Below is a further chapter from A Kerridge Childhood written
by Enid Simpson. For a full introduction and index to all the stories
please see the head
Here was another soul who needed help. Harriet, who would be
in her mid 40's, lived with her Mother in a tiny cottage nearby
our house on Kerridge. I never heard of her father, who probably
was dead when I knew them. Harriet was tall, around six feet,
and when I visualize the tiny home in which they lived, I wonder
how they managed. Theirs was the cottage which contained a Grandfather
clock which was too tall to fit into the living room. So they
had a square hole cut in the ceiling and the head of the clock
was pushed through this, with the face sitting on the bedroom
floor. Why ever they did not cut the same amount from the foot
of the clock, I don't know.
Harriet's mother was taken ill and eventually died. Mother was
sent for at the last moments of her life and told how Harriet
cradled her mother in her arms, crying "Dunna leave me".
Poor soul, she had probably leaned on her mother all her life,
and could not picture life without her.
Though Harriet was tall and physically well built, I think she
was slightly mentally retarded. Following her mother's death,
she would walk about the village muttering to herself and never
returned a greeting.
Wearing an overlarge Burberry with nary a button, a large floppy
hat and men's boots without any laces, she looked like a wild
woman. Her eyes were red and her whole demeanour was of abject
neglect. She always clutched a large handbag under her arm, and
this, with her collection of flapping clothes, gave her the look
of a witch. Children were frightened by her, though I always
found her benign and defenceless.
I suspect Mother paid her many visits and listened to her, though
she never said very much. I do know that Mother would always
take Harriet's side and defend her from those who wanted to deride
I wonder often what happened to poor Harriet, for she was an
object of pity. Maybe she found sanctuary and peace at the end
of her life.
I hope so.
© 1985 Enid Simpson
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