Archive for the jobs, careers and work Category

Reunion

Posted in Blogging, books, journals and diaries, jobs, careers and work, mental health with tags , on December 2, 2014 by leovineknight

The next day, one of the nurses told me I had some more visitors and I craned my neck with anticipation as the clattering footsteps echoed down the corridor. The hammer came down and my emotions hit the bell, but on seeing three familiar faces from the unit turn the corner, those same emotions crashed to ground with a sickening thud (and kept on going).
“Christ” I said involuntarily.
“Well, that’s a nice greeting” said one of the nursing assistants, cheerfully.
“What brings you here?” I asked knowingly.
“Oh, we felt like a long run out in the car, and this was a good excuse” he answered with disarming honesty.
“We had a dump on the way here” said Sidney.
“Pardon?” I said.
“We had a bump in the car, but no damage done.”
“Oh, good.”
”How are you, Steven?”
“Well, I’m due to go on home leave soon, but my wife’s decided to divorce me so it’s looking a bit awkward.”
“Bloody Hell Steve” he chuckled. “Never mind though, there’s always a bed for you at the unit.”
“That’s reassuring.”
“I thought he looked as shite as a sheet” said Sidney.
“Still, you’re a dark horse really Steve. I never thought you’d screw the system like this.”
“What do you mean?”
“A nice few months on the sick, most of it recuperating in the pub.”
“But this is real sickness.”
“Ha! Ha! That’ll be the day. God, you’re a droll bugger. How do you keep a straight face?”
“Change the subject will you?” I said, feeling a strange anxiety creeping up on me.
“Oh, well, things are pretty much the same at the unit, with plenty of new initiatives, zero movement, lots of sickness and….”
“Are you still doing the charity walks?” I said, noticing for the first time that all the staff were wearing Telly Tubby costumes, beautifully co-ordinated with Pearly King top hats and antique red noses, dating back to the early din period of charity mindlessness.
“Oh, no Steve. Charity walking is so yesterday. We’re into charity hawking now.”
“Hawking?”
“Yes. It’s dead simple. We all dress up and stand around spitting at each other’s boots for an hour while people queue up to watch. It’s an absolute riot of 21st century fun.”
“Ha ha ha ha” we chuckled.
“Well, as long as you’re having fun, that’s the main thing” I said. “And it’s all for charity, of course.”
“Oh… er…..yes…..naturally.”
“Have you heard about Cecilia, by the way?” interrupted the other assistant.
“No?”
“She died in hospital last week.”
“Oh.”
“Yes, she was in a coma you know.”
“No, I didn’t know.”
“There’s one hell of a stink going on about it. But at least you’re well out of it.”
“Yes” said Sid “There’s a big noise coming down from hindquarters…er….headquarters, to sort it out……”
“I need a cigarette now” cut in a familiar voice.

It was indeed a familiar voice with a familiar question, but for some reason it sent a seismic shock wave running up my back. The tribulations of the last few months seemed to hurtle back into full view, and my numbness vanished. The future opened up nightmarishly around me and a sickly phlegm filled my throat. The air crackled and hissed, and an old enemy returned; refreshed.
“I need a cigarette now! Now! Now! Now” Hettie suddenly howled.
“We’d better be off Steve. See you soon. Sorry it’s all a rush.”
“Wanks very much” said Sidney, pointing at me.
“’Bye Sid.”
“We’re buying a new house you know – I can’t wait to put down a deposit.”
(silence).
“Home is where the fart is….”
(silence).
I wasn’t really aware of the squad departing, and after a while I wandered down to my room and sought the refuge of bed. My head hammered, but sleep seemed to arrive instantly, and I twisted away into a dreamscape of schoolyards, fruit machines, sickly sweet smells, and sadness. I saw my mother’s white face accusing me from the shadows, and the sagging shell of our old house with its cluttered rooms and grates with ashes. I ran through endless streets of rain and sorrow, panting and terrified, until at last a yellow light appeared above a varnished door, and I saw my children looking silently down. I shook the bolts, and circled the house, finding a narrow view inside – where familiar thighs gripped a half-known man, and convulsions merged with spider blackness.
Then all around a pink sea span with hypnotic swirls of crimson, and a bright red sunset appeared before me.

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Alternative Therapy

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, social work and social policy with tags , on August 12, 2014 by leovineknight

“You’re going through a tough time Steven” somebody commented.
“It could be better” I agreed, not really in the mood for talking.
My interlocutor was Stan, a man of about my age who had been admitted to the ward three weeks ago with an acute relapse of psychosis. He was stable again now, and I had been impressed with his articulate understanding of mental illness, society and the ward. He seemed curiously at peace, even though his family rarely visited and his early promise at university had been annihilated by schizophrenia and lengthy periods of hospitalization. His ‘romantic life’ had disappeared at roughly the same time as his success, and no doubt this had made him sensitive to my current plight.
“I’m afraid they don’t really understand places like this” he said. “It’s embarrassing and frightening to them.”
“I suppose you can’t blame them for wanting to be somewhere else” I said.
“Yeah. Love and morals only take people so far. Then it’s ‘what about the children’, and ‘I deserve a life too’. “
“You don’t think she’ll be back then?”
“Who can say? I’m only glad I don’t rely on things like that any more.”
“So what will you be doing when you leave?”
“I’ll go back to the village.”
“Where’s that?”
“C——- Village. It’s one of the religious communities up on the H—— hills.”
“Oh, one of the therapeutic communities?”
“I suppose you could call it that, but it’s really a way of life rather than therapy. About half the people who live there have never had a mental disorder, they just like the idea of working as part of a large family. It’s back to basics, of course, and ‘close to nature’ in a way which sounds cheesy, but really isn’t. You ought to come out and see for yourself.”
The tea trolley trundled around the day room, interrupting our conversation, and my mind began to tick. I was in the mood for radical changes, as people always are when a crisis breaks the mould of routine and complacency. Could C—— Village provide a solution for me? I knew that these places sometimes took whole families, and my imagination began to soar in a wildly evangelical direction. Could I persuade Carol…..?

Knightmare

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, books, journals and diaries, jobs, careers and work, mental health with tags , on May 3, 2014 by leovineknight

Taking a look around, I was pleased to see that the unit was now quiet and peaceful at last. Like no man’s land after a terrifying artillery barrage had ceased, the world stood still, and a profound silence baffled the senses. The clocks had stopped, the T.V. sets were dead, the activity board was blank, and there was not a person to be seen. It was obviously time for a well-deserved break and so I sat downstairs drinking champagne, eating truffles, and watching the manager’s favourite Marilyn Monroe video; until the feeling slowly returned that something was still wrong.
Something remained unresolved.

“Open the door” a voice rasped.
There was indeed a violet coloured door on my left, and with heart bounding, breath shortening and flesh creeping, I moved reluctantly but inexorably towards it. In best horror movie style, it swung open of its own accord and I was pulled into a dark chamber by invisible hands. The flickering light was provided by three or four black candelabra set on crumbling stone walls, before which I perceived a large Jacobean table surrounded by a dozen satanic forms. Looking like a group of gigantic ravens they wore sable cloaks, and peered at me through leather masks with hard, black eyes.
“Good grief, what a ridiculous getup” I said irreverently.
“Silence!” boomed the head honcho. “You are here to be sentenced for the most heinous crimes known to HealthTrust law. Now, kneel before your masters!”
“Piss off you pretentious sod” I responded. “And take off those masks, so I can see my accusers.”
Stripping off their masks with a synchronised flourish, the satanic beings revealed a row of hideous, slavering animal faces.
“Ah… ha! I thought as much – the senior managers making a rare clinical visit” I said “What can I do for you?”
“Silence microbe! We are here to dispense omniscient justice!”
Although I should have been quaking in my boots, I couldn’t help noticing that the weird animal faces were actually more recognisable than the managers’ everyday physiognomy. Their true personalities shone through the grey, anonymous uniformity of their normal appearances, and I gazed with growing interest at the mean-looking weasel, the breast-beating baboon, the assortment of over-promoted aardvarks, and the strange hunched creature from the Island of Dr. Moreau, who said:
“You are charged and convicted of (a) insisting that patients take more responsibility for their own lives, (b) arguing that paper work is less important than effective clinical care, (c) suggesting that managers are overpaid, out of touch poseurs, and (d) implying that staff who receive £1,200 a month for not being at work should be sacked. …….This is unspeakable blasphemy of the highest conceivable order, and you are therefore sentenced to the most ghastly punishment it is in our power to inflict.”
“And what is that?” I enquired.
“You will continue to work at the hospital’s Psychiatric Rehabilitation Unit until the day you croak”
“Aaaaaarrrrrrcccchh!!! No! No! No! Not that, you vile fiends” I shrieked in despair and outrage.
“Yes! Yes! Until the day you croak!” the drooling managers chanted, beating their fists on the table, and wetting themselves with delight.
“Please don’t make me angry” I warned in a deepening voice, my pupils involuntarily dilating, and my shirt splitting open to reveal a barrel of bulging green muscle above modesty-preserving elasticated trousers. “Oh, too late! Now it’s your turn for a bit of natural justice!”
Seizing the oak table with irresistible force, I whirled it around my head and watched the managers hanging onto it like bats in a tornado. On and on I span the table, seeing their puke pebble-dash the walls and their dribble splash the floor, thinking of the time and money these prize buffoons had wasted, enjoying every little moment of their overdue comeuppance, until at last I flung the table down into a dim, slimy corner; the perfect resting place for their ilk. But the managers had been carefully selected for their mindless obduracy, and I watched with interest as the table scuttled out of the room, propelled by pairs of cockroach legs, scurrying for freedom, pausing only briefly at the coffee machine.
“Hang on a minute” I said.
And there was just time to stick on the address:
Flip Chart Heaven,
Pie in the Sky,
Never Never Land.

Reaction Formation

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health with tags , on April 23, 2014 by leovineknight

In the mood to take all before me, I flew downstairs and entered the dining room, where Sidney appeared at my shoulder wearing an immaculate waiter’s outfit, red carnation in his button hole and hair slicked back with pomade.
“Would sir prefer the larks tongue, or caviar vole-au-vents, this morning?” he mewled pitifully.
“You can stuff that for a bunch of soldiers” I replied tetchily, looking over his shoulder.
Behind him, the residents were all sat around the dining room dressed in shooting tweeds and plus fours, barking instructions in our direction.
“Hurry up, you slackers! We’ve got a bed to catch.”
“Who do you think you are? We’ve got our rights you know.”
“Step on it, or there’ll be an official complaint.”
“Chop! Chop!”
Seeing the monstrous meal re-heating machine vibrating in the corner, I had a flash of inspiration, and armed with my new superpowers I quickly reprogrammed the fan-assisted warmer to ‘turbo suck’. Pointing the machine towards the carping crowd, I opening the aluminium door and watched them all disappear into its welcoming bowels, each delivering a parting comment as they went:
“It’s too hot in here!”
“It’s too cold in here!”
“Where’s the juice?”
“I didn’t order this!”
“These chairs aren’t very comfortable!”
I then whisked the machine down to the postal area, and taking a large white address sticker from my utility belt, wrote:
Please deliver this urgently to –
The Workers’ Co-operative Community,
Somewhere in Wales.

It’s Catching

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health with tags , on April 1, 2014 by leovineknight

Seeing a staircase, I walked up it and searched around for something familiar I could pin my rather confused senses to. I spotted Richard’s office and pulled open the door, seeing before me a massive wall of bulging filing cabinets totally blocking the way in. From his perch on the top cabinet, Richard looked down on me, and grinned.
“Ah, hello old boy. We’ve finally cracked it. Everything that’s ever happened in this unit in the last fifteen years has been documented on these forms. There’s even a file for how many times staff have farted since their contracts commenced. The inspectors should be absolutely thrilled.”
“Yes, things are well in hand here alright” I agreed, as I carefully pushed over the nearest cabinet and watched the whole lot fall like a house of cards, burying Richard up to his crimson neck.
Taking a coloured divider out of one of the files, I marked it ‘ Waste of Space’ and popped it neatly between Richard’s trembling jaws, pressing the top of his head like a hole-puncher, before closing the door quietly as I left.
“I’m sorry, but I’ve had enough” I said.
More than enough.
And with adrenaline flowing through my veins like rocket fuel, I suddenly realised that I had somehow been given the power to overturn this insane world, and trample its vacuous conventions into the dust. I could turn my thoughts into instantaneous action, impose my will on every situation, and imagine the wildest scenario and see it happen. I was imbued with supernatural strengths and transcendental powers. I even had the ability to make something vaguely sensible happen for once.
http://www.windowsofmadness.co.uk

Infection

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health with tags , , on February 18, 2014 by leovineknight

It was really getting too dangerous to walk home at night, and I breathed a sigh of relief when the blue glow faded, and I entered respectable suburbia. The first telephone box was smashed to pieces as usual, and every garden wall had spray paint running along the top like a child’s railway line. Broken conifer branches lay about, while traffic cones had been removed from the nearby road works and redistributed on peoples’ front lawns. It was clear that the hooliganism was growing relentlessly beyond its original borders, and that I needed to calculate how long it would take to reach our cul-de-sac a mile further on. Given that some of our new neighbours managed to communicate by stringing four-letter words into sentences, and their kids made cannibals look like urbane lounge lizards, I estimated about one year to removal time.
At last the rows of brown dog kennels and silver German cars which comprised our estate appeared, and I could smell sanctuary. Like Quasimodo dodging the whips, I broke into a loping gait and made for the furthest reaches of the sprawling mass before me. It wasn’t Enid Blyton or John Constable, but it would do, and as I looked over the roofs towards the outline of an escarpment, and the moors beyond it, I breathed a sigh of relief. Some of my favourite walks lay in that direction, and for a few moments a montage of pleasant memories filled my mind; bike rides with the kids, tea rooms in historic places, quiet strolls in sylvan settings, and collecting shells on breezy beaches. Life wasn’t all bad, and the prospect of a few days off began to thaw my frozen sensibilities and lift my affect. A little freedom was in sight, and I would savour every atom of it.

Dystopia

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, books, journals and diaries, jobs, careers and work, mental health with tags , on February 10, 2014 by leovineknight

The cadaverous form of my neighbour approached again, and this time I blocked his progress with some clever American footballer tactics, until he was forced to reward my extravagant salutations with an incoherent grunt. Twizzle-headed people with laser eyes dissected me as I passed, and bumptious heroes with blimp egos and bold postures filled the bars. Audiences and stars assembled on every street corner, and the news boards spread joy:
“Thugs kill hamster by tying it to a Catherine Wheel firework”
“Pity the hamster couldn’t return the favour” I commented to a mute passer by.
“Huge rise in youth crime” crackled a distant radio.
I gladly left the area, but after a short time I brushed the edge of a nearby council estate, and saw the blue glow of police lights reflecting off the night sky, like the aurora borealis of a penal planet. This area had degenerated into a post-apocalyptic bomb site, with decent people held prisoner in their own homes by roaming bands of giro-paid thugs, intent on vandalising cars, stoning windows, dismantling ‘bus shelters and burning wheelie bins. With ultimate pathos, a few brave souls continued to cultivate their gardens amidst the wilderness, but these little refuges were routinely devastated every weekend by gladiators returning from the well-patronised pubs. Just now and again somebody would come out to remonstrate with the chanting heroes, and they would be rewarded for their courage with a relentless campaign of unremitting violence, or arson. The police were well aware of the situation and a new community constable now met the Residents’ Association and Play Group once a month, while the estate burned around them.

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