Of course, it wouldn't be every one's cup of tea, but all things considered, the mental hospital was a fine place to grow up in.
Chief memories? Redbrick buildings, grey flats. A vaguely threatening place.
Cold corridors with tall windows. Like living in a goldfish bowl.
Fish? Someone had the idea of putting an aquarium in the common room. Orange fish doing what orange fish do: endlessly circling the greenish water in a permanent quest
that led nowhere.
A grassy lawn peppered with daisies. Low flying planes that set a roaring rushing through the head to make a sound to drive a man mad. Absolute isolation, not being able to make yourself heard and the sense of panic as the roaring feels like it's going to go on forever.
Sleep that night. A room filled with the summer dusk. An open wardrobe with dresses and coats hanging in there waiting for someone to wear them, make them dance, come back to life. Panic again. Sheer fear.
The sleeve of a green frock starts to move, fill with a muscle-like ripple.
The hand with very white fingers breaks the skin of the water. Plucks a panic fish, a grail fish, lifts it dripping through the heated air to gnash it down in a horrible gulp as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do.
Orange scales clustered, transferred on grinning teeth.
The sleeve of the frock starts to lift and I cry out loud enough to set feet running along the cold corridors with the tall windows, the tang of pine disinfectant pulsing in the heavy air.
On a window sill, model planes safely landed on the crystalline paint.
I'm talked into sleep. Re-assuring words, explanations.
A dream of ambulances, their antique bells ringing down a highway but there's no emergency to drive too.
The night smells of Air-fix glue.
I wake to a morning of broken propellers.