I could smell it when I locked up ready to leave for my walk. Meat, fried and then stewed meat. Then the smell of toast. I could see that the light was on outside, then I heard him close his window. Phew. I could leave unmolested. It isn’t him. I just don’t want to talk, not then. I want to remain in my thoughts and face the blackness without small talk. He is a good man. I know this. And as a neighbour, perfect. Neither he nor his mother bother us, they keep to themselves as we do. But we know that they are there, like when he fell and I couldn’t get him up off the floor, and they know we are there too. It is mutual. I hear their TV (loud because she is profoundly deaf), the radio and his coughing, but they are not troublesome noises. Sometimes they are comforting.

I worried that it was dog poo. I’ve stepped in some before down by the harbour. Why don’t people clean it up? But it wasn’t, thankfully, just some mud. It is hard to see in the dark and my torch isn’t up to much. The wind was stronger than I’d expected and the sea a little raging. Nice though. The air felt clean and I could walk the Perygyl.

They’ve cut the tops of fir trees and stuck them in those holders above various shops in town. Why do they do that? I feel for the trees. They aren’t decorated just stuck there for the duration of the festivities. The smell is good but they will soon die. And for what? I feel torn about it all. I love the lights, the decorations, the fay extravagance of it all. I need its cheer. But there is so much waste too. Too much when so many have so little.

A black and white cat stares at me from a front yard of house along Llanbadarn Road. It has a bell hanging from its collar. I wonder if Reggie Kray has been found. I think of her, grieving still.

I came round the back hoping to miss him but the light was on and he was at his window smoking. You’ve been cooking, I said. Yes, he said, curry for tomorrow. I told a white lie, said it smelt nice and that it was cosy. It didn’t and it isn’t. But I’m always awkward talking to him. I take charge, bulldoze, hijack the conversation to compensate. He must think me a real oddity. I wish him well though. And hope that the curry is a success.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.