Ethel Baily, Colne
Mrs. Simpson was tired of being a victim. Tired of people that pushed her about, ignored her or took advantage of her. Tired of people that thought she was what the young louts that lived in her street called her, simple Mrs. Simpson. They made her life a misery by constantly kicking a football against her end of terrace wall, bang, bang, bang, all evening. It was so loud that she couldn’t enjoy her television The one time she had tried to remonstrate with them she had got up the next morning to find paint splashed all over her door and eggs broken all over her wall And the grownups weren’t any better. The number of times she had stood in the queue at the bank only to have the clerk put up the closed sign just as she got to the window. She could not remember the last time someone had been nice to her. That is, until the day came that changed her life forever.
It was a Tuesday that it happened. She got up as usual, dressed and went downstairs. She opened the front door to a dark, damp, day and found that the milkman had forgotten her again. Being deprived of her morning cup of tea was the last straw. It was going to be as they say on TV, no more Mr. Nice Guy. She was going to be as mean as everyone else. Well maybe not mean, but she wasn’t going to let anyone put her down again. She was going to stick up for herself and not be pushed around.
She started with the young girl who always pushed past her as she was getting on the bus. That morning it felt good as she accidently caught the back of the mini-skirted legs with her stick and laddered her tights. “You stupid old woman, look what you’ve done! I can’t go to work in these I’ll have to go home to change.”
Opening her eyes wide, Mrs. Simpson stared innocently into the furious red face that was pushed towards her. “Oh dear, what a shame. You must have caught it on that sharp edge on the seat. You should be more careful dear; you could have had a nasty cut there.” Tutting away and shaking her head, she walked down the aisle of the bus and sat down. “Look Miss are you catching this bus or not? The impatient driver asked. “Don’t be stupid man, how can I turn up at work with a hole like that in my tights. I’ll have to go home and change.”Furiously, the young woman jumped off the bus and marched back home. Mrs. Simpson sat on the bus smiling. Things were looking much brighter and that didn’t mean just the weather.
The glow stayed with her even when the greengrocer overcharged her. Normally she would just take her change and scuttle away. Today was different.”Have your potatoes gone up Mr. Jones only you’ve charged me more than it says there.” “Now love, we work in kilos now and the price up there is for a kilo and you asked for two pounds. So I’ve charged you right.” He smiled his big false smile at her then looked round at his other customers and raised his eyebrows as though to say-poor old dear, she gets confused. “But it says that they are 19p per kilo. I know I asked for two pounds but you charged me 38p now that’s for two kilo’s not two pounds so you overcharged me 19p. “Ee, Mr. Jones fancy trying to do an O.A.P. out of a few pence. Give her her 19p back.” There was a chorus of “yes give her her money back.” from the queue which was rapidly getting bigger. Mrs. Simpson stood holding out her hand as the harassed shopkeeper slapped 19p into it. She was out of the shop and down the street before he remembered that he hadn’t taken any money off her in the first place. Clutching her 19p and her two pounds of potatoes, she smiled. The day was getting brighter all the time.
Carrying on down the street, she passed Delphine’s, a rather up-market dress shop, used by ‘ladies who lunch.’ There was the most beautiful soft blue blouse in the window. That would look lovely with my best grey suit, she thought. With a sigh, she turned to go. She would never dare go into Delphine’s. Then she stopped. Today was different, she dare do anything, what had she to loose? Turning on her heels she boldly entered the shop. The two stick like women behind the counter turned with a frown, annoyed at being interrupted from their account of the previous evening’s dates. This was a mistake, she didn’t have the courage. Yes you do, don’t forget you are not a victim. Pulling her shoulders back, she approached the counter. “That blue blouse in the window. Could I see one in a size 12 please?” Looking at her as if to say it will never fit you, one of them waved a hand languidly to indicate a rack of clothes on the other side of the room. “The blouses are over there Modom.”
Seating herself on a chair by the counter she briskly replied, “Yes, well, I’m over here and as I believe you work here, you DO work here don’t you, I thought so, well I wouldn’t like your boss to think he can manage without you so would you bring me one of those blouses in a size 12 for me to look at.” Sailing out of the shop, her head held high and Delphine’s distinctive carrier in her hand for all to see, she left two rather worried workers behind. “You don’t think she knows the boss do you? Maybe she’s an aunty or something. I do hope she doesn’t complain to him.”
Mrs. Simpson was floating on air as she walked down the street in the bright sunshine. She was having a lovely day. She might just treat herself to a cream tea at The Castle Tea Rooms. She walked into the room and saw there was a table in the window. Crossing the room she sat down at the table and put her bag on the other chair where she could see it. “I’m sorry, this table is reserved. You’ll have to sit…” “Oh, that’s so nice of you to save it for me dear. “No, it’s reserved for a regular customer. She comes every day at 1.o’clock.”Oh that is lucky, it’s only 12o’clock. I’ll be finished long before that.” “But madam…” “And you never know, if I like the place and the service is good, I may become a regular customer.” The flustered waitress hurried away as her manageress beckoned her.” “She may be one of those people that go round checking for the good food guide. Let her stay and make sure she is well looked after. We’ll just have to hope she goes soon.” With a broad beam on her face Mrs. Simpson set off home. It being such a pleasant day she decided to walk it wasn’t as hard as she thought. The trick was to act as if she did these sort of things all the time. and the shop assistants had been rather nice in the end. They even found a lovely blue and grey scarf that would blend her blouse and her suit together. She was still enjoying the walk until she turned into her street.
There was Sammy Bowman and his friends playing football in the street again.”OH look, “Sammy shouted, “It’s Simple Simpson. Carry your shopping Mrs.” This was said in a mocking servile manner.Mrs. Simpson drew herself up as tall as she could. “OH Sammy dear, I do hope your Mother managed to get that pink colour out of your underpants. Everybody can make a mistake and leave a red sock with the whites. She was so worried when she saw your pink underpants, it is nearly impossible to get out, that pink dye. Still never mind dear, you can always pretend you are that Pink Panther that’s on the television. He’s so funny and everyone likes him.” “All the boys turned to look at Sammy. “Oh Sammy show us your pink pants. Come on Sammy, don’t be shy. “Don’t talk daft; of course my pants aren’t pink. As if I would were pink pants.” “But Sammy, your mother said all your spare pants were in that wash and you would have to wear them until she could affordsome more..” “Come on Sammy, prove her wrong. Show us your pants. “The chorus was taken up by the other lads, “Show us your pants. Show us your pants. Sammy didn’t trust his pals so he set at a run to home, the gang running after him.
Mrs. Simpson smiled as she opened her front door. She was looking forward to a nice quiet night watching the T.V. She wasn’t going to be a victim ever again. And she was sure that it would be quite a while before Sammy teased her again. Yes, she sighed contentedly, it had been a good day. Tomorrow she might go to the hairdressers. That girl never gave her the haircut she asked for. She always made her look like a granny. Well, she wasn’t a granny and that girl would soon find that out. Still, tomorrow was another day.