Lapsang Souchong

Sometimes finishing a review can leave me a little unsettled. Is it good enough? Have I been unkind? How to encapsulate all that I feel? I just don’t know. I wanted to go out. To go to Aberdovey. To drink Lapsang Souchong in that warm sleepy lounge. To implode. To talk, to unravel. And make all well again. First he had to have his feet done. A regular occurrence when you’re knocking on and a diabetic. They have to be watched apparently. Not that he is decrepit. Not by any stretch of the imagination. He is well, lively, sharp.

We had coffee in town first. I want to go somewhere where I am anonymous, I said. He makes friends, well acquaintances, wherever he goes. All the café staff know him. Hi, they say. I am less known. I keep myself to myself, plus I don’t go out as much as he does. I just want to sit and not feel obliged to greet people. Is that OK? Of course, he says. I wanted to go to the Carlton but he wanted decent coffee. So we compromised. Coffee first then I would sit up in the Carlton and write till he was done with his feet. I like sitting up there. It’s a no-nonsense caff. Regulars, painters and decorators in shorts, students and couples, go in there for full English’s and pots of tea. The smell of fried eggs and bacon pervade that upstairs room and Heart blasts out of the speaker in the corner, but nevertheless I like it. I like to sit at a velour-covered banquette and watch the street below. I watch him walk away, nipping into to Nero to say hello. I sit and write, my bottle of water at my side. Two women at the next banquette are talking about dentists. One is due to see they hygienist and is scared. It’s been five years, she is saying. My teeth are so sensitive. I’ve got the Ibuprofen in my bag. They then go on to discuss the merits or otherwise of electric toothbrushes. I use my electric in the morning and my hand one at night, says the first woman. I do too, says the other, but at night I first use the electric and then the hand one. They don’t feel clean enough with the electric.

He’d forgotten to put in petrol so we had to go beyond the hotel to fill up and then drive back. The tea was good. And we talked and talked. Good things were unravelled. I don’t really believe that I’m an artist, I said, not really, not deep down. It’s true. And then later, a voice, strong distinct coming into my head as I closed the fridge door. You can do anything you like. I told him. Now, that’s a break through, he said.

Town was crawling with revellers this morning. What an old fashioned word. Drinkers, kids, students…whatever you want to call them. Is there a generic word? They sit on benches eating fried chicken and pizza. Eh, she’s loyal, shouts a girl sitting on a Prom bench eating and flanked by two blokes. Guys and dolls, five minutes, hollers a voice upstairs in the Pier Pressure nightclub. Then up by The Angel  a group of girls are remonstrating with a group of lads. It’s jovial, a play fight. Don’t give me your shit, one girl shouts. Making my way down Great Darkgate Street, a girl in a bright-green football shirt sits cross-legged on the pavement outside the SPAR. A boy sits opposite her staring in the other direction. Listen, right… she is saying, her voice trailing off.

A cyclist rode down to the end of the Perygyl as I walked, his red taillight flickering in the darkness. I hovered until he left wanting it to myself. I watched the mist over the sea. It’s going to be a good day. a lovely day.

I deadheaded the geraniums as I left. The blossom falls heavy on the ground. Cherry blossom confetti.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.