partner for me this week.”
Miss Hetty looked me up and down and said “I’m not sure you are going to be at all suitable for the gentleman I had in mind.”
What did she mean by that, the nasty co…no, I won’t stoop to her level so I held my tongue?
“Bbut but you said” I faltered, my bottom lip starting to quiver and I could feel the tears prick my eyes. Well, I had my hair done specially and the Taxi fare was not something I could really afford.
Just then this chap came out of Miss Hetty’s office.
“So, where’s this new partner you said you had for me?” He said.
“Here, here she is.” Said Miss Hetty, pointing at me, but by this time, she was wearing her distasteful face.
Well, I recognized him straight away. It was the same chap that Mrs Trollop had got shot of. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed because I was hoping he would be a really good dancer and that we might just stand a chance in the competition.
“Oh, this is my new partner, is it?” he said, looking me up and down and was that approval I saw on his face? He let out a low whistle “Yes, yes, she’ll do very nicely.”
Well I could hardly believe it. He seemed to like the look of me.
“I think we had best find a quiet spot to have a bit of a practice” he said as he took hold of my hand. “And it would be a good idea if I knew your name.”
“Mrs Margin.” I said quickly.
“I can’t hold a Mrs Margin in my arms and sweep her off her feet now, can I?” he said, his eyes twinkling.
I felt myself going hot all over. I’d not had a hot flush like that since the change, so it came as a bit of a surprise…though not unpleasant! “Leva,” I said
“Leva. Leva Margin.”
With that he burst out laughing. “You’re not serious?”
“What? What’s wrong with that?”
“Leva…Leave a Margin?”
“Oh, in all these years, I had never thought of my name like that.”
We both started giggling and then he said “Come on, we had better start practising.”
With that he took me in his arms so forcefully that it sent shivers down my back. My Albert was a good man but he had never sent shivers down my back like that. No, it was more than shivers… it was like…it was like...an electric shock coursing through me! I was beginning to think my seven pound Taxi fare was money well spent. Then to my amazement he started whirling me round and round so expertly that I wondered how Mrs Trollop had ever wanted to part with him. Then I plucked up courage to say.
“I thought you had two left feet when I saw you dancing with Mrs Trollop.”
“Yes,” he said, “I did when I was dancing with her. I can only dance with a real woman not a cardboard cut out. She begged, she pleaded, but it was no use. I knew I couldn’t carry on dancing with her so I had to let her go. She didn’t like it but there it was.”
“She told everyone it was her who gave you your marching orders.”
“I told her to say that. I didn’t want to rub her nose in it.”
“That was kind,” I said.
“Let’s forget about Doll Trollop and start thinking about Leva Margin.” He said still holding me tight although we had long since stopped dancing. I had forgotten what it felt like to be held in the arms of a strong man and I didn’t want it to stop. But the biggest surprise came at the end of the afternoon, when we won the Paso Doble much to Mrs Trollop’s disgust and Gladys was positively steaming.
Then being such a thorough gentleman; he said he would see me home but that his car was a couple of streets away if I didn’t mind walking. But as we stepped outside it was pouring with rain. Something I think I must take responsibility for, because, at that moment, I was still up there… on cloud nine!
Hand in hand we walked in the rain like young lovers oblivious to how wet we both were. Then suddenly he stopped right in the middle of the pavement and cupped my face in his hands and kissed me full on the mouth.
“Leva Margin,” he said. “I wish to inform you that it is my intention to pay court to you if you will be so good as to allow an honest man into your heart?”
I was overwhelmed by all this. I had been lonely for so long I wore it like an overcoat and I just thought what a lovely old fashioned thing to say to a woman in her twilight years. We stood there in the middle of the pavement getting soaking wet and I only just noticed there was a fifty percent reduction on all electrical goods in the sale advertised in the shop window where I could see our reflection.
Three months later we were wed and I became Mrs Leva Dopa. Three months after that we won both the Paso Doble and the Viennese Waltz in the Nationals and Doll Trollop and Gladys both found themselves without male partners and had to partner each other. Apparently, Arthur Bentwhistle had not lived up to expectations in the inside leg measurement department. Now that I’m a married woman once again I don’t need to guess what they were both on about...I know!