Chores (5)

It was a word she used a year or so ago when we visited her. It sounded funny coming out of her still young mouth.

She continues to fascinate me. Do you know she wrote over 350 reviews of Detective novels for The Sunday Times in just two years? And all the while she wrote plays, novels and short stories. Such busy women, they put me to shame. All of them. And so bright, so sharp. In the biography Coomes includes a kind of mock list she wrote outlining her domestic duties – I’ve not yet finished it but you can imagine the thing (or perhaps not) I paraphrase: get up, wait for the bathroom to become available (husband or maiden aunt using it), then breakfast at 8.30, then reading letters, scanning paper, then telephone calls, then interview with new ‘girl’, then sewing a hem and so on. All of course to be done before any ‘real’ work is done. Remarkable how even though she had a cook, a housemaid and so on she still had so much to distract her from her real aim and daily purpose. Her alcoholic husband can’t have helped. But she was strong and determined. Still I am humbled. What do I achieve each day? So many little things but what of the big?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.