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The Finisher

Geoffrey Palmer died yesterday. I cannot tell you how much I have loved watching and listening to him. I have a collection of actor’s faces and voices that fill me with pleasure – he is, was one of them, with that lugubrious, hangdog face, his seeming curmudgeonliness always suffused with warmth, he was a joy. Thank you.

I dreamt I had been asked to help with some kind of a performance, it could have been a pageant or a play, I am not sure but it involved making small round buttonholes for the insertion of stay ribbons. There was so much to do and I was frustrated that my hands couldn’t work faster. There were also some repairs to do. Shall I just sew it? I asked. No, a woman said, you have to cut it first. The stays was black and it’s bones were of metal.

I walked along Chalybeate Street and came to the corner Mill Street where the garage is and had to do a quick manoeuvre into the road. A man was standing just beyond the forecourt. He was a young man with long hair and wearing a loose sweat top with some sort of a slogan on the front that I couldn’t read. He was carrying something in his right hand. His arm was outstretched. It looked like a small baby wrapped in a faux-fur leopard skin all in one sleepsuit. It was a child and it was asleep. His partner or wife, a thin strip of a thing with long, lank blonde hair was standing a little apart with her back to them, texting. As a tableau it struck me, the strangeness of the hour (it wasn’t yet 4 am) and the location (perhaps they were buying food or fags or drink?) and yet I didn’t want to judge. The child was asleep, and clearly content. Let it be. I wish them well.

I finished Sanditon. I didn’t realise that Austen only wrote 26,000 words of it – that is eleven chapters. An Australian writer finished this version in 1975. I enjoyed it. It felt true. Her ‘apology’ in the back was offered with grace and due humility. Could I do something like that? I move straight into Sense and Sensibility with its preface by Francesca Segal. I nice intro. Reading Austen makes you want to sit more upright, she writes. Yes. Absolutely.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.