Saturday, 2 November 2013

More Homework

This time, we had to write about a memorable character...mine was called Mrs Priest.

In the ground floor flat of a big old house in Kingston Crescent lived Mrs Priest and her spinster daughter Margaret; we lived on the top floor.

When Mum was invited in for a cup of tea, if I was at home, I’d be included too. As this was in an era when children were expected to be ‘seen and not heard’, I had plenty of time to study them both.

Mrs Priest was tiny – event shorter than Mum, who was only five foot three herself- and usually had a cigarette dangling from the side of her mouth, if it wasn’t waving around in one hand as she grandly underlined a point in whatever tale she was telling.

Her wizened face would screw up further as the smoke drifted up into her eyes while the cigarette wagged up and down like a dog’s tail, without ever stopping the flow of words that managed to escape from between the clenched lips.

Her dresses were dark blue or black sprigged with tiny flowers, and from their short sleeves emerged thin, loose fleshed arms ending in knobbled fingers, where several stacks of rings rattled with each grand gesture- she was given to those - and her long, oval nails reminded me of our budgie's claws...

She was afflicted with a permanent shaking or nodding head, like many older people, and the movements somehow carried their silent messages through her whole nervous system, so that even the hem of her dress seemed to quiver in sympathy.

But she was not intimidating, with her white hair fluffed around her head still showing signs of natural curl. Honesty bids me acknowledge that so did the ones on her chin! They were fine but profuse and I had to concentrate hard not to let my eyes focus on them the whole time she was talking.

By comparison, Margaret was loud and brash. Her full lips sported dark red lipstick, and her nails matched, though the rest of her looked drab, with greying-brown shoulder length hair topping off nondescript twinsets-and- skirts in similar shades.

No, the brashness and volume came from her voice. It grated on the ears, for Margaret had a speech impediment. It made her talk through her nose. I wonder if you know what I mean by this?  While she was speaking, she somehow managed to simultaneously exhale a certain amount of air through her nose.  But nothing daunted, her loud voice would ramble on.

They were well travelled and had many curios scattered around on tables or in cabinets, and I dare say the adult conversations were interesting, but for my part I retreated to a world where I let my eyes take their own snapshots for my memory album.