Wiping the slate clean

I was doing my yoga and listening to the radio. An adaptation of Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet was on and one of the characters was saying to another that he was clearly a tidy person. Tidy people, he said, are always trying to wipe the slate clean. I paraphrase, of course, but it struck me. We are. We are trying to wipe the slate clean, of all it, all our misdemeanours.

My night was full of angry dreams. I was angry with people, him, an ex, and a woman who had purloined (if that is the right word) the machine in the launderette that I was using. She’d thrown her washing in when I wasn’t looking. I was washing other people’s clothes, two women’s mostly. One of which saw my underwear showing and reached out to touch it enviously. I wasn’t a servant but I was serving them in some way. The woman who stole the machine was a different race from me and she scowled as I scowled. She was in the basement where the machine was located. I had to lean down into a tunnel to reach it. Another dream was based around a wedding. This one seemed to be about clothes too. We were in my ex’s in laws’ house, meeting them all prior to the big event. One of them, a gaudy outspoken woman was showing us her collection of medals (they were the kind you get out of cereal packet) and saying how adding to this collection would be a good idea for a present. Were we to get one for her too, as well as the bride and groom? (I think perhaps this has come from the Raj Quartet also – one of the characters, an elderly woman called Barbie had given the bride and groom a set of silver tea spoons. They are each an apostle, you see, she’d said delightedly. And then she’d got so distressed when she hadn’t seen them displayed with the other gifts.) I hadn’t liked this woman’s clothes – too garish as my mother would’ve said. But I’d felt bad about it and tried to hide it as best I could.

There were over twenty mobile homes parked up along the harbour. People wandered about, even at that hour. I skirt my way around them, not wanting to give offence. Now it rains and he ums and ahs about walking.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.