When I was nine years old and growing up in a small Scottish town, we had a change of neighbour after the elderly gentleman I had known as Uncle Tom died suddenly. I was very upset by his passing, as Uncle Tom had always taken a shine to me and I was in and out of his house all day long, almost as though it was my second home.
The new occupant of his house was a Miss Cooke, whom I learned was a teacher at a primary school a few miles away (fortunately not the one I attended). I had only seen her at a distance and she had rather a forbidding appearance, with tight, curly hair and upswept ‘cat’s eye’ glasses. She seemed ancient to this young boy, although in reality I guess she was only in her late 40s.