Dirk Bogarde

I was later preparing breakfast this morning and ended up hearing the whole of the radio programme hosted, this week, by the poet Brian Patten. The premise is that each weekly host selects a series of written pieces that are read out by actors, it could be poetry, prose, songs etc. Mitchell ended the programme with a reading from Dirk Bogarde’s last book from his 5-volume memoir. I think it was the last page, for Mitchell introduced as an example of how to end an autobiography. The writer has lost his long term partner to cancer, has left their home in France and is now living alone in a flat in Chelsea. He has had a mild stroke and is contemplating going out for a walk. Putting on his anorak and going out into what I think is rain. He muses as he walks and quote comes into his head, I don’t know where it has come from.

‘If you can’t have what you love, love what you have.’

I met Bogarde years ago when I was a FOH person at a theatre in Manchester, he had come in to give a lunchtime reading. It was a brief hello as I opened the door to the stage for him. He was shy, polite, self-contained but with a weight of sadness about him. I read many of his books as a young woman. Perhaps I will return to the last one.

Love what you. Accept what you have. What is here now. Like my knees that are huge, bless them. No room for pity, just keep moving forward. Perhaps next week I will see Lily. No coffee though. So be it.

I have a review to write. I shall begin soon. Get some words down, allay the fear. It will come. It always does. A damp, muggy day. The house is heavy with it. We are all waterlogged.

As we drove home I saw her lines everywhere.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.