The Famous Five Have Plenty of Fun

Beach image with three girls

She said that Enid Blyton was supposed to have written up to a ten thousand words a day. She was certainly prolific. I write a thousand and I am spent. Grahame Green wrote eight hundred at a push. Just write your thousand a day, wrote Stephen King. You need a structure, a regime, else all is chaos. Did I like her books as a child? I’m not sure, that I did. I didn’t warm to them, the characters that is. Whom did I prefer? The Narnia books perhaps? And yet, they were so heartbreaking. The capture of Aslan, his flesh bitten into by that rope. Too tender a child. Always have been. When he asked Derek Walcott to talk about Seamus Heaney, he couldn’t. Was he crying? Over-sensitive, they always called me. Perhaps I am like a poet. He was a beautiful man, he said finally.

I no longer blush, I am denied that warmth, muses the protagonist in A. L. Barker’s short story, Something of Fancy. It is only at the end that you realise it is the ghost of Jane Austen. Nice. Piano. Pronounced pi-aaa-know.

Sunday morning, 4.30 am. Remnants of Halloween. A young man in a body leotard painted to look like a skeleton walks home along Llanbadarn Road. There are girls in cat’s eyes and eyeliner whiskers, some wear nurses uniforms with bloodied aprons, one has a black tinsel halo fixed to her head. A man sits in the road.

On Desert Island Discs Marjorie Wallace describes her melancholy as ‘a winter of the mind’.

They’ve collected all the lobster pots. They are piled high on the harbour. They stink. A stench like rancid sweat or unclean tummy buttons or knicker gussets.  It is overpowering. I shut my nostrils as I walk by. The smell of landed sea. Too much. To alive. To potent.

I am glad we are to meet. Lunch will be nice. I will dress up. I’ve missed you. I miss all of you. All those parts of me that make me smile, sometimes laugh out loud. It is a balancing act all of this, the yin and yang, the inner and the outer. Winter is the inner, the being inside, hunkering down. But not yet. Another day of sun beckons. The sky is a perfect space of blue. What a joy. What a gift. Thank you for this. Thank. You.


By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.