Tete a tete

They were a little extravagance. My little extravagance, which continued into the morning when I bought lingerie. Two pieces. All lace. In the sale, naturally. An indulgence, to which I confessed when he woke. He is fine about it. Always. I am the one who is discombobulated. Too many purchases make me wobbly. I’m my father’s daughter. A little close. Nervy about excess. I like the simple. I am a Puritan at heart. And yet I love beautiful underwear. What did she say about the Rector? Did she use the word puritan? He didn’t, doesn’t like too much frippery, too much pomp. Did she accuse him of doing away with the Abbey’s Christmas tree? Edward. His name is Edward I remember. And I saw him once in Waitrose without his dog collar and sporting a rugby shirt. What was his title? Was it something like promontory? No, I’ve just checked its Revd. Prebendary. Though that doesn’t look right either. And he has retired this year. It won’t be the same. A gentle man, a shy man, I think. I remember going to the Vicarage for an introductory tea. He looked so uncomfortable. They stopped doing them soon after. A blessed relief, I suspect. Back to my extravagance. Two little pots of tete a tete daffodils. One for my room, one for his. Doris and Daphne. Dor and Daffers. It makes him laugh, the perpetual naming of things. Of inanimate objects. It’s part of our closeness, our precious intimacy. A shared silliness, childishness. I can be that with him and I treasure it. Anything to puncture the earnestness. Anyway, they are lovely. Our own wee harbingers of Spring. Soon to sprout.

Did you know that the Wise Men, the Magi were originally astrologers? According to Ian Hislop that was the case until the Church men started to meddle and astrology was debunked, and made into a non-science. And then they were Kings until Cromwell stuck his oar in and made them Wise Men. As a child you take it as truth. All of it. I sang We Three Kings of Orient Are as I walked this morning.

I was better yesterday. The negative voice wasn’t so strong. It’s trying to take root this morning. It is a day-to-day thing at the moment. It’s because I’m alone with it without interruption, I suppose. I think about what I want, what I need. I think about the haves and the have nots. I’m in the first category undoubtedly, though to a lesser degree than many. And yet, I see my blessings. I have peace, I have autonomy. I am dearly loved. Treasured, in fact. I can please myself. I have enough to eat, I am warm, safe and held. All of which gives me time to fret about the details. How I get myself across? Am I good enough? Am I┬ákind enough? Am I doing enough? Am I working hard enough? Am I worthwhile? OK. Now pull back. What is enough? Who is making the judgements? I think about his mother. No great claims for a life. No accolades. A loving woman, funny, well-liked. A raiser of a family, a wife and carer. She made shift. She did what was expected. WI, playing bowls, bridge. She was present in her life. And later, she waited with grace and humour for her demise. Was her life any less than mine? With my egotistic search for recognition, for acknowledgement that I am somehow special. What constitutes special? Beauty, talent, skill, power? It all begins inside. This deep well of knowingness. And yet, not knowing. For we cannot know anything. The days fold out one after another and sometimes I am so weary. And yet I don’t have to go down a pit, work in a factory, plough a field. I am warm, I am safe. The war is an internal one. An illusion, ultimately and at odds with what I really want. She writes about silence. About praying for 3 hours a day, walking, reading, writing and sewing. Is that enough? Is that a good enough life? I want my peace. I want to know my peace. I want to open to my peace. For then all else will make sense. All else will fall into place. Amen to that.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.