Archive for madness

The Body Blow

Posted in Blogging, books, journals and diaries, mental health with tags , , on October 22, 2014 by leovineknight

he following day, I sat slumped in ‘my’ chair in the day room, thoughts neutralizing one another, clouds gathering, nerves jangling and…..

“Hello, Steve.”
It was Kate, and my heart jumped into my loins.
“Hi, there” I murmured. “Fancy seeing you in a place like this.”
“Well, I told you I was starting the training. I’ve got my first placement on the elderly ward, downstairs.
“Oh…. Still, it was nice of you to look in.”
“Well, I saw your wife at the theatre and she…. she explained that things weren’t exactly…”
“Was she alone at the theatre, by the way?”
“So you probably wondered if she’d traded me in for a new model?”
“Well yes, but she explained how she was getting a bit depressed about it all. Apparently, she was trying to cheer herself up on a works outing, but only one other person turned up…… He was a cocky bloke with a very long nose. I didn’t like him much”
“Yeah, I get the picture.”
“I feel really sorry for you Steve. You look dreadful.”
“Well….. never mind about me. What have you been up to?”
“Oh, apart from really enjoying the training I’ve……er…..I’ve got myself engaged.”
“Say something Steve.”
“Congratulations, Kate.”
“There’s something else Steve.”
“What, even more wonderful news?”
“Yes…..I …..I don’t really know how to say this. You may have heard about it already. But the night you had your breakdown….you were saying all sorts of horrible things in your sleep. It sounded like you were really angry and you wanted to kill somebody. Then you talked about Cecilia, and how you’d “fixed” her once and for all…..It was awful Steve…..I had to tell somebody.”
“Ah….I wondered what Richard meant in his letter.”
“So you know about it?”
“I can’t remember a thing about that day Kate, apart from seeing you. But Richard wrote to say I was going to be interviewed about Cecilia when I’m better. Now I know why”
“I’m sorry.”
“You’re certainly an idealist, Kate. The book comes before everything else doesn’t it?. ”
We prolonged the meeting for another ten or fifteen minutes, exchanging platitudes and slightly uncomfortable looks, before she bid me an unlikely farewell. I looked at her departing hour-glass figure like the man with X-ray eyes, imagining myself taking chances rather than leaving them, seeing my tongue flicking down her spine to the coccyx, feeling the nylon over her knees, drowning gladly in the flesh and blood.
“Hello, Lawrence” she said to the tweedy young doctor wedged in the doorway.
“Hi” he said, waving his hand (although it was still in his pocket), then strutting away, his impression left on the woodwork, his plans in the toilet.
Gazing through the grimy, cracked window which overlooked the car park, I saw Kate and Brad Pitt getting into a nice red and white Mini Cooper (with pepper pack, no doubt). At least she had the grace to look a bit sad.
But only a bit.


The Dormitory

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, mental health with tags , , on February 24, 2014 by leovineknight

I strode on towards our house, and the drizzle seemed marginally warmer. A firework went off somewhere to my left, reminding me of Bonfire Night two weeks ago, and my thoughts wheeled on to Christmas. ‘Money’ automatically sprang to mind, and I looked across at a nearby £350,000 villa which was just five years old and had already received three new bathrooms and two new kitchens from three different owners. The house was currently owned by two very busy professional people who spent 85% of their time working, sleeping or on holiday, and only 15% of their time actually awake in the house. Spending so little free time in their home, they had to pay a gardener £25 a week to do the lawns, hedges and weeding, a ‘morning’ lady £30 a week to do the washing and ironing, a nanny £150 a week to look after the children, and an odd job man £20 a week to do the small household repairs and walk the dog. Once, in a rash moment, I’d told the owner that for £50 a week I would occupy his house during the evenings and save him the trouble of living there at all.
He thought for a while and smilingly offered me £40.
Yet, it wasn’t a happy marriage (if that’s what you’d call a big business deal on the skids) and tonight I couldn’t help noticing a pterodactyl fastened to someone’s neck in the kitchen. Or that’s what it sounded like.


Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, social work and social policy with tags , on January 2, 2014 by leovineknight

At 4.00a.m, I heard the first few early risers shifting around their wardrobes and running their taps to let us know that they were up, while the rest turned off their radios and began to settle down for a morning in bed. There was a crescendo of shouting, hooting, soiling, wetting and washing as the patients were ‘assisted’, and then we dragged our bodies to the office ready for release. A recently bathed patient appeared at the office door with a fresh brown wet patch on the back of his trousers just as the early staff arrived, and snide accusations of indolence rained down on us like shrapnel, from a choral row of saintly know-it-all faces.
Thinking how easily our explanations had been dismissed, I chipped the opaque frost from the windscreen of my car and watched the world wake around me; a fox scavenging in the bins and the first siren of the day. The hydraulic tappets clattered and I pulled away onto the street, passing the man with the dog who always waved even though I didn’t know him, and the man without a dog who never waved, even though he was our next-door neighbour.
I bounced over the 4” traffic calming humps and dropped down the 3” sunken drainage covers, wondering why they’d bothered relaying the roads when the original potholes had provided a better surface. I took a slalom course around the deepest pits on the main road, looked out for tank drivers testing their vehicles, and remembered how my kids called this the Grand National, whooping with joy at the water jump.
Arriving home at last, I parked the car in the garage, and then reversed it out again because I couldn’t open the driver’s door far enough to get out. I thought how the garage was probably more suitable for a Doberman than a car and I saluted the people who had become so very rich with all those saved bricks, as I shuffled out sideways like a half dead crab. I went to bed as the kids were getting up, then attempted to sleep while the neighbour mowed his lawn, the window cleaner watched me closely, and the latest conservatory went up around the corner. I felt my body saying night time and my mind saying daytime, while the kids were saying “hello, where have you been?”

Virtual Reality

Posted in Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health, social work and social policy with tags , on June 28, 2013 by leovineknight

Meetings usually began with the participants arriving in dribs and drabs, forming into little chuckling cliques, and sizing up the odd unfamiliar face. Most of the meetings in this hospital Trust involved a hard core of meeting ‘addicts’ who loved the whole scene of professional role play, ego exhibition, and paper progress, alongside a smaller group of staff who had generally been volunteered by their managers and always looked painfully bored or mystified. At great expense, a special meeting room complex had been built on the hospital site as a sort of gold-painted temple for wafflers, but this didn’t stop the meetings invading clinical areas as well. Indeed, local mansions were also hired for special ‘away days’ and ‘team building’, so that staff could play games, join ‘workshops’ and indulge in all sorts of weird mystical cult types of bonding (i.e. loathing each other on sight and then pretending they didn’t). The cost to the taxpayer was again astronomical, with an average £12 – £15 an hour being paid to each member of the 10-20 strong group for anything up to seven hours of complete bull, God knows how many times a year, plus the cost of hiring venues or building purpose-made facilities.

Another Planet

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health with tags , on June 13, 2013 by leovineknight

The atmosphere of the unit always seemed pregnant with something other than air, almost as though we were breathing in the atmosphere of an alien world; something similar to Earth, but not the same. The combination of cigarette smoke, residual urine and faeces, sweat and yeasty chronic infections hung around the unit like a London smog, eating into the carpets and wallpaper, settling into filing cabinets as a fine dust, and bonding with the fibres of your clothes with the tenacity of a biological washing powder. Even our new wall-mounted, electronically operated deodorant sprays were beginning to give up the ghost, and at the end of the day my lungs felt like two bags of sand. Still, at least an extractor fan had been fitted in the smokers’ room, which was an improvement over the previous ‘policy’ of opening the windows and fire doors for ventilation. It was quipped at the time that the only way the fire doors would ever be closed, would be when we ran out of spoons to chock them open. But it was less of a joke, perhaps, that we went home at the end of each shift having smoked ten to twelve involuntary cigarettes.

Bottoms Up Lads

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, jobs, careers and work, mental health with tags , , on June 4, 2013 by leovineknight

I was once more knocked off my feet by the appalling reek of laxative-induced faeces, rolling down the corridor like mustard gas, searching out every corner of the longsuffering unit. A rotund little man came into sight and announced with a chuckle:
“He! He! I’ve had a good clear out. See you later.”
I viewed his retreating form, and noticed some brown liquid trickling down the back of his long socks. My worst fears were confirmed when I had a quick look in the nearby toilet and discovered that his explosive diarrhoea had left the place looking like a slaughterhouse. Luckily it was a ‘male problem’, because if the patient had been female and they had requested female attention, a short-term exchange of staff would have been necessary before the clear up operation could begin, with a reluctant female staff member being dragged in chains from another unit. We were okay this time however (sic), and soon employing our full contingent of specialist wet suction cleaners, red mops, rubber gloves, aprons, specimen containers, and yellow plastic bags to neutralise the damage.
Our manager applauded from the wings, and after a while we settled down to a rewarding cup of coffee, with the residual odours of latex and crap drifting up from our scrubbed hands and stinking clothes. Of course, most nurses knew that the smell of the unit could never really be removed, so they kept two entirely separate sets of clothing at home, like mechanics routinely isolating their oily overalls from other items. In our case, we weren’t allowed to wear uniforms, because we had a ‘rehabilitation’ philosophy of care and had to pretend that everything was normal.
What a joke.
“Well done everybody” said Richard.
“Thanks for all your support” we chorused.
Oh…mm….mm….yes…..don’t ever underestimate the role of top class leadership.”
“No of course not” I agreed. “In fact, on behalf of the staff I’d like to thank you from the heart of our bottoms.

Day Dream Believer

Posted in Biographies and Inside Stories, Blogging, mental health, satire and humour with tags , , on May 13, 2013 by leovineknight

“Sooty and Sweep are just capitalist puppets, claims Marxist” said the radio.
“It’s time for me to discharge myself” said Sidney.
He was gazing at a dog-eared photograph of a blond, bare breasted lady in stockings and suspenders, who was draped over a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, drinking frothy lager from a bulbous bottle. In the background was a long-haired biker in studded leather jacket, unflattering thong and jackboots, with a three inch spike through his nose. A waterfall of artificial sweat ran freely over the lady’s tanned shoulders, down her back, and through the culvert of her perfectly formed derriere. Nudity, as always, left plenty to the imagination.
“I didn’t know you were into that sort of thing” I said.
“Oh, I’m not Steven” he said quietly. “She’s my muse.”

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