Stand up

Stand up! A student is shouting at his friend, who lies curled up in a foetal position halfway down Great Darkgate Street. Stand up! His voice is pleading now as he pulls at the boy’s jacket. Stand up you fucking dick! I’m not doing this all night. He is still shouting as I reach the bottom of the street. Should I have helped him? Don’t get involved, he tells me time and time again when I regale him with tales of students falling in the road, or lying fast asleep in gutters. The boy sounded so distressed. There was a police van parked up just beyond The Angel, hadn’t they noticed him? They drink themselves into oblivion. Why? Is it just that it is fun or is there some darker motive? There was a girl lurching along North Road, wearing nothing but a mini skirt and a short sleeveless top. She talked on the phone as she meandered her way home, hiccupping.

She thought my name was Kate. He told me of it when he got home. Kate. Could I be a Kate? For a moment I thought about it. It might be nice to be someone else, just for a short time. How would that feel?

He came to talk about the National Library. They were to light it up purple last night. Something to do with the Polio charity, he said. A nice man. Jolly. A big rugby player. I’d been expecting someone else, someone more effete. He’s a technician, I think. We’ll just put some coloured gels over the security lights, he said, that’s all. I saw it this morning. A rather under-rated affair. I remember when The Belle Vue hotel lit up with the colours of the tricolor in response to first terrorist attack in France a few years ago. It moved me. A simple act of solidarity. No words. Symbolic. Powerful. The Nat Libs attempt was a little like a damp squib. Still it’s something I suppose. He enjoyed talking about it. Good to get the publicity, he said. Anytime, he said. Anytime you want a gobby sod, I’m your man.

I knew someone in Bath who went around photographing heart shapes around the city. It could be anything a piece of chewing gum, a stone, a smattering of moss, a leaf, a puddle, anything. Once you do that you start seeing them everywhere.

He said no. I thought he would, but I appreciate him trying. That was a nice thing. Try something else, something quieter. I think that is better, more me.

I wrote it in a day. I hope she is happy with it. I took risks. I worrit away over it. I always do. Could I have made it better? Yes, probably but it is what it is. Let it be.

Coffee. Yes, please. Coffee and crosswords, an indulgence. I worked hard yesterday, though it never seems enough. No rain this morning, just fresh air. Lovely. Our last film is on its way. Sad. I will be sad. What will come in its place? Work? Enough. Coffee.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.