I was cycling one way, New Friend’s neighbour the other. His neighbour’s wife more exactly who he is on speaking terms with. A funny girl, he called her, grandmother age, peculiar features, peculiar way of speaking, they talk across the garden fence, and the other day he took her a cauliflower his daughter-in-law had bought without having use for it. New Friend is not on speaking terms with her husband, a strange character apparently. He told me a few stories to illustrate what he meant.
Much to my surprize, his neighbour’s wife whom I knew by sight without ever having talked to her, got off her bicycle when she saw me, forcing me to do the same. She wanted to say something. “Are you the lady who pays visits to Mr New Friend?” she asked me. A rhetorical question! I had a mild shock. Goodness me, how did she know? He had been right about his neighbours being nosy. I had to live up to my reputation, now, and together we poured what sympathy we were capable of over the poor widower. What a shock! How suddenly! It doesn’t bear thinking of! (She moved her hand to her chest dramatically.) How awful! How sad! How worrying! The poor man! Do you think he is coping? She worried very much about him, she said, you can’t help it. Mind you, she informed me, his family are with him at the moment. She must have noticed I hadn’t been since the arrival of his family!! “Oh? Are they?” I said, pleased about the information, “very good of them, isn’t it.” “It’s nice to see people care,” she said. “I’m always there, of course; he knows he can come any time or ring me when he isn’t well. But it is good to know that other people will look after him.” She couldn’t get any more out of me, and we parted. “See you,” she said. Maybe she’s a tiny little bit…sweet on him?