Neil Ansell in his book The Last Wilderness writes about losing his sense of self when he is alone in the landscape. Reading it makes me yearn. Truly yearn for that solitude. To be away from judgement, from social responsibilities. And yet, I know that I don’t have his practical skills for survival, or indeed his resilience. I like my daily bath, my warm bed, my warm food and clothes. And yet, and yet, when I am out in the ‘wildness’ here, that is the wind and rain and at the far reaches of the Prom along the Perygyl, I do get it. I too lose myself for a moment and it is glorious. Life feels to me about learning to free oneself. Day by day the tethers become more and more embedded, as I grow towards death I long to let them loose. Is it just romance, fantasy, this desire for solitude, my own space high up North? I struggle with the dark, the lack of sun, the cold and yet here am I longing to go up there. It is nonsensical. But the feeling is strong. And what of my melancholy? And my liking for being around people? How will I satisfy that, or escape and manage the other? I am at odds with myself. I always have been. Nevertheless, I am enjoying reading him. I walk with him. Safe.

I told him about my pleasure. I shared my lowness with him. I told him of my fears. It’s just copying, and yet there is something there I want to pursue. I wrote of the pleasure of it. The pulling of the wool through the aida, the colours, the time spent. Then I wrote of wanting to impress my individuality upon it, perhaps ‘mess-up’ the colours – fauvist-like. It is all just flickers. Nothing concrete. And sometimes the possibility of stopping altogether. I wanted to when I went to Norway. But I couldn’t let go. Perhaps that is what the Norway/Au Pair book should be about, wanting to let it go. To start afresh. I just got ill, and I missed him. My house, the one I fantasise is mine alone. I live there alone. I don’t want to buy one here, even if we could. It needs to be mine. No compromising. My space, my magical haven. Is it disloyal? Would he understand? My natural state is solitude (I paraphrase) writes Ansell, so is mine. So is mine.

I dream of my disquiet. It translates into imagery. We were buying a cottage. I wanted to see what improvements I could make and ripped off some wallpaper that was damp and peeling. It revealed an enormous window. I was so pleased, more light but then discovered that the window was unsafe that the wind was trying to blow it in. We’ll have to ask the landlady, someone said, but it is mine. Still need to get permission. Even in dreams. That was yesterday afternoon. This morning I woke from another detailed image-filled dream. I was trying to find a cafĂ© that I’d been to many times. I found it once but couldn’t locate it again. It was inside a mall of some kind. I found another but it was more like a beauty salon. I was with H. Then someone was showing me how to feed a baby with automaton dolls. They ended up fighting each other. They’re farmers, someone said. Open wide, someone said.

It was all about the wind this morning. A man was sleeping in a cardboard box on one of the benches in the Prom shelter. A lad was being sick in the bus station as I walked past, surrounded by his mates who chattered to him as he puked. Eeerghhh…then coughing. All out? one of them asked. Then joining Llanbadarn Road I could see a blonde girl with a boy. Go away, she was shouting at him, her voice, petulant. Fuck off. Steph, he called, whined. Step. Then it sounded like he was crying.

The wind makes them wild, off course. I remember our horses were the same. I like the spirit of it. There is much going on. A clearing out. I want to be alone, to think, to lose myself, to escape. Always. But it is not possible, not yet. And I want to care for him too. He needs my steadiness. Though he would survive.

She is back in prison. I think of her as I go to sleep. Bless you. Remember the joy of seeing her. Hold fast to that. We are one and the same. Your pain is mine, and your joy is mine. Hold fast. You will be freed. As will I.


By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.