Layette - test crop (1)

The radio today is all about Mother’s Day. All about mothers. Perfect mothers. Fairy tale mothers. The wisdom of mothers. Mothers. I just don’t know, do you? It is what it is. They are what they are. She is, was, what she was. Mine. My mother. And me? Like her, am doing the best I can.

The radio. My joy. Truly. The other day, was it Thursday, there was a programme about the song Mr Bojangles. The presenter was trying to prove whether the lyrics were based on the real Mr Bojangles Robinson. It wasn’t it turned out. Bojangles was just the character’s moniker, borrowed while in prison to protect his identity, and he was white. Amazing what you learn. Just think what we could learn if we listened a while. One of the contributors knew the real Bojangles and she talked about how elegant he had been. Everything just so. All his clothes in his closet, she said, were hung three inches apart so that they didn’t crease. I aspire to that. That sartorial elegance.

What else? Watching. Watching life play out before me. Not walking, sitting. Sitting in the car, watching a vicar scuttling out of the 24 hour Spar with 4 tins of dog food under his arm. He is wearing a grey-green mackintosh and his hair, long and straight, hangs over one eye. He is youngish man but already has a stoop. The next day I watch the ‘litter man’. He told me about him. He lives in a flat over a closed-down café in Pier Street. He spends all day rooting through litter bins, filling two plastic bags with his finds. This particular day he has a lime green satchel hanging across his chest. He looks relatively clean in his patchwork-style cardigan and beige cotton trousers. His face is shaven but clumps of white hairs nestle forgotten under his chin. In his left hand he is clasping a bundle of twigs. He is always focussed on his task, never interacting with anyone.

The day is quiet. A cloudy sky presses down. A rook caws, a wood pigeon coos. It is not yet 9 am and only the occasional car drives by. One, then two, then silence. I have begun to write something. I don’t know what it will become. Just write, he says. Just write. OK. I will

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.