It was a quiet Monday afternoon at Agar Hall.
Bert had succeeded in luring Gracie into the conservatory and was plying her with tea and cakes. Gracie listened sympathetically as Bert explained how he’d lost his foot during the war (on the battlefield of course – no need to tell her he’d lost it when he’d drunkenly stumbled into the path of a horse and cart on his way back from the Butchers Arms one Friday night on leave) and Bert was just about to ask her if she fancied stepping out with him when…
…they were interrupted by the arrival of Joyce who was looking full of busy.
“Hallo Gracie, hallo Bert. I don’t mean to hurry you two along but you haven’t forgotten that we’re having Line Dancing in here this evening have you? I can give you ten more minutes to finish off and then we’ll have to rearrange the furniture and get set up for it,” she announced.
For Bert the moment was lost and it looked as if he’d have a bit more wooing to do before he finally got Gracie where he wanted her.
By six thirty that evening all was ready. The floor had been cleared, the record player set up and there’d been a decent turnout from the village. Most importantly, Calamity, the ‘caller’ hired by Joyce, was at the ready with her Country and Western records.
“Okay folks,” Calamity began, “let’s kick off with a liddle ol’ one step!” she said, placing the first record on the turntable.
But Calamity hadn’t gotten the needle on the record before Ophelia broke ranks and addressed the room,
“Ahem, if any of you are beginners, just keep your eye on me – I don’t mind admitting that I’m something of an expert at this – my fourth husband was a rancher…”
“Well whadda ya know?” Antonio heckled from the back, rolling his eyes theatrically and stopping Ophelia in her tracks, “Though I do like her hat,” he added under his breath to Guy, “we’ll definitely have to get a couple of those.” Guy winced at the thought.
At last, with a piercing “Yeeha!” from Calamity, the gramophone needle touched down and the dancing started.
“Step and tap, step and hitch, scuff, rock, step and stomp!” Calamity instructed in time to the music, ” That’s it folks, y’all sure doin’ real great!” and the residents of Grecondale gave it everything they could.
Meanwhile, Wayne and Vicky were out for an evening stroll when the rather loud Country and Western music coming from the conservatory of Agar Hall attracted their attention.
They stopped to have a nosey.
“Aw yeh, it’s the loin dancing,” said the Brummie cowboy plumber, “Joyce invoited us last week – said it’d be roit up moy street,” he laughed ironically, “Look at it, it’s full of old fogies!” he scoffed.
Vicky laughed, though she secretly thought it looked like great fun.
But just then, someone in the conservatory caught Wayne’s eye – someone in a Stetson – and it wasn’t Ophelia…
As Wayne peered in at the vision in dark plaits and cow-hide before him, the object of his attention just happened to look his way. Their eyes locked. It was as if someone had turned down the volume on the record player and a choir of angels had started up.
Wayne untangled himself from Vicky,
“You know what, Vicky,” he said casually, “Oim thinking it would actually only be poloite of us to pop in and show our support.”
Vicky was more than a little surprised at Wayne’s sudden change of heart but, glancing through the window once more, she suddenly knew, with a sinking feeling in her heart, exactly what was behind it.
By the time Wayne and Vicky entered the conservatory the Line Dancing had stopped. Noticing that Calamity had become rather distracted all of a sudden, Joyce had called a halt to proceedings and announced that there would be a short intermission during which Mrs Owens would serve refreshments.
As Ophelia made her way to the refreshment table, she was stopped by a tall, hirsute gentleman with rather short sleeves to his jacket, “Madam, may I request the pleasure of the next dance?” he asked politely, “Line Dancing doesn’t work like that you silly man!” came the sharp reply and that was Elias firmly put in his place – Ophelia had an eye for far younger models than him.
Meanwhile, Vicky was suffering a similar humiliation, as Wayne made a beeline for Calamity the minute they entered the Hall. “Why howdy, Cowgirl,” Wayne drawled as he tipped his hat, “Care to tell me your name?” Calamity lowered her eyes and blushed prettily, “Why, ma name’s C’lamity, sir,” she replied in her best Southern Belle accent, “Pleased t’ meet ya, Cowboy.”
“Well, whip-crack-away, C’lamity,” said Waye smoothly, “Kin ah git y’all a drink, purdy lady?”
“Make mine a sarsparilly!” Calamity fired back, quick as a flash. The pair stared at each other in awe – it was as if they’d been made for one another.
At the other end of the conservatory, it wasn’t love in the air, it was fury as Antonio and Guy tried hard to keep Vicky calm.
“Now Vicky my love,” said Guy, “trust me, swinging her around by the plaits would achieve NOTHING,” he advised wisely. Just take a deep breath…” Vicky did as she was told and seemed calmer but then her face crumpled and the tears came,
“Burr ah really thowt ee luvd uz,” she wailed in her thick Geordie accent,
“Well, I think you were a bit ahead of yourself there, Vicky my…” started Antonio but he was cut short by Guy.
“Look. This is what we’re going to do,” said Guy, flashing Antonio a warning look, “I’m just going to pop over there to let Wayne know that we’re taking you home and then you’re coming back to our place for cocktails. A couple of Antonio’s Singapore Slings and the world will look a much brighter place, I promise.” Vicky sniffed and nodded meekly.
Guy called over to Wayne,
“Um, we’re off now, Wayne and don’t, ahem.. worry about Vicky, she’s coming with us.” Wayne waved to them cheerily,
“Bye then folks, see ya’ll around!” he called, completely oblivious to the anguish he’d caused.
Antonio ushered Vicky quickly towards the door, as she started to look cross again and he feared she might be about to lamp someone. “Come on my little lamb,” he said soothingly “come with uncle Tony and you forget all about Bonnie and Clyde over there.”
And so the first organised event at Agar Hall turned out to be quite an eventful one. The second half of the Line Dancing was even livelier than the first. Wayne had taken the place of the hairdressers and proved more than enthusiastic. All in all, a good time had been had by [nearly] all and the best of times had been had by others!
© 2017, Zoe. All rights reserved.