Woman of Mystery

Sometimes it’s the people we don’t quite meet who interest us the most…

Image from Silviarita at Pixabay

Once a week, every week for 10 years, I went to our leisure centre pool for a dip. I am not going to describe my splash-about as a swim, as there were users who completed dozens of lengths before turning up for work. That is a swim. Anyway, my efforts, if anyone had bothered to pay attention, would have counted as the centre record for the slowest ever. It would have been bettered in speed terms by those yellow plastic ducks children have in the bath.

There is a cafe at the leisure centre, and I used to sit there for a while, just watching the world turn. There was one elderly lady who particularly caught my attention. She was well turned out in classic conservative lady-of-means style, but she sat alone and maintained her privacy behind a stuffy newspaper. Having nothing else to occupy my time, I decided to use my powers of deduction, unremarkable though they are, to figure out the circumstances of her life.

Despite her public reticence, she was probably a a well-loved and bountiful gran. She could just have been shy rather than cold, because after a few weeks of familiarity she would return my nod of recognition before busying herself with handbag issues or other pressing matters. Her life had probably been one of comfortable and well connected seclusion but now that the grandchildren had their own lives, and possibly because her husband had passed away, she was looking for some reserved company.

If I had the deductive powers of Sherlock the picture could have been significantly more colourful. He might have found that she was a Transylvanian princess, with gold mines in Peru. She might have, he would discern, a penchant for the racing pages and have placed a hefty bet on the 3.30 at Plumpton.

With this fantasy in mind I was inclined to treat her to my most beatific smile, at which she could either bat me around the head with her journal of family values or she could hand me her calling card with an invitation to partake of Earl Grey tea with a Duchy Original in the Orangery.

After a couple of months this supposed dowager, whom I dubbed Violet, ceased to attend the leisure centre, and as is the way of us senior Brits, having never been formally introduced, we stayed inside our respective bubbles. A shame, it would have been fun to discover what was really going on.



Alan Martin is a Pembrokeshire native who has worked in several UK locations as an engineering inspector. He now lives on a smallholding in mid-county with his wife and son.


You may also like...