Dressing up for work

It looks quite good, he said, as we entered the pickles aisle and saw a thin lad in a Pierrot-cum-ghoul costume on. His face had been white-d-out and a spider’s web had been drawn upon it. And he wore a top hat on his head. Does it itch? I heard one of his colleagues ask him as they filled the shelves. together. No, said the lad, surprisingly enough it doesn’t. One of the bosses had also got into the swing of it and had a large black spider on her head, worn at a jaunty angle like a fascinator and another spread across the palm of her hand, held on by a rubber band. On her shoulders was some cotton wool, stretched thin to look like cobwebs. We’d followed another woman up the travelator who was sporting a Halloween-inspired t-shirt with yellow pumpkin motifs and bats and heavily sequinned sleeves. (There had been a woman in the Harbourmaster with a jumper that scintillated with tiny specks of sequins that I long to go over to and say something. What is it about sequins – I don’t see myself as wearing them but I love to see them on others – is it some unacknowledged ‘girly’ part of me longing to come out?) She grinned at us, pleased as punch with it. Does it make the tedium of work lift a little to dress up like that? Is it a talking point? The boss-woman (lovely girl who is in constant pain with her legs) said that she hoped that the spiders would keep some members of staff at bay. They are all so good humoured. Though no stringy girl with the purple hair this morning.

A milky-grey sky. He has gone out for a walk. My last treatment today in Borth. I shall miss it. And her. Has it made me better? My legs are certainly improved. So I’d like to think so.


Party Costumes

They were all out in their finery, though it was a little awry by the time I saw them. There was a bat girl and a superwoman standing outside the Tesco Express looking extremely unwell. Bless her. Her crown was all skewed. Not sure where the fancy dress party had been held, probably in one of the clubs though Halloween is still a day away. Students were everywhere, sitting on benches along the Prom and wandering home. Bits of their conversation filters through the air. One boy was sitting with two girls on a bench. I can’t believe it, he said, I’ve only one fag left. What a joke! You are a fag, said one of the girls, to which the other one snorted. Another lad was talking loudly to his mate as they walked past me. We could play poker, he was saying. Yes, at 12 we could do a bit of gambling and have a drink and then…. I passed the milkman delivering in St David’s Road as I walked out, way before 3 am. Two bottles, one silver top and one blue top, were sitting outside our neighbour’s front door when I returned. Milk bottles are blast from the past for me. That’s all there was. That noise of them clanging together. So nice.

Everywhere is like everywhere else, said the poet Gwyneth Lewis on a programme I’ve heard many times before about the island of Lundy. I think I know what she means.

She walks like an albatross someone said of Simone Weil. She was not of this world. Yes.

Must dash. Off to get the piece photographed. Cold today. Made chocolate for him and a coffee for me. He sits in his dressing gown. The flat is cold. No time to get cosy. Later.


Old Man

He was an old man. An old man with a face like the moon. A face with texture and pallor of Edam cheese. He kissed me at the end. Delivering his broadcast had brought him near to tears. They came when he spoke to me afterwards. Jesus, he said, will come to your door as a beggar. He talked of Boris Johnson, of Donald Trump and how he was in hoc to Putin. I’ve been reading up about him, he said. Words spilled out, along with his tears. He’d been speaking about a poet, a pacifist, I presume from the First World War called Waldo. These Welsh mystics are strangers to me, I am behind glass from them. But he also talked of Simone Weil. I’ve heard of her. A French philosopher and visionary. She died, he told me, from starvation. She would only eat what her fellow Frenchmen could eat. She deprived herself out of solidarity. Read her, he begged. Read her book about family, he begged. Something to do with roots. He asked me my name twice, then took my hand and kissed my cheek. He quoted someone else. Was it James, Jesus’s brother? I didn’t know he had a brother. Preach, by all means, this man said, and use words if you must. It’s all about actions, the man with the moon face told me. It’s all about what we do. I was moved by him. Was that him? he asked when I got into the car. The old man with the John Lennon cap?

We talked. It needed to be said. It helped. It lanced the boil. I love him. I love him as he is. And I will do what I can to put everything in place for him. Meanwhile we just have to wait.

Heavy, complex dreams about a woman with whom I was sharing a bathroom. And yet it wasn’t a bathroom proper. The bath was an upholstered kind of day bed. The room was unfamiliar and old-fashioned and I had to work around her things. But I was sanguine about it, accepting. I watched her from a distance. Family arrived to see her and she got in a fluster not being prepared and hurried to put a scarf around her big weight of curly hair.



It’s hard to pin it down exactly. It’s a feeling, a sensation of warmth, of nostalgia, of cosiness and it comes upon me unawares. It’s associated with this time of the year, or at least memories of this time when everything contributes to a general sense of belonging, of safety, of cosiness. I love it when it comes and I am lifted. It makes me a little sad, however, that he is not feeling the same thing. He is lower today, I can always know it. He is quieter, a little withdrawn. He calls it struggling. And I know he is disappointed. He wanted a cure for it. To have it magicked away. It is lifting. He is getting lighter. He doesn’t see this. He forgets the better days when a not so light day is upon him. He is so like her. She was the same. Blithe as could be when all was forgotten but assailed when it wasn’t. I just have to be kind. Always.

I slept deeply, cocooned as I was in bed. I went to sleep thinking of those sleeping in the shelter on the Prom and how cold they must be. There was just one figure in a sleeping bag as I walked past this morning. Bless him. Is that the dapper me he told me of. What has happened that he is so without? He has a partner, apparently and they meet up during the day. May he find warmth and comfort.

I wrote but it needs work. I need to constantly adjust my expectations of what my paid writing work will bring me. It is work-a-day stuff, no great falutin’ expressions required, just a straight tell it like it is. It is enough. And I am grateful for the employment.

A gentle morning. A few streaks of clouds but non-moving, a blue-grey that stripes against pink. Careful on the Pergyl, I tell him, it might be slippy. Winter is coming. First outing for my impossibly expensive coat. Off to work soon. Two this morning. Then back to editing. Then rest. My finger is less virulent. Save the docs for another day.



Five minutes to seven and it is almost light. Not for long, he’d say, but try to enjoy it. So I shall. He is out. He’s gone for his walk and I’m glad. It’s been a few days now and he gets all mouldy when he goes back to bed. It has never solved his lowness, ever. And I? I walked as usual, in the dark but with a wind blowing. Dry and cold and with lots of people about. I am weary with this infection. We toyed with going to A&E last night to check it was OK. My arm and wrist are also red with it. Is it the poison finding my bloodstream? All these physical changes, it freaks me sometimes. What next? And liquid seeps from my the infection. It stinks. It is a watery stuff, that smells of rotting animal flesh. Is that coming from me? Is it still anger? At what and at whom? There is so much I cannot fathom. A putrid infection they used to call it. And that is what the smell is, putrefying flesh. My flesh. My poison. My anger. It will out, clearly.

He said he’d bumped into the man we’d seen all those years ago in Cambridge. You know, he said, the one who’s wife is in a home. Anyway he’d met him in Tesco’s. A gossip, apparently. And this time it was all bad news, he said. It was about the doctor who lives down the road. He with the neat and tidy bodger garden which he clearly adores. He’s got a brain tumour and they’ve given him 4 months. Poor love. His poor family. A small man. A lover of cars. he has how many 6 or 9 or more? All with his same initialled number plate. How does he get to drive them all? he asks. 4 months. And it won’t be nice. I remember how it was with my father. You lose them before. Way before. At least there is no pain, though plenty of discomfort, I remember he just couldn’t get comfortable. He just wanted to go in the end. I prayed that he could. Open the window and let him out. Us out. Me out.

I finished the piece. Writing today. I want to find my joy in it again. Begin at the beginning. She was entrancing, alive with it. Help me to do her justice.


Another way of looking

There is always another way of looking at things. So, we’ve had a shock, though as the days have passed we have both become calmer and more sanguine about it. However, I thought about it as I walked through the rain this morning listening to the pittery-pat of the drops on my umbrella and in a way it is a good thing to know all this, at least it gives us, me, time to put things in order, and to make my goodbyes. It may all be nothing, the consultant may be wrong or I may not have such a virulent strain of it and I may yet die an old woman. Who knows? Who can ever know? The knowing, such knowing is not ours to have. And if it is, what a precious thing that is, to be able to prepare to put ones’ house in order, how I long to be able to do that. The mess she left behind was exhausting. I don’t want that for my loves to do. So we just have to wait and I will meanwhile begin to pay proper attention.

My finger seems to be getting a little better, or am I imagining it? My arm aches though, is the poison travelling up the vein? And my wrist is red. Is it all connected? It would be nice to feel well again. This infection makes me a little queasy and the ABs continue to be horrid.

I dreamt of a lover. The desire, though never properly expressed, was intense, as was his. He was beautiful, slim, dark, tousled-haired. I felt his bones, his skeleton, his skin and the heat of him. Rare dreams these days.

Work to do. Washing to hang out first, then coffee, then work. Next week he is 72 and we will have been married (on and off – but symbolically together) for 21 years. No mean feat. Ah but how I love him.



According to Ms Hay’s book the middle finger represents anger or irritability and an infection there doubly so. And yet. And yet, am I angry? I feel detached from it, if I am. And if I am what about? Yes, I get irritable now and again, but it soon passes. I don’t have the powerful feelings I used to have as a youth, at least I’m not aware of them any more. Things don’t bubble up, burst forth like they used to. Or perhaps I am better at smothering them, hence the infection, which I may say is very sore. I had to succumb to antibiotics. Ugh, I hate taking them, though I know that they, penicillin more specifically, have saved many lives. And they are not vegan. What am I to do? The nurse says I have no choice that the infection may spread to the knuckle. I am caught between a rock and a hard place.

She was lovely again. It was bliss lying there have my feet done, warm, smelling of hemp cream and drifting in and out of consciousness. I feel safe with her. There is a roundedness to her, a centredness to her and she too has her trials. I can see it.

Do I have it? Will I die? It moves further away, away from my grasp of reality. Everything is shifting, nothing is solid, nothing is certain anymore. A quick clean of the house and it tires me out. Then work. Then home. She answered today, in a rush because Country Cars is coming to collect her at 9.45 to take her to Lampeter. She sounds a little excited, thrilled at her new adventurous spirit. Bless her. Little triumphs to some, huge one to others. I know this kind of woman. I read of Fanny in Mansfield Park and know her too. More than I realised. Her ambitions are small, her need for quiet and an ordered household immense. Coffee begins to taste good again. But still all is not quite well. Will we have to wait long to know for sure?



She used the word suggestive in her letter, saying that my symptoms were suggestive of it. It feels right. It makes sense. It was a shock. For both of us. Neither of us slept. It wasn’t what I expected for my life. I thought it would be long. So be it. Yesterday I talked about the power of acceptance, so this is to be my test. I don’t want the treatment. There is no cure, so what is the point? All that discomfort. I would rather live as well as I can till….till what? Well, we don’t know. She wrote that the MRI will confirm it, one way or another. I hope he keeps steady. Reading about it doesn’t help. I just need to wait, we both do. Wait and see. Meanwhile, there is work to do. And later, I hope the nurse can do something about my septic finger.

A grey morning. Been up to work, shopped and now have two hours to do a modicum of work before I have to go up again. I am detached. Tired. Watching. What will come?


Acquiescence (5)

Somedays I feel like I have little to say. I was sad yesterday. I am still mourning the loss, the loss of making. No, not just that but of having somewhere to place, to direct what I make. I am glad what I had then has gone. It wouldn’t do, not now. But I have, as yet nothing to replace it with, and have not done for these 12 years. Not really. Oh, I’ve made work and done some things that have pleased and excited me, but not like before. It’s the beauty, the creation of something beautiful, exquisite. I miss that, terribly.

Old age brings a recognition of the power of acceptance, of acquiescence. Sometimes it is the only power we have, to say, if this must happen then I will willingly succumb to it, manage it, make the best of it, detach from it, watch it, observe what it brings and what it dispenses with. Help me to learn it, the fighting is to no good, it diminishes, not empowers. So be it. Make me yield, make me grace-ful.

They have chosen, I have my work cut out. Just back from work. He was an astro-photographer and a little chopsy, though, to be fair he’d been up all night watching and filming the meteor shower, so I must be compassionate. The sky looks blue, a light azure with traces of pink. A good day is promised, I think, though a little cold.

My poisoned finger throbs but it has reduced a little. Many things hurt, so be it. I will learn from the sensations and await the healing. He says he will call the hospital. He is impatient for news. So be it. All will take its time and all, in time, will out like the poison, eh?

First coffee in nine days. Good to smell it, though I feel a little bad I didn’t hold back another day. Some days one just needs the comfort of it. Yes?



I found it in the road. A gold horse, though more like brass. It looks welded. It was a bright thing, a shiny thing. A compensation for the lowness of yesterday morning. All that standing. The tiring-ness of it, of being in a musty dusty bookshop, jaded. It doesn’t feel right anymore, much of it. My body doesn’t, my mind doesn’t, it’s all out of sorts. And now my skin is tight, as if it’s being pulled stretched taut across the whole of my body. I must just go with what is happening, acquiesce, watch, observe and learn, if I can.

A day at home, please. To work. To concentrate and then rest. And food too, I no longer know what to eat.

It had been forgotten. A pushchair. A good one, clean, and neat. It was just by the old phone box at the top of South Marine Terrace. Surely it hasn’t been left? Surely it will be missed.

The man I see working on his computer in his living room cum study cum kitchen in the ground floor flat along Mill Road was at work again this morning. He sits staring intently at the screen, his blind slightly open to the night. What does he work on at this time? Can’t he sleep?

The TED talk was about the difference between joy and happiness, the speaker felt that happiness was internal, self-led and joy was something one shared, one felt with the whole of humanity. An interest thought. Certainly joy is more whole, more complete. We need more, please. Can it be self-driven? Possibly.

He didn’t get back to sleep after waking for a wee. Poor love. He gets so down-hearted. I am a little today too, though I didn’t tell him. It’s the hurting. I must raise myself. There is no time for the doldrums.

The sea was a mill pond. And the moon but half. Enough though to light my way a little.

She said yes to one and no to the other. Heigh ho. It wasn’t a closed door though.

I must just wait. The work will come through. As will the beauty. Just give it time.