We had a tiff he and I. It rarely happens. The flashpoint, when it does happens, tends to be over something technical. We are both technophobes, scared of what we don’t understand. And we don’t understand technology. We get by. He with his iPad and iPhone and me with my laptop and current forays into film-making. It terrifies me. And the worst thing is I feel so stupid about it all. I believe he feels the same and it makes us squabble. This time it was over the DVD. We were watching the closing scenes of Andrew Davies’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice before going to bed. We’ve seen it loads of times. Countless times, but for some reason, this and our last ‘screening’ of North & South, have been hugely enjoyable. You notice the nuances in the endless re-seeings. I like that. You can take time with it, go back, as we do, several times. Well, when we turned the DVD machine on the picture went green. I’d cleaned the house yesterday so the inevitable, you must’ve touched something, followed. I am so careful. Always. Anyway, I got up and fiddled about. Careful. Any good? Yes. Finally. But then the picture started to stick, just at the moment when Lady Catherine de Bourgh came to bawl out Elizabeth in the Bennet’s little paddock. Shall we just leave it and it may right itself? I asked. No, I’ll take it out and clean it, he said. He did so and then it wouldn’t read it. Whirr whirr went the machine. I think it’s bust, I said. No, it’s the disc. It keeps saying ‘error disc’. I try another and now it won’t open. In the end he accuses me of being silly. How that word gets under my skin. Am I ever silly? His mother used to say it. I would bite my lip, knowing her goodness and his tenderness towards her. Don’t call me silly. Just don’t. I go to bed in a huff. He comes in with a desultory kiss. Then I wake in the early hours and remember our discord. He feels it too and comes in a second later. Sorry. No, I’m sorry. We were just tired. Yes, we were. Two things kaput. First the tyre with a nail and now the DVD machine. What next?

He sent the film. I cannot say what I think of it. I like it’s simplicity. But what others will make of it, I don’t know. I cannot say. I just cannot. But it is made. I am fascinated by hands. Hands working. What is that about?

Another frosty morning. But now, at 9.15 the sun shines yellow and orange on the rooftops. He is at the chiropodist. How prosaic. He cannot feel his feet. Sometimes he loses his slipper under the table and doesn’t know for minutes. Poor love. He needs to have them tended regularly. He is seventy now. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. How I love him. How I love him. This much, this high, this big.


By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.