He told me she’d seen a hedgehog that morning. My first in ages, she’d said. She likes to walk, he said, on the top. It had been noisy in the canteen. Students? I’d asked. No, he’d said, the girls. The girls behind the counter. Hedgehogs love pumpkins, she’d said. Had there been pumpkins on the top? Squirrels love pumpkins too, another of the women had replied. Yes, she’d said, its squirrels that love pumpkins not hedgehogs. Or do they? He loves it. He loves the rumbustious-ness of it. They make a fuss of him give him the occasional croissant or chocolate brownie cookie for free. Go on have it, they say. A pseudo-husband, a token male, a stand-in to be cajoled, pampered, clucked over. Go on, have it.

He wouldn’t take no for answer, so she and her daughter have to go. They don’t want to. They are shy people, keeping themselves to themselves. A bonfire party. She collected newspapers for him. You must come, he’d said. That’s alright, she’d said, it’s for your family. The more the merrier. I ask about the dog. The neighbour’s dog, Bonnie. Will she be alright with the boom of the fireworks? I think so, she says. Years ago our dog ran away because of them. We couldn’t find her anywhere. She just bolted. There were some travellers. I wasn’t sure, but we asked them. They’d found her cowering and had taken her in, made her dry and fed her. They’d taken great care. How do we know she’s yours? they’d asked me. And then my daughter had come in and the dog ran to her. We know now, they’d said. So kind, she’d said.

I think about ways of raising more income. I don’t want to do cards. It feels like going backwards. My heart isn’t in it. What else can I do? I look at journal and magazine websites. I could do more writing. It feels less treacherous, less inauthentic, as long as I am truthful, as long as I write the truth. I looked at the Poetry Wales website. I remember the editor, she came to give a talk. I will write to her, send her some examples of my work. There was a section on ‘How I Write a Poem’. Fascinating reading. It’s what I am trying to do, to pick at the bones of what is my practice. Insightful and elegantly presented.

The war memorial is red. A yellow light that usually shines on it has been made red. A strong but simple statement.

The rain was relentless. It is never as bad as it seems when I am indoors prior to going outside. I like the sound of it on my umbrella. My umbrella was blown inside out ten times this morning.

Keep it light, I remember him saying, no heaviness. She doesn’t want it, doesn’t compute it. She is a self-contained, enigmatic being. Is that what makes her so attractive, particularly to the opposite sex? An Amazon. A towering beauty. There are many kinds of beauty, she said.

Let her nurse her anger if she must. I cannot do more than say sorry. I didn’t mean to upset her. Have I? Have I truly? My request was one that celebrated his achievements. I was curious. Our discussion that time in their kitchen whetted my appetite. I wanted to see. That’s all. If you must be angry, then so be it. I will wait. I am good at that.

The birdsong is back. I heard it just before 4 am along Llanbadarn Road. Was it a blackbird? We need the joy in all this darkness. Still dark at 6.55 am. And going dark at 5 pm. So be it. I wonder at my reluctance to go into my studio to work at such an early hour. Is it the dark and cold? I want to be cosy.

So much to do but at least the time is mine. I am grateful. We almost fell out. I didn’t mean it. Did I? I just wanted to be nearer to her. A fantasy, I know. Everything is in place here, and he needs to be here. Doesn’t he? So be it. I will let it go. Perhaps we can take a holiday there, he says, instead of going abroad. Yes, I say, that would be good. That would be good.