Damp Squid

I’ve got a bladder infection. You get them quite a lot, he said at breakfast. Yes, I do, don’t I? It’s an age thing I think. I read somewhere that this was the case, particularly with women. She is always getting them, though she is brought lower than I. She answered the phone yesterday. It’s been a couple of weeks since we spoke. Her voice is croaky. It’s not to bad, she said, running the ‘to’ and the ‘bad’ into one word – t’bad. It’s hay fever, she said, though I don’t get runny eyes or nose it’s my chest and throat. She appears better though, more cheery. I’ve got a cat, she said. A stray cat appeared at her house, she tells me and has taken to sleeping in the shed. She is delighted. And then there’s the neighbour’s dog. It’s a menagerie, she said, laughing, delighted.

I’m made low by it and so weary. I went swimming again yesterday but shan’t go again, at least not for a while. I find it dull, exercise for exercise sake. I want more than that. So walked again but wearing my boots this time. It was good to be out but I’m not relaxed. Too watchful of my foot. I walk through membranes. Membranes of noise and then silence. Is it ever silent? There is always something, if not the rush of the tide, there are screeching gulls and peeping oystercatchers. Coming up through the Castle grounds then up past The Angel, the clamour of young people shouting hits me. A wall of it, that hems me in on either side. Fragments of sentences fired out into the ether ricocheting of buildings assail me. What you fuckin’ lookin’ at? shouts one boy sitting with his friends on the steps of The Academy re-telling a story of an almost-fight. I said I’m sorry, says a girl, her hands on her hips, as she argues with her lover. And three boys striding up Great Darkgate Street, one of them saying, you know… they’ve got funny hair.

Town is full. Even some of the B&Bs are full. It’s been graduation week. You see them all those parents dressed in dresses and suits, a little out of place. All that hanging around. But proud. For some this is the first generation who’ve gone to University. So proud.

He was better yesterday though sleepy. He slept and slept. It has to be good that, doesn’t it? I long to do the same but I want to do things too. Some work. Some sewing. Get back into the flow of things. Enough. Time to work. Anon.

A damp day, muggy but wet. I must tell you this, he said when I got into the car. He’d been for a coffee and one of the girls behind the counter had chatted to him. It’s raining, he’d told her. Well, she replied, all I can say is I hope August isn’t going to be a damp squid.

Did you say anything? I asked. No, he said, I left it. Quite so.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.