I asked about her auntie. She came out of hospital, she said, but then the very next night she fell again walking with her zimmer. She clearly loves her. I watch her as she talks about her. Her eyes are a chocolate brown. I like her, for all her rocket-fire chatter I like her. Then she fell again, she continued, on the other side. Her mind is fine. I do love her. She’s four feet nothing and lovely. A lovely four feet nothing.
He was sitting in my chair when I got into work. Well, it’s not my chair exactly, but it’s where I like to sit, out of the way, away from a computer. I noticed his feet straight away. He was barefoot. I thought he was my guest, arrived early, and went towards him my hand outstretched. I said the name of my guest and he nodded. Are you feeling better? I asked him. My guest had had to cry off the previous week due to illness. Yes, he said, much better. I’ll just get the studio ready, I said walking off. When I returned intending to put him in the studio ready for broadcast, he and a journalist colleague had clearly been talking. He’s not your guest, she said. Oh, I said. I know him, he said, and however much I’d like to be him, I’m not. When my guest arrived they were the spit if each other. Though my guest had shoes on. Is the bare feet some kind of a penance? I asked him. No, he said, though there are many things in my life I could do penance for. Are you on a pilgrimage? I asked. No, he said. I only have one pair of shoes and they have begun to pinch me. Going barefoot is preferable. Isn’t it cold, I asked. Or do you get inured to it? Yes, he said. I asked the journalist later what he was there for. I’d watched him working at something online, reading then scribbling in a very neat script. I have a story to report on tonight about a sheepdog and the information I’ve been given is in Czech. I asked upstairs. They have a circle of people up there who can speak all kinds of languages. They gave me him. I thought his Welsh sounded odd, I said. I hadn’t noticed he was barefoot till you mentioned it, she said.
The phone had gone the night before at 6.30pm. I’d been just about to go to bed. It’s a bit of a long shot, said the voice, but could you put a guest in front of the newsroom camera tonight? My heart sank. I spoke without thinking. I’m just about to go to bed. But it’s only 6.30, he said. I tried to think on my feet. It’s been a long day, I’ve a head cold, an early night. I’d forgotten my singularity. I’d forgotten that my habits are eccentric. I usually keep them to myself. Can you see if he can do it, if he can’t I will? I said. Sure. He rang back five minutes later. It’s OK, he said, he can do it. So you can go and put your pyjamas on. Was he laughing at me? In fact, he said, when I get home I’m going to do exactly the same. It was OK. You handled it brilliantly, he said. I said no. I said no to work and to money. It was too much. A howling gale outside and I wanted my bed. It was OK to say no. Sometimes you just have to.
I’ve been walking home the back way so hadn’t seen it. I saw it this morning. The tree. They’ve put the town tree up. No decorations yet, just a star on the top. It’s beginning. The first door of my advent calendar on Friday and advent candles and song on Sunday. He likes to hear it. First in Norwegian, then in English. Nice.
I dreamt I was watching this old man and a child in a supermarket. They both had nappies on. He was a little unkempt. I was momentarily put off, but then felt warmer towards, more caring. We were looking at a selection of cheeses through a glass chilling cabinet. I noticed that his nappy was not a big one, not doubly incontinent then, I thought, and he was clean. The details are so distinct. I wake wobbly, so immersed, prised from it like a oyster from its shell.
A cold walk but lovely. The stars were everywhere. There was frost on the Perygyl. It glistened in my torchlight. Beautiful.