A metal letterbox halfway along South Marine Terrace flaps in the wind. Rat-a-tat-rat-a-tat. Pay attention. It is not yet 6 am. Pay attention.

Later, a brown bread roll is thrown out from a window below our kitchen. I see it make a perfect arc before bouncing onto the road. Four rooks glide down to meet it. The first one spearing it with its beak. They are hungry. The birds are hungry. I hear their chatter throughout the day.

It was good to dress up. To go out to dinner. To stay at a hotel. Christmas had been too quiet. A quiet melancholy overtook me. It was good to dress up. He would’ve enjoyed it. His favourite place, I think. Six of us. The man with the sloping face. We’d never met. Whisky made him sardonic, sharp. I wasn’t sure how to respond. Later, I kissed his face goodbye. His lips left a wetness on his cheek. Where you good friends? I miss you. We raised a glass in your honour. The next day we visited your grave. Well, not a grave as such. A plot. A plot for your pot. No stone yet, just a wooden marker. It is a lovely spot for your plot. High up. An iron gate. A stone wall surrounding it, keeping it safe. Are you cold? Are you at peace? I hope so. A contented man. A life spent waiting¬†for retirement. You relished it. The simple pleasures of safety, comfort and company. I miss you. You smiled around your eyes. The ruthlessness went. And that wave. A twisting sort of movement. He does it now. Funny that.

A new year. Good. I like it. A new start. A blank page ready for opportunity. And it will come. It always does. Adventures. May there be many. It wasn’t the Christmas I hoped for but there was a kind of peace. And there was he – always. We took a candle to her grave. Their grave. Their plot. We lit it but leaving it so made him anxious. It isn’t the tradition here, not like over there. Hundreds of orange lights lustrous against the snow. A remembrance – a coming alive with flame. A resurging of ancestors.

She remembered their names, was sad that they have all gone. Christmas alone for her, for so many. Though she is not strictly alone, in that home. I reach out to her through the phone. She is tired. To tired to talk for long.


Welsh bollocks he calls it. It makes him angry. I think I understand. I want to lighten it, make him laugh. I love making him laugh. A CD amongst the collection. In the studio. On the front a picture of a 1970s choir. A female choir in knee-length frocks and high hairdos. The title prompting a double-take. I must remember to tell him. ‘S4C Makes Me Want to Smoke Crack’.

Happy New Year. I wish you peace. x

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.