Book of animals

She is cheerful this morning. I’m not so grumpy, she says, laughing. Will you go to the wedding? I ask. Yes, she says. And did you get a new outfit? Yes, she replies, we went to Marks and Spencer’s and I go a maxi! I love to hear her voice. It sings. Last week she talked about her father, she speaks of him a lot. We had a pony and trap, she said, and pet sheep. She tells me of his sayings, his mores. They are not particularly erudite or brilliant, but she quotes them nevertheless, wanting to hear, to feel his words on her tongue. (I think about Bruce Chatwin’s novel On The Black Hill about the two brothers, so dour, austere, yet intimate.) She talked about her pet sheep. Whenever she had lambs, she said, she’d leave them in a hole and come home alone. We talk of the weather. They’ve had snow. It’s so cold, she says. Her daughter found a dead baby bird. I’ll have to go to church and pray for the weather for the wedding, she says, laughing again. She is better. I am glad.


I’m written out. Three reviews in a row. I want to support, encourage, celebrate. I write for the art, for the artists. Just like teaching – celebrating not denigrating. There is always something. Isn’t there? It takes courage to put oneself out there. I’m not sentimental, not hagiographic, just celebratory. It is enough. Enough, for now.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.