Mrs Williamson’s Story

In the summer of 1953 I had several days of business in Bognor Regis, England, and spent my few nights there as guest of a good friend of my mother’s, whom I had not previously met. Her name was Blanche Bridges, and she was a wealthy widow, living in a pleasant, and beautifully appointed house with her son Bobby, who was then about twenty.

During the visit, I was treated to dinner alternately at Blanche Bridges’ house, or at her sister’s, a Mrs Williamson, where Blanche and I dined on the second night — Bobby Bridges being away from home at that time. Mrs Williamson was also a widow, and lived with her only daughter, Sally, who was a professional musician. Thus we were four at dinner.

From the conversation, it became evident the two widows and many others like them in their locality were very interested in horseracing. Toward the end of the dinner, Mrs Williamson told the following story. It was customary among their circle of friends to place bets on the horses, but usually none of them was indulging in the betting in the hope of significant profit. It was a flutter, as my mother used to call it, something you do for fun, and that remains fun if you don’t risk too much. The Bridges-Williamson sisters were used to betting on the horses, and they could afford to lose, just as it gave them pleasure to win.

One night Mrs Williamson had a most unusual dream. She dreamt that there were workmen on the racetrack digging up the course, and she couldn’t get it entirely out of her mind after she arose that day. When she picked up the newspaper to decide which horse or horses she would bet on, she noticed a horse named “Workman” and at once linked the name with her dream. She placed her usual modest bet on that horse and it came in first.

Not long after, there followed another dream that could easily be connected with the name of a horse running that day, and she bet again and won again. This went on for many months, and the horses she bet on always came in first. But she never increased her bet. Mrs Williamson was open with her friends and they soon got to know she was dreaming winners, so they used to ask her, “What horse are you betting on today?” and she always told them. They, however, were now betting much larger amounts and profiting greatly. Mrs Williamson would come home after a day at the races and find her front hall full of flowers sent by the grateful winners.

Some time later, she was walking along one of the local streets and passed two women walking in the opposite direction. As they passed, she heard one of them say to the other, “That’s Mrs Williamson, you know, she’s funny,” meaning funny-peculiar or weird, and it made her feel most uncomfortable.

Again that night she dreamed a winner, and bet on it and it came in first. But when, before the races, some friends asked her what horse she was betting on, she refused to tell them. After that the dreams ceased.

© Derek Paul August 2017