South Pacific

There were a selection of books, LPs and DVDs in the window of OXFAM’s bookshop on the theme of the ‘Silver Screen’. I stopped in front of it on my way home. Seeing the LP of South Pacific with Larry Hagman’s actress mother on the front in those outsize pyjamas brought forth a deluge of memories. There was an LP of the London cast singing The Pyjama Game too and a few others that I’ve forgotten now. Dad had many of them. I remember putting them on the record player as a child and singing and dancing along to them. The films were imprinted indelibly in my head and I could picture the characters as I sang. ‘I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair’ and so on. Glorious. I was so open to it all – the escape, the romance and that post 1950s promise of the happy-ever-after – encapsulated in people like Doris Day.

The grief is always there. She pricks it with ease. There is no neat answer, we do our best, both of us. There is no laid-out path, we have to make our way stumbling, mostly. Oh, the sadness of it. The grief, the hurt. Pick yourself up and get on with it. Be grateful for the small offerings from her table. It is enough. It is more than it was. Be at peace. Then rest. And he is there, understanding and taking my hand. I am forever grateful. I know it.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.