I dream of food all the time. I am usually with other people in a restaurant and I’m having to negotiate what it is that I can eat. It’s as stressful in my dreams as it is in real life. All that loss of control, of handing over my plate to another to fill with I know not what. The other night I had to ask if they had any plant-based milks and in another I was served up a piece of fish with spinach, at least it isn’t meat, I thought. It is often about choices, but mostly about the discomfort of having to make my desires known, understood and satisfied. Mostly, in my dream world that is, they are not.

I forgot to say that he died. The man on the hill, that is. The man, the architect whom I met once at work when he came in to do an interview, who lived in that modernist house on the hill. He died a week or so ago. Not from the virus but from Parkinson’s, I believe. He had a lot of grace. A real gentleman. Another such gentleman also died, the day before yesterday. He came home after his walk with the news. He was a doctor and he lived just down the road from us. He knew him, professionally I think. A quiet man, a modest man with a passion for cars. He had about six or was it seven? All with Ceredigion number plates. How does he get to drive them all? he said on several occasions. He loved his garden too. A neat and tidy bodger one, with rose bushes in the front. He died in the night with his wife lying next to him, he was told as he queued for the paper. They’d moved him downstairs when his illness took hold. It was the same with my father, a precaution against falling. He too died of a brain tumour. At least he could be at home, with his family, his loves, and close to his garden. Can we take some consolation from that? Will you go to the funeral? I asked him at breakfast. No, he said, you’re only allowed 10 people at funerals at the moment. Of course, I’d forgotten. The townspeople will be disappointed, they all turn up usually, in their black suits and black ties. Rest in peace you gentle souls. Rest in peace.

It was hard talking to him about it yesterday. And we didn’t do The Avenue, it rained. We lay on his bed instead. I wept. It’s the uncertainty, the not-knowing that gets to me. So just let it be so, he said. Let it stay, and wait. And this morning I do feel a little better. Fieldwork was the word that came into my head. Fieldwork. I want to tape the chatter myself, perhaps using one of those old fashioned reel-to-reel machines. Be overt about it. It’s anthropology, he said. Make the performance the recording of it. And then, don’t edit it but just let it play, all of it. And make it something I do collaboratively with three galleries not just one. I’m capturing the extraneous sounds of gallery life. People talking. It gives me hope, all is not lost. Just take each moment as it comes, one at a time, no great leaps. Let it happen. Like breath.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.