Seagull shit

Inchoate, 2004

I’m a domestic animal. I believe I’ve said that before. I like the comfort of home. I like the comfort of a routinous home. I clean on Fridays, do the ironing, change the sheets. Regular. As clockwork. It grounds me. Everything feels tended to, taken care of, in place. I know that it is symbolic act. An act of imposing order on something that is not ordered. Can never be.

Don’t look at the front page of the newspapers today, he said. I know, I said, I heard it on the radio. The little Syrian boy, washed up on the beach. I looked by mistake. For all the warning it was still a shock. They are killing thousands every day in Syria, he says. I know, I thought, but this is one story, one story that tells it all. And we are all responsible. Responsible for every action perpetrated in this world. This world of ours.

I caught a glimpse of him, face down in the water. I want to hold you. I want to breathe life back into you. Make you warm again. What can I do?

I smooth a bedspread, plump a cushion and then write. I write myself clean. Again.

There’s an article in yesterday’s Times. Does Boarding School harm you for life? Well, what do they say? I ask him over breakfast. Does it? Yes, he says, though not you. It didn’t harm you. They are just experiences. We can choose how much they touch us, later. Sometimes you just have to hold your breath till it is over. He couldn’t though. He couldn’t. Rest in peace, little one.


I’ve finished the book. His writing is so compelling. So bleak. That’s it, the character Hold had said to himself after he was shot. So that’s it. That’s death. That’s the end. Is there light? Is there relief? From all that bleakness. Cynan Jones writes vicerally – his characters feel rather than talk. I want to be responsible for the death I inflict, says Hold to himself, as he kills a rabbit. Responsiblity for one’s part played. In it all.


We finally had the windows cleaned. And yesterday’s wind brought more seagull shit, across two levels of windows. Long, slanting, dashes of white spit. I can clean the lower level ones but not the top. The rain doesn’t clean it away. They will remain there till next time. It doesn’t matter. Not in the whole scheme of things. Live with it. I shall live with it. Shall I make a drawing? A tracing. Turn it into something beautiful?


Autumn is coming. I had to wear a scarf this morning. The trivial and the important. Who’s to tell which is which? We flit to and fro, sometimes sacred sometimes profane. It is our role to live out our alloted days. Until. Until? Peace?

Rest in peace little one, rest in peace.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.