Brian (2)

I didn’t go to the sea. The wind was too strong. I began to feel its force along North Road so took the path along the edge of the tennis courts. At the bottom of North Road, down the hill, there is often a tunnel of wind blasting off the Prom. I wanted to avoid this. My body cannot withstand it. I do not feel strong these days. So I cut through the back streets. Students peppered the roads. One was mock-playing an electric guitar in the middle of the road. They seemed unconcerned by the fierce wind. They are fearless, I am not. I walked up to Laura Place, thinking  I might at least see the sea from there. But the wind had found its way there too, rattling at the scaffolding surrounding one of the Nash properties. I tried to make it to the wall but was beaten back. Enough. I surrender. By the time I got home I knew that I needed to walk some more so continued down Llanbadarn Road. I’ll walk to the church. Yes. It was quiet. A few taxis racing past, that was all. The church was dark, unlit. A solid edifice, rooted, strong. I touched its stone. Immovable.

I thought about her. Was she scared? She told me on the phone she was worried that the wind would take the aerial. Bedroom lights were on all around town. The storm was making people jittery, edgy. And the air smelt different. I noticed it as soon as I left the flat. It smelt metallic. There is a bank of yew trees along the path to the tennis club they were swaying and creaking. A moaning kind of creaking. Would they survive?

I felt calmer yesterday. More at peace with what is. When the peace comes I feel a little empty, missing the tumult. It fills me. It fills my body. But with peace comes detachment. Or is it the other way round? It is all an illusion. Who is to say what is really important? Is it what we do with ourselves, our careers, our achievements, our possessions, or is it more about how we are, what we are, how we behave towards ourselves and others? I know the truth of it and when the detachment comes all is clear. This is what I’ve been given, this, this whole life is my work, not the bits of it that I show the outside world. I am a good wife. Though I rarely refer to myself as one. I don’t like the label. It seems to me it is a diminishing word rather that a expanding one. I take care. I take of us. I like to do it and I do it as well as I may. She taught me that, though with her it was often a bitter endeavour. Save me from such bitterness.

I met a man from Belgrade, he said walking up the stairs still wearing his coat and smelling of the outdoors. He was begging on the street. What brought him to Aber? I should’ve asked him, he said. I will next time. We talked about places I’d been, Split, Dubrovnik, he said. Afterwards I gave him a pound and we shook hands.

I just got on with it yesterday. Now remember, he said just now, tell that voice that it isn’t the thing that’s important. Its just the means, its what you will do with it later that matters. OK. You just tell it. Stupid voice, he said before turning out the light.

Stupid voice that is trying to protect me from failing. The shame of it. Failure. So what? It’s still a life, lived.I shall just do it again today. It is all illusory. In the repeat of Down Your Way with Pam Ayres this morning on Radio 4 Extra she interviewed a woman who’d gone on a course to learn how to make a basket coffin. Were some of the people on the course making their own coffins? Pam asked her. Oh, yes, she said, several. Preparing. Taking charge of the end. The inevitable. That, death and birth are the only two non-illusions. And it is coming. And I am grateful.

Brian

Brian is coming. The police are closing off the Prom at nine this morning, he told me, popping his head round the bathroom door as I was bathing. You will be careful, won’t you? Only go where we agreed. Yes, I said.

Brian is coming. Storm Brian. What a banal name for a storm. I can’t get agitated about something called Brian. And, as yet, little is happening out there. A bit of wind, a bit of rain. I walked the Prom after all. There were loads of students milling about when I got there. No cordons, no sign of the police. So I walked it and was glad to. The air was fresh, it blew through me. Nice. I am grateful for it. I need it. Always. There’s always the sea.

I was sad yesterday. Is it SAD? Is it the menopause? Or is it that I am just a depressed sort of person? But not all the time. Sometimes there is joy, exquisite joy. Transient yes, but one couldn’t contain it, hold on to it for ever. I wept heavy tears. My eyes hurt today. I cry for the loss of something. The loss of me. I don’t know. He is so good, so patient. Sleep helps. There’s an article here about SAD, he said at supper. What do they advise? I asked. He read out the list. Anti-depressants, CBT, psychotherapy, light boxes, Vitamin D, exercise and a good diet. Nothing new there. I want to just live it. Accept it. No antidepressants. I want what is, not what is not. Is it OK just to be sad?

I struggle with the listlessness though. I have to admit. I like to do. And I still do but it takes all of my effort. Just finished the cleaning. All done for this week. Such a relief. I just don’t have the energy, it takes it out of me. This greyness. This greyness feels like it is pressing down on me. What is that children’s rhyme about Chicken Licken? Something about the sky falling down on him (or was it her?). I never liked it. It scared me. It felt like chaos.

I wish you could see how much you mean to me, he says. See how much you are worth. It hurts him, no frustrates him when I feel like this about myself. It is my default position, I say. I know, he says. I know. I’m not whingeing. I don’t see myself as a victim. I see the gifts of my life. But I sense I need to live it, to acknowledge it to come through it. And perhaps I never will, not entirely. It is how I read the world. Just let it be. Take to my bed if I have to. Would the sky fall in if I did? It’s the work thing, I know. The writing about it unleashes it all. Good and bad. I remember this Hot Chocolate song from way back, it must’ve been sometime in the 70s. Emmeline I believe it was called. Emma, Emma, Emmeline, Errol Brown sang almost crying it out. I always got goosebumps. Goosepumps, he wrote. A song about a girl who wanted to be a star, an actress. She never made it so she took her life. Schmaltzy, I know. But it touched me then. And I’ve never forgotten it. To him she was a star. She’d made it. It was enough.

I have a head full of good advice and mostly it carries me forward. It’s just when I’m tired that the negative stuff takes hold. A tightrope walking exercise. I want to go out in the wind. It is so alive. Time to work. To make a beginning. Not yet eight. I’ve made the coffee. A bientot. x

Clock

The phone went silent. Had she gone? Had she put the phone down? I hadn’t heard the click and there was no droning sound. Silence. I let it lie. Waited. She was crying. Not a boo hoo kind of crying but an almost indiscernible weeping. Poor love. She is scared. So scared. It has been too long and the threat of more invasive exploration is too much for her. I wonder at her age. I’ve never asked her. She can’t be more than late fifties, maybe early sixties, but this has beaten her down. She clings to the natural medicine, to the gentle therapy it offers, knowing that it will not cure it, just keep her steady. I just want to be able to keep going, she says. She and Bonnie have been for a walk, just a quick one, it’s too wet. She asks about the storm on Monday. I wasn’t here I tell her. The sun went red, she said. The runner beans have gone. Mustn’t complain, we’ve had most of them. It was so strange. So warm, but the wind. The farmer next door had some plastic sheets, heavy ones, they flew like paper. She asks about my holiday. I want to talk about her, offer solace. All I can do is encourage rest. She wants to be normal, to have her energy back. Bless her. I want to make it all right for her but I can’t. We talked about going away for a few days for half term, she says, but I’m not up to it. Perhaps in the New Year, when it’s lighter. Perhaps we’ll go then. Take care of yourself. It was nice to hear your voice. Speak next Friday. Thank you. Thank you.

The clock was turning when I went upstairs to make breakfast. Just turning, round and round. Not fast and not slow, an insistent kind of turning. Then it stopped. Just stopped at twelve. It’s a radio controlled clock. I thought it needed a new battery so I changed it. Nothing happened. The hands remained still. Then ten minutes later it started turning again. This time it found the right time and rested, still ticking. It’s happened once before. It unsettles me. There is something electric in the air. I am agitated, weepy, unable to focus on anything. I long for a proper job at such times, something to hold me in place. Tramlines. I’ve busied myself. I’ve done the ironing (first load), two washes, hovered, mopped the floors, dusted his bedroom, made breakfast, washed up, sorted out the post from my accountant, called her, walked, been to work and now I am writing. And it is only 10.23 am. And yet, I still feel rock bottom worthless. We niggle at each other. We always do when I feel like this. We’re not listening properly. He wants me to stop being irrational, to stop fretting and I want him to make me feel better, to steady me. I fixate on the tiny, irritating things and criticise. Ugh. Is it the onset of Brian, Storm Brian that is responsible? Get a grip or just let it all go. Is it part of it, this ugliness? It’s fear, I think, fear of not being good enough, of making the wrong choices, of not earning enough, of not being good. Enough.

We finished the film last night. It was a beautiful thing to watch. The ending was rushed, though, and not clear. But the landscape of New Zealand was stunning, as was the photography and the constrained, gentleness of the performances. A true dilemma. Sometimes there is only one thing to do. Help me to put her first, she said. A Solomon-esque dilemma. I know something of it. But I am one-step removed these days.

I’ve thought of her almost constantly since I returned. We are not alike but there is a pull. I sent her some healing. Thoughts. I imagined her wrists were mine, and her neck too. It helped. I sent healing. Did your wrists and neck feel warm? I asked in a message the next day. Yes, she said, so much so I had to apply ice. She is open to all things like me and told of a phone call that her then husband took in Mum’s old house, a few days after her death. We’d had visitors, the children of her second husband. They were looking over his possessions. The land line went. Hello, her ex had said. It was a woman’s voice, he had said, a rasping voice. Get them out, it had said, get them out. He was freaked by it. Went white. I think I’ve just been speaking to your mother, he’d said. The day before, the neighbours, a steady, rational couple, had seen here, her head poking through the gate.

Who knows? For me it was the sparrows, as I’ve said. Who knows? She is not there now, not now. Though when I am there I dream of her almost nightly. Would she make it alright now? Did she ever? Am I still grieving?

To work. Write. Just write. Write it out.

Who is it?

A young man is shouting at his girlfriend. They are walking along North Road. It is 3.30 am. She hugs herself as he shouts, lagging behind, head down. Who is it? he is shouting. Who is it?

Just beyond the Bandstand I pass a couple. The man wears an England football shirt. He is making big expressive gestures as he talks. I can do all those things better, he is saying. I don’t mean to be rude, but I can.

Further down the Prom, sitting on the steps just down from Pier Pressure, another man is shouting. …..is a cunt! he shouts. I don’t catch the name. A few yards away a diminutive girl breaks from a conversation she is having with two friends to exclaim in reply, yeh, fuck him man, before returning her attention to her mates.

Yesterday I’d watched as a group of foreign students had encircled a parked University Security van with traffic cones. It had clearly been a case of high spirits. They worked fast, giggling as they did it. I’m off, said one of the girls. And they all scarpered. It was a harmless enough prank. And they were so utterly delighted with themselves.

 

This is why I get up at this ungodly hour, not to observe all the shenanigans that the students get up to in their cups, but for this dark silence. It isn’t easy, its a truthful hour, a stark time with no hiding place. I often very nearly fall asleep, particularly when I have a hot water bottle on my lap and my little fire on. It is too cosy. Sometimes there are lights on around the complex (is that the only word I can come up with to describe where I live?). I imagine them to be nursing staff, particularly the girl who lives across the Quad from us. I can see her window, more often than not lit, from my studio one, Is she just back from work? What does she do with her time? I sometimes muse about retraining as a nurse. Could I do it? Not the training,, that would be OK, but the all day on your feet sort of stuff, being told what to do and remaining detached. Could I do all that? I know that I would be efficient but as to stamina, I jut don’t know. Until one knows what it is like to do something, be someone else, one can only imagine, encourage romantic ideas about how much easier it would be. But it wouldn’t. It would just bring an different set of problems. I think it is the feeling that I would have done something worthwhile, a day’s work. I remember that sensation when teaching. I was so exhausted by it, particularly by the end of the week. But this is my situation, this inner wrangling, this search for authenticity.

I crave meaning, said the man on the radio. I only caught the end of the programme. It sounded like he had a stroke of some kind and was talking about his life post-paralysis. He was a violinist and was re-learning how to play. I crave meaning. So often I catch phrases from the radio that resonate with me. I crave meaning. It’s true. I want to find work to lose myself in, to surprise myself with. To be busy with. But I need to find out what that work is. I began writing yesterday. It is hard. It is not just writing about my practice but of myself too. What am I about? What am I doing it? Where is it going? And on and on.

Ho hum. I must get back to it. Something is coming through, I’m not sure what. I need to be brave, to admit, to recognise what is gone, and what can never be while being open to what is possible. Go to it. Go. Go, Ada, go.

Wedding Party

It was last week, before I went away, that I saw them. I was doing my usual morning walk on the Prom and they were standing outside The Marine Hotel. There is a kind of platform outside the main door that is raised off the pavement, almost like a balcony. They’d clearly attended a wedding and were still, at 3.45 am, in their wedding attire. He had on DJ and white shirt and untied his bow tie hung round his neck. She was in a wide-skirted taffeta dress. He stood one end of the balcony, she the other. He was leaning over the rail, she stood staring at him. No communication. All spent. All said. The tension was palpable. It was just a momentary glance. The story was told.

I only took one book with me in the end, though I had struggled to choose only two in the library. So many I wanted to read. Another time. It is good to be left wanting, yearning, I think. I took Hanif Kureishi’s Intimacy. It is a narrative spent entirely in the protagonist’s head. Beautifully written, so much so that I had to stagger it. Saving it for later. A little now, that’s enough. I read some over my lunch at Pret a Manger in the departure lounge and then a little more on the plane, finishing it on my flight back yesterday. A dark book. Not erotic, too graphic to be so, at least for me. But deeply, deeply sad. A dystopian, bleak kind of sadness. It made me think of the couple outside The Marine, where is there to go after such a silence?

The hurricane, for she told us at the checkout that it was officially declared a hurricane, had not wreaked as much havoc on the Prom as I’d expected. There were the usual stone and shale on the road and pavement, but much had been swept into orderly piles. The waves were big, he tells me. They may have been. There were twigs and stones on the South Prom, so perhaps it was there that their magnificence was most evident. But it was calm today, this morning. Cold, though. Winter comes. A clear sky. A panoply of stars.

I don’t know where to begin. I said I’d write that so there I’ve done it. I am lost. Discombobulated. I always am after travelling. I get so absorbed, so taken over by the place I’m in and the people I am with. I soak it up, consume it, as it consumes me. I feel like one of those snow scenes, all shaken up. Floating. Not settled. Not settling. I need some time at home, at my desk, in my studio.

I don’t know where to begin. So just make a start. Make a list. It helps to focus the mind, sort out the important from the not so. I have to deal with life stuff first. VAT, my accountant, chasing invoices. They all help in the grounding. All help in the reestablishing roots. I am ready to write, to make, to begin again with whatever it is that will take me to the next stage. It’s just an energy thing. I haven’t slept well. Waking every two or three hours. Checking my alarm, needing a pee, just being over stimulated. It was an important thing to do and worth all this shaking up. It a love thing. That’s all. A need to reestablish an intimacy that was always shaky. I love her. As I love them all. We are so different. I watched her endlessly. We share the same blood. See that skin, it is the same as mine. But our approach to living is so different. She, seemingly so fearless. Scratch the surface and it is not so. Of course not. Be vulnerable, I say. Let it be so. Let it go. It is easier said then done. And I know I am talking to myself too. Is it not always so?

I don’t know where to begin. So just begin, at the beginning.

Dungarees

I like your dungarees, she said, stopping at our table on the way to loo, I don’t wear mine. She’s rather like the catering assistant up at the University canteen, talking is a nervous thing. They rattle the words out, like a machine gun, not stopping to weigh up the impact. They hardly take breaths in between the words. Like children desperate to maintain a parent’s interest for just a little longer. Children talking about nothing, losing the thread, just longing to communicate. For these two women, I sense it is less about communication, there is no two way channel, but more about not being comfortable with silence, with a vacuum. I like her. I like them both. They have spirit. One, the first, a scrawny, long-legged woman, hippy-like, with a strong Northern accent (is it Yorkshire or Lancashire, I never know?) and a penchant for colourful leggings and clashing patterns. The other, is from the Bush, as he calls it, a farmer’s girl, I suspect. A warm, open-faced woman whose round shoulders appear to carry much. He gave too much away yesterday. It slips out. Whereas, I am more close, holding our story close to my chest. I like it that way. I remain on the outer edges, an observer rather than participant. The curate knows me however. He asks about work. He’d broken his arm. My fingers are still numb, he says. His body is a swollen barrel. He is always breathless. A magnet, a wit, he is forever surrounded by a coven of Welsh women, cackling at his bon mots. I recognise some of them from work but the names have gone. I smile but for the moment I am unrecognisable. He likes it. It is a radical. Shorn, even. She does her best but I think I scare her. It is fine. Not beautiful, but striking. Will that do?

I am edgy about going tomorrow. It unsettles me the prospect of travel. So many unknowns. Yet, I am excited too. It has been a long time since I was there. And to have her in my sight. Will we get on? We are such different creatures, though we share blood. She has so much energy, it scares me sometimes. How will I keep up?

It rained this morning. It shouldn’t have done, he said on waking. No. Two girls were sitting on a Prom bench in the drizzle. I don’t want to be like this anymore, one of them said. Further down the Prom, by the bandstand walked three couples. One of the men had his arm around his girlfriend. She was crying.

It’ll end in tears, she always used to say when the three of us got out of control. Usually giggling. Over-excited. It was the booze, I suspect, with the crying girl. It gets me that way too, I either cry or sleep. That layer of sadness, its membrane punctured.

I think about ways of generating income. No not just for the money but to get my work out there. I’d like to write about my experiences in Norway, as an au pair. I want to get to the heart of it. Confess, I suppose. But how to do this without hurting others. It is perplexing. It’s my story but it crosses into theirs. It will always be the way, I think. I need to find a way of managing it. Be strong but kind. Is it possible to be both?

No answer regarding my requests. Is this a good sign? People are generally slow to reply to most things. I must learn patience, or, even better, how to let go of things. To not hold so tight. All that is mine will come to me. Let it be so.

Thinking

I’ve been thinking, I said to him at breakfast. Does he dread it? Those words. I say them so often. It’s the walking. It excites my mind instead of stilling it. The movement, the pace, the wind. It is my time for ironing things out. Working through fear. So when I bring them to our breakfast table, those thoughts of mine, they have been through quite a process. I try them out on the imaginary him as I walk. Testing his responses and my replies. What do I fear? He is a reasonable man. I love him for that. For to be able to reason without threat of one or other retreating into high dudgeon is a valued part of our relationship. But only if I bring such ideas to him calmly, he is more prickly if I come to him agitated. Who wouldn’t be? So the walking is an ironing, a smoothing, a calming process. I’ve been thinking, I said to him at breakfast. Perhaps we should be open to perhaps trying for a mortgage. And why not? He hates change, I know that, and mostly so do I, though I instigate it far more than he. There are lots of fors and againsts. We have so much space. There is a lightness in renting, the roots are not so firmly established. But it is a lot of money. Most of what we bring in, in fact. Perhaps, economically it would make sense. As I walk I fantasise about a little garden, re-hanging my pictures, a mortgage that is soon paid off. My own home. Our own home. Not technically our first but it would be one that we bought at the start together. At least it is a sign that I am ready to commit to living here, I said to him. It must be so. It isn’t the place I would’ve chosen for myself but he needs to be here. It is a small thing and there is always, always the sea. We shall see, I yield to what can be, to what is possible. I had too little sleep last night. Work called. A late one. TV. It must be so. I appreciate the money but it ate into my sleeping time. A little before and a little after. It will tell later. Take it slow. Take it slow.

She was lovely. Cosy. Motherly. Her neck wobbled as she talked. Her hair, a soft blonde. I’ve met her before but this time she seemed more vulnerable. They know me as a strong woman, she said of her sons. I had to keep going after losing Aled. She came into to talk about ‘The Evil Triangle’. Boy racers, she said, in North Wales. She’s been a member of the charity BRAKE ever since her son Aled was killed in a car accident. She couldn’t give in. I asked if he’s made contact with her. Oh, yes, she said, several times. They’d left me alone in the morgue, they’re not supposed to, but they did. This medium, who was in training, told me about what I saw. No one could’ve known. This is what I’ve been given, she said to me, so I might as well tell you. It doesn’t make any sense. But it did. It did. It’s the detail, I said. Yes, she said, it’s the detail. He helped her down the stairs.

I saw a boat leaving the harbour the other morning. How I love that. It wasn’t a fishing vessel but a sailing boat. The tide was in and high. I love the lights, seeing the inner nest of the craft. One man sailing it. I saw his dark shape as it rounded the Perygyl, bouncing, tossed by the waves as it moved from fresh water to sea. Glorious. I watched for what seemed like an age as it turned into Cardigan Bay. Where was it going at 3.45 am? Let him be safe.

My sense of smell is returning. I get flashes of it. Subtle nuances. A room freshener, my perfume, fruit. In and out. I’m getting better.

He has said yes. He does want a piece of writing about my performance. Maybe even a few. To track its progress. That is good. Now I only have to write it. Next week. After my trip.

Today we take the chair. The first of our small changes. A reupholstering. I look forward to it. And what a surprise that they are together. Who’d have thought it? Not me. Small town. Small town stuff. The washing calls. A bientot. x

Expected Rain

I’d expected rain but it didn’t come. It was blustery but I like that. It is real, alive. The wind buffets me along, dragging and pushing. Come on, it says, waken up, feel the power of me. Come on. And the sea takes its cue, crashing and pounding. It is good to be part of it, blown about in the same way. The same jetsam. Part and parcel of the same experience. It erodes the me, the personal. I like that.

Two hours. Two hours before we have to go. So I said I do some work. What kind of work? he asked. Oh, admin and stuff. You know, emails. Is it work? Is it proper work? It oils the wheels. I feel like I am doing something in the real world. It is recognisable as work. I sit at my computer. I send stuff. I do figures, my accounts. All the peripheral stuff. It isn’t hard, it isn’t physical, it isn’t creative. It is merely about dealing with things. Ordering. Sorting out. Making room, making space for the real work. And yet that real work doesn’t bring me an income.

Can we talk over coffee tomorrow? I asked him. Of course, he said. A seminar. I need to air it, this realisation. No, it isn’t a realisation, not really, more a question. Is it alright? Is it alright that I don’t make money from my art? What a question? And am I asking him or myself. We have enough he will say. And we do, though my voices would say, how much is enough. Is it alright to labour over something that brings no monetary reward? I want to ask them, all those artists how they feel about this. Does it eat into their sense of self? Do they feel less worthy than others whose labour is rewarded financially? Oh, people say, it must be lovely to have a talent. Look at me I have none. Except, except your innate ability to command a high salary. Something that makes them potent, notable in our society. I feel shame sometimes. I bring in so little and every penny that I do earn is noted, felt. Others make it seem easy, they are laissez-faire about it. Confident.

It’s not a moaning, it’s more about trying to make sense of it all. I haven’t been brought up to value work for work sake. For that is what this is. Just that. A need to make, to communicate, to perform, to feed my soul. A need to make work that unsettles, challenges, steps out of the banal, the ordinary. And yet, what is it? Who is it for? Does that matter? Ostensibly it is for me. It has to be. But it is the doing of it, the performing of it that seems to matter, much more, much much more than the result. I am paraphrasing what they said on the radio about graffiti artists. They are making their mark, scenting the ground, like dogs. I’ve been here. I was here. Is that all it is? An ego trip. I recognise my need, my urge to perform, but it is also about seeing, feeling myself in a place. Being present. Being present in silence. It is interesting this. I am invisible but it is a potent invisibility for people are energetically not engaging with me. Like the girl in Baron’s Court. It’s like an ironing out. Even at this ripe age, trying to find out what I believe. A making sense.

A gaggle of students outside the Why Not? club. Before that two girls all in black walking along the Prom. Large girls, tall. One with a hole in her tights, at the top of her thigh. Rubbing together as she walked. Even in the dark I could see the skin squeezing out. A fleshy circle of white. Noise outside the Why Not? club. A girl’s voice calling, Keeley! And halfway down Great Darkgate Street a couple rowing. You told me to fuck off, so I’m fucking off, he is saying. I’m sorreeeee, she replies, her cardigan slipping down off her shoulder, voice slurring. You’re responsible for how your treat me,yeh? he replies. I dodge the vomit on the pavement. Three instalments. I don’t need to shut off my nose for I still cannot smell anything.

You smell nice, he says when I go in to wake him up. Do I? I say.

We’ve begun the last film. I shall miss them, they’ve brought me joy, laughter and encounters with new worlds, stories and ideas. This one, The Light Between Oceans, is a beauty. Schmaltzy, of course, as one would expect with DreamWorks but well done, so far. Michael Fassbinder is a pleasure to watch, as is the actress who plays Isobel.

7.03 and it is still pitch. Ho hum. Such is the onset of winter. The leaves are gorgeous though, such colours. Such colours.

Notelets

It was a ridiculous clue. Something like ‘a folded piece of paper, usually decorated’. Notelets, I said. Notelets? he replied. Yes, the sort of thing women of your mother’s generation used as thank you cards. I know, he said, but to describe them like that, honestly. I remember them. I loved them as a child. They made me feel grown up, so much nicer than plain paper and an envelope. I had all sorts. They came in plastic-lidded boxes, and sometimes the motif on the front would be replicated on the back of the envelope. I have some that she sent me when she was a wee girl, about the same age as she was in my dream last night. A golden-haired child, sunny. I made no notes today. There was nothing to report. No kids, no policeman. Nobody. I had the place to myself. A thin coating of rain. No Perygyl. And in the silence a tiny revelation.

I’d sunk a bit, you know like a going cold soufflé. I had felt better yesterday afternoon. I’d solved the Twitter issue and was feeling pleased with myself. And the calm had continued, thanks to Aurum 10. But this morning it was the thought of working today. Sitting here, in my studio, and having to construct another working day. From nothing. Nil. It was that. I felt my worthlessness. A tangible feeling and the gloom descended. It hurts him. He asks so I tell him. To him I am far from worthless. I know this. It is not rational. My importance to him does make me worthy. But it is the deep down stuff, the not having learnt to value my gifts. What are they exactly? I am organised, I try to be kind, I have ideas, I can write sometimes, well sometimes (whatever that means), I notice things, the detail. I am trustworthy, worthy of trust, I serve. I like to do this. I am diligent. I try to do what I say I will do. The rest is and has to be in the eye of the beholder. My goodness. What is that? I wish it to be so, but it is a transient feeling. My capacity for empathy is legion but whether it is useful or not is a question. You see the core is wobbly. Nothing is cast iron. Nothing is steady. My self, the one beyond the outer, the doing me, well she/it is sure, steady, a brim with goodness. But she/it or maybe even he is beyond this reality. She/it/he merely dips a toe.

So I keep busy. I’ve walked, made breakfast, ate it, shopped and now I sit here expunging and it is not yet 8.00 am. More to learn today. When some days I just want to do something banal. I know it is a fantasy – sitting behind a till in M&S, making sandwiches in Chives (I didn’t even get an interview) – such jobs must have their strife, particularly the low pay. But the learning is good, and rewarding. I just need to lift myself up to it. So put the video on YouTube. Do it. It went OK with Facebook – 21 views yesterday. It is something. Such spaces are my theatre now. I need to learn how to use them. And I sent off the email requests. Nothing may come of it. But it is a start. There is power in the starting, to paraphrase Goethe. I’m excited by it, he said. It is exciting, he said. Yes. It is. I just need to find my courage. Or perhaps not. Do it as you are now. However, you feel. What does the Nike advert say, just do it? So be it. Amen. Enough.

The sun yesterday was pure joy. Thank you.

Policeman

I saw the torch beam first. A strong beam that made me turn my face away. It moved about, following the line of the Promenade railing then down onto the sand. I was coming closer. A figure in black. A man, large build. No coat, a navy jumper. Morning, he said, how are we today? A policeman? I still couldn’t be sure, not in the dark. There seemed to be a kind of insignia on the chest of his sweater. A nice voice, a reassuring voice. I let go my fear. It must be a policeman. I was tempted to ask what he was looking for but held back. None of my business. None.

We’re doing fine, thank you officer. Well actually we’re not. That is we, as in me. Got maudlin last night. It’s the bleakness, it feels like it will never lift. Is it just a seasonal thing? It didn’t happen in Spain, he said, or in London. No he is right, it didn’t. But you see I’d escaped then. Run away. You’re always running away, she used to say. No I’m not. Am I? I want to. I want to live in hotels like the de Winters did. In pensions in the South of France. Free of ties, free of responsibilities, free of the need to be static, of me. And yet, what am I trying to escape from? I don’t have to go down the pit. I have enough food, money, I am warm, safe and loved. It is just this deep down innate sense of worthlessness. I cannot explain it any better than that. And yet, even as I write it I am ashamed. Others have such trials, so little. The radio is invaluable for us self-centred souls, it shows us other lives, other struggles, ones that are way beyond our present, or indeed future experience. Yesterday there were stories of those struggling on the new Universal Credit. One woman had only received something like £140 pounds over the last six weeks. Others talked about being in homeless hostels, where families are having to share beds in cramped conditions. And then there was the tale of the Sudanese boy who wanted to play football for Arsenal and was prepared to pay people smugglers to enable him to do so. He wants to travel to Italy but to do so must first traverse deserts and encounter numerous other hazards. I cannot know what it is to be him. Even when I too was low, I knew that there were people I could go to if all was lost. And it never was. Never entirely. That is the light in me. It flickers, it is down low at present, but it is there nevertheless.

Lots of kids about this morning. Must’ve been the mildness and the absence of rain. Music pounded from Pier Pressure. Thudded. A seagull sailed over a streetlight, a flashing of white.

She thought the medium was called Stephen Spender. Speed, I said. Spender was a poet, I think.

I felt in pieces. I feel in pieces, though less so now after a remedy. It calms me, detaches me. A not unpleasant feeling.

I can’t put images on Twitter. A frustrating occurrence and one that I cannot, as yet, resolve. I get het up over things technical that I don’t understand. It will have a simple explanation. I just need to get there. Shall I ask John L?

I think it is to do with sites. I need to place myself in sites, in situ. And then? Perform.