When I can I snatch an afternoon sleep. Just an hour. I’m tired by then, dog-tired often. Particularly these days with the winter gloom, the aching of my back and all this beleaguerment. I have become his carer. Has it not always been so? His in and out of depression has never been far away, it has rested in the corner of each of our rooms, in each of our homes. He needs constant bolstering. There is no even keel. He has no appetite. Has lost a stone, I think. He looks shell-shocked, blown through. I baked flapjacks yesterday. I did it for two reasons. No, three. I’d been wanting to do it for ages, just to try. Two, I wanted to make something to tempt his appetite. And three, I love the smell of baking in the house. These smelt treacly, buttery, sweet and slightly cloying. It is cosy, he said. That is enough, I think for these dark days. So, back to the sleep. Yesterday was to be my only chance for the next few days. We both lie on his bed. He reads and I sleep. We wrap ourselves in dressing gowns and rugs (the flat is so cold) and I insist on the window being slightly open. I need fresh air. He moans but yields. So I slept for a little, maybe half an hour only to be woken by a voice outside our window. A woman’s voice. High-pitched, keening. Ronnie! she called. Ronnie! Then there where cat noises, a miaowing, then a whistling. Ronnie is a cat. There are two both named after the Kray twins. Grey, sleek cats, disdainfully elegant and adored by their ‘mother’. This wasn’t her. This was her mother. She must be looking after them while she is away. Do cats come when they are called? The cats of this mansion roam the wilderness that is the building site outside and below our window. Ronnie particularly. He looks mean. He looks like a bird and vole killer. Was he making the cat noises or was she? Anyway, it broke my sleep. Heigh ho.

As I said, my research can be a little haphazard. I just follow my nose. At the moment I am reading books from childhood, ones that gave me an idealistic notion of family life and mothers.  It is a warm journey. Are you enjoying it? he asks. Yes, I say. Well that is reason enough, he replies. I fight it. I fight our present situation, though I try not to. For I know that it causes us more stress. Accept the time it takes. Accept the slowness of everything. Accept the small chunks of time you have to work. Let it be. Just let it be what it is. For it is enough.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.