Sunday, November 11, 2007


Life on the psychiatric ward continues. I go upstairs for lunch with Andy. An ex-bikie, built like the proverbial brick outhouse. Missing his front teeth. Covered in tattoos. He regales me with tales of the bad old days. The drugs. The mayhem. Crowd control was his business. Sawn-off shotgun is the best method, he informs me. Let go with one barrel of that into the air and it clears a room. Save the other barrel for any troublemakers, Andy says. I'll have the chicken thanks love.

We take our trays to the long dining table, and set about making the most of the bland food. The man sitting opposite has sunken pits for eyes. Weathered, wrinkled face under a shock of grey hair. He is missing a few teeth as well. Speaking with a broad Lancashire accent, he tells us how he gave up the grog.

Seventeen years ago, he says. It was getting out of hand. I'd be drinking tea at work laced with whiskey, had to have four or five drinks before i could even go in.
He pokes at his hospital food. Boiled veges, mashed potato, chicken.
At the pub i'd be drinking in the main bar, and have a round going in the lounge as well. Got so as my mates weren't drinking fast enough to keep up with me. Those days, you'd just leave twenty quid on the bar, no-one would touch it, only take a few bob when it was your round, you know. I'd make as though i was off to the toilet all the time, but i'd be drinking in the other bar. It's me kidneys, i'd say.

What made you quit.

Me wife left me. Lost me job. Got back on me feet, you know. Gave up the grog, but didn't give up me mates at the pub. I'd just sit on a pint glass of shandy, sipping slow. They were a good lot, they understood, you know, never ribbed me about it.

The bloke on my left is complaining about the chicken.
Tough to eat with half your teeth missing, he says.
I guess i'm lucky, i got a denture, i say.
I just had six teeth pulled out, he says.
Yeah, i used to have dentures, but the dog ate mine, mutters Andy. I left them on the kitchen table, and in the morning they were gone. All i found were the bits of wire on the back verandah where the dog sleeps.

He shakes his head sadly.

I wouldn't of minded so much, but when i kicked him up the arse, he smiled at me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hence the expressive noun of "dog", I guess. Hang in there buddy. Sanity is both subjective, AND overrated. You got lucidity (mostly) in spades, an' that's what counts.