The Postman’s Wife

He always stops him to ask after her. The postman’s wife. She has cancer. She is undergoing chemotherapy. Of course, they are poisoning her, he said to me afterwards.

He called just before lunch, he was badly shaken. I’ve just had a shock, he said. It was clearly a scam. Someone, well two people really, telephoning him and purporting to be from the HMRC and accusing him of not paying enough tax. They threatened him with a possible prison sentence. I was in the loo, he told me, and didn’t take the call but called them back. Two foreign-sounding men, one was his supervisor, he said, and they were so aggressive. I told him to call our accountant. Who, when he did, just laughed, apparently. And I wasn’t much better. Come home, I said. And when he did all I could focus on was giving him tips as to how to deal with fake calls in the future. And yet all he wanted was to be hugged, to be given succour. I got it eventually. They make you feel such a mug. But it is understandable, they can come across as so credible.

No moon again this morning, I have missed it. I do miss it. A man up a cherry picker was fiddling with the top of what looked like a lamp post just outside the station at 3 am this morning. What can be so vital that it cannot wait until daylight? The headlights from his van had been trained on him to give him more light. Three police cars were parked outside the back of The Marine Hotel. One also has its headlights full on, lighting my path as I walked, in lieu of the moon.

He told me of his friend, a Californian potter who gave up making because of the pain and difficulty it caused him to get his work ‘out there’. It is always been my motivation, to be seen, to be recognised, to be acknowledged. Never have I done the work for its own sake. DM asks me to look at his new films. They are sublime – studies of the extraordinary amid the ordinary. Birdsong mingles with the chatter of tourists, nothing happens then a leaf drops – gentle pieces that make you watch intensely. And that, surely, is merit enough. Are we working in a futile vacuum if the work has no outside destination? I think about my sewing. I want to finish them. To see them through, to see the process through. For after all they were never about the end result. It was always about the sitting still, the being still, the extraneous sounds (radio, birdsong) and the reading. There are others who work, worked, for works sake – Emily Dickinson, Primmy Chorley, Proust – can I not do the same?

Walking in the wind and rain, I came to what we call the ‘prow’, a kind of corner of the Prom that looks like the front of an ocean-going liner. The wind had grown fierce by then and I saw, from a distance what looked like a man going round and round in circles. I got near and could see he was wearing a Mexican-style poncho and dark glasses. His car, which was parked just ahead of him, had the driver’s seat window open and Indian music was coming through it. On the dashboard was a plastic sunflower in a pot. He nodded his head in acknowledgement of me and continued to go round in a circle.

Two dreams in rapid succession though only the first stays with me. DH was a deejay and I kept wandering past his studio window and giving him bon mots and quips to share with his audience. I made him laugh, delighted him. Some other  woman in the studio, seeing what I was doing, suggested that I should be interviewed, Yes, I said and they could translate it into Welsh. I was delighted by the attention, happy to be useful, wanted, loved even.

Accepting is the key. The key to it all and a way of halting this gut-ache. So be it.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.