House Wife (2) 2008 med

Congratulations, it said. In bold letters.  I let it go. I opened the window and let the wind take it. Here. Here is my success, share it, share it with me. I remember being scared of balloons as a child. They seemed so fragile. At any moment they could go pop. I hated those games where they were pushed and squeezed against bodies – those squeaky sounds, the anticipation of the loud bang. I would hold tight to the string. Watch out, don’t let it go. The wind will catch it. And now it has. What a feeling. What a feeling of freedom. Devil may care. He may. The scraps of a plastic kite, caught in the wires of the promenade light still flaps in the wind. A curious juddering sound.

I made it. It takes time to digest success. I am suspicious of it. Is it mine? Really mine? I need to stand still with it. To stand still within it. Other challenges will come soon enough. All too soon, but for now – be still with it. It is enough.

A restless week. Journeying. The lull after hard work. An emptiness lacking focus. Necessary, I think for any creative process, though dull and lumbering.

Having my hair cut. Finally. All the way to Oswestry. Made impatient, cross by having to wait. Not good. Breathe, Ellen. Be kind. She was charming. A winning smile. And fastidious, I like that. A bright, sunny girl. A flowing, inconsequential chattering. Or was it? We talked of singing, of fathers, of divorce, of stalking, of boyfriends. All hers. That’s OK. The listening, the stepping-in to another’s life calms me. Calms me out of the disturbance of mine.

Watching War Horse. It is taking us some time. Too tired for too much. I dream of horses, of battlefields. What horrors – even between the schmaltz. None partisan. The horse, so noble, so acquiescent. And then yesterday, an urgent booking for Newsnight. The guest, urbane and articulate. A white silk scarf around his neck. What horrors he spoke of. Every Friday they will deliver 50 lashes. Didn’t you know, he asked me afterwards? No. What do we do with such knowledge? We are helpless. He thinks not. I lay in bed thinking of him. What can I do? How can I help you? In the film a granddaughter accuses her grandfather of being a coward because he didn’t stand up to the German soldiers when they looted his farm for food. In response he tells of French carrier pigeons having to fly over battlefields to find their way home. Think of it, he says to her, think of having to fly over such carnage, such horror and still keeping flying. Think of it. That is bravery. Keeping flying, keeping going because you have to get home. I wish him, that blogger in Saudia Arabia, home. Safely home.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.