It made me smile. It had been wrapped around some wrought-iron railings outside one of the houses halfway along North Road. A row of plastic union-jack triangles, one of which was a picture Meghan Markle, flapping in the breeze. It was so gloriously tacky and so out of place in this very Welsh town. I thought of them celebrating in front of the TV. Would they drink champagne, eat canapés and wave flags throughout the ceremony? It’s such an odd thing, a kind of appropriation, this owning of the royals. I wish them well but the rest, the flurry, the fuss and bother I can do without, as I am sure could they. Is she scared? Is she nervous about what she might have taken on? We cannot know them. There was a writer on the radio the other day talking about a book she’s written about Harry. She only met him for twenty minutes and that was enough, apparently, for a book. We want to dig, to delve, to scratch at the surface of their privilege, wealth, birth and stardom. Are they like us? She will never have to do this again, I said to him, scrubbing the plates after supper. She’ll never have to wash up, cook, do the washing, the ironing, put the bins out for herself again. Think of that. But she’ll also never be able to leave the house without someone taking her picture. How would it be to be without money cares, to not have to work? But it’s not like that is it? Their time isn’t their own. And they are in a goldfish bowl, gold-plated perhaps, but a goldfish bowl nonetheless. Poor things, poor loves. I suspect they rue their privilege daily.
So here am I in my anonymity – ever alert to its freedoms and its limitations. My flying high is all inside. Is that not better, more lasting and utterly unreliant upon another’s whim?
She did answer the phone. He recommends an operation. She is reluctant. And then there is the funeral. She is clearly shocked by the frugality of the show. No funeral, no funeral tea, just a burial. We want the same, well I want it and he is happy to acquiesce. (I won’t be there, will I?, he says). As far she as she is concerned it’s not right. When her dog died, she told me, there was a ham supper. She was alone, with just her son running the farm. She buried her husband five years ago, she said leaving me with an image of the woman with shovel in her hand.)The family fall-out has distressed her. She feels torn between the rights of the mother and those of the daughter whom the family have ostracised. I had to turn my phone off in the end, she said. Poor love. Such a sensitive soul. I feel and care for her. Truly. And I recall a friend of a friend refusing his sister the right to visit him as he died. Such an harsh act. Nothing can be done. Leave well alone, he says.
But she didn’t. I wonder if she is OK. She asked me to ring her. We have much in common, she said. Perhaps they are away. I will try once more.
And neither did she. I wasn’t expecting her to. She is nursing her grievance still, obviously preferring that to talking to me. So be it.
Town was busy this morning from the night before. Conversations, chat reached me as I walked along. A girl on the phone by the Prom shelter, her feet, at the end of large, fulsome thighs encased in skin-tight jeans, in dainty ballet pumps laced up the ankle. I’m fine, she said, I’m fine. And then more slowly, deliberately: I will make my way home. Then walking through the Castle grounds I catch two boys with the glare of my torch. L.E.D., one of them says as we cross paths, then, F.E.D. I’ve no idea what he means. Outside The Angel two girls are sprawled on the steps leading up to The Academy. I’m so pissed, yeh, one of them says, her head lolling forward. Walking down Great Darkgate Street a lad on a mobile phone is shouting: Hello, he says, you still outside The Angel? Finally, two students trundling home towards Penglais. One in rocky biker gear is earnestly telling the other: You know you’ve just got to try.
Go compare, the advertising slogan says. No. It’s time I stopped doing that. It is enough to be me in this constant state of trying. Trying to be good, to be better, trying to try. We fail when we do not try, she said. Yes, that is the heartache of it. We have no choice but to go on trying. So be it. And there is such a view to admire along the way, don’t you think?