Top of the Milk

It was just a throwaway line in Call the Midwife aimed at fattening up one of the young mothers-to-be. Have the top of the milk and an extra potato, the midwife said to her, oh so cosily. And it clearly worked away at my mind for I dreamt of being handed a small bottle of milk by the postman(do you remember those half pint bottles at school?) and that the lid had been punctured as they used to be by blue tits and my finger went through and I went to lick it off before I remembered (in my dream) that I was a vegan. How I loved the top of the milk as a child. I’d badger for it, can I? can I? and pour it over my Frosties, Coco Pops or Cornflakes.

He was gentle. It was horrid, as it always is having someone drilling in your mouth. It was quick too. No injection (the hole is quite small, he said by way of explanation) thankfully. But it’s the suction thing and the air and the water that is the worst. To be alive is to be discomforted, I think. Though I was chastened by listening to Ray Connolly’s play Devoted afterwards. He caught Covid-19 and was hospitalised for 4 months, bless him. I had no idea it was so appalling. I am humbled.

I need to list these smells, some for outside on my walk and others pervading our flat from downstairs and in no particular order: sage, salt, TCP, garlic and bacon. How would it be to live in a detached house?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.