Categories
Writings

Poet

This cold has stolen my sense of smell and with it the ability to taste. The coffee I’ve just had was mere bitterness. And my sleep last night was fitful, almost hallucinatory. Scenes from A Poet in New York, the film we are in the middle of watching, kept weaving themselves into my dreams. The actress playing Caitlin and her anger, and that stabbing of the muddy beach. Over and over. Yet before I went to sleep I had this exquisite sense of aliveness. The breeze from the window gracing my cheek, the heavy warmth of my bedclothes, that falling in and out-ness of sleep, all were exquisite. I went into to him for paracetamols thinking it was late. It was 7.30pm. The film is absorbing. And Tom Hollander, exemplary. They would lock him in his shed so that he’d write.

More kids about this morning, pouring out of the clubs and pubs, talking loud. Seemingly so self-assured. So basically, a girl is saying to friend, I drank it, it was disgusting but I feel fine. And another girl crossing the road to Pier Street, is shouting to her girlfriends, I’m literally fucked. My knee is killing me. Later, walking past The Angel, a group of girls, one saying, I’m shitting myself.

Snatches of the vernacular. Bravado. Postulating. It is tough for them. Freedom on a plate but how to manage their place in it. I watch from a distance. Committing their sayings to memory.

Have I spoken about her? She works in one of the University canteens. He likes to go there to read his paper and have coffee. They all know him. Sometimes they come over with morsels of food, a croissant, a muffin. I shouldn’t. Oh, go on. She’s a chatterer. You know the kind of person I mean. Talking ten to the dozen, as my mother used to say. She hardly takes breath. It all pours out, all the detail. A machine gun. Rat-a-tat-tat. He told me he saw her yesterday talking to a 60 year-old woman. They were talking away, apparently. When the woman left, she came over to his table. She’s a welshie, she told him, then pulled a face, pursing her lips and leaning her head to one side, and a les. I know I shouldn’t say it, she said immediately afterwards. No, you shouldn’t, he said. I know. My Gareth always tells me off, don’t say those things. But I can’t help it.

My mood is as grey as the sky. I know I was born to it, this greyness but I do struggle with it. No light. No sunshine, just a blank, rainy blankness. I always long for something to happen on such days, anything. Some gift, some unexpected joy. It never comes when you long for it though. It has to be so. I’m reading Patience Gray’s Honey from a Weed. It soothes my soul. A cookbook-cum-journal, it takes me back to the Mediterranean. The simplicity of sun, food and hand-crafted work. I know I’m a romantic and such a book feeds it. The life she describes is hard, there is much poverty and little certainty. I know this. But nevertheless, I’ve such longing. And there was that programme on Radio 4 Extra. The Gentle Art of Tramping, I believe it was called. For people who wish to escape the normal, the humdrum. And yet, that too is hard. A vicar saying that in the end they come to her in Pilston saying they can’t do another winter on the road. It is too hard.

He says its the cold. I need to rest. I know this too. An opportunity, permission to do so. And yet, I must ready myself for next week. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.

Categories
Writings

Work (65)

Sometimes this activity is the only thing that makes any sense to me. I don’t always look forward to doing it. It is a kind of purging, uncomfortable at times. And yet, I am always better for doing it. Expunged, is that the word? I thought about work as I walked this morning. What it means, what it means to me and to most people. I’d like to really engage with it as a notion, using my sewing as my way in. Sewing = work. Plain work they used to call it, shortened to work. It isn’t any more. Relegated to hobby status, unimportant domestic stuff. It isn’t large, grand or expansive. It takes so much time. I’d like to ask other artists what the word work means to them. One artist, I once read, said that he did art so that he didn’t have to get a job. I am paraphrasing him. He’s the one who did the shiny paintings using enamel paint. I cannot remember names these days. He and I spent a whole day last week trying to remember Banksie’s name. I ask you. Is art work? Is artwork work? What constitutes work? If I spend all day preparing the ‘Sunflowers’ tapestry for my performance in the National Gallery next week, is that work? Even if it looks, to all intents and purposes, like a bit of amateurish cross stitch, is it still work? Is it work if it brings in no money? I write for New Welsh Review, often. It is unpaid. Is that work? My family’s paradigm was always that work meant career, earning a living, being out there, making a name for oneself, chasing a profession. You worked to get on. To amass stuff. What I do doesn’t bring that. I thought it might, once. Was led to believe that it would. It felt wrong, so much grief. Can I have a red one? Yes, just like that but in red. A conveyor belt. Churning them out. Objects, things. I don’t make things anymore, I told my accountant, trying to explain. I don’t want to. Not anymore. He didn’t understand. He calls it stock. Stock. Stock pictures. Do you paint? What do you paint? No. Nothing. I chased it away, that way of working and now I am left with a space, which at times, quite frankly scares me to death.

Ideas. You’re an ideas person, he said. What does that mean exactly? They do come, thick and fast, but are they mine? Or just something I’ve filched? At the moment it is about placing myself in the frame. He is my photographer, my recorder. The quality of the images is unimportant. It is the capturing, so that I can see. See myself, working. I intend to buy a camcorder. I’d like to be self-sufficient in the recording process. Sometimes, I think I ask to much of him. He is out of his comfort zone. But you see I have no money, no funding. This is all off my own bat. And why not? This is my need, this discovering. No one else’s. So yes, I want to place myself in the frame against others who are working, going to work, coming from work. How does it look? Is it work? How does it compare? Where it will go I do not know. I’ve never worked this way before. I’ve always had a plan, followed a pre-prepared path. This is adventure. And it’s frightening.

I am floored by this cold, though I have managed to mop all the floors. And now it is admin time. Finish those accounts, pay the bill. Done, I hope.

Still lots of kids around in town, smooching along the Prom. Two girls walking ahead of me on my way home. One very tall, an Amazon, the other diminutive and contained. The small one was talking. I want someone, she said, to hand over my life to. I wish I did, said her companion.

Categories
Writings

Doldrums

I’ve been in the doldrums since my return. What I thought was hay fever has become a cold, I’ve spent the last few days wading through admin and yesterday the rain was constant. But I need to stop this self pity. Alongside the moaning voice there is the calmer, grateful adult one. See what you have been given, pay attention to the detail if the whole is too much, it whispers. Notice. Keep your eyes trained on the road ahead and be at peace. Yes. I acknowledge that I have a sensible self alongside the child who still wants to be in escape mode. I know this. And I am grateful for it.

My mind is a tyrant. It has learnt to harangue me. Is it for the best? Did it begin so? It carps, finds fault and is forever dig dig digging. I should’ve checked, I know this. It was too knee-jerk, it never works that. But it doesn’t matter, not really. They, she will have forgotten it by now. Let it lie. Learn from it and move on. Will it let me? No. So stop listening. Wouldn’t that be something? My mind is a tyrant and I have made it so. There is little congratulation, little affirmation of goodness, of skill, of achievement, just a continual fretting over little things, little misdemeanours. I forgot to take away the shampoo from the shower. I didn’t check to see if that exhibition had already been covered. Detail. The great forgetting. Rushing. So slow down. Relax. Breathe and forgive yourself. Nothing matters. No thing. Think of your death, he says. It’s a great leveller. I think of mine but I also think of theirs, of hers, mainly. Someone so large in my life is now nothing. Not a thing. Nothing. I can still smell the smoke from her cigarettes in her house. But her presence, that is gone. I thought about the two sparrows. The ones who came into J and J’s house the nights following her death. Never happened before, J said. They came flying into the room I was staying in. One perched on the shower, the other on the light fitting. Neither wanted to be chased out. Was it her? That lover of tiny creatures, holding them in her hand as if porcelain. Was she looking out for me? She never trusted them, J and J. Get them out of my house, she shouted. I didn’t understand. I am sorry for that, for many, many things. I wanted to hold her. To show her she was loved. It is too late.

The town is overrun. The freshers have taken over the town. They have replaced the seagulls. There is vomit everywhere. They go too far. Is it nerves? Such excess. The police presence was more subdued this morning. Perhaps they are all running out of steam. Still noise around the clock tower. Two of them on bikes. Each singing. A kind of answering. One sang a line and the other replied. A Kanye West song, perhaps? I got the money….They sang in deep voices, Satchmo style. Funny. A boy sat dazed on the pavement outside Pizza Lush, unable to move. Down by the harbour a car raced up to where I was walking, beeping its horn. A window was rolled down. Four kids in the car. A saloon with a girl driving. Excuse me, called a voice. A boy, thin and slurring. Are you the person I was supposed to meet down here? It took me a while to work out what he was trying to say. No, I said. My apologies, he said, my apologies. And the car took off at great speed. Drugs? Perhaps? Small town naughtiness, small town daring. Who cares?

It attacks my sense of self. It often comes when I’ve been away. Away from me, the working me, the out there me. It comes like a hard wall, all that haranguing stuff that has been waiting to assail me. I don’t have to listen. I don’t have to let it floor me. It isn’t real. I’m doing the best I can. That is all. I am nervous about next week, not sure how it will work out. Let the expectations go. Let it be what it will be. So many possibilities. They will come, they will open to me. I know this. I know it.

I miss the sun.

She loves Christmas. She is delighted by it. I could see it in her face as she spoke. The decks go up right after Remembrance Day she says. Even the tree? Yes, I’ve a fake one. I love it, she says and laughs a lovely trill kind of laugh. I can see the girl in her. Nice.

I still miss the sun.

Categories
Writings

Observers

They were out in force again this morning, police, ambulance crew and observers. At least, that’s what the little tags on their high vis jackets said. Observers. Observing what? Freshers getting drunk, being sick, shouting? Everyone appeared amiable enough as I passed a cluster of them by the town clock. Equipment was strewn across the road, cases open. Were they practising for an emergency? Does the University fund such exercises? Perhaps they should. The students seem so young these days, perhaps they need babysitting. When we were studying we were left to fend for ourselves. It was part of it, that traversing of the big wide world. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Aber is cosy, the University coddles them. An insurance thing, maybe, or am I being cynical? What do the observers do? Do they take notes? Are they observing the police, the ambulance staff or themselves in the act of watching? There were two policemen standing at the door of The Angel. One looked so young, short hair, glasses barely twenty.

I’m an observer. It’s what I do. At least, it is what I like most doing. I do it on holiday. I watch. I take in the detail of other people’s lives. I watch from cafés, when I’m out walking. It is restful, it takes me out of my own head. I watch the details closely, they are clues, giveaways about how people live. Standing waiting in the arrivals hall at Birmingham airport while he went for a pee, I saw a man coming from the gents with splashes on his shoes, a young child in a pushchair singing to herself, a woman snatch her handbag from her husband, two blonde women hugging, one saying to the other, see you at the school gates and I heard another couple, standing quite close to me arguing about how to use the parking barrier, they’ll recognise the registration number, the wife was saying, pointing at the piece of paper in her hand, it says so here. It was barely a moment, but an intense one. I really saw, heard. I was lost in the seeing, the hearing. A recorder, an observer. My tension dissipated. I was nothing. No thing. Just being. Being part of the flux. Everyone so tired, tetchy, lost, discombobulated, longing for home, for security, normality. I love airports for that very thing. I used to go there to draw. Just watching. Is it enough? Is it a valid way to live?

I don’t know. I don’t know anything. We’ll talk about it later, love. At our seat. But it’s going to rain. Sleep then. If I went to bed at 5 pm I’d get eight hours. Wouldn’t that be something?

As I walked I thought about work. So much of our self worth is wrapped up in it.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, it’s like…. a student, scaling the hill up from the Prom, is saying to his mate.

Is it just about making money? Much of my early learning as a child was that it was. It is hard to shrug such indoctrination off. And not just some money but lots. His friend wants to make his fortune. Even into his seventies this is still his imperative. Get rich. Get rich quick. I earn money. Some money but not much. I am driven by other things. What? To make good work. What is good? How do you define it? Work that pleases, satisfies, engages me. My accountant calls. You didn’t let me have the details of your stock. I try to explain. I’m not doing that now. I’m not making things, framed things. So what am I doing? Being an artist, an artist with artist sensibilities. How do I explain performance to him?  We do not share a common language. And yet others do engage. Axisweb chose me as one of their Five2Watch and I was much tweeted. ideas. You’re an ideas person, he said. Yes. But what to do with them.

I hate this airport, said the woman next to us in the queue at Malaga. My husband usually comes with me but I’m alone this time. I feel unwell. I’m nervous. I’ve got a poorly tummy. She looked so miserable. Clinging to us. He went off to the loo and I tried to calm her. She didn’t want it. I heard her later talking to another couple. Better get them to give you some sick bags, a woman was saying to her.

Two boys sitting on a bench in the dark. Are you a fresher? one calls out to a girl walking past.

Passing Lilley’s café, I see the lights are on. It is not yet 4 am. Through the window I can see various people, one of them is dressed in a sombrero and poncho.

Categories
Writings

Fog (55)

It suited my mood, the fog, for I’m in one, lost. As now, always. So be it. Is it such a bad state to be in? The fog was nice this morning. Autumnal. The dark was diffused, almost made light. The streetlights making the space yellow. I’d become used to the black. The absolute dark of the Mediterranean. No compromise, utter pitch, then the sudden lifting, as if of a veil. What do they call this? Light pollution. No, we are never truly black, like our hair apparently. Never the bible black of Dylan Thomas. It is dark sometimes by the harbour but even then there are the occasional lights of a fishing vessel and the on-off flicker of the warning lights by the quay. It still frightens me but now I walk into it, letting it take me. The Spanish dark was different, rich with smells. Have I told you of the scent of jasmine out there? That and the smell of baking bread from the panaderias? I would seek out the streets with the jasmine trees (or are they bushes?). The one with the chemist, the one with the Asian Restaurant whose sign wasn’t long enough for the whole word so they’ve abbreviated it to Asian Rest. It’s like walking into a wall of perfume. Clichéd I know but it is intoxicating, I almost reel with it. Sweet, luscious, a night-scented joy. And the bread. They are up early the bakers. I peer in as I walk by, always taking note of the floured-footprints outside. They work in t-shirts, shorts and aprons. The one in town has a radio on. I see the ovens, the cooling racks with their tier after tier of baguettes. Lines of fat, crisp fingers that must be eaten that day, else they turn to rock. Flour, yeast and water, a simple affair. The stuff of life, eaten without butter, a mopper-upper kind of bread, not even worthy of a plate. A basket maybe but mostly it rests on the table cloth, broken by hand. They come for it in vans, white vans their back doors gaping open filled with plastic bags of them, some in paper sacks.

The students have returned while I’ve been away. Freshers littered the early morning Prom. There were police vans and ambulances parked up by the town clock. They chat with the kids. Just a presence, keeping an eye, watching. The spiders too. They’ve taken over the house whilst we’ve been gone. An enormous one on the stairs. And the geraniums. He said he’d water them. I think he’s done so but they looked very unkempt. Blousy girls. I dead-headed before I walked. St Michael’s looked ghostly in the fog. A Monet painting, blurred like a grey haze. The lights were on. A cleaner?

Walking down Gt Darkgate Street a driver was talking in his lorry. Alright mate? His voice was loud, sharp. Was he talking to me? Or on a phone. Alright mate? Silence. Hello? Hello? I walked on.

I am an escaper, a romantic. I want to run away. Didn’t want to return. All the post, the emails and that flashing answering machine. I still haven’t listened to it yet. Not yet, soon but not yet. The silence is good, I almost didn’t turn on the radio. I’d grown used to the silence out there. Pottering. Reading five books. Letting the stories take me over. Drawing, a little. Writing, a little. Absorbing the light, a lot. Ready, in readiness for winter. What will come? Dreams of being in vehicles. Not being in charge. Acquiescing. Time to address it all. Go through the post, the phone, listen to that answering machine. Time to get back to my life.

Adios.

Categories
Writings

Dancing Boys

I walk in the dark because it is remarkable. Well, it can be. Not just for the early morning smells, the air, fresh against my face, but for the things I see, the people I encounter. They are not of the daytime, they are nighttime, liminal fare.

I’ve seen them before, the dancing boys. They dance under the Monument. The one he said his friend said used to give him a hard on. It’s of a naked woman, breasts bared leaning out to the sea – a goddess of peace or of war, I cannot tell. They dance in a little walled alcove, set back from the road. I hear their music before I see them. A mix of Rap, Garage and House music, I’d say. From a distance it sounds tinny. Then I see the lights. They’ve a kind of traffic-light light-box that flickers red, green and white as they dance. Well, one dances, the other tends to sit on the bench leaning over their ghetto blaster choosing songs. They wear baseball caps and army fatigues. So much effort. A stage. A performance. In the dark. Looking out to sea. To Aberdovey. The dancing one has lights fixed to his wrists and ankles.

Did you know that the German for shopping trolley is ‘winkel wagon’? Or is it Dutch?

Pier Pressure was shut this morning. A few stragglers loped about along the Prom. The Angel was still open when I walked by, Bonnie Tyler’s song A Total Eclipse of the Heart pulsing through its open door.

I don’t always look forward to ringing her, sometimes its just another responsibility, but when we do speak, it is fine. I am glad. Her voice is gentle and I hear the same reluctance in her voice as in my head. She too would rather be in her solitude, even if it is not uplifting. And yet, I believe it helps her. She gets things out, she is the focus of another’s attention, care. And I do, care. I asked her about the accident. And it appears that is not the problem. It is what happened before. She cannot account for it. One minute she was standing in her neighbour’s field picking mushrooms and the next she was out cold. I woke facing the other way, she said, that’s all I remember. My neighbour had a premonition something was wrong and came to find me. She couldn’t get me up. Stay there, she said, till I get help. It was smashed, my femur was smashed. They said that something hard had bashed me. A cow, perhaps? They said I wasn’t to try to remember, perhaps it will come, perhaps not. That was eight years ago. She had to have pins in her hip and got MRSA. I was dying, she said. Then I found homeopathy, was given a bottle marked MRSA. Shall I take it? I said to my daughter, she said. Yes. It saved me. I don’t think she is that old. Her daughter is not yet thirty. Early sixties, perhaps. And yet, her body has been so hurt. All those antibiotics, she said. She needs to walk, how I understand that. I was determined, she said, though my leg looked like a horse’s. The neighbour’s dog has come for good. Bonnie, the one who’d had a stroke. She sleeps in the porch. The other dogs on the farm are too noisy for her now. She knows her own mind, she says. I hear her barking in the background. Jealous.

He’s befriended a cat. He thinks she/he is dying. It clings to doorways, hides in corners. During the day it will greet him, talk to him. She’s jealous of you, he says. You stop me talking to her. And there’s Betty, the other cat. She jumps in and out of their kitchen window. There is a bell on her collar. You hear her jangling. She greets everyone. A tart. A cat tart. Lovely girl.

We’re off to do some extreme sewing at Aylesbury, she said in her text to Steve Wright’s Big Show.

I got it wrong, it was James Runcie not Robert. He was the Archbishop, I believe. And it was Grantchester Mysteries not Chronicles. I was mixing them up with Barchester Chronicles. Age.

I am calmer today, less stressy. I plan to do bits of work in between planning, just to steady myself. I said no to work tomorrow. It is nice to just get off, to take our time. I’m glad, he said, glad you said no.

Do you think the insurance companies will cover the damage? I asked her. My husband asked the very same thing last night, she said as she scanned my walnuts. Can they afford to? I thought of them all last night. 26 million will be effected they said. Too much to comprehend. I wish them dry, warm, fed, safe, nourished, protected and loved.

We would cope, wouldn’t we? I asked him. Yes, he said, we would. I send love and strength.

Categories
Writings

Irma

I’m in the public library waiting to have my book stamped and a middle-aged man comes in through the revolving door. Dropping his rucksack on to the desk and thrusting his hand inside, he brings out book after book. Phew, he says to the librarian, we’re competing with Irma out there.

I love libraries. They make me feel safe. I love their order, their stillness, mustiness. I love going in there unsure of what I want and letting the book find me. Sometimes I begin with A other times I dive right into the centre. I mostly go for paperbacks, hard backs are so cumbersome. I like be surprised. I’ll read the fly leaf, scan the mini reviews on the back, even though I know I will eventually chose a book cover whose aesthetic pleases me. Its an object after all, one that I shall be holding in hand for a while. I want it to be sympathetique. I like small books, short novels. I like their intensity, their pared-down-ness. The one I’ve chosen is called The Visitation. A translation from German. The reviews were so startling I had to take it. Though I toyed with Paul Auster’s Brooklyn Chronicles. I’ve never heard of the author – Jenny Erpenbeck I believe she is called. A slim volume. Easy on the suitcase. Perhaps I shall read it twice. A good practice. I often listen to audio books twice, more.

It’s never busy in there. Yesterday afternoon there was the man with the rucksack, a girl with peroxided hair who came in asking if she could use the toilet and the homeless man reading the paper in the Fiction section.

Talking of safety, of cosiness, voices do it too. For me, at least. I have my favourites. I have told you before. Alex Jennings in one of my favourites. He’d reading from Robert Runcie’s Grantchester Chronicles and it’s glorious. A treacly sound. A warm sound. Then I listened to various Somerset Maugham short stories. They’re doing a run of them on Radio 4 extra. He’s a real favourite with Scandinavians. Did you know that? Both of the families I au paired for had his collection. Why would that be? What resonates with them? Engaging stories, it is the language that moves me, and his skill with character in such a short space of time. I remember reading the collection whilst living in Oslo in 1985. There were so few English books, I devoured it. The places where I read books often play into the atmosphere of the novel, resonating, forever colouring my experience of it.

It’s still early. We’ve breakfasted and he’s gone back to bed. It didn’t rain while I walked, though it had done before I left. Hard rain. Splashing rain. Walking back past The Pelican Bakery with its luscious smells ( I walk back that way just to smell them), I heard something that sounded like snoring. Couldn’t be. I turned and saw a young man lying on the pavement by Northgate Terrace, his head jammed awkwardly up against the wall, fast asleep. There was small cut on his face. How can he sleep like that, on the pavement, unprotected from the elements? And the rain came soon after, did he sleep through that too? Earlier on the Prom I’d walked past a group of youngsters, two boys and a girl. The girl and one of the boys were leaning against the railing. She was laughing, smiling, her red-lipsticked mouth gaping. Her décolletage was gaping too, barely enclosed in a floral bodice. Good morning, said the boy, his Oriental face grinning at me. Hi, I said.

More minutiae to resolve, my mind hammering at me. Hammering, bang, bang, no more like tap tap like  a woodpecker. I wanted to take the chair to her and rang to confirm. She sounded stressed. Not now, soon, call when you’re back. So it has to wait and I must be content with the flecks of white leather that moult from it. So be it, a tub chair with dandruff. 6.45 am and I shall soon be ready for coffee. Loose ends. Tying the up. Shall do. Will do.

 

I thought of you last night. Is that enough?

 

Categories
Writings

Found (21)

I found them by the side of the road. Two ten pound notes. They were quite clean, only a little damp from the rain. They were just under a little wall, lodged against it and the pavement. I thought they were litter, blown like other jetsam by the whoosh of lorries that rattle along Llanbadarn Road. They must’ve fallen out of someone’s pocket. I was sorry for that. I would’ve missed them. It didn’t feel right keeping them myself but it would be pointless taking them to the police station. So I gave them to him. Pass it on. Pass on the gift, the abundance. Though I am sorry for your loss. Truly.

I’ve boxed them up, those samples of me. It is a weird thing. It makes me feel more than a little queasy. It’s not just the collecting of stuff from out of me, my body, but the sending it on to a perfect stranger to analyse. And the forms are so officious. Is that what made me feel so unsettled yesterday? The language is dictatorial, bossy. I don’t do well with bossy. I freeze up. I want to go my own way. And all those little boxes to fill in. I’ve talked about not being able to colour within the lines as a child, this is the same. My handwriting always exceeds the box.

My head is full of little things. Details. Those lists of have to do before we go. Will death be like this? Will I have time to organise, to put things in order before I leave? It is meant to be fun, a holiday, a break and yet I make such a production of it. I remember my mother was just the same. Did I inherit it from her? Of course. I even remember her ordering a large slab of cured ham, a great big leg of it, to take with us to Spain. Were we going by boat? Or did she take it in hand luggage? Perhaps restrictions about bringing food weren’t in place in the 70s. She’d get so stressed. Must I do EVERYTHING? she’d shout. And yet if we tried to pack ourselves she’d pull it all out and redo it. NOT LIKE THAT, EVERYTHING WILL CREASE. Such a tizz, so frazzled. It took the joy out of it. The new summer dress, the bikini, my colouring pads and crayons, pink plastic sun glasses, they all lost they’re sheen. She sucked it away with her fretting. See. I do the same. It’s as if I don’t deserve the joy of it, the light, the getting away from telephones, rain. To lie in that sun. Try joy instead. All will get done. All the details dealt with. I promise.

Two young boys on bikes, riding down the middle of Llanbadarn Road. At 3.45 am? Why weren’t they in bed? Hoodies veering all over the road. A frisson of threat. Do their parents know they are out? Too early for a paper round. Lip Lickin’ was open but no takers. Few people about. Yesterday there was a woman on the Prom, plastic bag in her hand. A full face hello. Or was it good morning? And then two men, pissed and lurching. The bigger one said hi. A nice greeting. Sober, controlled and kind. No threat, ever.

The moon was out. In and out, behind clouds. I love to walk under it’s light. I want to work. Will work on my sketchbook notes. Too unsettled to get down to anything really meaningful. Wait. Bide time.

I think of you post hurricane. Lives have now been lost. Any wonder. A woman on the radio talked about Marjorie a charismatic who cried. She went places and wept, crying, she said, on behalf of God for the world. The modern day take is that she was a Kim Kardashian show-off. That it was all about her.  Whatever the story, you have my grief. I grieve for you. For all you have lost. May you be safe.

Categories
Writings

Darning (5)

They’re my walking socks. Skiing socks, warm but thin. And they are wearing out. Holes are appearing. It makes me sad. The loss of things one is used to. I mend them again and again. They smell slightly musty, like damp students, wet dogs. I darn. I do it quickly. It used to be an art. Invisible mending. An art. An art form. I think about the Bronte sisters ‘turning’. Turning clothes inside out so that they can ‘go another day’. Imagine. Such thrift. We just throw away these days. My MBT boots are going too. The sole and heel. They cannot be mended. I am sorry. Need to let go. Let it go. I think about ‘turning’, performing it on the tube.

I am fearful today. An existentialist fearing. Not real, baseless. I’m in no hurricane. Imagine that. My heart goes out to them, all lost. Everything lost. What can we do? I am with you. Hundred and eighty-five mile hour winds. We’ve had eighty, ninety here, I think. Sometimes I haven’t been able to walk, clinging to cars, to lamp posts. It is beyond us. Almost magnificent. We are small creatures, but ants on this world. It is not vengeance, just Nature being Nature. Surely? I watch the sea sometimes in the early morning, standing at the edge of the Perygyl. A moving, breathing being, careless, beyond care, it is not personal. A raging, a wildness beyond our understanding. What can we take from it? Humility. A righting of perspective? I feel for you truly. Truly. I fear for you.

It is such an eating away thing. An erosion of joy. The little things, eating away. There’s a crow on the roof outside my window. It is preening. What is it thinking? Does it think as we do? A beautiful day. It began with a beautiful morning. Early, 3 am and the moon was full. A precious light from the sky. No need for a torch. The water made silver. Me being buffeted. Alive. I like this time, just before supper. He is out with friends, talking crosswords and bollocks. I wait. Perched in this space, watching the crow. Or is it a rook? They are masters of the rooftops. Caw, cawing. Do they live in fear? What can I do? Is it a change of space? Of life?

I read about it on the internet. Don’t do it, he said, he moaned. He wants me to feel safe, not more frightened. Does that frighten me? No, not really. I want to know. To be in control. To know what is coming. The symptoms match. We shall see.

The sky is made big with clouds. Mountainous clouds. The echoes of life in the distance. No train whistle yet. I can hear someone’s radio or is it Margaret’s TV? She is deaf and has it loud. She watches quiz shows while eating her supper. Eggheads, Mastermind and University Challenge. I never hear her shouting out the answers. We did, we used to. I remember going to visit his mother in the home. Every room with a TV, a cacophony of voices. She liked quiz shows too, I forget the names of them. Yes, one was called The Chase, I think. He’d watch them with her, she in the bed, he in the arm chair, the girls coming in with the trolley offering tea, cakes. They liked him. Had a mattress ready on the floor for him, whenever you need it. And she, reduced to a doll, cadaverous, no teeth and a femur.

He will be home soon and I must away. The crow/rook has gone. The sun shines through. Off. Off with the sadness, the fear. Let it go. Go.

Categories
Writings

Mistake

Nothing is ever a mistake. Is that what she said? I paraphrase perhaps. It is a line from a film we’ve just finished. It’s called Evening. An oblique title. A movie choc-a-bloc with female stars – Meryl Streep, Vanessa Redgrave, Natasha Richardson, Toni Collette and Glenn Close. It had its schmaltz certainly but also some really moving moments. Such as the all but last scene when Ms Streep arrives and lies next to the dying Ms Redgrave. Such class. Not another Meryl Streep film he bemoans, jokingly. For we both recognise the safety of being in her hands. Nothing is ever a mistake, says La Streep as she cradles Toni Collette’s face. Nothing is ever a mistake, she says to Ms Redgrave as she strokes her cheek. She had a whole life. A whole life. I am communicating this badly. The cinematography was luscious, colourful and it played into my dreams. Colouring them differently. I am a sponge. So open to the influence of others. The boundary between what is myself and another loses definition. And the gorgeous Harris, so cool, so enigmatic. I’m a sucker. I remembered our stars, he told Anna when they met by chance in the rain, his head turning to check his wife and child hadn’t noticed. Ah, let it go. Schmaltz, schmaltz. Anna was too perfect. Sometimes I cannot watch such bodies. I want the normal, the real. All those perfect teeth. He was once voted the most good-looking man, said the radio announcer about Terence Stamp during a programme about his school reports. He used to go truant, slipping out to go to the cinema. Class times two. He is and was. Still. I like to see age on the screen. The lines on Ms Redgrave’s and Ms Streep’s faces. Gorgeous. Enough. What about work?

We waited for a train. We waited in the café. Doing crosswords and drinking coffee till it was time. Sewing in a damp train station. Working the canvas. Some people noticed. He got some good photos. He is so generous. I like working with him. To direct, to show, to make manifest what I imagined. What will I do with them? A work in progress. Sequences. I like the sequences. And making it live. The sewing goes to pot. It is hard to see, to concentrate. Performing art is so often uncomfortable, but that tension, that dis-ease is good, I think.

Try not to get obsessed with it. I know they are in there. Let it be, even if I do have this hard ball of stomach. I’m on the way to getting better. That’s something isn’t it?

The rain was coming down so hard. My heart sinks. But I still go out. And then it is magical. Up goes the umbrella. It is warm. The rain is lines of light. The rush of water into drains, sparkling drops on leaves. The patter on my umbrella. No one is about. The wind gets up on the Prom. Down goes the umbrella. No Perygyl, too wet and slippy. Yr Hafod is still full. That’s nice, even though it will be pissy-downy all week.

We go soon and I find it hard to focus. So many bits to deal with. I am unsettled with leaving. More than ever. An age thing perhaps? And yet when we get there it will be difficult to pull ourselves away to return home. I am so blessed. Two weeks of rest and his company. A gentle time. The ebb and flow. And warmth and the light. I need that. Winter approaches. The leaves are turning. So be it. I will embrace the dark. Have I told you I am less scared in the morning? He told me he has a remedy for anxiety. Shall I try it? Herbal, its all herbal. He suggested Dandelion Root for the water retention. Maybe.

I don’t know where it is leading. An investigation with no real final outcome, perhaps. Would that be so bad? It is the doing it that matters, the being there, doing it. Like this morning. It feels alive, particularly when it captures people’s curiosity. Keep going onward. It will come. It will come.