No Pants

I made the mince pies yesterday¬†despite having a last minute work booking. He had two for supper and I took two to the men sleeping in the Prom shelter this morning. There were four or possibly even five mounds huddled under blankets. I will have to take more than two next time. I didn’t wake them. One of them, a bearded man in a dark blue woollen hat, was facing me as I stooped down to put the bag on the ground next to a large bottle of water. His mouth was open and he was snoring loudly. I’m glad they sleep. It was so cold, a chill, bitter east wind that sent the leaves, now dry and brittle, skidding and scurrying. The clubs, intent on getting as much out of the students as they can before they return home for Christmas, were open and young people swayed and reeled about the Prom. Two lads walked home in Christmas jumpers, one with a trail of gold tinsel round his neck. Girls in tiny, figure-hugging dresses tripped about in heels. One was trying to do up her sandal, her foot raised up on one of the benches. A man was trying to help. Neither of them were getting very far. Her head seemed to loll about. And I’m sure as I walked past, with her crotch in full view, that she had no pants on.

Surely not? I asked him later when I woke him for breakfast. She can’t have, surely, in that cold? Oh yes, he said, knowingly. No better than she should be then, I said. Nope.

A dead bird lay splattered on the road down towards the harbour. It’s speckled plumage suggested it was a fledgling seagull. It’s wings splayed, flickered in the wind, mimicking flight. Poor love. A car tyre’s tread had made a thick, hard line through it.

I thought about the grief I feel about not being able to do all I want to do. It’s something to do with needing to finish, to complete things so that I know that I can do them. This uncertainty, that feeling of foolishness eats away at me. But perhaps, I thought, as I strode into the wind, I need to look at it another way. Perhaps the preciousness, the joy is being in it, in the process of writing, making, performing whatever. The key is to not grieve for a completion that seems so out of reach, but to do it, to be in it, wholly. First the book. Give it what it needs, one year, two, three. Then do the same for your drawing. Give it a focussed two, three years. Then? What then? Learn an instrument, a language. Then there is my sewing. Let it be what it is. A mix of things, of longings. Be in them. Wholly. That is enough.

I can’t apply for the CPD bursary because I had the Coaching one this year. So be it. I made a plan for the project instead. It is both good and daunting to get it down on paper. To face it in all its largeness and smallness.

I pick up sentences from the radio like magpie pick up shiny things.

‘I thrived there’ he read.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.