The clocks go forward tonight. I say it to remember it. To fix it in my mind. Alas, we loose a much-longed for hour of morning daylight. I know it will return soon, but for the moment it is an anticipated loss. We have a radio-controlled clock upstairs in the kitchen-cum-everything else except bedroom and bathroom. When I go up there to prepare breakfast on one of the mornings where the clocks change I wait for it to respond. It can be slow to do so. Sometimes it doesn’t react until gone 3 am. And then suddenly it starts whirring. The minute and then the second hand start to turn, too fast around the dial. I’ve known it to stop at the wrong time, as if cogitating or waiting for the right signal, before starting its circular whirring once more. It is a strange sensation watching a clock hand that is spinning wildly. Some kind of relied upon order goes awry. My heart beats a little faster. All is not safe, it warns me, be aware. One of my alarm clocks, for I have two, no three if you count the one on my phone, ticks to fast. It is a wind-up one, kept because I like its loud ticking, and if I wind it up too tight I gains time. I don’t mind. I don’t tell the time by it. It is a comfort, that frenetic tick tick – rather like my ‘guitar-string’ heart. I like to hear it in the dark of my room and miss it when I am away.

She is getting better, I can tell by the strength of her voice. She didn’t want to break off our conversation yesterday. She was full of it. And then we got talking about the cockerel. I could hear it crowing in the background. I hadn’t realised it was hers. I thought it was from the next-door farm. He starts at five, she said, laughing, and then continues through the day. He’s a real cowboy, a show-off. They only have a few hens. We thought we’d like to breed from some pretty little one that we had, the ones with feathers on their heads. Do you know them? she asked. But then they were gone. Caught by a fox? The rooster is redundant then, for I presume the other hens are more ordinary, kept for their eggs. She seems fond of him. We thought he might keep the foxes away, you know. Then she told me how the other remaining hens scamper up to her daughter’s car when she returns from work. She is delighted by this idiosyncrasy, as is her daughter. She loves the hens, she says.

Another busy Saturday. All the cleaning and washing done for now. I need to finish the transcript, do yoga, make lunch, do the ironing, go into town to meet my second Norwegian ‘conversationalist’, go into work, make supper, eat supper, help him with his shower then go to bed. My fear of writing renders me anxious once again. I will ride this, bear it, shoulder it, for in the doing of writing there is peace. I hear from M. in Oslo, the guest room is ready for me. How blessed I am with my friendships. I think of her often. The treatment burns her skin. Her hair has still not returned. And what of him, how will he be?

To work.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.