Goblin Market


Last Sunday I heard Shirley Henderson reading Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market. What a marvel. I first saw Henderson on TV in an adaptation of┬áTrollope’s The Way We Live Now. God knows how many years ago. She was like a wild animal, snarling, with a long curling mane of black hair. Fine black hairs dusted her upper lip. But it was her voice. A reedy, throaty, sometimes high, sometimes low, animal sounding voice. I’d never heard Rossetti’s poem before. I was made breathless.

Wind. It howls and batters. We’ll have it for five days at least, said the ex-Golf pro in Morrison’s. It makes me feels edgy. At night-time it frightens me. I am unsafe. The house rattles, its windows bowing and buckling. Will they burst?

We finished Mr Turner last night. Timothy Spall was stunning. As was ‘Jane’ from Midwife. Painting as compunction but not as a salve. There was comfort in Mrs Booth. She oo-ed and blustered around him. Mrs Booth, he said, you are a profoundly beautiful woman. He wanted to be remembered, now I will be a non-entity, he said on his deathbed. Have you seen his later paintings? Or even his sketchbooks. Profound beauty? Absolutely.

Four purple candles for Advent. Ready?

She talked about a wedding and funeral. There were three swallows trapped inside the church during the wedding. A jazz band followed the cardboard coffin as they carried it to the natural burial site. Then they had a ‘Jacob’s Join’ at the Village Hall. I only met his wife once. A glamorous woman, beautiful even. She gave me a lift from the station when Dad had hurt his knee. She reminded me of another woman from Cambridge. A neighbour. Contained emotions, fit to spill. She’s gone to Scotland to scream.

Archers soon, must fly. x

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.