Snow (5)

It was beautiful when it came. It makes the world still. The soft purity of the flakes, dropping so gracefully to earth. Then one turns on the news and all is chaos. We push against such calmness. We must still do what we intend to do. Pushing, clamouring to keep on rushing ahead. We cannot let it stop. Just stop. It is too frightening. Too alarming.

She’s been snowed in as expected and another manager was in her place at the till. I like this one too. A different kettle of fish. Rather brusque, matter-of-fact. A good-time-girl, well not really, more like a hockey/football player good-time-girl. One of the girls, one of the lads/girls. She is down-to-earth, salt-of-the-earth. I like her. She goes to the Costa del Sol with her mates but her skin is too fair for the sun. Her hair, cut short, is downy and fine. Today she, like most of the other staff who were in at that ungodly hour, was wearing the now obligatory Christmas jumper. It had a snowman on the front with a real scarf that you could actually tie. Another member of staff had on a pixie top, or a Santa’s elf, I suppose, and even one of the higher management had one on. I noticed a new girl. She was sorting out the advent calendars. She too had one on, a green one with an array of baubles appliqued onto it. She looked shy, separate. A refugee perhaps, she looked Somalian. The one on the till said that she’d had to borrow her father’s gloves. Do you think she lives with her father? I asked him in the car. Yes, I do, he said. It changes the picture and I start stories in my head. Is she a carer? Has her mother died? Or does she live with both her parents. She must be what, forty or maybe late thirties? Perhaps she can’t afford a mortgage, her own home on these wages. She has a air of comfort, of ease, of almost self-satisfaction about her. I’ve met many like her, it isn’t real. The bluff is a way of managing.

Ruth Rendell was on the radio yesterday. On In the Psychiatrist’s Chair. I feel and inordinate amount of anxiety about being late, she said. Yes. I understand that. I feel an inordinate amount of anxiety about everything. I started the piece, felt better for a time before the doubts started to come in. Was it good enough, was it erudite enough, was it deep enough? You can only do what you can do, he says. You can only know what you can know. You’re not a poetry scholar. I know. I know. I lay in bed last night trying out rewrites. A mistake. It played into my dreams. Summoning up weird scenes of actors in Nazi costumes on floats driving in a cavalcade. A madness. I must learn to switch it off. Let it be. I have time. And it always gets better, well mostly, when I return to it.

So comes the quiet time. Work dries up and it is time to hibernate. Well, we shall when we have made that one journey, well two. I want to see her. I want to be there when it is just new. To see, smell and touch its newness. Can it be so?

The Whole Works

I woke from a dream at about 12 pm needing a pee. When I returned to my bed I tried to commit it to memory. He and I were in a garage waiting. Waiting for our car to be serviced, waiting for to buy a new car, who knows? He was doing his usual thing. He knew everyone and was buzzing around chatting and passing the time of day. I began to get irritated, feeling left out and abandoned. He came back to me at some point and when I remonstrated about him spending so much time talking to one of the girls in the office, he said, she’s not middle class like you, meaning she had problems that I didn’t have and required his help. I understood and celebrated his kindness even though I was cross. However, knowing I had a teacher training course to attend in Oxford I left without him, after looking everywhere for my bag. I found it and started to walk. I walked out into a sunny day up and hill relishing the idea of going off on my journey on my own. There was a signpost which I read that said ‘The Cliffs’. I understood it to mean a neighbourhood rather than literally ‘cliffs’. The path through the grass reminded me of those in Cambridge that divide up Christ’s Pieces. That’s when I woke. Then when I returned to sleep I was with him in the garage once more.

Have you ever done that? Returned to a dream you’d woken from? I can’t remember ever having done so. This time it was the beginning of the working day. People were arriving at their desks. Most rather grumpy. I tried to make a joke and asked one of the lads if he could cut my hair too? (In the dream this made sense to me, though he looked rather quizzical.) Then I heard a woman talking in a back office. I think she was on the phone ordering some dried blueberries. She wanted some dried blueberries from Edinburgh for her wedding dress. She eventually came and joined us in the waiting room holding a punnet of berries. She was still talking about her dress, how it was to have other fruit ornamentation and a fox draped across it.

Telling him my dreams makes him laugh. Where’s the symbolism in that? he taunts. Come on, come on, eh, eh? I like to make him laugh. It’s good for me too. Too tense yesterday. So much so that it has brought back the rash on my wrists. Angry wheals. It will pass, it always does, he says. I just need to face it, sit down with it and write it. Soon. Just offload first. It’s good to do. It makes writing less high falutin’.

Relentless rain this morning. I borrowed his coat. I felt cocooned, oblivious to all around me. Which is a little unsettling, especially when crossing the road. I couldn’t judge the speed of the train of taxi shooting past in the wet. (I saw a woman walking towards me along Llanbadarn Road, as she neared I could see that it was one of my colleagues from work. She didn’t know me, swathed as I was in his coat, so I let her walk by. So late. Had she been on their Christmas party and stayed out? ) I walked past Bodalwyn House’s decorated window, I saw stars and Christmas trees this time.

A lad crashes out of The Pier Pressure nightclub, falling and stumbling. Several people laugh. In response he kicks out at some barriers. He just keeps kicking and kicking. Maniacal behaviour. My hackles raise and I walk quicker. It is all speeded up. A girl running barefoot in the rain, a man calling after her and running too. Another hunched over a bench. The stick of starling guano. A brackish, salty metallic stench in the rain. Cold rain. On and on, soaking me. Pitter, patter on my hood.

Yesterday, after the rain and sleet that lashed our windows a strange light. A sky that turned the roofs of the houses beneath Cae Melin a steely blue.

Our neighbour was at his window when I returned, enjoying his last fag before bed. I see him as I walk up the stairs, the yellow of his bedroom light spilling out in the gloom. Sometimes I don’t want to speak but today I stopped. I didn’t think you’d be out in this, he said. Who is the more eccentric? I wonder. Me for my early morning walks or him for his late nights spent betting on his computer. At least that is what he thinks he does. We don’t know. I like him. A bright, rather reserved, man. A retired Science teacher, who’s travelled the world working, China, Austria and who now lives and cares for his ninety-three year old mother. He’s just been away holidaying in Gran Canaria. Was there sun? I asked enviously. Yes, he said, lots of it. We talk of Christmas. We do very little, I say. And you? His daughter and grandchild will join him and his mother. Will you cook? I ask. Yes, he says. Turkey and bread sauce and so on. The whole works, he said. The whole works.

Tinsel Necklaces

The wind had dropped by this morning so I could walk the Prom. The weather forecast, however, had lied. It rained, snowed, sleeted and hailed. The air was bitterly cold. And I walked with my hands in my pockets to stop them from freezing. It impedes my striding though and I feel less steady when I do so. But the air cuts through my gloves, particularly when I turn the bend at the war memorial and head towards the harbour. There was lots of revellers out. Some without coats. And one girl, a tiny wee strip of thing, was in a sleeveless all-in-one shorts outfit. She stumbled about in giant platform soles. How can she not feel the cold? I would be blue and shivering. Is it the booze that makes them oblivious to bodily needs? Two people, a girl and boy, came out of The Pier Pressure nightclub wearing tinsel round their necks. Tinsel necklaces, one red the other gold. They sparkled under the streetlights, the wind making them scintillate.

An array of Christmas cards and decorations had been stuck on one of Bodalwyn Guest House’s two front windows. I stopped to look at them. They were all home-made, clearly by a child or children. There were cards, little santas with free moving legs and various other Christmas symbols. I recognised the ubiquitous use of sugar paper, cotton wool and glitter. They were charming, and were either recently made or had been treasured and preserved with loving care. Were they donations from the children or the house, or perhaps grandchildren? All the pretty bits of the decorations were stuck so that they faced the street, leaving the backsides to face inwards, into the living room, I presume. Is it their own, private living room or are such fare for the benefit of the guests too? I remember bringing back such things from school, days long before fridge magnets, and wondering what happened to them. They were never hung, never displayed. In those days you didn’t celebrate everything your child did. No paint encrusted offerings in the kitchen then. I was touched that someone had cherished this child’s drawings. It stopped me still. I breathed in delight.

There is joy still. For all the bleakness, there is a strata of joy that never leaves me. It can become obscured but it is always there. A trust. A faith. A certainty. It is beyond the workings of my mind, which at times I have to admit is a devil. I noticed from the newspaper that the Lord’s Prayer is going to be changed and the devil, not us, is to be held responsible for our sins. What is that about? Is he not an illusion, merely a trick of the light. It’s opposite. And are there really any sins? Ach, too philosophical for this time in the morning, and besides, what do I know? Nothing. Zilch. Talking about philosophical questions, I had a text from my niece last night asking me if I will ‘talk’ to one of her students about ‘what makes something art’. Glory be, where do you start? Of course. Of course, I will. I used to get loads of emails from students when I was making the paper works. There was no awe, just an expectation that you would deliver. Not so now. My work is too oblique for them these days. It’s gone beyond. And I am happy for it to have done so. All is right. All is well.

Work now and coffee. Onwards.

She was very chatty yesterday. It’s lovely to hear her being so cheerful. Her daughter has hung the lights outside the house. I asked if they were prepared for snow. Yes, she says, we’ve got enough for a week. You know, some tins, gluten-free flour and so on. Good. Keep cosy. Keep safe.

Enough. Two more pieces to go. Then done.

The chair looks lovely. Perfect whiteness. We were both edgy about getting it back in the house. So together and yet so separate. I want to save him such grief. Can I?

Dark

I get consumed with a feeling of such dread. It is the dark. The dark, the wind and the rain. It was lashing at the windows as I prepared breakfast. I knew I had to go out in it. In that. He’d offered me his coat. A kindness, certainly but he would need it later and it would get drenched. So I used mine and wore my waterproofs and gilet underneath. I felt mammoth, unable to bend. Once out in it it wasn’t so bad. It never is. I avoided the Prom. I had to. It was too much, the wind was too strong. So I walked through the shadows of the town, feeling oppressed and enclosed. I found more decorations, though. The Treehouse, our local health food shop and café had some beautiful lights on all three floors. A luminous white in the dark. Lovely. And there was another tree in a B&B that reflected its multi-coloured lights into the windows of the church across the road. A spilling of colour. I wasn’t alone. I thought I would be. There was a man skulking in a shop doorway out of the wind eating a turkey sandwich. Morning, I said. Morning, he mumbled back, his mouth full of food. Other figures passed me. Both with hoods over their heads. Who walks at such a time and in such weather? I am clearly not alone. I then walked up over the Buarth. It is poorly lit up there. It brings me down further. And then all the cleaning to do. Sometimes I set myself too much. Often when I am low like this. I challenge my sadness. You don’t have to do it, he says. Tell them you can do it. But I can’t, if I give in now I will never take on challenges again. I need it and yet I don’t. Hard to explain. Stay at home with me, he says, still sleepy and warm from his bed. I must go out, I say. I must. A compunction. The rain stung my face. Biting and sharp. I just need to sit with it. Know it, make it familiar. The fear is an illusion. I am writing now. Just write. That is all. The fear is that of being found wanting. And yet, all I can do is what I can do. I missed walking my whole hour this morning. Just three-quarters. I didn’t feel as pushed, as stretched and I’d missed the open space of the Prom, the sea. That stretching out to somewhere else. Winter will pass, I know it. And just now the sky outside my window is fantastic. Azure blue with creamy yellow clouds. She is soon to bring the chair. My chair that she has upholstered. God knows how we are going to get it up the stairs again. He isn’t as strong as he was and I’ve never been so. I write this as a stream of consciousness. To see. To see what comes out. Can you prune geraniums? Anna Massey read a short story on Monday. I love her voice. I miss her. She passed away this year or was it last year? Such a voice. Treacle. Beautiful. I can hear his key in the lock. I must away and call her. She wasn’t at home last week. Maybe she has snow. I hope she is safe. The daylight has come. All will be well.

Snow

All the talk this morning in the supermarket was of snow. She lives out in the sticks and the road into the village is never gritted. It’s going to rain in town, she said, but they still grit the roads. Why not grit us instead? She’ll be holed in. I’ve told the kids that they might not be able to go to school tomorrow, she said. They don’t mind.

She’s seemed down of late, though she was perkier today. Perhaps it is the thought of those few days (it isn’t meant to last) being snowed in that is cheering her up. How would I feel? It used to happen to us when we lived in Lancashire. But then everything was taken care of, the stress wasn’t mine. Though missing days of school bothered me. I liked to be on top of everything, I was so scared of failing, of being out of synch with the others.

We trying to keep to a budget. Have I told you? It makes me anxious sometimes. It becomes my responsibility, or have I just made it so? I write the lists, do the managing. Just fifty pounds, twice a week for everything. It seems so much. But it soon goes. And I’ve cut back. Not so much fruit, no pomegranates, no strawberries, no grapes. And I count out my nuts now. But it’s made a difference. And I’ve never minded scrimping. I’m more comfortable with it than I am with excess. A puritan. Someone used to call me that, I forget who. She was called that, the American girl in that Oscar Wilde play. The one about the woman who had a child out of wedlock. Again I forget the name. A Woman of No Importance, that’s it. Anyway, we were slightly over this morning. Oh, no, I said. And she promptly whipped out her staff discount card and took five quid off. There you are, she said. You’re in budget now. She’s done it before. I hope she doesn’t get into trouble. I’m touched. A lovely gesture. Kind.

The wind was strong this morning. But the air was mild. The oystercatchers were peeping and squeaking. The sound was like that of one of those dog toys you get from pet shops, toy bones or balls. The dog mauls at it and it squeaks interminably. Why were they peeping? A warning?

I continue my look out for new decorations. Another Christmas tree has gone up in a house on North Road.

The boat rigging was jangling and jostling in the wind down at the harbour. The wind blowing at a furious pace, a great rushing and whooshing. The rigging sounded like cow bells.

It’s not my story. I cannot own it. She belongs to so many others. They have more claim on her. Mine was just that of the first witness. The first being to hold her, to conceive of her. To love her. I think of her with all that going on. She cannot know what is coming. I ask for a small part. A small role. A walk on part. And all that love, to let it flow, to let it be. Let be.

Reindeer

It’s life size. A glittering white. A life-size reindeer on their balcony. I saw it as I walked from St David’s Road into Llanbadarn Road. It’s a big house, newly done-up with an electric gate. There was a lit reindeer on the balcony, a lit wreath hanging from the front door and a small lit Christmas tree in the courtyard. It pleases the child in me all this frou frou. I cannot complain. I wish there was more. We always used to laugh at the house we’d pass on the way to my studio in Wysing. All lit up with santas and elves and reindeer. It looked ridiculous but it was heartwarming too. Someone had gone to all that trouble. There was no darkness when that was lit. Not the bleak black that brings me down so. It was joyous, ridiculous but joyous. It’s not so rare these days. Everyone is at it. A borrowed fad from America, of course. I remember the images of lit up gardens and house frontages in those 1950s films we used to watch as children. The birth of technicolour. Christmas was always a public affair. The whole family going out to get the tree. There was always snow. And it was always white, no slush for them. And the mother was always smiling. The father always avuncular and warm. And present. Ice skating looked easy, no one falling on their arse. But it is enough all this, all this kitsch joyfulness. I seek it out as I walk. Another Christmas tree just been put up. I noticed a Santa coming out of a chimney outside The Marine that I didn’t see yesterday. And both The Celtic Bay and The Ceredigion Bay B&Bs have nets of lights hanging in their front windows.

I heard shouting as I walked along the Prom from the bar. A group of lads were playing about with a traffic cone. Above them two of their friends were leaning out of an upstairs flat window and egging them one. Put it on the post, one of them shouted, go on. It was a post with a no waiting sign on it. One of the lads struggled to raise the cone high enough but managed it in the end to great cheering from his mates.

I could see that the TV was on in an upper room of The Richmond. It flickered luminescent in the gloom.

There was a white, heart-shaped sweet lying in a puddle outside The Pier Pressure night club. A perfect white. A perfect heart.

The rain didn’t come, nor did the wind. I had a good walk.

The Why Not? club was still open as I reached the top of Great Darkgate Street. A few kids were congregating outside the town clock. Chewing gum anybody? shouted a boy with green hair, to a cluster of people. Chewing gum? Chewing gum? he repeated, his voice getting higher and louder. A girl in a tiny, low cut sleeveless dress, her arm through a boy’s, was shouting loudly as they headed towards the Castle.

My dreams continue vivid. I was walking alongside a graphic designer and he was showing me examples of his work. They were on a scrap of paper, tiny lines of text. We were going off to see DH with whom I was romantically involved. At least, he’d written me a letter, more a list of questions, to see if I was interested. I wanted the warmth. He seemed, though already married, willing to give it. Then we were in a small office with several other people. A man behind the desk was telling us all about a secretary who was naked as she typed. Everyone was appalled but I heard myself laughing. I remember the laughing, it felt so good to do it. Then I was ordering some food and buying a biscuit for him.

Who knows? So many layers, some inconsequential others of deeper import.

I finished the piece. Now it’s onto the next thing. Two more commissions till Christmas. Will I rest a little then? I await the call. Might it come soon. I want to be there. Can it be?

Glitter

It is everywhere. Little specks of sparkle. On my slippers, on my hands, my face. They’re from my advent calendar. Glitter always sheds. I remember it as a child. Longing to use some. The layer of glue and those little thin phials of sparkling colour. Pink, green, red, blue, gold and silver. Silver was my favourite. Always. Silver is refined, elegant, not showy like gold. A reticent metal. It knows its worth but does not shout it out. Don’t make a mess, my mother would say. There would be old newspaper sheets covering the table and another piece of paper to catch the bits that didn’t take. My heart would be in my mouth as I poured it. That initial struggle to get the cap off. Make sure you’ve got it back on properly, I don’t want that stuff all over my carpet. Yes, I will, I promise. The blob of glue on the card. A shape of a star or a Christmas tree. Keep it simple. Let it dry a little, but not too much. You need some tack for the glitter to take. There. Now pour. Watch it fly. It’s afire, aflame a glistening of light. I wanted to keep that moment. It always looked better before I poured the residue away. Does it need more? It will make a mess if it does. Leave it be. It will do. It will do. But it never did. It always looked better in my head. The dream of the thing.

I thought of such childhood makings as I walked this morning. So many lights on. Yellow oblongs of light set against the blackness. I remember we made drawings from black card. Silhouettes of buildings filled with coloured gels to represent lit windows. We held them against light. Magical. I thought them so magical.

The Christmas decorations in the shops give me such a fillip. The insurance company on Terrace Road has put their tree up in the window. A restrained affair. All matching. The Marine Hotel on the Promenade has a blue tree, a sparkling azure planted in a flower pot by the entrance. Gwesty Cymru just has two wreaths, so far. One set of rogue hanging lights along Pier Street were still lit as I walked yesterday. I appreciated that. Swanson’s Dry Cleaners has a cornucopia of Christmas stickers all over its window. Santas and elves abound. And there is a string of blue tinsel surrounding their tariff notice. POLLY has large white cardboard snowflakes hanging in their window, while the phone shop has white baubles superglued to theirs. It is a hotpotch, but nevertheless heartening to my soul. They haven’t hung the Nadolig Llawen sign this year. It used to alternate between that and Happy Christmas. A council decision? A majority one?

The writing went better yesterday. It’s almost there. I shall finish it today. It needs to be completed. Brought to a conclusion.

There was a dog in the dark. It was on the beach, a white shape darting about near the waves. And a light, from a torch or mobile phone. I presumed it mustn’t be alone. There was someone with it. I felt a slight frisson of threat. Everything had been so calm. Passing The Angel I saw a police van and a huddle of people crouching over a man and woman sitting on the ground. His head was hung over. Two police officers were with them. Drunkenness?

She told me his daughter had fallen. Twenty feet off the Promenade. Poor girl. Poor man. He is a good one, a kind one. He will feel it keenly. She’s such a quiet girl, she said. It’s not like her. They’ve put rods in. The reflex test went OK. Will she be OK? We hope so.

Treasure this. Anything can happen. The calm lost. I’ve got work soon. An early. A paper review. A little of my own work first, eh.

Oh my god, it was like…

It was mild this morning. And there were loads of kids about. Well, not kids, students, young people, teenagers. I heard them before I saw them. A cluster of them on a Prom bench. Laughing, talking too loud, they were clearly high. High about being young, with their friends and alive. Oh my god, one of the girls kept saying, Oh, my god, it was like….and I was like…. I couldn’t catch the rest. Her voice  lifted and dropped in volume and pitch. Another of the girls was laughing uproariously. The birds were out too. There’d been an owl. A screech owl as I walked along Llanbadarn Road. No twit-a-twooing, a definite screech, well, more like high-pitched wailing. Was it overhead? It seemed to follow me along North Road. Then there was a phut, phut, and click, click of a robin. Was it a robin? It wasn’t a blue tit, or a blackbird. I heard one of those on my way home. A chirruping, lyrical sound just as I walked past the Pelican Bakery breathing in that luscious scent of warm yeast and salt. A brief respite from the cold. I dread it. The flat is too big and gaping to feel warm. And I am careful of the bills. So we shiver, taking comfort from hot water bottles and bed. But I lack really warm clothes. I want and need some big jumpers that cover my bum. His jumpers are nice but he only gets medium. I want to be enveloped. I’ve always liked that. Hiding myself in warmth.

They had the lights on ceremony in town on Saturday. We missed it. We were in Cwmbran. Neither of us had ever been before. It wasn’t what I expected. An ex-mining town. A little dilapidated but with a huge shopping precinct. And free parking. An incentive no doubt, as he said, to spend the money they don’t have. I watched a couple across from us in Starbucks. She had on a Christmas jumper dress. It clung to her tights. They looked warily at me. It’s because you look so different, he said. Your hair is short and you dress differently. No blending in. Lots of young couples with babies in prams. A noisy café, but warm and friendly. And surprisingly lovely coffee. A much needed fillip. A good day. Full of pleasure. He ate a mince pie, a slice of bara brith and a scone waiting. Waiting patiently for me, taking up a table for four and reading his paper. No one seemed to mind. Lots of elderly people coming in for their lunch. I found him chatting to one when I’d finished my interview. Hang on a minute, he said, returning his attention to an elderly lady in a fur hat. She’d been telling me about her arthritis, he told me afterwards.

And now I must write it. I began yesterday but felt nervous, uptight, self-conscious. Begin again today. Relax, say what you think. All is well. It will tell the story. That’s the important thing. But then again is it important? It’s just work. Let it be, let it flow, let it come out. I booked to do one of her workshops. On a whim. I wanted to return. See what it is like to embellish, to decorate. Another skill, you never know. I want to be amongst those women, too. Warmth. The room shone, it glitter. A balm, as he said, against the dark.

A short dream. I dreamt she had my work on show in her gallery on the hill. Nothing moved. It was lit up, it was beautiful, a beautiful show but no one came and nothing sold. Stasis?

Not the Misses Agony

I woke up with it in my head and lay there trying to spur myself to get up and write it down. That’s what I wrote at some ungodly hour and found this morning. Not the Misses Agony. It was of vital importance in my sleeping world. A cipher, a communication from another realm. Here, in this sphere, it makes no sense. A nonsense. A no language. Who are the Misses Agony? And why are they not?

My dreams haunt my nights these days. Is it the moon? We saw it shining through the trees last night. A great white orb. Mystical. I remember snapshots. I was in a restaurant, a dark, low lit affair with two men. It was in some exotic, foreign location. They weren’t really paying any attention to me, though I shared their table. They were discussing where to go for coffee. I thought about the taste as they talked, anticipating it with pleasure. Then I was looking down through the floorboards that were rather like the wooden slats of a jetty. I could see some fishermen bringing in their catch, two of them were waving up at us, at one of the my companions. I tried to let them know. They ignored me.

This is no ordinary love, sang Sade. No ordinary love, I kept singing in my head as I walked yesterday morning. I read her page. My feelings about her are ambivalent, just as they were towards her. No ordinary love, a tricky love, an uncomfortable love. Not always a loving love, or a liking love. I feel her, I feel them all. The burden and the joy of them. Rarely light. As it never was with her. I used to have this recurring nightmare as a child. A man, a mystery assailant was cutting off her fingers and toes. I would wake up screaming, wanting to save her but couldn’t. There was no blood, just this maiming. That scene from The Piano writ large. She would come to me on hearing my screams. Was she kind? I cannot remember. I didn’t want the dream. I couldn’t save her in my sleep or in my waking time. With her it is the same. I want to make it better, to be her balm. She doesn’t want it, need it or even recognise it. And I know I am essentially doing it for myself. I need the calm of it, the making of a better loving, a kinder, easier one.

A good day yesterday. Joyous. I want to write a good piece, a celebratory, encouraging piece. She is young, wide-eyed but full of feeling. And the other women, I liked them too. The seamstresses, the embroiderers, the rag-rug makers. Those users of their hands. Warm women all.

More dreams. I am re-starting my job at the university but the snag is I am meant to be doing a Phd. too. I seek out my supervisor. She is short with me. I cannot make up my mind. I dither. You are full of cotton wool, she says. How about film? she asks. I’m actually into stitch, I say. OK, she says. I walk up and down stairs for what seems ages, thinking, how can I afford it? And maybe film would be a possibility. I meet some women who are trying to set up a stall but have come without a float. I offer to help them find some change and go to the menswear dept. that is, rather oddly, part of the University (a throwback to my interview during the day). A jumble of stuff that clearly reveals the working of my subconscious. I was so enthused by her, by the day. Now I must do my bit, hone it into something that tells the story. Enough, go to it. Well, after I brew my coffee. A Sunday treat.

Not so cold today. A mizzling mist. The simple pleasure of rain on my face.

Advent Calendar (2)

I bought an inexpensive one. A small one. One that wasn’t too cutesy or commercial. I wanted a traditional one. One that I’d look forward to opening. I’ve hung it on the door of my studio. I couldn’t find the door this morning. The door for number 1. He found it in the end. I thought it said 11. Small pleasures. Small delights. A throwback to childhood, of course. I was a child who liked looking forward and holding back, reserving delights for later. I saved things. I cossetted things. The pleasure was then under my control. I could ease into it, come to it in short bursts. It wouldn’t overwhelm me. Is this a bad thing? I am still the same. Do we ever change? I like advent. It suits me. The waiting. The slow, measured waiting. He thinks I am impatient. I’m not really. Not for pleasure. I am impatient when I am kept waiting. I like to fill my time, no waste. No waste. No time wasters please. Yes, so advent is ideal. It is coming, all that excess, all that delight, but not yet. Not quite yet. He found it but let me open it. I remember that sensation. The pushing open of the little paper door. There is a drawing of some German Christmas biscuits inside. In her homeland they make biscuits for Christmas, just like the Germans. Ginger biscuits, almond biscuits, vanilla biscuits. The shapes all mean something. And they have wonderful long names. I loved the smells around the house. Tired after working all day and then to stand at the oven, my legs ached. Too tired to enjoy eating them, still warm from the rack. Putting them in cake tins lined with greaseproof paper. For later. The smell of ginger when you open the tin the next day. Baking when it was dark outside. A cup of tea on the go. Waiting for the oven timer. Are they ready? Just test it. Soft now, they will harden once out. A question of timing. Waiting by the oven door. Thinking of Gretel. Of Hansel. That perfect house. It wasn’t what it seemed.

Yesterday it looked as if it were alight. A tree in flames. It was Christmas lights. They’d been wrapped around its trunk. Tiny little yellow-white lights, afire in the darkness. It caught my breath. I was disappointed that it was not lit this morning. But there was the moon. Silvery against the sea. It lit my way. No need for my torch. A beautiful morning. Cold, crisp and sharply clean. A police car was humped onto the kerb at the beginning of North Road and still there as I made my way home an hour later. It’s lights were on, two officers were sitting inside. Were they waiting for someone? Pinch, punch.

His lights are often on when I walk. He lives on the hill. High up. He used to be an architect. Now he has Alzheimer’s. It’s common knowledge, probably, though he told me himself when he came to the studio to do an interview. I love your house, I told him. A modern design. A series of long boxes with windows down to the ground. Yes, he said, it is rather special. He designed it himself. His lights are still on. Yellow rectangles against the black.

I tried to still my mind as I walked. It starts immediately. What about this, what about that? Rushing about trying to trigger panic, fear, doubt. Chitter, chatter I call it. Stop your chitter, chatter. Hush. I try to take my conscious lower down, to my solar plexus, my gut. There. There where it is warm. Just sensation, just feeling, no words. Just for a moment. I am just a being walking, sensing the cold, hearing the bird song, that taxi driving past, the sudden gust that flaps at a piece of silvery cellophane caught in the long grass making it glint.

I dreamt I had a child. A little Asian boy. We were both doing our best to care for him. At one point he looked at me with such love. I’ve missed you, he said. Then an Asian chef was writing something for me. A review or a recipe, I am not sure. It was a gift. A gift of his time. I read it as he watched. It was something I could use. A gem.

The house has been cleaned. Dusted and washed. Now to work. Little things to tie up and organise. And prepare for tomorrow. The sun is throwing a warm orange on the roofs across the way. The sky is a clear azure. It is enough.

I am excited about the course. She has a gentle voice. But I must wait. Wait for the right time. 2018. She promised much. We shall see.