What is the difference between an aroma and a smell or a scent and a perfume? Is an aroma always about food or drink or can it apply to any kind of smell? And is smell always noxious and a scent or perfume always pleasant? Who knows? I want to talk about smells. I have a strong sense of smell. A boon sometimes, a curse at others. It is particularly acute first thing in the morning when I walk out. Out into the air. Yesterday morning there was a most marvellous smell of woodsmoke. So autumnal. It was so very evocative. Evocative of childhood walks on a Sunday afternoon in the park, wellies on pushing and dragging my feet through clumps of wet leaves, pushing through rain-soaked bracken, seeing deer in the distance in the later afternoon haze of mist and on-coming rain and looking forward to getting home to soup, warmth and the cosiness of candles and a fire. It was all there, in that smell. The smell of bonfires. Today I smelt the artificial rather musky smell of a cheap men’s deodorant. It was along South Marine Terrace. There was no one to be seen. He had gone but his smell had lingered. What must we smell like to dogs, to animals? It was so pungent. Unpleasant, and lingering. Then further along I caught a whiff of a woman’s scent. Again cheap smelling, too sweet and cloying. Had there been an assignation? Earlier, before I’d got out of bed, I’d smelt fried onions. Freshly fried onions. It must’ve been our neighbour below making himself an early breakfast. He does that sometimes or he makes a curry for later in the day. It stinks. It pervades my room, taking over. I went back to sleep a little cross. It had gone by the time I woke. I have to be more sanguine. I like having him there beneath me, us. He is a comfort. It is just the smells sometimes of his cooking, his cigarettes. A small thing. A slight inconvenience. I can bear it.

New regime today. First trial day. Brown rice fast, less standing preparing food and another hour in bed. All needed. He isn’t so sure about the fast and pulls a face. Our shop was cheaper. I will see. 10 days is the plan. It made me snappy this morning. Sorry. Work now. Before I have to go up to the studio. Quick, quick. x


It was a dream. I was staying in her house, her children were everywhere and she had a new man. I was given my own room and wanting some privacy I thought I’d lock it. Which I did, along the side of the door but she burst right through, right through the middle without a by your leave. She was bored. He, her fella was bored. They lounged on the sofa in my room, and all the children who’d followed her in did the same. She wanted to go shopping for a clutch bag. I turned to see if her husband was interested in doing the same thing, he wasn’t. Her home space had changed, everything moved about even the exits and entrances. I was very disorientated. Her youngest son talked me through it. It was ordered but unfamiliar.

Daylight is just beginning to come through and it’s almost 7.30 am. Where did the light go? Yesterday was so nice. She is a delight. We talk of nothings and it is so easy. And she is so pretty, so petite, so light. The cafe was good, though initially it looked a little rough. Few people were in there, just a farmer in his wellies and another man in the corner. The windows were steamed up with the baking. But it warmed up and I relaxed. It was just new that’s all. And the sun came out and stayed with us all the way home.

Work now. I must write. I don’t know what yet. I will re-listen to our conversation. It will come. And it will be the best I can do. I promise.

Morning Tea

This is a quick note. A quick hello before I have to dash off. Morning tea. We are to take tea with a friend. A friend of my father’s who has become, since he has died, ours. She is a treasure. A sweet one. Tender. Tears are always at the back of her eyes. She is visiting her sister’s house, clearing it out. A painful process. And we are travelling to see her. A while away. It’s OK. It will be worth it for all that he struggles with such obligations. She is so gentle, a quiet presence who calms me.

The interview went well, I think. She was warm and responsive. Now all I have to do is form it into something marvellous. Will you help?

I can see blue sky. The promised dryness didn’t materialise. It poured. I walked with my bleakness in my pocket and endured. The smell of bread helped. And the sight of the sea, ever constant. I think of him each morning. Taken, thrown against rocks. Had he gone into that water willingly? They hadn’t reported him missing for over 24 hours. Hadn’t he been missed? Did they live such separate lives? Is this bleakness ubiquitous? Carry it with me. Know it with me and lighten it, if you can?

Tomorrow I write. With love.


I tried to work it out as I walked, stiff-legged and slow, what the all the water in my knees might be about, symbolically. Have I become too rigid in my ways, do I no longer see a wider view, other alternatives, have I become stuck, am I stagnating? Is that what it is, stagnation? And if so what can I do about it? I want to be healed, to have some marvellous seer or prophet come to me and place their hands on me and heal. Do I ask too much? Let it be so. I will walk free then, I will climb stairs, I will run, I will bend over double. All will be fluid. All will be lithe. I will be return to my physical self. Can I ask this? With all that the world holds, with all that the world battles with, can I ask this small thing?

More peeing has to be done, into phials and bottles. More water. Water everywhere. Outside the rain pours down. Wild. He is out there in his waterproof trousers.

My first interview today. I am nervous. It is still not set in my mind, my approach. I want to leave a door open to see, to see what they bring. I am so blessed with this opportunity, such richness coming to my door, my studio. I am humbled, as always.

I miss my writing, my sewing, my work when outside demands come in. But it is good. I am earning from this precious space. A little but something. And a royalty payment came in yesterday. That’s nice.

He was a small weight. A moving weight. A solid littleness, fragile of rib and head. Not yet able to support himself. He pulled on the teat, there is power there. I am humbled again. Not joy but peace. There was peace in holding him. He settled me.

The rain abates for a moment. Breathe. All will become clear. It will. I promise.


All I want to do is sleep. I am deprived of it. I will catch up but for now I am a little like a zombie. The day must be got through, work done, domestic stuff done and then rest. It was marvellous. To see her, to see them. My heart is full with it. Such a long way, over 600 miles he drove. We talked, bickered a little, laughed, shared stories, drank coffee, tea and hot chocolate, stopping at countless motorway services. I lie in bed afterwards and the car is still carrying me. I am in motion, still. But the day calls. And work. A quick hello and to say I’ve missed you. A milky grey sky. And with wind. Too much wind. The winter is upon us. Such a lovely family. I am replete. x


The found his body in the next town, washed up, I imagine, they’ve given no details. We don’t need them.

He drowned. He was a good swimmer, he swam most days, I believe. He’d gone out the day before to take pictures of the sea. He was a professional photographer. Was he found with his camera round his neck? He always carried it that way. I didn’t know him well. He’d come into the studio now and then to do paper reviews or the occasional interview. ‘Rent-a-mouth’ he called himself. He was loud, opinionated, made good radio and most importantly in this town he spoke Welsh. His pictures were mostly good, always of this place, he didn’t go anywhere else. He was proud of what he did. We’d see them sometimes in the dailies. His body lacked finesse, the way he inhabited a space, clattering, banging. He was a male, male, strong, strong-smelling. But something had happened. He’d gone thin. I didn’t ask why. It wasn’t my place and we weren’t close, nothing ever shared. Work can be like that. He spoke of his new grandson, and his swimming and his work.

I hope they don’t delve. It’s a private matter. A matter for the family. He was a well-known figure in this town. He was always to be seen walking up and down the Prom with his camera. Always alone. I’d met his partner before I’d met him. I hadn’t put two and two together. It was only when she upholstered our chair that we found out that they were together. I am sorry for her. She once said that living with him was a ‘challenge’ and that she’d bought herself a campervan with her mother’s inheritance money so that she could do her own thing. I don’t want to make assumptions. It is not my business. I am sorry for his family. I hope he is at peace. The bluff, the noise, the hail-fellow-well-met, I suspect was all show. A way of coping. We all use it. I’m sorry that he had to die that way. But perhaps it is fitting. A chosen way. So be it. May he find rest.

We met. I didn’t want. Yesterday was a tough one. The water filling me up, frightening me. I’ve returned to the pills. I thought I was making the right decision, it seems I wasn’t. I hold my hands up. I will acquiesce until something can be done. She is a sweetie. She brought me children’s films and her books from childhood. It will help me to learn. And I will endeavour. I want to get a hold of it. To make the language mine. I am touched by her solicitude. She is so open, so clear of heaviness. What she makes of me – God knows. He was kind and he was a wobbly as I. I am blessed.

I walked with his drowning in my head.


Crosswords. We do crosswords together. I love the play of them, the images that the words form in my mind. I don’t always know what they mean. Is Cinnabar a spice, a perfume or a place or all three? It is exotic, eastern, mysterious.

He is anxious. It builds up like Etna threatening to blow. He didn’t tell me. He said he didn’t want to frighten me. It doesn’t, I’d rather know, and share it with him. Anxiety is like that, it searches around for something to fix on. It has kept him awake and no doubt increased his blood pressure. He gets angry. He shouts. It is just fear. Fear that needs to be articulated. Always. It is always worse when it is kept inside, ready to explode. Life brings them, these times when all seems bleak. It isn’t. It is an illusion. All of it.

We talk about his symptoms as ‘coming out in sympathy’ with mine. We are close. It could happen. It can happen. Like a phantom pregnancy.

Crosswords again. A remembrance. The clue was about Deputy Dawg. A cartoon from way back. My history not his. He remembers watching cartoons in the Church Hall on a Friday night. I loved them, he said, Hanna Barbera and Disney. I can see it. I love that look that comes over his face when he is taken back like that. Life was light then. And he was so loved. As he is now.

Small Steps

He always used to say it to me when I wanted to run before I could walk. It has always been so. Small steps. Take small steps. Small steps are sufficient. They will do. A chink of light. A new idea that she has embraced. A chance. A small thing but a nice thing, I think. It is a connection with minds that I respond to, to work that I respond to and the way they form their working spaces, those rooms of our own. Safe places where small challenging things happen. They are happy to invite me in, it seems. And I am touched. I want to do my best by them, by myself. To write well, whatever that is. And this other one who is to meet me tomorrow. A stranger who has let me in, who is open and kind. Young. Fresh. With the world ahead of her. I want to contain it though. I need this time alone, at home, to heal, to recover so the steps out there are small. But they will do. They will do.

Meanwhile she breathes somewhere else, far away with her two young things. My love.


Words crop up, words that have featured in a crossword particularly, words that I didn’t know the meaning or provenance of and afterwards they keep cropping up. I love it. Someone called it serendipity, I prefer to see it as a connection, however tenuous, with something. What that something is I cannot say.

Gilt also means a sow. A young sow, I believe.

A short one today. There is too much I want to do. The day gets eaten up, swallowed up with time. I resolved the clock issue. It was in want of a new battery. I changed it and it whirred round then stopped for a least ten minutes at midnight. Was it thinking? Then it started to whirr again, slower this time, stopping at the correct time. All is well with the world.

A blackbird sings outside my studio window. A brisk, cold morning but lovely.

I’ve been pee collecting for the last 24 hours. What a palaver. At least it’s not poo, eh. What they want it for, I’m not absolutely sure. Don’t ask me, said the healthcare worker (not a nurse) who took my blood. She’s off to Disneyland Paris with her 11 year old son. It’s to be a surprise. They’re going by coach. What are you looking forward to most? I asked. Coming home, she said.

Another hour to go and I won’t have to pee in a container any more. How much easier it is for men.

I got a reply. It looks like it’s going to become real. How nice. Thank you. I need a fillip these days. The darkness comes thick and fast. I enter the tunnel of winter with foreboding but a glimmer of stoicism. Long may it last.


It was in my dream. It was huge. A man was supposed to be taking care of it. I thought he’d got rid of it but it was lying dormant, but still alive. He put it in a cupboard, out of the way. My fear, my anxiety about a threat of some kind the online dream dictionaries say. Possibly. Where do we start?

It was her birthday yesterday. I didn’t know. I am out of it there. We work, exist on different planets. It is OK, I don’t really mind. I have my reading.

Zadie Smith spoke briefly about writing this morning, making comparisons between it and dancing. She quoted someone, I can’t remember who, who said that we shouldn’t judge the content of what we write, or responsibility is to just get it down. I paraphrase, of course, but it make sense. I liked it.

The doings of the radio-controlled clock in the kitchen threw me. It always starts whirring around at about 3.00 am turning to midnight then righting itself. Today it did the usual but spun forward maniacally to 4.30 am. So far it is stuck one hour and half ahead of time. Is it on the blink? It is his not ours. It may have to be consigned to a cupboard and replaced. I am a little shifted off course as a result. The hornet did it too. Busy day today. So be it. I think of them that little family. She seems so happy. I am glad. It is all I can wish for her.