Tractors, Handyman & Faggots

I heard the word ‘tractor’ amongst the rest of the incomprehensible (to me at least) Welsh. And when the chatter had subsided, I asked her. Did you come to work on a tractor? They all laughed. She did to, though she is usually rather stony-faced. A lovely girl, sumptuous, but not warm. Not initially. No, she said, but I was towed by one along our road. Luckily, we’ve got one.

She talked about trust. She’d had friends before but they’d let her down, told her stories to other people. She trusts him, however. Her handyman, for want of a better word. He rang to ask if she needed anything. He was going to the shops anyway. She said no, but he brought her a loaf of bread regardless. Gluten-free, like he knows we like, she said. She talks to him. He’s had problems in his relationship, she believes she helped. He stayed, anyway, she says. She tells me about the snow and some boys who wanted to go sledging in a farmer’s field with a steep hill. She was concerned for them. Wasn’t someone hurt like that last year? she asked. One of the boys is fearless. He’s not afraid of nothing, she said. I suspect that, like me, she was never like that. In the end the boys sent the sledge down first. It promptly smashed into a tree. It could’ve killed us, said the boy.

There was a hard frost this morning. And now it is light it looks stunning. The kids were still out in force. Some, no most, un-coated. A group of four of them walked towards me along the Prom, one, a lad with very pronounced eyebrows was talking loudly, peacocking to his mates. I know, he was saying putting a heavy emphasis on the ‘know’, it’s depressing the faggot can’t suck! 

The cold unnerves me. My whole body fights the thought of going out in it. But once I’ve done it it’s marvellous and the air smells so good. The rough sleeper was there again. And the flapjacks had gone. I intend to bake biscuits today so I shall take him some of those. I  thought about the application as I walked. Do I really want to offer myself for another position? I enjoyed thinking about it, planning what I would write. Such problem-solving always engages me. But really, why would I do it? I’m no activist. I work alone.  I don’t feel comfortable in groups. I’m not a team-player. Never have been. Let it be so. I prefer tete-a-tete, one-to-one, the intimacy of the micro view. This is my default when I am unsure of what I am doing – try for something out there, something which may bring some sort of recognition, that will make me other than what I am. Accept the current stasis, it has a function. Wait. Just read, think and let the writing unfold. It needs time. Applying for the Council would become an annoying distraction, all that travelling and little remuneration. Be here in this discomforting gap of uncertainty and wait.

I shall persevere with his quilt this morning. A domestic day. Flat cleaned. Then baking. A grounding sort of day. He is eating a little more. And responding to things outside of his head. He still wobbles, but it is better. It is better.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.