Mind book cover

We rarely row. And even then it is soon over, both eager to apologise, to right the dis-ease. Today it was in Morrisons. A silly thing. It usually is. Latex gloves. They didn’t have the ones I usually use.┬áHe got the wrong ones. I snapped. But it wasn’t because of him, it was her. She unsettles me. She is too brash, pushing the food and other things through too fast. I can’t get on top of it. She is rough, not careful like Jude. She unsettles me. She unsettles him too. I can’t stand her, he says. She’s bossy. She shouts.

She stands up at the till. She gives the impression she has better things to do. There is no sharing the time of the day. Not like Michael. He is the opposite. He asks about his eye op. Oh, it was brilliant, says Michael, pausing the scanning of the kiwi fruit to talk. Keep going, I want to say, but try instead to practice patience. Michael is explaining the procedure. Apparently he has 20:20 vision now. I wait with my plastic bag open and ready to receive the fruit. It’s better than it ever was, Michael is saying. He has several burst blood vessels on his nose. I like him. There is gentleness to him. He is always ill. Either coughing or blowing his nose. He smokes. There is a silver identity bracelet around his wrist. Anyway, must get on, he says to Michael. Oh, yes, look at me, says Michael. It’s all this time off I’ve had.

They have the supreme quality of transience. Mrs Miniver talking about fireworks. It was on the radio. Penelope Wilton read it. I didn’t know it was a series of books too. I know the film. I watched it in his honour. Perhaps he meant the books. The supreme quality of transience.

Another radio programme about the spirits of famous composers and singers writing and singing through another. A housewife from Balham, composing on behalf of Liszt. Why not?

Wanting to believe.

We had a slight contretemps yesterday too. A misunderstanding. It was the coffee, he said afterwards. Yes, it makes one edgy, sharp. Soften. Soften. Retract the claws.

I hung some mistletoe. Ward off the spirits. Not the kindly ones. They are welcome. God Jul.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.