Permanently fogged, I have no idea where I am or what I’m doing here. It’s a sort of fuzzy-round-the-edges Colditz. Contemplating ways to escape, I find that the only way out of Mercia Ward is a permanently-locked and very solid door with nine small glass panes. Punching through one of these and reaching through the broken glass to turn the knob on the other side doesn’t work… and by some small miracle, draws no blood.
Despite the ward being rectangular, there’s a circular walk provided for us. Through the dining room, the TV lounge, the gents, the shower and back through the TV lounge to the dining room. It’s like the wheel in Midnight Express.
It seems to me that each circuit raises me up in some way, up and out of these spartan workhouse-type Victorian surroundings; lifting me, although never to a new promised land.
A work of art
Day by day, night by night I walk the circuit. One night, seeing the pool table with it’s half complement of balls and a nearby orange cone indicating that the floor has been cleaned, I hatch a plan.
I take the cone, place it dead centre of the pool table, put the black ball in the dimple on top of the cone and carefully space the other balls evenly around the cone’s base. It is an art-work. Long may it stand!
Sacrilege! In the morning my carefully constructed creation is gone, the pool balls randomly distributed again around the table, the cone on the floor. What a waste of a work of genius. I will do it again, tonight. But better.
It becomes Christmas. A tree appears in the dining room, bedecked with baubles and tinsel. One night I pull a chair over, stand on it and leap into the tree – it seems logical. Why? I don’t know. Does there have to be a reason for everything? Anyway the tree falls and the baubles roll satisfyingly around the floor.
I have no watch – time is meaningless, an artificial even non-existent thing. It’s so slow that I can see and hear conversations on the TV between actors, extras and crew talking in between takes.
I’m in a foggy cloud, unaware of any reality. Somehow though, I seem to have been given the power of creative genius. I can sense things that others can’t. If I’m in the TV lounge, I sometimes sense that I have visitors. I look through the door towards the way into the ward, and every time – every single time – Mom and Pop are there, smiling at me.
Allowed out one day, I come across a shiny new silver Mercedes in a driveway in The Deva’s grounds. Clearly it’s been placed there for me: it’s my car, a gift from above. I escalate towards joy at this very concrete sign of my value to God.
Strangely, there are no keys. My vehicle is locked. I attempt to break the window by hitting it as hard as I can with my fist. Having no success, I look around for a brick to smack it with.
There being no immediately available glass-shattering tools around, I forget the car and move on to my next adventure.
Working on the ward is a psychiatric nurse who, when calling me to see Dr Maddun says: “Marc! Sawbones, sawbones!”
He explains his meaning by making a sawing motion as if carving off half of his left arm. I, the patient, doped up to the eyeballs, insane and bewildered, am shepherded to the ward round half-expecting to be dismembered.