The Woman Who Laced

I’m always a little nervous going into framing shops with work. It’s the anticipation of judgement. When I got him to ask him if he framed textiles I immediately sensed his rolling his eyes and making all sorts of assumptions about me. What does it matter what he thinks, if he thinks anything at all? I always wanted to say whenever I took stuff to the framers, and there have been so many during my life – I can do better than this, this isn’t all I can do. And now I feel just the same. Will he know that it’s a gift? And yet, as always the judgement is not coming from them but me, most after all in my experience have seen it all or are just not curious, it’s a job to them that’s all.

Can you smell his lunch? he called from downstairs, I think it’s mince. I didn’t say anything but I suspect what he was smelling was my lunch, not mince but tempeh and mushrooms. Sorry, love. Was it so bad?

When he asked him about framing textiles I asked him to check whether he would stretch it or if I had to. I used to have a woman who laced, he replied, but she’s got arthritis in her hands and can’t do it anymore.

He called the other night, well afternoon, to us it’s evening, saying that he only had 25p left on his electricity and would he drive round and collect the key to put some more on in SPAR. I got irritated. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t but he is one of those people, I can’t remember how Julia Cameron described them, who cause if not outright chaos, disruption. How could he have let it run down so low? He is self-isolating, he has been ill, is ill, so he has to ask, I get that, but so late in the day that he leaves you no choice. My love is uncomplaining, a real boy scout. Off he goes. I’m the one who takes longer to forgive. He thinks he is charming, he is not. Funny sometimes, perhaps but mostly a misogynist and he doesn’t even know it. Poor love, he is alone though. And so chaotic. Can I be kinder to him? Yes. I can.

The promise of more work and I am lifted. The tea helped too. Thank you.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.