Friday, March 09, 2007

Local character

She was often to seen walking around locally, the sort of person you couldn't miss but would not want to talk to.

She dressed in jumble sale clothing which hung off her gaunt body, usually in some sort of skirt and a favourite maroon mock leather coat which was torn. I always noticed her feet. She often wore snow boots, even when the weather was fine. If it was wet she might have on her bright yellow wellies, one of which had what looked like a huge gaping knife cut across the top. In the summer she wore disintegrating sandals which appeared to date from the 1970's or, as I observed more than once, walked the streets in bare feet. Of indeterminate age, neither young nor really old, her face was pallid and her thin grey-blonde hair hung lankly around it.

I knew she lived somewhere in our street, but it is a long road with several turns so I did not know exactly where. Whenever I saw her she was alone and I only ever heard her speak once. Queuing behind her at the deli counter of our local supermarket, before it closed down, I thought I caught a trace of a European accent. Based solely, I think, on her purchases that day, I imagined her to be Polish.

Just to look at her it was obvious that she was a very lonely lady, probably with a mental health problem. She was often to be seen sitting with an empty cup outside the local coffee shop or at 9am most Sunday mornings on the bench at our end of our street, reading a copy of the Mail on Sunday, with a lit cigarette in hand.

Today I met a friend who told me that despite the best efforts of our local GP, this poor lady has died. She was apparently an alcoholic and has left behind a house in a terrible condition, which will no doubt be bought up by a developer with a good eye for a profit. The locality will be a less colourful place for her loss, but still we don't know her name.


Sue said...

How very sad.

Sue x

Anne Brooke said...

Yes, it's terrible when people are lost like this. It's good that you'll miss her though, and acknowledge her presence.