When I’m Cleaning Widows
I am liking the story of Tim’s problem with reading. It is fitting, and nice, that it is Maddie who has recognized his difficulties. It was Tim who, early on, recognized good qualities in her and shielded her as best he could from the wrath of Sally. Now she is doing the same for him. And, as she did, he is resisting her efforts.
I read an objection to this storyline (sorry, can’t find it now). Tim made contact with Faye through Facebook. If he can’t read, how could that happen? Fair point. But he can read a bit. He got the word “ref” when Sally pointed to a newspaper headline. Before he lived with Sally, he lived alone. There is no reason he would not be able to make some use of Facebook. He would have had the time to decipher words, even compose messages, with nobody around to question why it was taking him so long. Online posting is hardly the bastion of correct grammar.
He told Maddie that the letters look all “jumbled”. I wonder if the issue is dyslexia rather than not having learned to read. Whatever the problem is, he has developed coping strategies. It is someone like Maddie, attuned to survival without the correct tools, who recognizes his techniques.
For example, in Dev’s shop, when he hands Sally’s shopping list to Sophie saying “you know where everything is,” Sophie thinks he’s just being lazy or chauvinistic. Sophie has seen and heard all the same interactions with Tim and Sally that Maddie has, but she doesn’t pick up the cues of what they might mean. Sophie did not have problems in school and, for all her concern for social issues, she really doesn’t know much about society outside her own little street. Maddie does, and she saw right away that something more might be going on with Tim and his reluctance for paperwork.
It was his advertising flyer that put the cat amongst the pigeons. Of course, “dirty widows” was a mistake that the printer ought to have caught. But mistakes happen. My husband remembers hearing about an error made in a Canadian town’s commemorative pin. Flags – he’s not sure of the number, maybe seven – and the town’s motto, “Under 7 flags”, were on the pins. But the printer omitted the ‘l’ in ‘flags’, No one noticed until after the pins had been handed out. Oops.
Here is George Formby’s 1936 song When I’m Cleaning Windows.