A Few Small Repairs – Shawn Colvin. (1996.)

A small Amazon packet landed on my office desk today while our Receptionist was handing out post. I unwrapped it before I left work and carried the case gently out to the car with me. Sunshine flooded through a very grubby windscreen as I turned the key in the ignition and slid the CD into the player; suddenly there’s the mandolin and…


"Sunny came home to her favourite room,

Sunny sat down in the kitchen.

She opened a book and a box of tools,

Sunny came home with a mission. "


It’s early July 1997 and I am walking the hill from Bangor train station to the upper levels of the town, giddy and fizzing and feeling like there must be a movie camera somewhere recording my life. There is a young man walking down the hill to meet me, although I hadn’t expected it, and I can feel the blood rushing in my veins as he comes closer. It’s a nondescript middling summer day but it feels as if I’m being blinded by all the light in the world when he smiles at me. I stay for a week, back in the town that feels most like home with the man I fell unconsciously in love with, before I have to go back to Dublin to work so that I can save for my second year in university. I daydream of Beaumaris and the Menai Straits while I sell hiking boots and restock sleeping bags, and I think of all the occasions we’ll have to visit his friends in Pen-y-Bont when the new term comes around.

It is summertime in Dublin, maybe the third week in July, and he disembarks from the ferry in Dun Laoghaire with a small rucksack and his guitar in its case, planning to stay for a week. He stays for the rest of the summer until, disorganised as usual, we go back to Wales together, a week too early, and have Upper Bangor to ourselves for several days before all the other students return. We stay at his place and greet our friends as they return in dribs and drabs, catching up on news and dodging the sly grins because, yes, we are together now.

It’s October 1997 I am curled up snug on a rickety single bed in an upstairs bedroom in a Victorian terraced house just a two minute walk from the main University building. I have a room of my own in on one of the campus accommodation sites about ten minutes away but he has a better bookshelf beside the bed where we lie and read snippets of poetry and prose to one another with out feet poking out of the covers. I am fond of my room in halls; it’s my own space, relatively peaceful and with a view out of the large window of the sports fields behind the site. It has a small wet-room with a shower which is modern and clean, and a heater beside my desk. His room can be chilly, the window rattles when it’s windy outside, and the shared bathroom is damp and, frankly, kind of disgusting  but he keeps his guitar here, and has a TV. So I am wrapped in his old green towelling dressing gown as he potters around in a t-shirt and boxers while we ponder upcoming papers that we need to work on. The room smells of the eucalyptus oil that’s been heating in an oil burner, and Marlboro Lights. Autumn is creeping up and we sing Joni Mitchell’s ‘Urge For Going’ while it plays on his PC as the skies darken outside.  In just a few days, he is going home for his twenty-first birthday and I don’t yet know that his parents are unaware of my existence…