The House Across The Road

This is a true story about a strange old looking woman who lives on her own in North Shields- she befriends a disabled young boy.


1. 1

In the summer of 1966 I opened the sash window in the kitchen of our council house

It was stifling and I couldn’t breathe.

Looking down I noticed that there was a pile of dishes in the large stone sink below the window, turning on the water I kept my hand under the flow until it became hot enough to wash the dirty cups and plates from last evenings meal.

The steam from the water began to rise as I squeezed some Fairy Liquid detergent into the sink and began to wash the dishes with a plastic plate and bottle washer.

The suns rays still managed to illuminate the kitchen through the cloudy haze as I rinsed the dishes before placing them on to the draining board.


I thought to myself that I wouldn’t need a coat on today to do my paper round as I placed the last cup on the draining board and walked past the table then the galley stove that my mother used to cook and heat the water we used then slipped out of the plastic rainbow coloured door blind which replaced the kitchen door which led into our passage.

The living room was on the right where my mother was sitting knitting in one of the arm chairs.


‘Are you late for your paper round Terrence?


‘No mam I’m early.’


‘You had better get yourself away before three thirty though.’


‘I’m going in a minute.’


‘Your bag is over the door in the passage not looking up from the cardigan she was making for my sister.

The knitting needles were a blur as she knitted plain and pearl in pink wool.


I grabbed the canvas bag from the passage door before shouting back to my mother that I was going.


There was no reply as slammed the door on my way out.

There was a small flight of steps to get down before I was on the concrete path that was scrubbed meticulously by all our neighbours every week, my mother included would do her bit as well. The steps and the paths were scrubbed with carbolic soap.

I would often see them as I was coming in from school with their pinafores on and a headscarf tied on their heads on all fours scrubbing away. Others were either swilling water from a bucket or using a hard brush to get rid of the dirty water down the drain,


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