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Attic

I asked for an upper room and she’s offered me the attic. The attic, fantastic, I wrote. Yes. Yes, please. He told me of it. To be up high when I am this scared feels good. It will be good. Just let go of the fear. Let it fall of me like rain.

I wake up to it. Where does it come from? Is it the thick, black dark, the cold or the still night that starts it off? It is almost beyond thought, though I know it is my mind that feeds it through the day. Drip-feeding, that drip, drip of fear. Of what? The winter? Do the animals fear it? Are they scared of being cold, of not being able to feed themselves, of being chilled to the bone? And yet, for me at least it isn’t real. I am safe, I am made warm, I have food, I have enough and the love that surrounds me is deep. I want to shake it off, I know that it is life-killing. Joy-killing.

Outside the morning is trying to come. The clouds hang, blanket-like over the sky. The moon was a half. Just a half.

In town earlier girls wandered around half-dressed sporting devils horns. Through the window at Pizza Lush I saw a girl dancing at the counter. It’s Halloween and the parties have been raging all weekend and into this week.

We were snappy again. It’s the leaving, the going away. It unsettles him and it unsettles me. Why do I do it? I need to open myself to what is possible, to give my work a chance. I need to get away and yet I long to be still, to stand still.

Walking along Northgate Terrace I smelt his cigarette. A trace of heat, it pleased me, a comfort, though the smoke stings my nose. Sensations, smells, they comfort. No bread smells this morning, the bakeries doors are closed against the cold. No frost though today.

I feel like I am holding my breath. These are big things for such a little person to do.

I listened to her adaptation and it was good. I am sorry I was mean. She is talented. Could I do that? All the time. Could I do that? Should I try that?

Let it be, I whisper. Let it be. Just as it is.

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Writings

Dry Dock

They’ve all been pulled from the water and now line the edge of the harbour. A row of them, their blue and white paint curling and chipped. Sewin, Sea Pearl and Blue Dolphin, I memorised their names as I walked home. All small fishing boats, the bobbing sort that Dylan Thomas wrote of. They need attending to. The sea has taken its toll. Out of the water, safe, dry. In dry dock. A wall of boats and lobster pots. Too cold to stink as they usually do. I couldn’t walk the Perygyl, didn’t dare it was too frosty and I might slip. Careful, you might slip. Take care. Beware. Danger. There was a play on the radio yesterday as I prepared lunch about an Antarctic expedition that Scott’s men took. Just three of them, a separate trek in search of penguins’ eggs. In such conditions. They cried out in pain. All ten fingers frostbitten in temperatures that exceeded minus 70. I cannot imagine such cold. I’ve been in minus 15 maybe minus 20 and that was enough. My skin hurt, my breath hurt. The body wants to finish, to stop. In the play, clearly taken from diaries, they struggled to bend. Iron burnt. There was no rest from it. Sleep was impossible. Teeth chattered incessantly. Why do it? Why pit oneself against such elements? We are not meant for it. Is that transcending?

He fretted and we snapped. Both of us. Best leave it to them. It was a mistake, anyone can make mistakes. Oh, I make a big noise at the beginning. I have to let it out but then, then I want to help, to make him easy with it all. The man professed to be fair. He isn’t. It is too much and it has made him careworn. Leave it to them. They will take care of it. Chalk it down to experience. The important thing is how did we deal with it. Were we kind?

How about if I ask people to read to me? Yes. That is it. Act of listening, of sharing, of intimacy. I can remain silent. Language is no problem. It is the sharing, the sounds, the giving over of something precious.

Read to Me. Talk to Me. Call Me.

Read it Mummy.

Read it.

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Writings

Dither

I lay in bed last night and thought of them. The lost and the left behind. What do you do with all that grief? Can there be forgiveness? I wanted to hold, to make it peaceable, to ease the pain. I can do nothing but hold them in my thoughts. And in a place of worship too.

I was all of a dither yesterday, in bits. Somedays are like that, particularly on Sundays when I have to work away from home and my gentle flow. It’s OK. I will turn it to my advantage, think of ways of putting myself back together. There is nothing that will ever be finished. That shouldn’t be my goal. Just this going on till I go on no more. Let it be, I whisper to myself in the cold night air. Let it be and love. Just love. Nothing more.

A farmer’s wife and yet unmarried….

 

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Writings

Lollipop Lady

You see odd things in the dark, in the early morning, even here, in this benign little town. A man lurches ahead of me, no coat, does he know how to get home? Then a woman is coming up the road pushing a pram. She is on the opposite pavement and calls out to the man. I can’t hear what she says. He doesn’t respond. I pass her, she is on my side of the road now. Good morning, I call out. She is wary. Good morning, she says. She has on a high vis jacket, and another one has been draped over the front of the pram. She is tiny. A fake fur hat sits on top of her head like a red cockerel’s comb. She looks a little wild about the eyes. Is there a baby in the pram? Or is it a carrier for her belongings. The pram looks new, small, for an infant. Then she is gone.

A warm visit. I will write of it later, maybe. I opened drawers looking for matches in a kitchen in the early morning before the house was awake and found order, sweetness and saved bag ties. They drop me at the station I turn to wave and they’ve already forgotten me. The circle quickly closed. Then I turn again and he is lifting his hand in farewell. Then he is on the platform waiting for me. And things feel better. I am found.

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Writings

Roses

There are roses on his windscreen. A bunch of different coloured roses. How many years is it now since his death? Is it one, or two or maybe even three? I cannot remember, time goes by so fast. They have been placed on his work’s van, long stemmed roses in pinks and yellows. They won’t be left until they fade and crumble. She is always so cheerful, or at least she seems so. A pretty woman, full of energy, and so tiny. So brave. Is it three children she has? All on her own. Many people have to. I feel for her. Such a public losing. He was so loved, so liked. He has told me of his father many times. A big man, he’d say, used to dress up in women’s clothes. Good for him, I say. A big family of boys. All rugby players, as indeed was he.

I trawl through my writing, reading each one. It is an embracing experience. I am enriched by it. Thank you.

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Writings

Watch

I found a watch. It was lying on the pavement of the Prom just beyond the Pier Pressure nightclub. It threw me. I didn’t know what to do. He, being the boy scout that he is, would’ve taken it straight to the Police Station, eager as ever to do right and to be congratulated for it. That sounds unkind. He knows what I mean. I wobbled, prevaricated. Would the owner even think to go to the Station to see if someone had handed it in? Probably not. And besides, something stopped me from wanting to put it into my pocket. It would feel like stealing. So I picked it up and placed it on top of a giant bin, so that it could be seen more easily. It didn’t look like an expensive one, it was gold in colour but light to handle. Did I do the right thing? I just don’t know these days. I cannot trust my judgement. What, after all is right? What is the right thing?

The phone went in the middle of the night. Well, it was 8.45 pm which is the middle of the night for me. I struggle to orientate myself. Where am I? What is that noise? Then I had to reach for the receiver through the bars of my bed and then I had to get out of bed to close the window and switch on the light. Can you hang on? I’ll just get a pen. Who are you? Where am I? I scribble the instructions hoping that they will make sense in the morning. Did he think me odd? Did I slur? Was I unfriendly? Smile, he used to say, smile. Be nice. I try. I do try my love. But I was lost in sleep. And then after that I couldn’t return. It was a warm dream, soft, I wanted to go back. I always want to go back.

I pruned the geraniums before I went out for my walk. A rather dramatic cutting back. I thought he’d be shocked or at least a little cross. Oh, how lovely, he said. I hope I haven’t killed them. They needed it, he said. I don’t know what I am doing. I try to do right. As in all things. How is that one can get so ancient and know less and less? I fed them and watered them and banked them down with some fresh compost. I hope they will return, stronger for the cutting. Besides, it gives her joy our soon to be centenarian neighbour downstairs. That is reason enough, is it not?

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Writings

Matter

The question is does any of it really matter?

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Writings

Anxious

Helen Lederer on Inheritance Tracks on the radio talking about her happy childhood. So why am I so anxious? she asked.

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Writings

Body Suit

I wore my new coat. He’d bought it for me because I think he’d grown a bit tired of me getting his coat so wet, though he did offer it. That’s him all over, generous to a fault, though sometimes regretting it. I wore it. It took me a bit of time. I struggle with the new. I get used to things. It felt odd. It is very long and is fully, so it says, rain proof. I look like I am about to ride a horse across a prairie. It makes a shushing sound as I walk. It is marvellous and little ridiculous. I feel lost in it, anonymous. Nice body suit, a student called out to me as I passed between him and his mate talking on the Prom. Body suit? I wanted to say, it’s a coat. I saved it up for him, anyway, knowing it would make him laugh. Body suit? he called out to me from the shower, body suit?

It’s all change. New coat and new boots. My old ones developed a hole but I’d grown into them. I had them just right. These are stiff and unyielding. I walk like I’ve got wooden planks in my trousers. Ah, me. Old age. Gone is the fluidity. Will it ever return? My bodies are going too. My underwear that is. They will have to be replaced. It’s important to feel pristine close to the skin. I love beautiful underwear don’t you? Silky, something that holds you tight, close. I mend and mend them but to no avail. Time to go, to be replaced. But what with?

We saw a fox. It was early. It ran across the road just before our headlights. A small fox. Beautiful. I catch my breath at the gorgeous wildness of it. The gift of it. Thank you.

I must have compassion. I do have compassion. There is always a reason. People don’t generally mean harm, they, we just do our best. I want to feel kindly towards him. I’ve a lot of time for him, he said. Yes, I know. Why wouldn’t you? I wasn’t finding fault. He’s going to. A new boss, a new broom. A woman this time, apparently. Beware, she told me, beware of big organisations, they are drains. Drains and radiators. What am I? See the goodness, always. Always. He thinks me a Pollyanna, a little fey perhaps. But it is for me, you see, not them. See no evil. And I don’t. Not now, not ever.

I was less than friendly to all those women of a certain age sitting around that table. I don’t know why. I tried to warm a little. It wasn’t what I was expecting, that’s all. But there was something to learn. Certainly. And the scissors were lovely to hold. A child’s paper scissors, she thought. For that I am grateful.

She is my joy. Pure. Her smile. She smiled at me. I felt chosen. I was chosen. I am chosen.

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Writings

Fat Cat

Even though her voice is croaky she sounds so much brighter. She laughs as she tells me of the dogs and the cat who find their way to her door. Two dogs, cross-spaniels, Spot and Bobbo. I gave it that nickname, she says, cos it bobs up and down all the time. She is delighted with them. They wait for her in the porch and accompany her on her walks. They love having a ball thrown for them, she says. Are they from the farm? I ask. Yes, she says in that husky voice. The last one that used to visit and then eventually stayed, Bonnie, died. And these seem to have taken her place, migrating towards this kind, gentle women. The cat is a different matter. She stays in the shed, she says. There a basket and a pillow there for her and she just prefers it, she says. She has a lovely nature, she says, though she can scratch. She just suddenly turned on her. I know now, she says, to watch out when her ears go back. A lost cat, abandoned, not feral. A neighbour had seen her in a thorn hedge. Was it hers? We asked around, she says. I thought I’d give her a neighbours’ children, they’ve a little terrier who loves cats. But she can’t stand dogs. But now she’s got so fat, eating three pouches of Felix a day. She laughs. I hear her kindness, her attention to detail, her love of the land, the animals, her fragility, her protective love for her daughter. She shouldn’t really have gone into work yesterday, she says, the cold was still in her head.

I am glad she is in my life, a short chat every Friday. We’ve never met. We don’t need to. It’s been almost five years now. It’s part of my week. A connection. Something good, something innocent, something true.