Clearing out the garage of her new house she found some of my old school reports and sent them to me. My father must’ve saved them. They came to me in a neat plastic sleeve.

They got me thinking about ambition, about outside judgement and about what I want to do with myself. Now. Here. I wasn’t yet five in some of them. A wee girl. A precious girl for whom I feel a great deal of fondness. I know her. I love her. She always tried hard. Much of life perplexed her. She did her best. Always. Quiet, self-contained, she worked hard and tried to please. Others. She always tried to please others.

Art wasn’t a strong point then. At least not the art they taught, nor was writing particularly. Reading was, and so was craft. Whatever, that was. Making things I suppose. I always thought of myself as ham-fisted, clumsy. But if these reports are to be believed, I wasn’t. Such is memory, eh?

I felt a little lost yesterday. What am I doing with myself? Getting hung on making something perfect. And fretting that the review I sent wouldn’t do. That it wouldn’t please her. And it did. She wrote it that word brilliant. And she wants more. More of what I can do. Nice, eh?

Zadie Smith is reading from a collection of essays on the radio as I make breakfast. Lovely. Beautiful, in fact. I really enjoyed them. There is an ease in her writing that I really aspire to. No puffing up. A conversation. Easy. Not, I know, but that is how it comes across. Effortless. Super.

They called me from the hospital. If you put that you are claustrophobic on the MRI scan form they won’t do it, the man’s voice said. Well, I say man but he sounded more like a boy. Can we scratch that out? he asked. Yes, I said. Let’s just do it, eh? Fear and all.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.