Death of a Funny Man

He was barely older than me. A couple of months, that’s all. We often establish a connection that way, sounds self-centred, but that is our way in. A similar age. How would it feel, to lose one’s life like that? We saw him once, though it was on the radio that I knew him first. I loved his voice, and, as is so often the case with radio, he looked nothing like he sounded. He was sharper live. More caustic, sardonic even. His wit was fast, intelligent, cutting. We almost didn’t like him on stage. He was derogatory about his home town. Perhaps it was nerves, or his way of getting the energy up to perform. So young. Fifty-seven years old. He kept working till the end. He must’ve been ravaged with it. Perhaps he wanted to do all he could to support his family before he left them, for good. Miles Jupp described him as kind. You heard the conscience, the morality, the right-thinkingness but you didn’t see the kindness. I am glad. That is enough of an epitaph. Don’t you think? He was kind. That would do me. Rest in peace, if you can.

There were two huge trawler ships in the Marina this morning, lit up like Christmas trees. Shining with white light, ghostly even. Their light illuminated the usually dark harbour. Will they go out in this cold? And it was cold. A hard, hard frost. Young kids poured out of Pier Pressure as I walked past. A group of girls stumbled out into the night air, their bare legs an array of tattoos from ankle to thigh. Earlier, coming past the station I’d seen two girls in a bus shelter seemingly passing something from one to the other. They looked up guiltily as strode past.

We bought two little pots of tete-a-tete daffodils the last time we were in Morrisons, which must have been what three weeks now. Neither of them have thrived. The first just grew and grew but the buds, so promising at the outset came to nought. The second appeared to be without buds entirely, till a couple of days ago. Now there is a wee bud. I take it as symptomatic of our life at the moment. Nothing is growing, just a stagnancy, which has to be lived through. I made some shortbread. He was pleased. And I took some down to the Prom this morning. Will he still be there? He was. His belongings were neatly arranged on the seat beside his sleeping form, including three fish and chips cartons built into a kind of low tower. Are they empty or is he saving cold chips and battered cod for his breakfast? I was bolder this morning creeping into his enclave and placing my little bag of biscuits on the set beside him. May he find warmth.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.