Mrs. Higginbottom – A Jumbly Tale
How often are we impacted by the frustrations of others? When another person is frustrated by your ability to understand exactly what they are going on about, it is difficult at times to remember that it is a reflection on them, not you.
That’s pretty much all I wanted to say about that. How about a Jumbly tale?
Let me tell you a story
Mrs. Higginbottom and the Jumbly Man
Once upon a time, a long long time ago, Mrs. Higginbottom came to live in the Jumbly Man’s village. She didn’t know anything about Jumbly at first but everyone knew just how important she was because she told them.
Mrs. Higginbottom had come to view the delightful cottage on the corner of Market Road and River Rd and the villagers had ample opportunity to view her. She had the unfortunate habit of tilting her head so she could look down her nose, over her glasses, making a moue of distaste. This gave clear viewing straight up her nostrils and small boys would hover about for a glimpse.
Mrs. Higginbottom really liked the little cottage and she could see that she would be a person of some importance in the village. They all knew this because she told them. She really liked the little garden gate, and the tumbles of flowers in the garden, the roses growing up the outside of the cottage and the cosy cottage itself.
The cottage and the village were missing it’s previous owner. Miss Lilly had gone to Heaven and they all felt sad at her passing. Jumbly most of all. So when the new resident moved into her cottage all the village watched with voyeuristic pleasure to find out if she would be anything like Miss Lilly.
Miss Lilly had been Jumbly’s very best friend and the closest he had to a mother since he was a small boy. He was in the habit of visiting her every day, helping with chores and chatting in his jumbly way. Miss Lilly had never the least bother in understanding him. The riotous tumble of flowers and scents that was Miss Lilly’s garden had been their favourite place. Many happy hours of jumbly words and laughter were shared. As Miss Lilly had aged, the Jumbly Man would make sure she had wood for her fire, her errands run and always flowers in her yard.
Everyone liked Miss Lilly. They all took it hard when she rocked herself to her final rest, one slow sunny afternoon, sitting on her porch enjoying her garden and passersby. Jumbly had found her. He was bereft. Everyone understood and they let Jumbly grieve in his own way, keeping their eye on him.
When Mrs. Higginbottom moved in, everyone was intensely interested in their new neighbour and were keen to see how Jumbly would take to her. Mrs. Higginbottom was not so keen. The villagers soon learnt all about her importance in her previous village and how she practically had to run the place herself. How they would all get by without her, she didn’t know.
Mrs. Higginbottom took to sitting in Miss Lilly’s rocker on the front porch, calling greetings to passersby. She did her best to let them know when their dress was not up to scratch, and how the Elders needed her help when she wasn’t quite so busy, and dear me those rascally children needed taking down a peg or two and don’t get her started on the Jumbly Man, after all what kind of name was that? At this point she found that people began walking swiftly by her cottage, too busy to stop and chat. Her only visitors were the same small boys, keeping silent until the soft summer day sent her to sleep and snore. There was considerable discussion about her snoring, exactly what sound it was she made. Small boy treasures were known to change hands when she would snort quickly three times in a row, if the timing was guessed right.
The Jumbly Man watched from a distance as Mrs. Higginbottom settled into Miss Lilly’s cottage and made it her own. He watched as she harangued the villagers and set her tongue to scolding. Jumbly heard her calls unheeded and watched people scamper out of her way when she went to market.
Mrs. Higginbottom found this village just like her last. The people who were so friendly at first, now avoided her and wouldn’t listen to her good advice, and she had so much good advice. Why she had an opinion on everything. It was just the same all over again as if she was invisible.
One bright morning as Mrs. Higginbottom settled herself on her porch, she noticed the Jumbly Man standing directly across the road looking at her. At first she looked away, then snuck her eyes back to see he was still looking. Not only was he looking, he was smiling. Well. Mrs. Higginbottom pulled herself out of her rocking chair and marched to her garden gate. Jumbly crossed the road and marched up to the other side of her gate.
Mrs. Higginbottom tilted her head back, looked down her nose, over her glasses and made a moue of distaste. The Jumbly Man deftly avoided her nostrils and looked down into her eyes. He looked for a long time. Mrs. Higginbottom stayed very still. Slowly her head resumed it’s normal position and she looked right back at Jumbly. Jumbly smiled.
For the first time in her life, Mrs. Higginbottom felt seen. She felt that someone had noticed her and she felt Jumbly’s smile go right down into her heart. Mrs. Higginbottom smiled back.
The Jumbly Man jumbled some words at her. Mrs. Higginbottom nodded, oh of course, come right in, I will put the kettle on for tea, and the Jumbly Man was welcomed in through her gate.
and that is the end of the story.
(c) 4th September 2013