No going on the Prom, he said last night. You promise? The wind is too strong. Forty miles an hour they predicted, though since I’ve been out in it I’d say it isn’t that much. I miss it when I can’t walk by the sea. I miss that sensation of being blown through. I tried to go and look at it, creeping gingerly along the path from Laura Place to sneak a peek over the wall. But it was too strong. Just there. I was blown back and had to clutch at the Old College wall for ballast. So I wandered around town. Up hill and down dale. Up past the Old Library, past G.B. Fishing Supplies, then up past the Tan Shop, The Treehouse health food shop and the rows of solicitors, rental agencies and then Vaughan’s the electrical shop on the corner. I wound round Laura Place then up to the top of High Street to see if they’d taken down the police tape.
I’ve found out what it was, he told me at breakfast yesterday. A second year student from Cardiff was found unconscious on the ground. Three men aged twenty have been arrested. They were all talking about it at work too. One colleague said that she knew his mother. I heard the helicopter at five am, she said, they were obviously taking him to the Heath. His mother says he’ll pull through. But they had to relieve the pressure from his brain. They were all talking about it in the canteen too. One of them had a picture of him on her mobile phone. Apparently, he’s a second cousin or something, he said. That’s how gossip works, he said.
You alright? she asks as she brings us our coffees. She doesn’t run on so as she used to. She’s more relaxed with us and doesn’t need all that nervous chatter to fill the gaps. Cold ain’t it? she says. Windy, he says. Yeh, she says, I had my washing out yesterday, it was blowing lovely. Have I told you how much I like her? I cleave to her and to her and to her. It’s the big upper arms. She’s unflappable, capable. Got it all shipshape, she says. I never stop. She and her Gareth.
I finished it. I finished it in two sittings. All day at work. I was exhausted. Shot through. I need to tell her.
I walked up through The Buarth again this morning. I wanted to see if the yellow room was still lit. I saw it on Sunday morning. A stark room, lit from a naked bulb hanging from it’s corniced ceiling. There were two immense paintings hanging on opposite walls. A grand room, a front room without curtains. A gallery of art. A house of art. Restrained, puritan, sparse. But no, it was dark. There are lots of house lights on as I walk on the early hours. Mostly with drawn curtains. Are they students still cramming for exams?
I will finish my application to the Open today. Just the statement to do then let go. Pay and let go. I’ve tried. That’s all.
The wind scatters rubbish bags across the road. Should I pick them up? I like to walk without engaging with what is around me. To just observe. Bits of paper, plastic bags flutter. A foiled-up johnny. I saw a still-lit Christmas tree in one of the windows, will it be there all year? I understand.
A girl skittering along on heels, suddenly buckles at the knee, tumbling, crumbling into the gutter. She falls back in slow motion, raising her legs to the sky. Her face is bemused but no untroubled. For fuck’s sake, Alex, shouts a man running towards her. She lets herself be helped to her feet.
I got drenched yesterday. His coat was sopping. I remembered another walk years ago in Cambridge. After a row I walked in the afternoon. A summer downpour. Rain in my shoes. Squelching.
All these resolutions to learn, to get better, to understand more, to gain talent, knowing, skill, aptitude. To know. A poem a day. That’s what I intended. Where to fit it in? You want to achieve more in your one life than most people achieve in six, he said. All those years ago as his Siamese purred and miaowed in the background.