The China and the Harmonium

I try to rein in my mind when my alarm wakes me, firstly to remember my dreams and secondly to lurch it into the present so that I don’t drift back to sleep. I sometimes only recall the tenure of dreams, the residue of sensation that they leave behind. I’m better at remembering the words that seem to drift unbidden through my head rather than into. They are not of my making it seems but appear like flotsam out of nowhere. This morning there were two phrases: ‘the china and the harmonium’ and ‘we have an epic before you’. Is it a kind of lunacy or just the playful side of my subconscious stringing together words in a dadaist manner? I like it. It, they come unbidden. And perhaps unlike most things in my life they should be left to be what they are, a delightful nonsense.

When we’ve sat outside these last few afternoons several wasps have taken to landing on my legs and resting there. They seem perfectly content. I try not to tense up. I am offering them a calm place to stay awhile. Why not? He offers to flick them off, no, please don’t, I say, scared that he will alarm them and that they will sting me. Just let them be, they will soon go. Though some linger a little too long.

He called it the velvet divorce. I like the phrase, most evocative. Something to do with Slovakia and Russia. All the music he played had a Slovakian influence, a little trying at times till Petroc Trelawny came on at 6.30 with Mozart.

Another quiet morning on the Prom. The sea lapped gently. A few more students can be seen and there was even some vomit on the ground the other day. I must go into town for an appointment this morning. I don’t want to do it. One gets used to being inside, safe at home. I have become fearful of interactions, even the most benign ones. I must rustle up my courage.

I worry that my work isn’t going anywhere. Do you want to do it? he asks. Yes, I reply. Does doing it make you happy? he asks. Yes, I love where it takes my mind. There you are, he says, that is reason enough. Yes. In my heart I know this. It’s the old tuggings, that need to be acknowledged, to be told that one is good. Good enough to pass.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.