It’s the first Christmas decoration I’ve seen this year. Seen, through a window, at Alexander Hall. A string of red tinsel looped around a window fitting in an upper floor kitchen. An afterthought. Perhaps it was worn around someone’s neck first, for a night out clubbing. My mother used to have some lovely tinsel. She kept it year in year out. It wasn’t that cheap thin stuff but thick and lustrous. Fat coils of red, gold, silver and white. Let me! Can I, can I? I loved decorating the tree, I loved decorating the table, I loved putting out the little Nisser hut. I had to stop myself from tearing open the boxes, so eager was I to get my hands on them. It has always been so, a mixture of impatience and a wanting to go slow, to savour, to treasure the touch of something. She kept all those decorations with such care. The exquisitely thin glass baubles, circles, stars and bells, the Nisser figures in wool and wood, the angels, the snowmen. Each one tenderly wrapped in tissue. The tiny, tiny ones in cotton wool and squeezed into a Tampax box. Ugh, said my father, dropping it with disgust. Where are they now? Who has them now? I don’t know.

Where’re you going? A girl in shorts running from the Pier Pressure nightclub along the Prom. She stops in front of young man, putting her body in front of his, halting his progress, her hands on his chest. Where’re you going? she shouts, her voice carrying in the wind. What’s it fucking matter to you? he replies, his face jutting at hers, tight with anger.

Walking home past the station I hear a beer can rolling and crashing against a bin, then the smash of a glass bottle as it is blown off a table outside Weatherspoon’s.

I prayed for her last night, if pray is the right word. The papers talk of her torment. He husband on the TV, in a news interview, talked of her anguish and how it has made her unable to walk. I asked for some kind of action. For someone to do something so that she may be released. They have the power, it could be done today, this moment. It is all about diplomacy. Let it be so. In my mind I am in that cell with her. I offer my hand. Let her be released. Let her come home.

It will come. The story will come. The fear is of the unknown. When I’m sitting in front of the white space ready to tell my story it will come. It always does. It is only 500 words, I write that everyday, here in this space. I let it come and it does. Always. I dreamt I met Clint Eastwood. It was meant to be Robert Redford but in my dream he’d died. So Clint Eastwood was standing in for him. He looked a little lost, was waiting for filming to start. It wasn’t his face. He was warm, funny, easy to be with. We talked of the weather. He was in a place I knew well. The sunny end. The summer end. It was a nice dream. I felt special, singled out.

The wind was strong this morning. A howlin’ gale, he always calls it. It’s blowin’ a f*****g howlin’ gale out there.

I want to do the other one. I am into it now, at ease with the flow but it feels right to keep them all going, all alive. I will find my pace with it. And if I don’t do it I will feel bad. There is no way round it. Do it.

Brooklyn tonight. We are both lapping it up. A glorious film, soft, tender. We go slow, savouring it, unwrapping it like Mum’s glass baubles.



By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.