This cold has stolen my sense of smell and with it the ability to taste. The coffee I’ve just had was mere bitterness. And my sleep last night was fitful, almost hallucinatory. Scenes from A Poet in New York, the film we are in the middle of watching, kept weaving themselves into my dreams. The actress playing Caitlin and her anger, and that stabbing of the muddy beach. Over and over. Yet before I went to sleep I had this exquisite sense of aliveness. The breeze from the window gracing my cheek, the heavy warmth of my bedclothes, that falling in and out-ness of sleep, all were exquisite. I went into to him for paracetamols thinking it was late. It was 7.30pm. The film is absorbing. And Tom Hollander, exemplary. They would lock him in his shed so that he’d write.

More kids about this morning, pouring out of the clubs and pubs, talking loud. Seemingly so self-assured. So basically, a girl is saying to friend, I drank it, it was disgusting but I feel fine. And another girl crossing the road to Pier Street, is shouting to her girlfriends, I’m literally fucked. My knee is killing me. Later, walking past The Angel, a group of girls, one saying, I’m shitting myself.

Snatches of the vernacular. Bravado. Postulating. It is tough for them. Freedom on a plate but how to manage their place in it. I watch from a distance. Committing their sayings to memory.

Have I spoken about her? She works in one of the University canteens. He likes to go there to read his paper and have coffee. They all know him. Sometimes they come over with morsels of food, a croissant, a muffin. I shouldn’t. Oh, go on. She’s a chatterer. You know the kind of person I mean. Talking ten to the dozen, as my mother used to say. She hardly takes breath. It all pours out, all the detail. A machine gun. Rat-a-tat-tat. He told me he saw her yesterday talking to a 60 year-old woman. They were talking away, apparently. When the woman left, she came over to his table. She’s a welshie, she told him, then pulled a face, pursing her lips and leaning her head to one side, and a les. I know I shouldn’t say it, she said immediately afterwards. No, you shouldn’t, he said. I know. My Gareth always tells me off, don’t say those things. But I can’t help it.

My mood is as grey as the sky. I know I was born to it, this greyness but I do struggle with it. No light. No sunshine, just a blank, rainy blankness. I always long for something to happen on such days, anything. Some gift, some unexpected joy. It never comes when you long for it though. It has to be so. I’m reading Patience Gray’s Honey from a Weed. It soothes my soul. A cookbook-cum-journal, it takes me back to the Mediterranean. The simplicity of sun, food and hand-crafted work. I know I’m a romantic and such a book feeds it. The life she describes is hard, there is much poverty and little certainty. I know this. But nevertheless, I’ve such longing. And there was that programme on Radio 4 Extra. The Gentle Art of Tramping, I believe it was called. For people who wish to escape the normal, the humdrum. And yet, that too is hard. A vicar saying that in the end they come to her in Pilston saying they can’t do another winter on the road. It is too hard.

He says its the cold. I need to rest. I know this too. An opportunity, permission to do so. And yet, I must ready myself for next week. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.