Top of the Morning

I’m always wary of those I see out in the early morning as I walk. As they probably are of me.

I saw him lumbering his way in my direction at the other end of Chalybeate Street. There was something about his choice of hat that made me edgy. And his gait, its unevenness also raised my hackles. He wasn’t drunk but perhaps he’d escaped some sort of institution. I feel guilty about making such assumptions, nay judgements about my fellow man but it’s a safety thing. A be prepared thing. He shouted to me. His voice was a little too loud. A man with what these days they would call ‘learning difficulties’. Though what does it matter? He was a man. And a friendly one, at that.

Good morning, he shouted. Good morning, I said back. Top of the morning to you, he continued, the early bird catches the worm. It certainly does, I replied. We were passing each other now, though still on opposite pavements. Have a good day, he said, see you again. And then he was gone, his shouts still echoing off the buildings.

There was a young seagull standing on the pavement at the far end of Llanbadarn Road. I saw its form in shadow as I approached. It didn’t move at the sight or sound of me. It didn’t even shift, just stood there. I stepped into the road so as not to unnerve it.

The pavements in town are still strewn with debris from bags that the gulls have ripped open, throw-away blue face masks have begun to join the fish and chip cartons, the crisp packets and sandwich wrappers.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.