I took her a small bag of things. She was asleep when I got to her so I placed the bag quietly amongst her store of carrier bags underneath her umbrella. Four seagulls were squawking around her. I chased them away. One of her bags was full of groceries. I could see a pack of four green apples and a tin of something. Is she selling them or are they handouts from the food bank she sleeps in front of. If so, why a tin? Where can she cook? I fretted about what to take for her. What does she need? Am I being generous enough? Would she think me silly? I tried to do what felt best – some biscuits, a home-made flapjack, some tangerines, a pack of tissues, some hand gel, a face cloth, a sachet of shampoo (where does she go to clean up?) and some creams. Oh and a hair band. I wanted to give her something nice. What would I want if I were her? And then I fretted that she wouldn’t be there. But she was. It makes sense, being there. She is near civilisation, for what it’s worth. Keep her safe.

They are going into administration. My heart bleeds for them. They are a nice couple. Nice people. I am fond of them both. I have stayed there many times and was always looked after so well. It was their dream. And it’s broken. What will they do? What can we do?

She is selling smoothies on the street, he said. They can’t open their upstairs restaurant just yet, I think next week they can. But meanwhile she is being entrepreneurial. Good for her. I like her. She never knows my name but we chat. There is recognition.

So much change. So much fear and loss. A clear sky. Not brilliant blue like the Continent but it will do. It will.

I sent it. No word yet. Fingers crossed it will be alright. I did my best. Don’t we all?



I spoke to her today. She wasn’t asleep but sitting up in the middle of the pavement with her bags of stuff around her. There was a opened umbrella too and some sunflowers poking out of the top of one of the bags. She’s a tiny thing, as I’d surmised from her sleeping form. She’s white and British. Her face is freckled brown by the sun. She wears a wooly beret. I asked her what brought her here, there, to that pavement. She struggled to find words. I waited. It’s quite random really, she said. I didn’t press her. It isn’t my business if she doesn’t want it to be. I asked her if she felt safe, had enough food. There was a little pile of silver coins by her feet. He said he’d seen her. Yes, I’ve seen loads of people talking to her, he said. I saw one bloke give her a fiver. It still doesn’t make it OK. No, he said. I will take her something tomorrow.

The sun is supposed to come out today. He’s just off for his walk, his postman-like bag across his shoulder.

I wrote it. I did the required word count. I will do re-writes this morning. There is always a sense of anti-climax and indeed loss. It was so much in my head and has been for the last three days.

I’ve finished John Berger’s book. The Afterword made me cry. He said he loved him and that he shot himself but that that doesn’t make it dark. He said that he lived as much as he could endure. Yes. That is fair enough. It is.


If We Talk So Much

I don’t know what to call it. Dreamspeak? Possibly. But really it’s the stuff that comes into my head after dreams, just before I come to the surface of this living reality. Often the sentences are gone. If I try to hard to catch them they allude me. I need to detach myself and watch them and then get hold. If we talk so much we can talk too hard, was the sentence from this morning. I didn’t sleep well. I’m edgy about this article I have to write. I didn’t do as much as I’d hoped yesterday, I hadn’t cracked it. So I lay there mulling it over, trying out sentences. Hopeless. I did sleep eventually but my head is muggy as a consequence. A part of me knows it will be alright, that I have it in me to solve it, but this is eclipsed by my habit of fear.

There is no silence when I walk. The gulls caw and scream, the sea rolls and lashes, the wind chimes in the house next door to the nursery tinkle and clang and the generators down by the harbour hum. I don’t mind. I like the sounds as much as I like the smells, particularly of those of the smouldering embers of beach fires. There is an aliveness that I welcome, and need.

I’m ready. I’m ready to begin. He has just gone out for his walk. He will be back in half an hour or so. Begin. Now.


Lawn Mower

Someone has left a lawn mower outside one of the houses along Llanbadarn Road. It’s an old kind, short and solid with a grass collecting jaw-like structure at the front. My father used to have one before he got a flymo. They’ve wrapped it up like a present in a black bin bag, so well that it’s shape is still distinct. They left it for the bin men to collect. They didn’t. So it still sits there. All wrapped up and nowhere to go. It’s been there for over a week now. A stalemate. An impasse.

A pair of reading glasses lay abandoned or dropped on the Prom just beneath the castle this morning. Their frames were pink.

I have a job to do this morning, an article to write. Onward.



We’re both feeling a little under the weather. Biliousness. A lovely word.

I dreamt of Count Fosco most of the night, or at least that is how it seemed. That is, I dreamt of the Count Fosco as portrayed in the adaptation we have been watching. He was mesmerising. I didn’t want him to die and in my dream he didn’t. He just had a small red spot on his neck instead of the gash from the sword that sliced his throat. Both of them were there. I had to find some paper for Fosco to write something down. Anything will do, said Pesca with some urgency. I was in a crit in an Art School desperately wanting some advice as to how to lay out some letters. On and on the dream went. I woke worn through and have now raced through my cleaning chores ready for the interview. I always get nervous. Will it work out? Will I get enough to write 12,000 words. Will I relax him? Will we find a rapport? I have to trust. To be still and let it unfold.

The sky glowers over the sea. He isn’t walking this morning.

Time for some tea and then some quiet before I begin.


Snail, Feather & Fear

I woke from dreams about making lists and various characters from The Woman in White. I’m surprised I’ve not yet dreamt of Laura’s time in the asylum. It was harrowing, as was her mostly mute endurance of it.

I’ve begun reading John Berger’s book A Fortunate Man about the rural doctor John Sassall. I listened to the radio adaptation of it a few weeks ago and was so moved by its beauty and compassion that he bought me the book. I savour it, slowly. Do you know that John Berger is 94? I said to him. No, he’s not, he said, he’s dead. Is he? Perhaps I remember reading of his death. I am sorry for that. I want to read all that he wrote.

I trod on a snail the other morning. The crunch of its shell under my walking shoes went right through me. I am sorry, I whisper, I am so sorry. I can’t see them in the dark as they make their long voyage across pavements. I try to avoid them. I do not want to take a life, any life.

There was water under my loo last night. There is a leak. I think it is the cistern. I dreamt that our new dehumidifier was leaking water and I couldn’t staunch the flow. Then I dreamt of my cousin. He looked tired and world-weary and he offered me some money. I’m alright, I said. I’m alright.

I saw something white in a window at Alexandra Hall. A tiny thing. It was jangling. I thought it was a butterfly caught in a cobweb, and trying to pull free. But it was a white feather, caught yes, but being blown by the breeze. Another white feather floated down before me yesterday as I walked. Some people think they are angels.

A nice day yesterday. I was more peaceful with my work. And I listened well. Mark Bonar was in another radio play, this time about a young, gay man longing for Hawaii. ‘I’m scared,’ he says to himself, ‘is admitting to being scared the beginning of courage? I’m frightened of everything, particularly my work. I am fearful of writing of making of being. Will I ever be good enough? I try. I know this. I try. And sometimes there is peace in the sitting quietly, the trying, the being with the work. The sewn words are small, but there is grace in them. I think about art as gift, gifts to others, can I do it? Can I make it happen? Where I bear witness and make as part of the process?


Fan-tods and Sleeping with the light on

I read at breakfast, as does he. It is naughty, we weren’t allowed as children. He reads the papers online and I read books. I’ve just finished this last one, Trent’s Last Case by E.C. Bentley (as least I think that is his name). The radio adaptation was better. Not sure about novels from the 30s, though the last two pages gave me a jolt. Anyway there were two words from it that I asked him to look up. He likes it and so do I, though remembering them afterwards is always tricky. Cupidity and fan-tods. Cupidity is a kind of avarice, and fan-tods is about getting yourself into a lather. Nice.

When I walk home through the estate and round the back the new couple, I think they are Indian, always have the light on in their kitchen. Are they afraid of something?

We heard a clattering on one of the velux windows yesterday at breakfast. I thought it was rain coming. I walked over to look and saw a rook on the window bashing something against the pane. It startled me, it was so raw, so wild that I clapped my hands and it flew off. It left the thing it was bashing behind. It is still there, I think it is an animal bone.

The form that was huddled in the doorway of the florists was lying on the road this morning. I almost fell over it. It must have been a girl, it was so small. I wanted to wrap her up. To re-find the sleeping bag I gave away eight years ago and zip her up in it. She was folded up in blanket and a pizza box lay next to her. So she has some food, that is something. I thought of her when it began to rain, did she take shelter or did she wake soaked through? Why is there nowhere she can go?

Our 101 year old neighbour was sitting on a wall when I walked past to go and sit out in the sometime sun yesterday afternoon. She was taking a rest during her walk around the grounds. The other day her son took her to get a haircut. She and her hairdresser share the same Christian name. I wondered who her clients were. I saw her afterwards. It doesn’t look so different.

I put my notebook by my bed last night so that I could write down my dreams. I don’t like losing them. My writing in the dark and in my sleepy state leaves much to be desired. There were notes about a boxing match, and my sister’s car being smashed to bits by a tank for illegal parking (a car that was like our old one) and my feeling responsible, and about my long walking journey to find him and a job and turning up at a roadside cafe which was shut and making toast for myself, she was in another dream talking about her children looking so much like her and her saying a pet name she has for her and finally in another I was at a housing meeting and talking about my teaching and someone was saying how she didn’t like children. A mish mash, most of which makes sense to me. Fears and stuff. You know the kind. Then just before waking I heard another of those sentences. I wrote that down too, though this time it was more like a question and it was: Do you think naked is just made up?


The Woman in White

It’s affecting both of us. And it creeps into my dreams. The other night it was Countess Fosco, with her smoothed hair, pulled hard into a bun at the nape of her neck. Last night was more a blurring of them all. It is addictive. Thrillers are. You want to be taken to the conclusion even if it may not, and ultimately won’t be, a joyful one. This adaptation is beautiful. The costumes and settings are exquisite. It is luscious to watch. I itch to tell him the ending but resist it. His entrancement is mine.

It looked like a bundle of blankets but it was a person. So tiny. My heart goes out to him, to them or perhaps it was a her. I want them to be safe. He or she had chosen the doorway to the florists on Chalybeate Street. A quiet street, mostly, I would’ve done the same. Only the seagulls squawk down it on bin day. There was no one else about this morning. It was good. Good to be alone.

Are you cross? he asked at breakfast. No, though I had been sharp when he’d asked me to repeat something. I am impatience with his deafness. I know I am. But it is wearying to say things twice. But I should and will try harder. No, I am not cross, just a little stressed. The ten thousand things that never get resolved get to me sometimes, often times. I want to escape, to fly away. But there is no where to go, not any more.

Just breathe and take it all one thing at a time. It is enough, sometimes, just to breathe.


Sitting in the Dark

They weren’t there this morning though I’d seen them the two mornings before. There were at least two of them. That is at least two occupied the deckchairs, there could have been one more sitting on the sand but it was too dark to tell. Were they the same people I’d seen a week or so ago, both with sticks, hobbling their way onto the beach? The deckchairs were always placed in the same way, facing Aberdovey rather than the sea. Well, why would you? he said at breakfast, you can’t see the sea in the dark. Fair point but then why sit there? The beach slopes and it’s stony and cold first thing. But I like such eccentricity. After all look at my habits. Two lads were sitting on a bench on the Perygl as I walked along it today. I couldn’t make them out very distinctly. I saw the white of their trainers first. They talked quietly, as if respecting the stillness of the morning, heavy with cloud.

I watch her life from afar and remain a little entranced. I don’t want it for myself but I am made curious by her continued hopefulness and the way she sets out on each new adventure washed clean of her past. Good luck to her I say. Isn’t any kind of joy worth celebrating? Don’t we all feel some of its glow?


Toasting Almonds

I love the taste, the slight crunch of them, on salads and mixed in with brown rice but it is mainly the smell of them toasting (in our tiny frying pan – no fat, just dry) that I adore. It smells like butter. He can’t be doing with nuts, I can’t get enough of them, except for peanuts (though I miss peanut butter, along with so many things…..)

There are two of them lying in the gutter between the pavement and the road along Llanbadarn Road. Even after three days they are still mostly intact. One is folded up, its wings curled in, the other is splayed open, as if in flight. They still have their speckled fledgling plumage. They are young birds, killed no doubt by cars racing by. Killed by their unworldly-ness, their unawareness of danger, still calling for their parents. I hear them nightly, that keening call, why have you abandoned me?

Why don’t you tell her that’s not how you spell it? he asks. Always the teacher. I can’t and won’t. What we have is tender and I want to preserve it not crush it. It doesn’t matter, does it? Not really. Not in the whole scheme of things. My role in her life is so fragile. Or at least that is how it feels. I want to bring her joy. Always.

It took us both a while to remember her name. I found it eventually via Howards Way of all things. Kate O’Mara. That’s it, he said. That’s who she looks like.