We saw him from the car. I think we noticed him at the same time. He’s dapper, he said. He was wearing a long navy coat, a trilby and brogues. A tall man, he took long strides. Slightly out of kilter with his general appearance was the empty flax shopping bag he had in his hand.

You know that man we saw? I asked him later. You know, the dapper one. We’ll I saw him at the Nat Lib. Did you? he said. Yes, and he had holes in the back of his socks. And his corduroys were a little too short. Yes, he replied, I’d noticed the trousers but not the socks. There is something a little sad about the holes. They are evidence of things not being quite as perhaps the man would have them. Neglect. That is what it is. Neglect. We all need caring for. Sometimes it scares me the weight of it. And other times I welcome it. There is goodness in it.

He is better today. We have kept busy. It is better that way, no time to get maudlin. She was chirpy on the phone this morning, though her cold still lingers. It’s the weather she claims. She didn’t even want to go to the carol service. And her daughter is ailing too. I think of them so wrapped up in each other. As indeed are we. Is it wrong to be so? I am so blessed. I feel this daily, for all my fearfulness.

He was a gentle man with three curls of long hair at the back. On his computer screen was a picture of a motorbike against a landscape of hills. We’ve shared the same landlord, years ago. Did it help making that connection? Probably not.  He tried to help. All that technical stuff. It is another language to me. Out of reach. He tried to help. It will be OK. Everything will come together. Wait and see.  Meanwhile there is so much kindness.

No more dreams of mother. Just a woman I was watching from above through a window. The curtains had been drawn aside – she was half-naked and bending over a bed. Her hips were full and womanly. She was exposed to the street outside. 

The chest of drawers has arrived. To work.



He said yes. It was that easy. I’ve been worried. So much encouragement. Why do I need to be fearful? People, other people, not just me want this to work, to come off. A lovely project they call it. And it is. A quiet one. A sitting-down, thoughtful gift exchange. You come and read to me and I will listen. I will listen.

He is wobbly still. And looks for easy fixes in a pill. Will it come? He believes and then he doesn’t. He is not brave, he tells me. Nor am I. Nor am I, my love.

I dreamt of Mum last night. She was young, in her thirties and beautiful. She was sitting up in bed dressed for going out. Her hair long and up. She smiled at me there was such warmth coming from her. I was to go on a journey, I knew this, was ready. You go, she said. You go now. She said it gently with kindness, as trying to set me free. Giving me permission. I went over to her. Are you sure? I asked. Yes, she said and I kissed her.

It stays with me. The warm love of her. It was rare that, towards the end. I can count the times on my hand, they were so rare. Poor love. She didn’t mean it to be that way.

There were three sleeping in the shelter when I went past with my little parcel of mince pies. One was on the ground, the seat chock-full of bags. Do they carry them about with them all day? They need a locker. Could that be arranged? So cold. Poor ones, to be so cold. We bought an Albanian man a drink. Do you want something to eat? he asked him. He was sitting outside Siop a Pethe, on the wet ground, a blanket wrapped around his feet. I want a hot chocolate, he said. I’m glad he knows want he wants, I said to him as we walked off in search of one. Three goes later we got one and two welsh cakes. Let’s hope he hasn’t fucked off by now, he said. No, there he is with a coffee in his hand. Fair enough, I said. Whatever it takes to find comfort. It’s so cold, said the man. Yes, he said leaning down to him and touching his shoulder. We’ll look out for you, he said and I took his arm. A kind man. So kind even in his wobbling.


Raw Nerve

Sometimes there just isn’t time to stop. I have a head full. I am trying to do my best and battling with no confidence. It’s an up and down thing not based on evidence but feeling. I could shrug it off. Perhaps one day I will. I cannot trust it.

I hit a nerve, a raw nerve. We talked it out. Each softening bit by bit. He struggles with her. Is she kind? Does it matter? I can feel her hurt, every bit of it. Don’t kowtow to her. I won’t. I just want to be understood. Who’d have thought it would’ve inspired such raging. Well I never.



It’s fixed in his window and I pass it when I walk in the morning. A lit star it almost fills the casement. I love to see the lit up trees and ornaments through people’s windows, it gives me solace in this relentless dark and wind. It sounds like a storm out there. A great howling and lashing.

You didn’t tell me it was going to be windy, I said trying to suppress my irritation. After all it wasn’t his fault. I didn’t know, he said, they didn’t tell me either. The wind isn’t being personal, it is just being the wind. I push into it and it makes my walk long and arduous. Why am I doing this? And yet, the air is so fresh, I feel my aliveness. And the sea crashes and tumbles over the beach, the Prom and I am momentarily taken up by it.

He is still sleeping in the shelter despite the weather. He keeps his things neat. The various bags with his belongings are lifted up out of reach of sand or sea water onto the bench upon which he sleeps. His body is just a mound swaddled in blankets and duvets. Where are his compatriots? I will take him some mince pies tomorrow.

He carries them in his pocket. Taking them out when we eat and placing them on the table next to him. They are his comfort, his saviours from anxiety, from fear. I’m not brave like you, he says.

There are hyacinths in every room. I want to be overtaken by their scent.


The Colour of it

I started to think about the colour of it. The colour of my depression. Is that what this is, depression? Sometimes it feels like it is at other times it feels less than that – a fog, or a heavy greyness pushing down on me, or a blueness, a listlessness, an ennui, a lack of enthusiasm. It is hard to define. So what about its colour? Yesterday as I walked upstairs to do my yoga and make lunch I thought it was mauve, or perhaps lilac. It helped. It’s a gentle colour, not threatening, but slightly sad, melancholic. An old lady kind of colour, one who has grieved, seen things but sits in quiet acquiescence. Will that do? Will that be OK? Yes, I think so.

Then later he described me as golden.

Her experience has stayed with me. I keep wanting to talk about her. I’ve lost my sister, she said. She had a brain tumour. It was unexpected, a shock. She drove off, forgetting me. She drove off on the wrong side of the road in first gear. Her voice is breathless, quavering at times, on the verge of tears. So much grief, first her husband and now her sister, and there is her son so far away. He’s been hospitalised for three months and he didn’t tell me. I want to make it alright. I can’t. I will call more regularly. I want to be kind.



I thought that there was no joy but as I began to write about it I realised that there was. I can’t access it. I can’t find it. It is locked in. All that precious light, all that gold. Perhaps that was it, touching that all gold.

He is the same. He is feeling the same greyness. No perhaps it is not greyness with him but a wobbly fearfulness. He smells different when he is in his fog. It’s a kind of acid smell, a reek. It comes through his pores. I want it to go away, it wrinkles my nose. I try to shut it out. But it won’t do. It is part of him and part of what we have together. Let it be, I say to him. I must say it to myself too.

They’ve taken away the deckchairs from the Prom’s sandpit. There are just two channels where they had been. The sand is all messed up. The scene is a dismal one. No hope of sun, no hope of playtime.

The wind was wild last night. A manic howling, like a dervish, I had to sleep with my window shut. I don’t like it. I want air. But I slept anyway.

Everything keeps changing, even the format for this blog. Aagh, I’m always have to learn new things, sometimes I just long to stand still, and let it ease over me.


No Joy

I’d expected joy, there was none. At least, not the big, sunny kind. There were flashes, flickers of something like warmth. That has to be enough, for now.


No Pants

I made the mince pies yesterday despite having a last minute work booking. He had two for supper and I took two to the men sleeping in the Prom shelter this morning. There were four or possibly even five mounds huddled under blankets. I will have to take more than two next time. I didn’t wake them. One of them, a bearded man in a dark blue woollen hat, was facing me as I stooped down to put the bag on the ground next to a large bottle of water. His mouth was open and he was snoring loudly. I’m glad they sleep. It was so cold, a chill, bitter east wind that sent the leaves, now dry and brittle, skidding and scurrying. The clubs, intent on getting as much out of the students as they can before they return home for Christmas, were open and young people swayed and reeled about the Prom. Two lads walked home in Christmas jumpers, one with a trail of gold tinsel round his neck. Girls in tiny, figure-hugging dresses tripped about in heels. One was trying to do up her sandal, her foot raised up on one of the benches. A man was trying to help. Neither of them were getting very far. Her head seemed to loll about. And I’m sure as I walked past, with her crotch in full view, that she had no pants on.

Surely not? I asked him later when I woke him for breakfast. She can’t have, surely, in that cold? Oh yes, he said, knowingly. No better than she should be then, I said. Nope.

A dead bird lay splattered on the road down towards the harbour. It’s speckled plumage suggested it was a fledgling seagull. It’s wings splayed, flickered in the wind, mimicking flight. Poor love. A car tyre’s tread had made a thick, hard line through it.

I thought about the grief I feel about not being able to do all I want to do. It’s something to do with needing to finish, to complete things so that I know that I can do them. This uncertainty, that feeling of foolishness eats away at me. But perhaps, I thought, as I strode into the wind, I need to look at it another way. Perhaps the preciousness, the joy is being in it, in the process of writing, making, performing whatever. The key is to not grieve for a completion that seems so out of reach, but to do it, to be in it, wholly. First the book. Give it what it needs, one year, two, three. Then do the same for your drawing. Give it a focussed two, three years. Then? What then? Learn an instrument, a language. Then there is my sewing. Let it be what it is. A mix of things, of longings. Be in them. Wholly. That is enough.

I can’t apply for the CPD bursary because I had the Coaching one this year. So be it. I made a plan for the project instead. It is both good and daunting to get it down on paper. To face it in all its largeness and smallness.

I pick up sentences from the radio like magpie pick up shiny things.

‘I thrived there’ he read.



I want to do more drawing. Regular drawing. So far I only do it when I travel and when I’m alone. And I ache to get it back. I had some skill I think, some facility, but only when I practice. This longing has been spurred by seeing the drawings the lecturer from LBU does undercover and the little sketch in the back of Insomnia. My problem was I never saw what I could do with them. What could they become? They worked in my sketchbook. I couldn’t make them more than that. It was enough. So the reply is do it for yourself. Fill sketchbooks. Learn to see. And respond with your pen unselfconsciously. Let it be enough. All of it. Do it for yourself. It’s a kind of unwrapping. Letting it out. That gold. Remember?

There was less wind today as I took my early walk. The shelter on the Prom was packed with sleeping bodies except for one, an Indian woman who was sitting bolt upright. I inclined my head as I passed, smiled at her, but she just stared straight ahead. What was she doing there? Students ambled passed. Two boys played with a football. A girl with a string of gold tinsel round her neck walked on the beach, then fell or dropped ( I couldn’t tell) to the sand, taking a cross-legged position before the sea. A huddle of girls in tiny dresses lingered outside Pier Pressure nightclub barefoot and laughing with some boys.

I’m to begin my application for the a-n Bursary today. Might as well begin it. There is power in the beginning said Goethe. So be it. Meet the fear. Head on.


Off the rails

Did you walk? she asked me as she put the money in the till. No, I said, thinking she meant did I walk up the hill to work.

It’s just that he wasn’t there this morning and I wondered if you’d seen him, she continued. And then I twigged. She meant did I walk the Prom in the early morning.

I don’t know her well. She, they, are his acquaintances. They give him free coffee and biscuits when he goes in in the morning to sit and read his paper. He must’ve told them about my early morning walks.

She’s talking about the homeless man who sleeps in the Prom shelter.

I took him a flask down the other morning. I went down today with a sleeping bag, but he wasn’t there, she says. I haven’t seen him for a few days, I say. I’ve got one of those army sleeping bags, they left them behind after a manoeuvre. They should be warm, shouldn’t they, she asks. I should think so, I say. She tells me his name. He’s from here, she says, and he isn’t a drinker or a druggie, it’s just his marriage went wrong and he just went off the rails. It’s easily done. He told me that someone put a scarf around his feet while he as sleeping, was that you? she asks. No, I say, and wish it had been.

I’m less thrusting, unsure whether to push myself forward. But I’m glad that he has such women on his side.

I dreamt we were all sharing this big house. And I was angry with him because he wouldn’t eat with me. I went into another room and needing to get rid of some water saw that there was no sink. I proceeded to pour it away into the bases of several plant pots. Don’t fill it too full, she said, and it was her daughter. I felt admonished. Everyone was out of sorts, including me. It’s just a dream, he would say.

The clubbers were out in force this morning, sitting in the shelter outside the Why Not? A girl in a sleeveless dress with a pair of felt antlers on her head, was talking to a couple of lads under the clock tower. You of all people, she was saying.

She is one today. A whole year has passed. She changes by the moment. As we all do I suppose, though her changes are so huge. I love you little one.