So there we sat, surrounded by brick walls and a high wire fence. Mental Hospitals aren’t loud places and it wasn’t loud in the courtyard, apart from us kicking and jumping on the gravel and laughing at the stupid seriousness of it all.
See, my friend is poorly right now. She’s in hospital and she hasn’t got a release date – which hurts me: I don’t want her to suffer and I don’t want her to be in pain, because I know a little of how that particular pain feels. She’s too great to be feeling that level of horror. But she’s safe, and there’s a lot to be said for being safe. Dialectics, eh.
I got there too early and managed to lie my way onto the secure ward until they rumbled me and sent me downstairs for ten minutes. “Who are you?”
“OK, Boss, you just take it easy and we’ll be with you shortly.”
I haven’t been anyone’s boss for a long time.
My other friend turned up a few minutes after me and I’d totally forgotten that I should have met her at the ward entrance, meaning she bumped into an old CPN who, in a fit of vitality and assertive anger one day, she’d told to get out of her house during a home visit. This is always a dangerous move seeing as CPN’s are heavily involved in the Sectioning process. But CPN’s don’t always know what’s going down. That’s lesson in madness #1.
The three of us sat around a circular dining table and smiled a lot. And laughed. We got permission to take her out of the ward and into the shared secure areas of the hospital, but the staff didn’t realise not one of us was actually legally a ‘responsible adult’. The net could have dropped over all of us at any time. But we were savvy, just as we were happy, and we were friends. I gave her a picture I’d painted and she laughed and said I’d better make sure I signed it good and proper because she was going to stick it on her wall and didn’t want the psychiatrists to think she’d made it and was that fucked up.
At ‘Jackie’s Pantry’ my friend teased the male worker behind the steel counter, calling him Jackie. He didn’t laugh, but we did, all of it captured on camera, every move; a nurse never further than twenty feet at all times in every place we ever went. Dangerous times.
Out there in that courtyard the sun shone and the wind blew. There are no such things as Sea Lesbians – so we thought – just like an Octopus can’t live up a tree, should it want to, or a paint roller work like it should in a tight spot.
We talked about some things that only the initiated can; just three human beings sitting on a low wooden wall under a clear Derbyshire sky in March without the need to explain anything.