Gregg’s

Sometimes I walk with music in my ears. I don’t really approve of it, preferring to be open. Open to the sounds of sea, the birdsong, the chatter of voices, the occasional snatched conversation. But sometimes, like the last few days when the wind has roared I’ve wanted comfort. The sounds of familiar music. I always put it on shuffle liking the serendipity of it. Today it was Tracy Chapman, Neil Young, extracts from Proust’s Swann Way and Clarissa Pinkola Estes performing her version of the Sleeping Beauty. I’ve been waiting so long, says the Princess on awakening. For him, the Prince asks himself, or to be awakened. He will never know. I walked through Llanbadarn village while I listened. Sometimes I find her embellishments a little too much, preferring the Grimm’s early Puritan style, but today I liked it. It worked. It was apt. What with the wind and ‘all. But the other problem is when people speak to you. My headphones are hidden under hats and countless hoods and can’t be seen.

I’ve noticed him lots of times as I walk down Great Darkgate Street. Watched as he pressed the buzzer that lowered the platform on the back of his truck. I heard the rattle of his cages of bread and sandwiches as he rolled them across the road to Gregg’s shop. He spoke to me today. I couldn’t quite hear so I stopped walking and edged closer. Excuse me? The assault, he said. I read about the assault. Yes, I said, but it was at the weekend. Yes, he replied, Sunday morning. I come from Birmingham, that kind of thing happens every day of the week, but Aber? I know, I said. But it’s still a safe town. They arrested them then, he said, clearly wanting to talk. It must be a lonely job, no one awaiting his arrival. A thin man, very tall with a large bulbous nose. He’s on the mend now, I said pulling away. You work on the doors, don’t you? he asked. The doors? I asked. Yes, in one of the pubs, you’re on the doors? No, I said, no I don’t do that. Oh, he said. Bye, I said, and take care. Will do.

Clusters of snowdrops are beginning to appear in the front garden of one of the semi-detached houses on Llanbadarn Road. I moved in close and touched¬†a hanging bloom. I planted some in Cambridge and in Truro. Do they still appear? Such a joy. I tell him of my discovery at breakfast. Marvellous, he said. The wind has blown all the recycling bags into the road. Well, virtually all. All so neatly tied up. Citizen-like we do as we are told. Like in my dream where I try to find a chair in a hotel and people have left their belongings on them, bagsy-ing them. Bagsy? he asked when I told him of it. Yes, we used to say it at all, I don’t know where it comes from. We used to say it too, he said. Bagsy, bagsy.

There was another rogue Christmas tree in the front parlour of a house in Llanbadarn, fully lit and sparkling.

I touch the outer wall of the church and turn back.

He gets an email from him asking to borrow some money. He’s lost his cards out there and needs to pay his hotel and get himself home. I worry about it. He is so chaotic. He’s getting quite doddery now, he says, he’s always losing things. He will help him. I have no choice, he says, and he is right. Help and trust. He’s in Malaysia, working, existing and seeing his love. He loves the exotic, the louche. And in between it all he writes, somehow, I don’t know how. He is not precious about it. He just gets on. Getting getting on.

I sent the application and then felt shit about myself because I go the email address¬†wrong. Why can’t it all be smooth and perfect? Because this is not heaven. I do the best I can, always. There is nothing more you can do, he says. Nothing. Nada. Nil.