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A Backhanded Blessing

August 14th, 2015

Well, I’ve made it to Canada.  No wonder I’m tired, bloody long walk that was!   A lovely lady asked me to guest on her website, Mental Health Talk and here is the result. Please, send no madals, just cash :)

http://mentalhealthtalk.info/bipolar-a-back-handed-blessing/.

The reviews are in for A Section for Laughing…

May 31st, 2015

My thoughts have been confimed, I can make people laugh just by writting the stories down.  Please see the Amazon reviews below…

Now, whether it’s becuase I have a bipolar disorder or not I’m unsure but, I’ve never been comfortable with accepting compliments as it feels as if I have something to boast about and display how bloody wonderful I am.  I think it’s how I was brought up and I must thank my parents for one important life lesson, “No one likes a smart arse.”

The trait I most detest in a person is bullshit and I’ve instilled that into my two sons.  It gets you nowhere, it’s short-lived and it’s a thin skin that bursts under prolonged questioning.  In short, it’s a psychological flaw in someone’s character and, as much as I know, I am good at what I do, and that’s where I’ll leave it.  Having said that, I do know the more indepth reason why I’m uncomfortable with receiving praise.  If I believed any accolade for one single moment I would stop trying and my work would suffer to the point of being trashy.

Amazon reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars a “long weight” or my favourite, “sparks for the grinder”, 27 May 2015  Hinckley, Leics United Kingdom – See all my reviews Verified Purchase (What is this?This review is from: A Section for Laughing (Kindle Edition)

This book was right up my street. It’s more suited to those 35+ who didn’t grow up in a world of technology but can relate to the stories Neil tells. He’s a gifted writer and engages you immediately in his stories and anecdotes, hugely entertaining and in many cases, laugh out loud. And I did, on many occasions. Some of the happenings are hilarious, I particularly guffawed at the incident on the train where a gust of wind through the windows ripped the newspapers out of the travellers hands, only for one of them to fly up the skirt of a woman. I can picture the hilarity when a male traveller tries to retrieve said paper, much to the chagrin and horror of the lady. The printing works and the apprentice reminded me of my first venture in to the work environment, over 30 years ago. The natural order of long serving workers versus apprentices rang true and I can picture the unrelenting wind-ups between the workers. I remember vividly being sent for “sky hooks”, a “long weight” or my favourite, “sparks for the grinder”. His analogies and comparators are spot on; reminded me of the writings of Richard Curtis and Ben Elton.

Excellent work Neil. As much as I hate cricket, I will be buying your next book.

4.0 out of 5 stars Tales from the life of a Bi-Polar guy – with humour! 14 May 2015  Northampton Northants United Kingdom –  Verified Purchase  This review is from: A Section for Laughing (Kindle Edition)

Despite being bi-polar with all the challenges that must pose, Neil has very definitely retained his sense of humour – indeed he appears to have been drawn to humour right from the word go, even before his illness. This book is a series of tales from Neil’s life – all told in ripe language – about shenanigans with his friends at their local pub, a trip to Europe when he was a drummer in a band, things he got up to when working as a printer in London, a trip to Windsor Safari Park, fishing…. His hilarious accounts of trying to overcome the hurdles of visiting a housing office to find somewhere to live, having lost his home while he was ill, pay tribute to his resilience. Tackling this would have pushed any of us to the limit, even without having health issues! Then of course he needed to furnish the home he eventually got – which entailed a visit to a well-known Swedish ‘furniture emporium’ ….. Read it for yourself – you will definitely laugh, as Neil wanted you to, but you will also get an insight of what it is like to be bi-polar in a very fast-moving world. Highly recommended read.

5.0 out of 5 stars If your looking for a read that will make you laugh and feel good I highly recommend this book, 22 May 2015 By Hannah – Verified Purchase … This review is from: A Section for Laughing (Kindle Edition)

After reading bi-polar expedition I was looking forward to reading Neil Waltons newest read, after having suffered from bi-polar for the majority of his life Neil has managed to keep his sense of humour, after suffering from anxiety and depression myself reading this book made me laugh from beginning to end his quirky sense of humour has me in stitches. If your looking for a read that will make you laugh and feel good I highly recommend this book, I also recommended reading bi-polar expedition as it explains Neils struggles through life and remains to keep his sense of humour you can also purchase this on amazon.

Bless you, I am chuffed… Neil

A Section for Laughing, my 2nd book, has been released into the wild!

April 28th, 2015

Well, I’m very glad to say I’ve found a fool to publish my next lot of old scribblings!  And here’s the link

http://www.ex-l-ence.com/A-Section-for-Laughing.php and my author malarkey http://www.ex-l-ence.com/Neil-Walton.php

What’s it about?  Well, after my sons read my first book I felt the need to redress the balance to show them that dad did have his day in the sun.

So this book covers the best and happiest days of my life.  You won’t believe the rubbish that’s followed me about over the years.  And it seems as if I am a magnet for the ridiculous!  If something daft is about to occur, I will be either on the fringe of it or right in the middle of it, with a crowd of people watching and waiting to see the outcome.

The one thing I do know is, my life doesn’t run like the TV ads, you know, where everything works as easy as 1-2-3.  Oh no, don’t be fooled by Ikea when they say, “Just simply follow the instructions.”  Three days it took to construct that bloody bed, which brings me to a quatation you should pass onto your children.  “There’s no such thing as a two-minute job!!!

The key theme of A Section for Laughing is day-to-day life.  School days, holidays and possibly the worst – inanimate objects.  Safe to say, it’s a laugh from cover to cover, and here’s a piece about the author…

About the author

Born in a wind tunnel, Neil had a turbulent start in life, and found it difficult to mix with other children, as they didn’t understand his sense of humour.  His mother, an up and coming giraffe sexer and part time welder, doted on her second child, and spent many years telling him that his sister had run away to join the New Barnet Nazi League, London.  His father, a retired golf divot, and volunteer whelk whisperer, supplemented his wages by trout tickling.  Sadly, after manhandling several old trouts at a local bus terminus, he was arrested and subsequently exiled to Stevenage, England prior to asking for 72 other cases to be taken into consideration.

Neil left school at 15 by walking away from it, and joined a kipper-splitting company in Bognor, England, West Sussex as a tea boy, where his parents owned a beach hut measuring 8’ x 3’ x 3’.  This later turned out to be a discarded sentry box from Buckingham Palace.  His dad was furious; as for months he’d wondered why you could only get one person in it at a time.  After an incident at ‘Cut it, Gut it & Squish it’, Neil was sacked when the police were notified that he was running a barnacle-laundering ring after the firm closed in the evenings.  No charges were brought against him.

Sometime later and, after extensive psychoanalysis, Neil found the job of his dreams, at a Turbot Tweakers in Penge, Greater London and he stayed with the company for 12 happy years.  Sadly, after a Turbot prank back-fired, he was made redundant.  No charges were brought against him.  At the age of 27 he married a woman; which was fortunate; because he went on to produce two sons.  “To this day,” he said, “I can’t be sure I am the father, as for at least three years of the marriage I was a eunuch.

Putting doubt to one side, and his testicles back in a jar on the mantelpiece, he immigrated to Scarborough, England, North Yorkshire after being head-hunted for a prime job with a Pollack pulping factory, which was just four feet away from Wind scale nuclear plant, England, Cumbria.  Sadly, two weeks later he was sacked once more, when another mollusc related incident was reported to the Flying Fish Squad.

Released on bail, he legged it immediately, and saw out the rest of his days working at a halibut flatteners’ in Fife, Scotland, where he wrote rubbish for anyone who would listen but enjoyed a bloody good laugh.  He died at the age of 106, after he was brutally attack by a rogue gang of kipper splitters from a nearby town.

Here’s one of Neil’s most famous quotations, which is in fact in the Guinness Book of Records, for being the most senseless piece of English literature ever committed to paper.  I think you’ll agree that this seminal quote speaks volumes about the man himself, his life and his work.

“Never, did so many, in the face of human convicts, do so much, for others that couldn’t do it for themselves, without asking so few to get involved.”

Now then, then now, time for an update

April 3rd, 2015

It’s been a while since my last blog, a long while in fact, so it’s time for an up to date update, what is so up-to-date some of the information hasn’t occurred yet!

I had  another bout of depression, but I’m glad to say the black clouds that were above me have moved on and I’m back to my drowsy and lethargic old self.  Thankfully, I’m still in receipt of my ‘humour marbles’ and now it’s time to play with them.

So, what’s been happenning?  Well, a fair bit I’m glad to say.  I finished my sencond book, ‘A Section for Laughing’, which took three years to write and sometime later I found a new publisher who enjoyed the humour and this book was released into the wild, on Amazon, on the 1st of April 2015 in a Kindle format, what ever that is?  Here’s the link if you enjoy a good laugh : http://www.ex-l-ence.com/A-Section-for-Laughing.php

It was a sheer joy to write and it covers, I’m glad to say, the happiest and daftest parts of my life.  I’m not quite sure how I became a magnet for the ridiculous but the situations I found myself in all led to a lot of laughter, and inside you’ll find over 40 true stories from everyday life. And for the record, here’s my lastest author marlarkey: http://www.ex-l-ence.com/Neil-Walton.php To give you a feel of the new book, here’s a Bank Holiday story called – Towel please

So I went to bloody Windsor Safari Park, I didn’t want to go – but I did.  I knew it would be a day of traffic jams, noise and a car load of kids, some of whom weren’t mine, moaning and asking the question that all children are programmed to ask during an outing, “Are we there yet?”  I’m talking of course about the great British bank holiday when there are only two divisions in the weather, you either face a three hour drive in monsoon conditions from the minute you hit the road or the temperature is akin to that of Death Valley.

It’s a working dad’s nightmare; ahead of you is a long weekend.  You might’ve had thoughts above your station, like doing a 100 percent of knob-all squared for a change, but then your little preying mantis, who’s been in lengthy talks with another little praying mantis, comes up with the suggestion of a joint assault on a theme park, dragging you and the dustbin lids with them to spend money you haven’t got!  But hey, you have to do the dad thing don’t you, and I have to say it was great to see the kids with a smile on their faces that lasted all day.  Yes there were kids, noise, shit and confusion everywhere, and you could see the, “I told you so,” look on every father’s face in the park but only a fool would’ve said it out loud.

Our day began by watching the lions having a siesta; well, it was 94 in the shade and 115 in the car, but oh boy did the primates make up for the lack of movement in the big cat’s enclosure.  If they weren’t crapping on the bonnet or attempting to pull each others foreskins over their heads they were ripping off aerials, wiper blades and wing mirrors in a well organised military manoeuvre.  When the tour ended we found ourselves in a car park the size of the Wembley, and in this vast expanse of land was the smallest refreshment area in Europe.  After the sweltering conditions of the car, grown adults were throwing children and the disabled out of the way to get an iced drink, and it didn’t matter if it was Bat flavoured!  Once re-hydrated, a smart arse in our party produced a bunch of tickets for an aquarium show.  After the heat of the day it turned out to be the best place to be.  Well, it was until the sun changed position.

The sea lions did their stuff first and then it was the turn of the dolphins, and they were good too, the kids loved it.  As a final farewell the trainer gave them their last command before they made their way back to a holding pen.  How we chuckled when we saw a gaggle of fish weighing 70lbs a piece hurtling towards the edge of the pool like a bunch of smiling torpedoes.  And we laughed out loud when they landed on their backs and drenched 30 people ringside, mainly because we were sitting 12 rows from the front and still basking in brilliant sunshine.  However, this was definitely the wrong time to start getting drenched in H2O.  The sun was beginning to disappear behind an arched structure in the aquarium but there was still one more act to go in the programme and, just after 5.00pm, ‘it’ (singular but large) entered the pool.

The trainer introduced Shamo the killer whale to the crowd and the first thing that crossed my mind was, “I’m really glad I’m not sitting down the front.”  This bugger had to weigh three and half tons if he was an ounce and from where we were seated I could see that we may be in line for a soaking if he was ordered to jump.  Oh he was smart all right, but ultimately he was just a 25 foot splashing machine.

Being an ‘upstairs for thinking and a downstairs for ballet’ kind of a guy, I grabbed the Prato-matic from my wife’s bag on the pretence that I was off to take some pictures of the blubbery bugger in close up and parked myself on the nearest staircase.  Like a fool she fell for it, boo-wa-ha-ha!  I was off mate, because I wasn’t going to get wet for anyone.  If the small fry could take out the front row, this puppy would have no trouble coating an entire section of seats from top to bottom in one hit.

So the show began and opened with a few basic tricks and, after one circuit of the pool, the whale beached itself on the trainer’s platform and waited for its teeth to be cleaned.  This was followed by a counting exercise, and then the trainer stuck his head in the whale’s mouth.  Trusting brave or stupid?  I’m still not sure, but I guess the only question you really have to ask yourself is, would you stick your head in something that’s name was prefixed with the word, ‘killer’?

Anyway the sunlight had all but disappeared from the aquarium now, and what was a cooling summer zephyr had turned into an icy draft, more so (tee hee) for the people sitting in wet clothes.  Now it may’ve been just a coincidence but, to me, it seemed that all of Shamo’s tricks with the splashiest outcome were left to the end of the show, and everything after the ride round the pool with the trainer on its back had been specifically designed to soak as many people in the audience as possible.

We watched a few ball and hoop tricks first, where a fair proportion of the crowd received a generous coating from one end of the pool to the other, some twice, and then we witnessed the fish in the gob routine up a ladder.  The trainer – not the whale!  How we clapped with glee as he fell backwards into the water and soaked the front row for a third time, the whale – not the trainer!  As this trick was staged at the far side of the pool, it didn’t pose a threat to me, but it didn’t take long to work out a probable damage report if the beast was instructed to jump closer to my side of the pool.  There were only two parts to the equation, a 7,840lb fish that would do literally anything for a kipper, and 4,000,000 gallons of cold water.  Result – a small tsunami.

I waved to my wife to validate my position, and my time away from the main herd pretending to take pictures of the whale’s finale.  The trainer blew his whistle four times and Shamo began to circle the pool like a thing possessed.

Have you ever had a strong gut feeling about something but then you ignored it?  If it wasn’t for the fact that I was still bone dry I might’ve returned to my seat.  As it was, I stuck to my guns but moved up half dozen steps to improve my chances of staying that way.

The arse with the whistle blew it once more and lumpy, the seal murderer leapt out of the water and cleared the surface by 30 feet easily.  Then he turned in mid air and landed on his back; his tail being the last thing to disappear from view.  Then some of the displacement from the pool went left to right, but the bulk of splash, caused by its tail, sent a wall of well-targeted water in my direction.  I sat there dripping like a wet lettuce in my shorts amid a chorus of laughter and applause.

Have you ever smiled outwardly but through gritted teeth said quietly, “Son-of-a-bitch?”  Thinking my embarrassment would soon end I wiped my face down and waited for the 100 or so faces to turn their attention to something else but oh no, there was more to come.

Still coming to terms with the shock of being drenched, head to foot, in cold water I realised I’d neglected one simple fact – the old what goes up malarkey.  And the first sign of this presented itself in the form of a cold trickling sensation at the back of my shorts, which immediately prompted this question from one of my warmer brain cells, shortly after my testicles had made a bid to re-enter my body.  Where would the residue of a jet of water that was a 100 feet high and four feet wide go after coming back down to terra firma?  Back down the bloody staircase I was parked on of course!  The trickle gained in volume and I was now sitting in the path of a torrent of much colder water which was now crashing against my back, and cascading over my head, as it made its way back down to the pool.

As an unpaid sideshow member, the laughter and applause were wearing thin.  Outwardly I smiled, but inwardly I was cursing the oversized kipper-catcher, and began making plans to add a large quantity of strychnine to his feed bucket before we left, in a bid to reduce him to cat food.  And let’s not forget the happy-go-lucky trainer that was dishing out the commands.  Sadly, there wasn’t time to organise, operation ‘string up the bastard with the whistle,’ still, not to worry, I’ll get ‘im next time once the restraining order has been lifted!

‘Beat a mental’ in The Sun week

October 9th, 2013

Well, it’s been a while, and it’s a sad return to my blog because I was hoping to have something to make you laugh.  Instead, after fuming at the headlines in The Sun recently, I felt the need to balance out some facts that could mislead the general views of the public who have never had any dealings with mental heath issues.  So here we go…

As I’ve mentioned before, I had my beating some years ago, when I strayed onto an airbase used by the Queen during a high episode of my disorder. Thank God I was just ill and not a terrorist!

Did anyone in charge assess the problem? Well yes, but I feel they could’ve done a better job. Was I armed in any sort of way? No. Was I outnumbered 12 to 1? Easily. Did a young guard point a loaded Lee Enfield rifle (effective range 550 yards) at me the whole time? Yes. And was it necessary to handcuff me? Yes. What was totally unnecessary was the beating that followed, after I was ‘placed’ face down in the dirt!

A dozen or more Military Policemen saw fit to punch my body all the way up to my neck, but not my head, starting with my calves. Then they moved on to my upper legs, my backside, and all over my back up to my shoulders and my arms. This PR operation was led by one cheery little sole who shouted, “Go on, do it again, he won’t feel it he’s mad.” I’ve never forgotten the experience. Did this story hit the national press? No. Why? I hadn’t killed anyone, so the story wouldn’t have sold any extra copies! Now that does suck.

Now – The Sun said on Monday the 7th of October that 1,200 people have been killed by ‘mental patients’ and the sub-heading mentioned; the supposed death toll was over a ten year period. The double-page spread featured the faces of dead victims and the words ‘broken people – broken system’.

Well thanks for that dear Sun journalists, thanks for such a sweeping statement! So that’s ALL mental health patients have the capacity to kill? What even the bulimic, the OCD and the depressive patients? How about the binge eaters and the people coping with autism, and let’s not forget all those murdering Alzheimer sufferers?

Two elements of the Sun’s article that could be misleading are: it has added together ‘mental patients’ (people who have ‘been in contact with mental health services in the 12 months prior to the offence’) and ‘individuals who had symptoms of mental illness’. As the researchers make clear, with this group, ‘although symptoms were present, we don’t know if these symptoms led directly to the homicide’.

In addition, ‘most of these people were not under mental health care; therefore most homicides were not preventable by mental health services’. If you look only at murders committed by ‘patients’, the total for the decade is reduced from 1,216 to 738.  I’m not saying that this excuses the people who committed these crimes but at least get your facts right!

It’s 2013 and I and many others are living in a world where a survey of 1,741 people carried out by the NHS had this to say about what they thought about mental health.

1 in 5 said ‘anyone with a history of mental problems should be excluded from taking public office’. 1 in 10 said ‘it’s frightening to think of people with mental problems living in residential neighbourhoods’. 1 in 10 said ‘A woman would be foolish to marry a man who has suffered from mental illness, even though he seems fully recovered’. And that my friends – is what we are up against…

Prison-break shocker – sperm escapes!

March 18th, 2013

 

Now you may have been banged up for 32 life sentences in an Israeli prison but, it doesn’t stop your sperm getting out for an ‘away day’ trip.  The question on everybody’s lips is, “How is it doing it?” 

Conjugal visits are forbidden in most Israeli prisons and security is tight during visits however, obviously the security measures are not tight enough.  Which begs the questions, how observant are the prison warders, are they being bribed in some way or are they just plain stupid?  

Naturally, the Israeli Government has heard of my success in radical solutions, and they contacted me to address this problem for them.  So, after a lock-in at the ‘Strumpet’s Gusset’ and very little sleep, here are my findings.

First, let’s take a look at the problems facing the sperm in its bid to escape unchallenged.  Timing is everything, especially with a survival rate outside of the human body of 48 hours.  This leads me to believe the act of this procedure must be occurring in the prisoners visiting room itself.    

Memo to all staff: beware of prisoners with just one hand visible at any given time and, of female visitors facing away from the speaking grill, on all fours, with their kilts over their heads!

Secondly, if said sperm is to be taken outside of the prison walls it would have to be placed in a container or carrier to enable a transaction to take place. 

2nd Memo to all staff: note how many prisoners request a Biro before a visit.  Once the ink refill has been removed the outer casing could be employed as a blow pipe! 

In this instance, even if the recipient was to perform a number of unexpected cartwheels in the visitor’s pit, they could still be assured of a direct hit!

All in all, it is my considered opinion that the story begins in the prisoner’s carpentry room.  The number of new students in this department has risen by 80% in the last year alone, and there’s been a keen interest in making catapults.   

So it would seem the prisoners are simply ‘knocking one out in the potting shed’ and then aiming the fallout over the prison walls, straight into the reception of the IVF clinic next door!

No, no, there’s no need for thanks, just send money!

Intro to chapter three ‘High as a kite’ from Bi Polar Expedition

March 8th, 2013

 

Please expect some expletives.

Now, there is a gap here.  Well actually it’s more of a chasm.  This would be your worst nightmare captured on celluloid.  My last memories of that night were of an awful black, dreamlike sensation.  More tablets or an injection I suspect.  The floors and walls seemed to be made of latex.  I walked pitifully into a small dormitory, wearing only my underwear and an over-sized blue and white striped gown.  As I recall this particular scene, I always begin to fill up, fag break I think…

The illness had stripped me of another part of my dignity even though I was by myself.  I don’t remember leaving the room where I was sectioned, or who relieved me of my clothing.  All I needed was a night-cap and a teddy bear and I could have doubled as Andy, bleedin’ Pandy.  I think I caught a glimpse of Looby Lu in the bed opposite, well at least I knew I was I the right place.

When I was conscious again, I found myself sitting in the day room of N2.  A nurse was telling that me a visitor had come to see me.  I had appeared to have been relieved of my Andy Pandy suit and was now dressed in what looked like my own clothes.  I wished I knew who kept doing that – it was most disconcerting. 

Was all this part of an elaborate wind up?  It was pissing me off no end.  Although I was heavily medicated, through my blurred vision, no doubt a side-effect of the drugs, I could just make out somebody walking towards me and waving.  Wouldn’t you know it; it was Bill, smiling from ear to ear.

My first and most obvious question to him was, “How long have I been here?”  His reply did not compute on first hearing.  “Run that by me one more time?”  I said in total dismay.  He repeated his answer.  “For fuck’s sake, that’s not possible surely?”  I felt around my face to discover that I had almost got a fully grown beard.  That would explain this I suppose.  Bill nodded in agreement.  He looked embarrassed, as if it was his fault I was in hospital again.

I chain-smoked for the next hour or so, still coming to terms with the length of time that I had been incarcerated.  Bill informed me that it was the hospitals’ decision not to allow anybody to see me as I was far too high.  I had been unaware of my surroundings to the tune of 408 hours.  What my poor Mum must have gone through.  I couldn’t believe that it had taken that amount of time to get me in a reasonably coherent state again. 

Bill left saying he would visit me again soon.  I sat in a state of confusion for quite sometime, trying without success to piece back together the last 17 days of my life.  Who washed and dressed me?  Where did I sleep, did someone have to feed me?  Ninety-nine point nine percent of those two and a half weeks is still a blank today.  What I can remember I can’t even bear to put down on paper.

And you’d think it couldn’t get any worse – wrong!

 

General information

After five break-downs I went on to write a book about my experiences, and in 2007 ‘Bi Polar Expedition’ was published. 

It’s a survivor’s account spanning 12 years, and shows how writing has helped to keep my disorder in remission for the last 10 years.  It also shows how humour has its place in recovery, and how occupational therapy played a vital role in my sense of self worth.   
 
Please pass the link on if you feel it will be of use or interest.

www.bipolar-expedition.co.uk  
 
 
These groups have recently ordered copies:  

40 UK lending libraries including: Westminster – Blackpool – Tyneside – Liverpool – Dumfries – South Dublin – The British Library.  And last year 500 people took my book out. 

The Depression Alliance – The Manic Depression Fellowship – The Priory – The Mental Health Foundation

Universities: Lancaster – Leeds – London Met – Nottingham – Glamorgan – Kings College London

Reviews on: www.amazon.co.uk & http://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar (USA) 

Wholesalers: Amazon, Bertrams & Dawson Books

Key themes

Clinical depression – Alcohol abuse – Suicide attempt – E.C.T. – Recoveries – The stigma – Bipolar high episodes – Being sectioned – Looking for work – Medication (including Prozac) – Side-effects (such as Akathisia) – Mental health humour – Life on the wards –  How I became a writer

Final part of Heading for breakdown No. 2 chapter two

March 4th, 2013

 

Mum was busy in the kitchen making tea and periodically popped into the front room to collect the empty mugs.  This was getting more bizarre by the moment.  My friends faces all had a pensive look about them.  I noticed Bill sitting in a corner with tears falling down his cheeks.  I said, “What’s the problem, I’m fine.”  I could see their mouths opening and closing but their words failed to reach my hearing receptors.  It was as if I were standing in a triple glazed void.  I could hear my voice but no one else’s.

At about 11.30 I remember saying to everyone assembled, “This is going to be a very long night.”  I also informed them that I was off to bed.  With my intentions set in crystal, I left them to it.  My closest friends, Bill and Chris were there, and their wives Seron and Lorraine accompanied them.  They had all rallied round to give my mum some much needed support, bless ‘em.  I don’t know how they put up with me. 

 The man with the Gladstone bag turned out to be a social worker.  He was busy getting some background information on me.  I was obviously ill again and as usual I was the last to know.

In the safety zone, my bedroom, all was beautifully pitch black.  My peace and serenity were blighted only by the muffled voices emanating from the front-room.  I was tossing and turning in bed wondering what the hell was going on.  As before, I came up with a reason for the late night tea party.

Perhaps I was going through the male equivalent of the menopause.  Anyway that’s the best I could come up with in the time available.  I vividly remember forming all manner of strange contortions with my limbs and body.  It was as if I was being pushed and pulled about by an invisible force.  This is something that has happened to me before, but during the daylight hours. 

The involuntary movement lasted I suppose twenty minutes or so.  I began to feel frightened by this weird, out of my hands, situation and was glad everybody was still there.  I heard a knock at my door.  “Can I come in,” a male voice said, “Yeah,” I replied.  It was the social worker.

He asked me to get dressed, and for some reason I gave him the thumbs up sign, much to the relief of my friends and mother.  It was now 1.00 a.m. on Tuesday morning.  I grabbed my clothes, walked out of my flat and straight into a waiting ambulance. 

Mum was shattered by this time so Bill and Seron kindly drove her to a family friend’s house, where she stayed for a few days.  Chris came with me in the ambulance and Rainy, as we called her, followed behind in their car.  The last thing I remember being said was Chris asking the driver if he could keep the speed down so Rainy could keep up with us.  I may have blacked out for a while, I’m not sure.

I vaguely recall flopping about in the stretcher-bed as the ambulance went round corners.  In my stupefied state, I thought I was being taken to see Mark, an inmate that I had met the first time I was admitted to Claybury.  Well I would get to meet up with him again, only the stay was to be longer than I had anticipated.  I was oblivious that Chris was standing behind me when I got out of the ambulance at the entrance of the hospital. 

He said it was the most tragic sight he had ever seen.  I suppose it’s not everyday you see a friend admitted to a loony bin.  Chris and I had worked together some years back and became close friends very quickly.  You know that positive buzz you get when you meet someone for the first time and you click.  Our lives seemed to have run in parallel.  Second to Bill, Chris was the brother I never had.

As I walked down the all too familiar gloomy corridor, an image which I shall never be able to erase, I called out Mark’s name a few times presuming that he would be there to meet me.  My next recollection was sitting opposite a man who was reading something from a sheet of paper, while I, on the other hand, was performing Tai Chi breathing exercise known only to me. 

I was in fact being read a section paper.  This was a standard procedure for a twenty-eight day stint in the ‘fun factory’.  He could have been reading the Beano for all I knew.  I was too far-gone to make sense of anything at that stage.

Well, that’s chapters 1 & 2.  Next week I’ll add a small section of the start of chapter three, as I still can’t believe how long I was in hospital before I knew where I was.  It could have been in a script from a film…