Beryl up the road is 92.
Beryl walks her dog every day, pretty much irrespective of the weather. She is accompanied by Derrick (or maybe he is the one doing the accompanying) who I suspect is a fair bit younger, but probably still in his 80’s. Derrick and Beryl both live alone and a few houses apart having both lost their spouses a fair while back.
Beryl fills a washing up bowl of water each day and carries it up the steps to the end of her pathway so all the passing dogs have the option of a fresh drink (at 92; the balance that woman has!). Derrick has a hatred of seagulls, especially the ones that nest on his roof every year despite the spikes and scarers he has up there, and loves to comment on Mr R’s car and whether ‘it’s looking very smart’ or if ‘it needs a wash sharpish’.
A few months ago I saw Derrick walking both dogs alone and asked after Beryl. Beryl had collapsed and had to have an emergency operation and (at this point with an attempt at a smile but managing more like a gritting of his teeth) Derrick told me that Beryl hadn’t been allowed home alone, so was staying at his for a while…
Later at home I was making apple crumble and as usual got my quantities wrong. The freezer was bursting at the seams (over cooking is a regular occurrence) and I hate throwing out food so I found two little pots and made an individual portion for each of them. We had a tin of ready made custard in the cupboard so I popped it all in a bag and wandered up the road to knock on Derricks door.
Despite being 92 and a couple of days post op, Beryl came to the door and invited me in as it turned out, Derrick had gone out. It was a little awkward as to that point we’d only over exchanged hellos and commented on the weather being good for dog walking, bad for dog walking or possibly about to change. But you don’t get to 92 without the ability to keep up a chatter it seems and Beryl was the chatter mistress.
And here is the point of this story (sorry – I couldn’t get straight to it and miss you out on the picture of this lovely pair who are such characters): I asked Beryl how long she’d lived in her house (since the 60s) and where she’d moved from.
‘Bumpkinstown’ she replied. MY Bumpkinstown. The town the entire maternal side of my family had always lived.
Quick calculations (not my strong point) suggested that she was significantly younger than my grandparents would have been but only 10 year or so older than my aunt. I asked where she’d lived (I knew all the roads she mentioned) and worked (a bit more tricky as so much had changed) and in the end just asked if she knew anyone by the name of Barton – Mums maiden name. She didn’t. But then remembered a George Barton in a nearby Bumpkinsville.
It turned out Beryl knew my nanny’s cousin.
1) that’s what a small world it is and
2) You never know what a homemade apple crumble will uncover… :o)