Walking out from Llanbadarn Road and across Penglais I hear voices. Several voices. They are loud, cheerful, perhaps slightly intoxicated voices. Young voices. Students? I feel slightly edgy. I want silence. I expected silence. Monday morning is usually silent. Where are they? Where is the sound coming from? Darkgate Terrace? The Coopers Arms? No, it’s shut. One of the side streets? No, there it is. There they are. A lad first then two girls. They are singing. He sings first. My love keeps me warm. He looks at me as he sings. As he walks down the little hill from North Road. The two girls sing in harmony with him. Higher voices than his. One has a lovely soprano. My love keeps me warm. They walk past, the girls not noticing me, still singing.

A few shapes in the blackness, one down by the harbour. A woman, possibly? The one who smokes? No, I don’t think so. The fishing trawler is there, its lights full one. How I love that. It cheers me, makes me feel safe. And the Samways truck with it’s beautiful drawing of a fish. A trout? Waiting. It is waiting. No generator noise. Then up by the Castle I stand still. Thinking about the power of standing still. Will they go for my idea? Do I care either way? Not really. My energy is low. I want to go with what is. Not push. Not for now. There is enough for now. I try to concentrate on my walking. Fully walk, finding my tread, my feet on the ground. My mind tries harder to undo me. Harder and harder. My back tightens. A guitar string, he said, your pulse is like a guitar string.

Walking down Great Darkgate Street I hear another voice. Whoa! it shouts. As if to a horse. Whoa! My hackles raise. Is that to me? Where is it? Where is he? I walk on past Superdrug, Supersavers and Poundland. He’s in the doorway, hidden by a pillar. A large man. Pink as a pig. Bald head, big ears. Whoa, he is saying, then, hiya. He’s on the phone. It wasn’t about me. I crossed it that’s all. I traversed into another’s life, briefly. It wasn’t meant for me. I walk on, peering in at Slater’s Bakery. All steamed up. Then the Pelican Bakery. No steam there. I can see through the window. The shop assistant is unloading bread from crates and placing the loaves on the shelves behind the counter. Sometimes I walk behind her as she arrives at work. Does she catch the train there? Just like in France this bakery opens early, six I think. I like that. People coming for their bread fresh first thing in the morning. In France they open on Sunday mornings too. Bread must be fresh. And in Spain too.

I fantasise sometimes about being a baker. I like the idea of it. I don’t know how it would be, of course. But I like the idea of the early hours, the solitude. The simplicity of the task. You make then go home. No interaction with the public. Just baking. Making the daily bread. The staple. And the smell. Would I ever tire of it? Or the heat? The baker in the Pelican is big. A mountain of a man. The one at Slater’s is wiry, small and always dressed in shorts. I wouldn’t make a big range of bread. Just simple loaves. What is required. No waste. I’d bake with love. Early in the morning, wearing an apron covered in flour.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.