The Teesdale Affair

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‘From nowhere, Special Constables arrived…

Chapter One

An Easter Day in London

Early in 1907, a month after my seventh birthday, our new coalman asked my mother, Matilda Morton, to walk out with him. She was no beauty. Drudgery had worn that out of her and given her a hardness totally in keeping with the battle she waged to keep our family afloat. Washing, ironing, and folding, day in day out, a penny here, penny hap’ney there. But it all added up, and she kept going through thick and thin, for poverty stalked us, waiting for any mishap.

Throughout the winter, the widower John Sutcliff flattered Mum. He was persistent. Twice, I heard him ask her out after sliding a bag of clunky black coal noisily into the bunker in the backyard. On one occasion, Mum, with her arms deep in the copper wringing out the washing, her black hair awry beneath her plain brown headscarf, told him, ‘Be off with you John Sutcliff, can’t you see I’m busy.’

One night, lying in bed, I heard Gran and Mum talking downstairs.

‘You know Tilly, I think the coalman likes you,’ said Gran. Continue reading “The Teesdale Affair”