I don’t know why the death of a celebrity should hit home more than the other 10,000 people taken prematurely by this virus, but it often does. Such notables enter our homes, our consciousness in the way that nameless strangers don’t. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. We need to relate, to build a relationship, no matter how small, to care. He came through the radio. Always funny. A charming man, Jack Dee called him. He made me laugh. I loved his quick wit. I dreamt of him last night, I asked if the gags were all scripted. He played down his skill, and said yes, they were, particularly his. I liked him. I believe I would’ve liked him if I’d met him. Is that the key, we make them nice people in our heads, shining, always shining with something we don’t have?

Ah the radio, it keeps me steady. Yesterday I listened to a repeat of Sue Macgregor’s Reunion with the hostages, John McCarthy, Brian Keenan and Terry Waite. It was so life-enriching, their courage, humour and sanguinity after such ordeals was time-stopping. Such people. I am humbled. Always. How to manage solitude, how to live with yourself without distractions, that is the nub. And then I couldn’t remember the three things Waite told himself – one was to have no regrets for that would demoralise him, the other was to not allow himself to feel self-pity but I cannot for the life of me remember the third. Did he waiver? Did he stick to it? Keenan seemed the most fragile, the most tender of the three. And the little speech he gave about McCarthy, his only companion for all those years, was beautiful.

The cherry blossom lies like forgotten confetti along the pavement gulleys. The wind whistles it up into flurries as I walk, like pink snow. No one was about. The wind was strong. His back is sore. He doesn’t know whether he will walk today. And there is the monster shop to do. I think I’ll get it over with, he says. Yes, I say, good idea. I dreamt I kept finding myself in supermarkets when I wasn’t meant to be there, and once there I couldn’t get out.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.