Shabby Town

I’ve always thought it, and my opinion hasn’t changed since coming to live here. It is a shabby town, seaside towns often are, forgotten ones, at least. And the seagulls exacerbate the problem. Mind you, they did the same in Bath, and that city can be, and mostly is, beautiful. Tuesday is bin day. And the seagulls have a field day. There is detritus everywhere, particularly at the time when I walk. That time, that liminal time between night and day is theirs. They screech and moan at each other, beaks open they honk like they are retching, their webbed feet surrounded by the litter they have torn from bin bags. I saw a young man scurry out of his flat, his feet bare and with just his knickers on to put his bag out. He looked so fragile with his tiny arse and white scrawny legs. The town was empty otherwise, just strewn with crap. The gulls fly over head, white sails over the sea. The wind was up, it was bracing.

This is the second day of my rice fast and I’m feeling a bit shitty. It comes and goes but I long for tea, real tea. Is that what the headache is from, a tea withdrawal? He’d say,and in fact does say, why bother? But I want to be cleaned out, I want the clarity, that promise of certainty. Do I ask too much? It is a challenge, the body craves and insists and the mind is a weak thing, mostly. Still, I still cleaned the house and carried out my duties. Just one step at the time. I think it is heightening my senses though for I got such a strong scent of earth as I walked up the hill home – a gorgeous smell of dew-dampened, dusty soil but also a loam, rich and mulchy. I felt the gift of it. As I did of the small cheque yesterday from the NSI. Nice. Thank you.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.