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Writings

Leopard-skin Coat

There are more and more people about as I walk in the mornings. They are students mainly. One lad was drunk and lurching, his head staring down at his red trainers. Then, all of sudden he looked up as if waking from a stupor and whirled about uncertain where he was or where he was going. He shook himself out of it and kept walking. Another three were coming up the steps from the beach onto the Prom as I neared. They’d been swimming. There was a girl, her black swimming costume exposed under a fake leopard-skin fur coat. Her feet were bare. She was tiny. The other two were lads, one with a towel wrapped around his middle. She seemed to be in charge. A pretty girl, pretending to be a film star no doubt as I used to do when I was her age, though I didn’t have her nerve. I watched as she picked her tiny feet over the pebbles on the pavement and thought of that night I drove to a beach with that kind, gentle boy and we sat and looked at the sky. I remembered his name when I got home and how he liked the songs of Joni Mitchell.

Odin, Lillian, Perseverance, Miss You and Phrygos are all out of the water and on stilts down by the harbour ready for their repairs.

I dreamt of boats, liners to be specific. Someone had invited me to join their party on a cruise. Lots of people. And we were mostly inside. When I docked I walked a little with another friend. I saw some clear, icy water and dived into it. Now you are all wet, she said. Then she said, I must go home. And I felt a pang. Back on board there were three women sitting in one of the cafes. Oh, good, one of them said I can now order some Beef Stroganoff. At another point in the dream I was in a cinema. The lights were up and it was full. Everybody was eating ice creams and flapjacks spilling crumbs everywhere. I was the only one not eating, clutching my ribs and wearing black. Then later I was talking to her and I couldn’t remember her name. The loss of it hurt me.

It was OK. She was happy. It is enough to have it so.

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Writings

Penguin

There seemed to be more people about than usual this morning. Students loafed about shopping at the 24hr garage or the SPAR, or sat up in living rooms drinking and chatting. There was a spirit of party about, not sure why. Somebody had a firework display at about 6.30 pm last night, only 4 days too late. A man sat in a parked silver car along the Prom, his engine was on and music pumped from it. One of his back windows had been pushed in and a plastic bag had been taped around the gap. The door to The Penguin Cafe was open as I walked past at 4 am. A man stood at the counter leaning over some files while another man sat at one of the benches with a cup of something. Only some of the overhead lights were on. More lights were shining from the doorway of the shop that used to be Thorntons along Great Darkgate Street and its metal barrier had been partly raised. I could see Newports of Aberystwyth etched on the glass of the door. I asked him at breakfast what it used to be and he didn’t know. There were five mobile homes at the harbour. I tried to let go of my thoughts and listen to the sea. In and out, rolling and pulling back. It is quite a discipline.

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Writings

First Christmas Tree

I saw it this morning as I walked. It was shining, its lights ablaze in the window of The White Horse on Terrace Road. What a fillip it gave me. Perhaps they are celebrating the lifting of lockdown in Wales today and trying to entice customers back in. Thank you. I needed that. And the spinning mirror ball effect throwing sequins of light onto the dark pavement. It doesn’t matter how tacky. Bring it on. I need light.

A grey cloth cap lay discarded, lost or forgotten along Darkgate Terrace.

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Writings

Bonfires

Did I smell bonfires as I set out for my walk this morning? Or was it my imagination?

When I meditate I don’t feel anxious. Is fear solely in the mind?

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Writings

The Finisher

Geoffrey Palmer died yesterday. I cannot tell you how much I have loved watching and listening to him. I have a collection of actor’s faces and voices that fill me with pleasure – he is, was one of them, with that lugubrious, hangdog face, his seeming curmudgeonliness always suffused with warmth, he was a joy. Thank you.

I dreamt I had been asked to help with some kind of a performance, it could have been a pageant or a play, I am not sure but it involved making small round buttonholes for the insertion of stay ribbons. There was so much to do and I was frustrated that my hands couldn’t work faster. There were also some repairs to do. Shall I just sew it? I asked. No, a woman said, you have to cut it first. The stays was black and it’s bones were of metal.

I walked along Chalybeate Street and came to the corner Mill Street where the garage is and had to do a quick manoeuvre into the road. A man was standing just beyond the forecourt. He was a young man with long hair and wearing a loose sweat top with some sort of a slogan on the front that I couldn’t read. He was carrying something in his right hand. His arm was outstretched. It looked like a small baby wrapped in a faux-fur leopard skin all in one sleepsuit. It was a child and it was asleep. His partner or wife, a thin strip of a thing with long, lank blonde hair was standing a little apart with her back to them, texting. As a tableau it struck me, the strangeness of the hour (it wasn’t yet 4 am) and the location (perhaps they were buying food or fags or drink?) and yet I didn’t want to judge. The child was asleep, and clearly content. Let it be. I wish them well.

I finished Sanditon. I didn’t realise that Austen only wrote 26,000 words of it – that is eleven chapters. An Australian writer finished this version in 1975. I enjoyed it. It felt true. Her ‘apology’ in the back was offered with grace and due humility. Could I do something like that? I move straight into Sense and Sensibility with its preface by Francesca Segal. I nice intro. Reading Austen makes you want to sit more upright, she writes. Yes. Absolutely.

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Writings

In Another Life

I’ve always struggled determining the shape of my life. What am I, what shall or should I be? There has never been one distinct path to follow. I wobble, I always have.

I got an email saying that there was a vacancy. Should I, shouldn’t I? I asked him. No, he said, I want you at home. (It isn’t how it sounds, he means, meant to be at home, to do my own work, to be with him.) I sent my CV anyway. I told him and he was cross, no not cross, frustrated. I don’t know that I want it. Perhaps I just want to determine if they might want me. I’ve thought about it all day. I would lose much to gain what? A sense of a life more noble. I’ve done this alot during my almost sixty years, this sending something out there to see what comes. Sometimes it excites me, now less and less. What will I do if they get in contact? I don’t know. I don’t know that I could do it. Will you guide me? What do you want of me? What do I want of myself?

Just be happy, he says. We have enough. Yes?

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Writings

Christmas Decorations

The town’s Christmas decorations have been hung. They are not on yet and won’t be till the end of this month, and even then they switch them off at night. How I miss seeing the lights as I walk. Heigh ho. They are a simple, understated affair – gone are the flashing santas and the bilingual Happy Christmas that used to hang over Great Darkgate Street. The tree is still to appear. The smell of pine is always comforting when it does.

Did you hear any fireworks last night? I heard a few. No large gatherings precluded any big displays. Everything it seems will be sobered-down this year. The sun is already out. Not warming us but still a cheerful sight. Thank you.

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Writings

Too Much

Sometimes there is too much swirling around in my head to pin down or even begin to make sense of. At the moment it is the residue of listening to Peter Curran yesterday on Telling Tales and of just having looked at Colin Davidson’s portraits of those affected by ‘The Troubles’. I don’t know what to say after reading such testimonies and seeing images of such care-worn faces. And then there were my dreams of going to the toilet in public, always in public, always on view, in a station with no cubicles and of a woman leaving behind her glasses and things and my trying to call after her. And him at breakfast being so agitated at the thought that Donald Trump might win a second term in office and not being able to read or concentrate on anything else. Look out the window, he said before he left for his walk, if you want to be cheered up. And I do and it is magnificent. The colours. The sun on the buildings facing the Prom. Warm reds, oranges and yellows. An Autumn delight. Sometimes these small things are all we have. If they indeed be small.

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Writings

Dylan, Meat, Trying to Find Him, Flotsam, Doorbell and Spilling Red Wine

It’s fixed. The boiler is fixed. He came, that wonderful Welsh man with a name like a famous American singer songwriter (but pronounced differently being Welsh), and fixed it. Shouldn’t be a problem, he said, a common fault. And it’s done. My bath was a joy this morning and the house is toasty again. Thank you, thank you you dark haired youth.

Dreams. The moon is no longer wholly full but the night images are still rampant. I was trying to find him. He was in a hotel but I couldn’t remember it’s name or its location. I went to a cafe and ordered breakfast but it was ostensibly a plate of meat. I tried to eat the rest but couldn’t and took it to the waitress at the desk to explain that I was vegan. We laughed about it, she was very forgiving and offered me a refund. Oh, I couldn’t, I said. Then I was trying to find him again. Sometimes I was with him, other times we were speaking on the phone. What was the name of where he was? I knew it. Then my father was there. I have a heart condition, he said. And a daughter of an acquaintance had given me some red wine. I didn’t want it. Then I spilled it and remembered a dream from the previous night (while I was still dreaming) of a purple stain and there it was. She poured me another gigantic glass. It’s low calorie, she said. And then my line manager was there telling me about her house next door to me with its floor to ceiling window. So much. Excuse my relaying it all here – I just want to remember. He pays no heed to his, for me they tell me things. Sometimes much, much later.

The big tides have thrown sand on the Prom and bits of flotsam lie on the beach, a child’s rucksack and a huge branch. Three lads stood talking, hoodies up, outside the bandstand.

The doorbell that fell off when the Asian girls took the flat round the corner still lies on the ground outside two months later.

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Writings

Boiler (2)

I’m trying to be sanguine. He is better at it than me. Our boiler has bust. No hot water, no heating. My bath this morning was a thimble-full of water boiled in the kettle and in pans on the stove, all ferried downstairs. Back and forth. I am unsettled, such breakings always discombobulate me. I catastrophize imagining all sorts of horrors. Nevertheless I get on with things. It’s all I know how to do. The flat was still cleaned, breakfast made and here I am ready for work. People will have to come in. And I don’t know when. They are nice enough, of course, it’s just the thought of it, at the moment. And all the time I think of the two men sleeping in the shelter on the Prom, hardly protected against this fierce wind, and the refugees living in those camps and the winter coming on. At least I am dry, I have food, shelter, a space to call my own. It’s just that it reminds me of direr times, times when all was chaos and I was scared. My vulnerability is so near the surface. And I think fear of cold, of being cold is my biggest concern. And of destitution. For I’ve experienced both of them, to my shame.

Sometimes I am but a speck. To him I am more. But sometimes……