Sunday, November 11, 2007


Life on the psychiatric ward continues. I go upstairs for lunch with Andy. An ex-bikie, built like the proverbial brick outhouse. Missing his front teeth. Covered in tattoos. He regales me with tales of the bad old days. The drugs. The mayhem. Crowd control was his business. Sawn-off shotgun is the best method, he informs me. Let go with one barrel of that into the air and it clears a room. Save the other barrel for any troublemakers, Andy says. I'll have the chicken thanks love.

We take our trays to the long dining table, and set about making the most of the bland food. The man sitting opposite has sunken pits for eyes. Weathered, wrinkled face under a shock of grey hair. He is missing a few teeth as well. Speaking with a broad Lancashire accent, he tells us how he gave up the grog.

Seventeen years ago, he says. It was getting out of hand. I'd be drinking tea at work laced with whiskey, had to have four or five drinks before i could even go in.
He pokes at his hospital food. Boiled veges, mashed potato, chicken.
At the pub i'd be drinking in the main bar, and have a round going in the lounge as well. Got so as my mates weren't drinking fast enough to keep up with me. Those days, you'd just leave twenty quid on the bar, no-one would touch it, only take a few bob when it was your round, you know. I'd make as though i was off to the toilet all the time, but i'd be drinking in the other bar. It's me kidneys, i'd say.

What made you quit.

Me wife left me. Lost me job. Got back on me feet, you know. Gave up the grog, but didn't give up me mates at the pub. I'd just sit on a pint glass of shandy, sipping slow. They were a good lot, they understood, you know, never ribbed me about it.

The bloke on my left is complaining about the chicken.
Tough to eat with half your teeth missing, he says.
I guess i'm lucky, i got a denture, i say.
I just had six teeth pulled out, he says.
Yeah, i used to have dentures, but the dog ate mine, mutters Andy. I left them on the kitchen table, and in the morning they were gone. All i found were the bits of wire on the back verandah where the dog sleeps.

He shakes his head sadly.

I wouldn't of minded so much, but when i kicked him up the arse, he smiled at me.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


After some negotiation, the nice people in the white coats allow me out into the general area of the hospital.

I pump coins into the public internet access point, check my eBay, email and social media, and notice that i am still nobody's best friend on Facebook and that my popularity level is still firmly fixed at zero.

Thursday night, i lie awake, worried for my personal safety as i listen to an unending torrent of abuse and threats from the patient in the bed next to me. On the other side of a thin fabric screen, an unidentified male person with an anger problem is saying i am a no-good piece of shit, a lowlife c*nt, a whole lot of other of unpalatable things which i will not repeat here. This is doing my self esteem no good whatsoever, i think. Tomorrow i'm asking for a transfer to another madhouse. After about half an hour, i realise he is not intending to follow through on any of his threats to f*cking kill me, and, judging by the extended pauses, is probably talking on a mobile phone to somebody else. Perhaps to someone he wants to kill because of an unpaid drug debt, or perhaps for murdering his brother. The reason for his extended vituperative outpouring is never made explicit. He continues for four hours or so, then drops into a fitful sleep, snoring loudly. This morning he continues his threats and insults on his way to, from, and during his shower. I notice he is not carrying a phone. I realise he is merely talking to himself, outpouring all his random, rabid thoughts into a vacuum.

Hmmm. It's a bit like using Facebook, really.

Avid reader, if ever i should become so crazy that i start walking around talking to myself, remind me to buy one of those bluetooth mobile phone earpieces and stick it in my ear. One must, after all, always strive to maintain one's dignity.