They’re going home for Christmas. I’ve seen them, rucksacks on their backs heading for the station. Emptying the town. It’ll be just the locals soon. Quiet. No vomit of a morning. Still a few stragglers left. I saw some this morning. That tall boy with the lace-ups and no socks.

The rain is lashing at the windows. The aerials shake and quiver. Four rooks sit astride one, their plumage awry.

What did you call it? he asked. Black as pitch, I said. That’s it, he said, black as pitch. Still, in nine days time it’ll start getting light again, you wait.


We talked about writing. About the process of writing. I was musing over the fact that after a morning’s writing I always feel like shit. How do you mean? he asked. It’s hard to explain, I said. It’s always as if it isn’t good enough, as if I haven’t done enough, and yet, I’ve done the thousand words I intended to do. I used to feel the same way when I made art, I said.

In Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac Edith Hope, a writer of romantic fiction, always has a bath after a day spent writing.¬†The author¬†gives the impression of being somehow sullied, dirtied by the process. I think I know what she means.

I don’t want to be precious about it. I am just curious, nay, eager to cancel the habits. The habits of a life-time. A life-time of self-denigration. Just to stop and try another approach. The work is done. The words written. It is enough. Now rest. That’s all. The time for judgement is not now, not until all the words are written. Then and only then can the judgement start. And even that, even that doesn’t have to be unkind. I do the best I can. We all do. Against such odds.

We’ve begun The Constant Gardener. It isn’t what I expected. There is something curiously old-fashioned about it. We shall see.

She tells us about her horse. She’s sprained her ankle. I’ve forgotten her name. She uses an acronym for it. Ill gotten gains, I think, though that can’t be right if the acronym is IMO. He laughs, great name, he says. Her ex won’t sign over the papers for her. It’s just spite, she says, her voice getting shriller. Says he’ll see her as meat first. I’m just gonna love her and take me chances, she says, shrugging her shoulders. She’s the most beautiful horse, she says, everyone says so. Anyway must rush, customers are waiting. Enjoy the coffee. Ta, guys.

She puts two thumbs up as we leave. Keep warm and dry, she shouts. See you next week, guys. Byeeee.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.