Ellen Begely 26/365

ebEllen sits down and asks ‘So what is this all about Annabel Tellis?’
I feed her the line that I have just told Bettina 25/365. Ellen tells me that she did something similar in 2011. She blogged on Facebook for a hundred and one days. She chose to write about 101 different recreational activities that would add to her fitness as she prepared to go to The States.
She asks me to remind her of the name of my blog.
‘Now that the phones have stopped ringing.’
‘Poignant’ she replies and begins looking for it on her phone.
‘Oh, just google Annabel Tellis 365’
‘Not so poignant.’
Ellen reaches into her bag, gets out and puts up her purple good luck cocktail umbrella. It sits on her phone. She tells me that her friends know she doesn’t communicate through Facebook anymore.
‘But we arranged this meet-up through Facebook.’
‘Oh not messenger, I’m always on that’ and now I’m the confused.
Our conversation runs off in different directions over vegetable juice. Most of it is, I’m sorry, off limits. She tells me ‘You don’t lose, you learn’ that life is all about ‘tests of strength.’
I tell her about my beaver. It’s a fur coat that was left to me and I decided to get it out of its bag this morning after I’d seen one on eBay for 1,800 dollars. She tells me to wear it. It is from the 1950s and is almost too real and shiny to be seen dead in.
Ellen is planning to move to L.A. but because of messenger we will not be out of touch for as long as one of us is still alive. She loves the vibrancy of California. Having come from a coal mining area in the U.K., I think our town, Apollo Bay is vibrant. She says she worries about it because progress is slow.
I met Ellen when she set up a pop up-up coffee shop in town with her friend Tamara. They made the most painstakingly beautiful coffee for four months and then they popped it down again. I miss them both. Ellen’s friends think she should have her own show as a chat show host, like the other famous Ellen. I agree. She is funny and not afraid to ask awkward questions.
Somehow we jump to me giving birth to my first baby in London, right opposite the Houses of Parliament. I had a billion dollar view from my room at St Thomas’s hospital but frugal care. On Day Three of my labour (note capital letters), Martin was at the ‘making bad jokes’ stage. I had been put on a ward with pregnant women who were well enough to be watching telly, and I was providing the ear splitting sound effects of what they would go through in a few weeks.
Suddenly my friend arrived.
She had been looking after our dogs and waiting for the phone to ring. Sixty hours of wondering passed and she jumped on the train and came in to find out for herself. She found me, writhing around in agony, leaping off the bed every three minutes, screaming with every contraction and she immediately said ‘I’m going to phone your dad.’
He was a hundred miles away. He drove down with my mum and as soon as they arrived a couple of the doctors recognised him, and everyone began leaping around to help. They discovered I had a kidney infection (so that was why I was screaming) and the baby arrived thanks to a very handsome doctor who had studied under Dad in Leicester. One week later my dad had a stroke.
‘Why didn’t you phone him?’ Ellen asked.
‘What?’
‘When you had been in labour for sixty hours and your dad is a doctor, why didn’t you phone him?’
And we sat there in complete silence for some time, because I don’t know why.

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