Black Bow Tie

It is 3.30 am and two girls are running towards me on the Prom. Excuse me, excuse me, one of them says, breathless. Excuse me, have you seen a boy in glasses, a green jumper and dark jeans? No. Thank you, they say in unison and run off. One of them is barefooted and in shorts. Earnest entreaties. Of absolute importance. To them. The blonde, long-haired one with glasses, carries a KFC takeaway carton. On the ground, there is a black bow tie. A formal one with a clip and ribbon.

I always feel a little shaken when someone talks to me during my walking. I’m in another realm. A realm of inner thoughts and silence. I struggle to find my voice. Where is it? When I eventually find it, it sounds foreign to me and as if it’s a long, long way away. From down a tunnel, or a cave. Hello. Yes. No.

I have a pile of post-it notes, written in a scribble when I got home. A pile. All stuck together. I shall just have to list them. Things, sightings that I didn’t want to forget. Things I haven’t had time to write. I’ve been writing, you see. Reviews. Three this week. It took it out of me. The intense looking, the note-taking and then the creating from nothing. He wants to go through it with me. What does that mean? I remember the PR editing process. Heart-ripping stuff, but worth it. It was better for it. Tighter. I need to learn. I need these processes. But my heart falls at the prospect. Prick me, do I not bleed? So be it. So back to the notes. A list. A list for the details – those gorgeous clouds of sensation have almost gone. I forget names. Do you? All through my walk this morning, trying to remember the name of the actress who plays Sister Julienne in the Midwife. I had to ask him at breakfast in the end. He knew – he’d remembered. It begins with a J.


A girl in pink knee-high socks. Waiting on a pavement-edge. Another girl on a corner, asking me, Do you know a number for a taxi? A strong south Walian accent. Wearing an Hawaiian shirt. I don’t know where I am. Earlier a boy dancing in the road. In the middle of the road at 3.15 am. Dancing to his ipod. I could hear it. Elton John’s Rocket Man. A man walking his Labrador on the Prom. Silence. A vigil. Suspended animation. A pink plastic Stetson in the road, shiny with sequins. A boy in a jockey’s silks, his friend in a policeman’s outfit with a fat, curly wig. A fancy dress at the WHY NOT? club? Why not? The Beast at his window when I got home. Was that your bacon, I smelt earlier? I asked. No, he said, it’s the chicken curry I’ve been making for tomorrow. Then the word Annie. I don’t know what this refers to. Perhaps it will come back to me. Annie. Who’s Annie?

I dreamt a lot this week. Dreaming a lot is a sign of intelligence, so says Steve Wright on his afternoon big show. A dream where I was naked in public. It happens often. I am embarrassed but make the best of it. I have long hair this time to cover some of it. Act natural and perhaps they won’t notice. As a child I’d dream I had forgotten to put on my knickers for school. In this dream I was looking up at a toilet at the top of a tall flight of stairs. Everything is open to the elements. It was not dirty but dusty, like a new model that’s been left in the showroom. And there was a bath, half-filled with grimy water. Then our neighbours had gutted someone else’s van. I was shocked, they seem so trustworthy. Everything removed. It was empty but pristine but they still drove it. It still worked. A sham van.

Then, weeks back. Notes about students on the Prom in the dark carrying pallets. Large industrial pallets to put on a fire they’d lit on the beach. One in a dark great coat. All done in silence. Then a girl in the road in front of South Marine Terrace. Two police officers, one with her hands on the girl’s shoulders. All are silence. Holding her. Then up by the castle, three seagulls soaring in the sky, flashing white above the street lamps. Mesmerising. Then walking into the chaos of noise outside The Angel. Bodies jostling me. Side-stepping and seeing a business card on the ground. STITCH it said. STITCH it ordered. Later, down by the corner of Great Darkgate Street a lad in rugby gear and no shoes, a tip-toeing run, shouting, O to his friend. O, where’s the boys? Then further up the road I follow three boys, one also in a rugby strip. A number 33 on his back. Two leave him and cut up a side road. He walks on ahead. Then stops to let me pass. It’s still dark. He starts to talk. How are you? he asks, his voice slurring. He is young with a gentle face. Very drunk, swaying. I try to fob him off, wanting to keep striding, to go home, in silence. No, he says, I’d rather walk home with you. I don’t want him. I don’t want him. I try to suggest that I walk on ahead. No, he keeps saying, no I’d rather. We come to the corner of St David’s Road and he lets me go without a fuss. Good night, I say, take care.