I dreamt I was in somebody else’s space. I was getting it ready for them. Making it nice. And then another person who worked for them, was their PA of sorts, came to me, smiling, apologetic even and said that it was fine but she needed to add more stuff. She had some pottery figures from Cornwall, some wooden objects, cushions, curtains. Bit by bit, she brought the clutter in and the space got smaller and smaller. She talked about her boss and I saw him in my dream, in my mind’s eye. I knew him, had meant to work for him in his other place, a pub-cum-hotel, I think. I’ll talk to him, she said, see if we can’t get that job for you after all. I didn’t want it. I didn’t tell her, though. He was hard-faced, an Eastern European, perhaps Russian. She showed me pictures of his lover, an older woman she talked about how he liked to see the age in her face. (We’d talked about President Macron and his partner, who was 65 a couple of days ago, at breakfast. She’d been his teacher, he said. It gives us all hope, I’d replied. Perhaps this had instigated this reference, who knows?) She was sorry she had to change everything, had liked the way I’d prepared the space. But he likes it this way, she said.

Other people’s homes. I’ve lived in a few. We do so now. It is home but it is not. I always wanted my own home, who doesn’t? It’s an ideal, to be able to live as you choose, do to a space as you will. Though, of course, this has its limits. What would it have been like this home of mine? A flat, a house, a cottage, a bungalow or even a caravan or a barge? Big or small?  I like space, space to move but at the same time I wouldn’t want a mansion. Just enough rooms to live in. The idea of rooms that no one goes into makes me sad. It would be white, barely furnished. Not much on the walls and no clutter, no stuff. And clean. I would clean it from top to bottom, knowing it, knowing all it’s crevices. I like flat-dwelling but sometimes I don’t want to live amongst the mess or accumulations of other people’s lives. And I do fantasise about the freshness of the outdoors, a garden. Room to breathe, to be alone. A little white house with rooms that echo with emptiness.

I am tired. I felt tired walking. There was a light wind and more people were out than yesterday. A police car drove past me on Mill Road, flashing blue. And earlier two cars had driven ahead of me down to the harbour, only to park, lights off and sit. Up to no good? Possibly. Let me go, Steven, let me go. Let me go. A boy is shouting outside Pier Pressure. It is playful. I catch snatches of conversation and unless I memorise it, chanting it all the way home, it is lost. A group of students followed by a man in a hoodie, again along Mill Road. They sprawl along the pavement, falling onto the road, he sidles. Suddenly he rattles a wire fence that sections off the housing development currently under construction. He pulls at it. What is he doing? Then he kicks at a brick that hold the fencing in place. Then another. I leave him to it. Just feeling destructive. I suppose it is harmless. Mindless violence. I remember that phrase from when I was sixteen and on a farm in Worcester strawberry picking. There had been an old armchair in the bunkhouse and one night someone had just hacked at its upholstery, ripping it to shreds. Mindless violence, one of the pickers had said the next morning, adding mournfully, I liked that chair.

The sky is white grey and still.

I’ve painted over the marks on my bedroom ceiling. It looks better, not perfect but better. This will do, you know. This home, this borrowed home. For now, this moment, it will do in all it’s imperfections. It isn’t what I would’ve chosen for myself. But there is much to love. That is enough. And now?

Coffee and work. Coffee and work.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.