Jay (5)

He remained on the tree outside my bedroom window for quite a few minutes, hopping from one branch to another. An ex-colleague told me that seeing one is a portent of something coming, be it good or bad, but something pivotal, important, significant. I didn’t tell him. He is not a superstitious man but in these wobbly times he could take it the wrong way. And he is unsettled enough, though trying to remain sanguine, as he was last night after waiting over half an hour to register with Morrisons (not his first choice but Tesco is full) delivery service only to be bounced back when his turn came up. We are all having to adapt in big and small ways to this strange time. It is surreal, sometimes almost dream-like so that when they mention it on the radio, referring to listener’s requests and emails, I do a double-take, so it’s happening to them too, is it?

I finished the second sampler and am a little bereft. Working it kept her close. And then I had a brainwave. And what joy it gave me when the idea came in and settled inside of me. I shall make one for her too. And then one for her and for her. All my loves. And I shall design them myself. New projects do give me a lift. They represent possibilities, to learn, to work and to develop and they distract me from this ennui, this malaise that still resides deep within.

We lay on his bed yesterday afternoon and talked about the sound project. It helps to test it in the air, to say it out loud. I put my hand on his arm, encouraging him to keep quiet as I talk. The ideas are raw, they need to nurtured, fed not cut down before they shoot. I need his responses, he is an excellent sounding-board and I trust him, but sometimes it is not the time. It needs to percolate, it can’t be rushed. I feel better when I let the concept take hold, flood my mind, like it is beginning to do. I want to work alone, to find my feet with it. It is much more about a soundscape – an audio snapshot of three art spaces – the extraneous sounds of a gathering place, caught randomly and played back in that space, its own vital hum. I want to capture the sound of feet on lino, the clatter of crockery from the cafe next door, doors opening and shutting, telephones ringing. Will it be time specific, date specific, what are the lifeblood sounds of the space? I want to keep it small, intimate, un-showy. Will you help me make it happen?

I caught the end bit of a programme on Rimbaud, on the back of one about Jim Morrison. Arthur Rimbaud was a walker, apparently. He would walk himself into a state of exhaustion, believing it helped his mind unloosen its creativity. And yesterday I listened to the third and fourth of Katie Hims’ radio play series Listening to the Dead. What a gem, she is. What a find. See there is pleasure in the small things, when the large is beyond one’s control. And I baked shortbread for him. I promised and I did it. And it was OK. They came out OK.

Thank you.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.