Trollope

A nice touch, flowers in the public toilets and not some scabby petrol station bouquet, fresh and vibrant verbenas. An exemplary motorway services, no muzak, no horrid strip lights and good, wholesome food. We will go there again, if only to remember that hour, holding her.

I love serendipity, at least that is what she calls it. You know, when you think of someone and they appear or call you. Or like yesterday when the Independent Jumbo crossword clue was for an Anthony Trollope novel that was adapted by Andrew Davies in 2004 and I said The Way We Live Now. It wasn’t the right answer but then later that morning I was sitting a sofa in Hafan y Waun doing the second day of my residency and there on the bookshelf next to me was a paperback copy of The Way We Live Now. Sceptics would say bah, its just coincidence. Surely not. It’s not a particularly popular book surely. And to find it there. Incongruous, specially as no one reads. I liked it. I felt looked after, watched out for. And my fretting, for a moment, ceased.

How I miss writing this when I cannot. And I can’t always do it. I need this half hour just to sit and think and spill onto the page.

A busy day. Racing around like a blue-arsed fly. Is that the right saying? Do they have blue arses and if so, why does that make them faster? A good day, though, rich. Work first, two lovely guests, then coffee and crosswords then the care home and then lunch and then back to work for the World Service then back home to hoover have a quick nap then upstairs to make supper. Racing around like a blue-arsed fly, exactly. But the residency was good. She worries. Did anything happen? Did anyone talk to you? No, they mostly slept. I was their watcher. Sometimes they’d wake to scratch, or yawn or to check the time. Sleeping till lunch time. A man was still in his pyjamas. Some wander in and out. One man had on a cagoule and stood hovering by the window before going out through the French windows to the garden. He looked so sad. But he watched me, as he watched the handyman who was up a ladder repairing the fire exit light.

He came in to photograph me at the end. Your private photographer, she said, I’ll let the staff know that he’s been briefed. He sat in a chair at the other end of the room next to a lady that we’d both recognised. She’s the one we used to see in Morrison’s on a Saturday morning with her son, he said, nudging my arm. You know the one with the tattoos, beard and earring. Yes, I remember now. A tiny bird of a woman, though her slippered feet were huge. She was keening, worrying about her laundry. Where are my jumpers? she kept asking. She started to cry. He patted her hand and told her that he recognised her. I’m eighty, you know, she said. I used to be in showbiz before I got ill. They call her Shirley, Shirl. Don’t fret, Shirl, the laundry is back this afternoon. I’m such a high-strung person, she tells him. I used to be a soubrette, you know singing and dancing. Mind you, I wasn’t proud, I’d do anything.

I sew and scribble, sew and scribble not knowing what I am finding but it is something. Something precious. I am so grateful. Just to sit amongst them. A minder, a watcher. They don’t notice me, even the staff, after a while don’t notice. That’s OK. That’s what I want. To be invisible. To walk invisible.

A glittery hair clip on the Prom this morning. A shiny thing. Things. Containers of story.

A man in a red rain jacket walking towards me along Mill Road. My hackles raise. He comes near. His head is hooded. I see his beard. He smiles. Hi, he says. Good morning, I say and walk past warmed by his smile. You see, it’s OK, there is nothing to fear. Nothing.

I missed the rain. I asked for it to wait, just a while so I could walk dry. And it did. Thank you.