Toast – now serving all day

Home 2009 (small jpeg) 2009

We had our first snow fall. The beginning of Spring. Early March. It didn’t last. If they’re big flakes they don’t stay, she told me, smaller ones do. Counterintuitive, I think.

It’s been a while hasn’t it. I miss it when I can’t write. It isn’t important. It isn’t of any great literary merit. It is just an offloading. Not like Henry James. I listened to a programme about him yesterday. Extracts from his memoirs, his journals and his letters. So erudite, so observant, witty but not caustic. Be kind, he wrote to himself, be kind. Be kind.

The Archers is beginning to make me sick to the stomach. There needs to be some relief, I think. It is like going down a dark tunnel. I have heard such stories. It is true to life. Women turned mad by partners. Turned from their homes, their children. It is heartbreaking. Sanity is a gossamer thread.

A Mother’s Day card sent. Well meant, but not from her. No, thank you, not again. Not again.

A flurry of tests. We sit in the eye clinic. It began there, in the eye. He goes in, I wait in the foyer. Most of the chairs are taken. The air is fetid, too hot. Airless. Do you want me to come with you? A middle-aged woman asks her elderly mother. No, she replies. That’s me told, says the daughter to another woman sitting beside her. She’s so indifferent, she says, watching her mother make her way to the consulting room, bent over, feet dragging and with hard-cased, top-clasped handbag held tightly against her chest. It’s good really, says the other woman. I stare at the wall in front of me. And then at the radiator. There is a blob of chewing gum stuck to the paint. Set hard in the heat. Two collapsed wheelchairs lean against it. Next to me two woman murmur to each other in Welsh. The one nearest me bounces her feet. Radio 2 is on in the background. I notice the speaker hanging from the ceiling. Human League are singing I’m only human. I turn my gaze to a painting hanging above the radiator. It looks like a muddy Odile Redon or one of Max Ernst’s frottage pieces. The title has been painted into the left hand bottom corner. Cataract Lights. There are bursting star-light circles dotted around it’s brown expanse. He told me I had to walk 10,000 steps, he says putting on his coat. That’s doable, I said, thinking he said a 1,000.

Walking the Prom, he begins to count. Don’t speak, he says. Later, he says, how many was that? I haven’t been counting, I say.

Rosemary Tonks is featured on the poetry programme, Lost Voices. Rich vocabulary. Sexy. Hotel rooms, steamy-windowed cafes. Broken relationships. Bad choices. She calls him a criminal. She disappeared. Maybe she had nothing more to say, muses Adrian Henri. A messy divorce. Her family lose touch with her. She disappears. Becomes a recluse. Won’t answer the door.

I think about Sark. Mervyn Peake. A seigneur. No cars. We don’t want cars, the tourism officer says. An island. I make plans. I make plans for my old age, my dotage, my aloneness.

Ruby Wax with her inheritance tracks. I don’t listen to music, she says, it makes me too sad. Such emotion must be contained. The black dog hovers. Sanity is a gossamer thread. So it is. So it is.

Ah, here comes the sun.


There is sign in the window of The Pelican Bakery, Toast now serving all day, it reads.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.