Cardiff

The man has a beautiful t-shirt: seeds blowing off a dandelion, and as each seed flies away, a man clings onto its stem. On the left there is a dandelion full of seeds, then the dandelion launch-pad, then on the right four diminishing seeds with people clinging on hands only, feet kicking. Dream-like and exhilarating.There are no words, but I wonder- in Arabia would it be reversed?

He gets up, gathers his bags together to get out at the next station. There are people slumped on the floor of the vestibules of the carriage- one had said to me he did not want to block my way, but did not think there were any empty seats in this carriage. “I almost want to tell them of the empty seats,” I trill. “It’s up to them to find them,” says the bloont Northerner beside me. An announcement says that as we are ahead of time, and will remain a few minutes in Leicester. “Not worth getting up before we get in,” I venture, but this gets no response at all. When I get off I bid him “Merry Christmas,” and he relents as far as “cheerio”.

You can’t always have a conversation on the train. So many people have ear-buds off their phones. I am happy to be getting away, and people haul large bags of presents: that baby-walker, in many different pastel colours, is a beautiful thing, surely a delight for the child in it and the adults watching, but we are all quiet. I am in Presence or Awareness mode: the glistening wet surface where I bit my russet apple, the tearing noise as I peel the satsuma, the flooded rivers outside, hold my attention. I have so much attention to devote to the taste.

A man opposite offers to lift my bag onto the rack. No, it’s alright, I just want to check I have got my camera, I would not want to have left my camera behind, I say. And- why do I explain myself like this? He mocks his hobbledehoy son- “You broke my bicycle!” The boy mutters something. “Well, if it was so easy to put the chain back on, why didn’t you do it, then?” I can’t think of a better way to teach repartee, the child will pick it up eventually.

I have fifteen minutes to make my connection at Birmingham, and we are eleven minutes late getting in. A woman with her three grandchildren sympathises. If we were two minutes later, I would not be stressed at all. But I get there, because the train out is also late. This has discomposed me, changed my mood, and I need to relax, though I notice the beauty of the student I sit beside, who texts on her phone and listens to music.

Canolog Caerdydd. So familiar, and I have not been here since Easter. That Welshed English everywhere! “Platfformiau” is one thing, but I saw “helpwch” at the hospital. -wch is the imperative ending, surely they have their own word for help! Oddest I ever saw was a sign reading “Bag it and bin it” with a picture of a dog, and of what the dog-owner should bin for the absolute and utter avoidance of doubt- the Welsh was “Bagiwch a Biniwch”.

Mmm. Hospital. H is in the Heath. I am staying in her house with the cats (Sunday 23d)- she was taken in yesterday, having been unconscious, and is not yet diagnosed.

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