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Silent Order

We’ve been watching back copies of ‘Call the Midwife’ and we’re up to the one in which Sister Evangelina, played by the wonderful Pam Ferris, realises that she has gone to far with her ‘breast is best’ campaign and asks Sister Julienne if she can go to stay with a silent order for six months, so that she can start ‘listening’ again. I always find such an idea immensely attractive. I know that I am looking at it romantically and basing it on just one day spent in that way. But nevertheless it was wonderful. Words so often get in the way, or they are just plain wrong. That day in that Quaker Hall was so freeing. No small talk, no ‘pouring tea for anyone’, just an inward peace – that was until the end when we were invited to ‘tell the group’ how it was. I left, sharpish. It’s the blundering I long to dispense with. Like yesterday, and our set-to just before the end of the rugby. I could’ve just kept quiet.

I said yesterday that ‘a man’ had compiled Austen’s letters. He was more than simply that apparently – as I read today, R W Chapman is a known Austen scholar. Apologies, R W.

As I walked along Llanbadarn Road this morning I saw a man ahead. He was lurching, sometimes against the wall, other times dipping into the road. I kept my distance and all the time paying attention. I do that. I helps to calm me when my hackles are up. I start listing what potentially threatening people look like and what they wear. If they are in cars I try to remember the number plates, saying them over and over in my head till I feel safe. This bloke (the lurcher), was young, possibly a student. He was tall, slim and with a haircut chopped in a razor cut at the back. He carried a black leather bag over his shoulder, wore a tartan print raincoat and his boots were black with a white sole. The light from his phone (he read it as he lurched) shone yellow on his face and head.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.