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When – Memories are made of this

My earliest memories of family life involved a policeman in our hallway talking to my dad while my younger bother and I were behind my dads legs listening. We were too young to be scared because we did not understand what was happening.  I can remember the policeman looking down towards us but not stopping the conversation he was having with my dad.

I can only think someone had called the police because of the noise of a parental argument being heard.  That must have been quite an argument to provoke someone to telephones the police.  Telephones in houses were not the norm and our immediate neighbours did not have a telephone.  The nearest public telephone was over half a mile away.

Sometimes life was good, well most of the time was good.  Kids adapt and there is no such thing as a normal family apart from a statistical family so what we had was our norm.

My mum spent time in mental institutes and suffered greatly.  She underwent Electric Shock Treatment.  Which I now find abhorrent.  That is not based upon a medical understanding but simply I cannot understand why anyone would inflict pain to that degree on the off chance it may work.  Why did they start?

I can remember visiting my mum while she was away in the mental institute.  The whole family sat outside the ward in the open under a small canopy while not knowing what to say.  Looking this way then that way while staring at the ground just to pass time and somehow I think the adults were expecting to see me play.

I don’t know why, and thinking now I am surprised, but I was let to go into her room. Enough space to get to one side and an end of the bed. Metal framed bedstead, one window, little light which showed the bleakness of the confines.  The walls were shabby and nothing else.  We were there on sunny day but at night, let alone a winter afternoon or night, it was a place where sane people would struggle to keep warm and not be scared witless; it was lonely and depressing.

When we left I was sad, not distressed.  Once back home we continued life as though it was fine and dandy.

Later in life, could be 20 years later, I had the opportunity to visit a chap who had gone blind virtually overnight and could only be homed in one of the long term residential wards at the hospital my mum had been a patient in.  He was a metallurgist, so was by anyone’s standards a smart chap.  He described the daily routine in an articulate way just from the sounds he heard.  While talking to me things all around us were going on that mimicked what he was saying.  There was no chance of him making any friends there and I expect was the only patient that the staff could have a sensible conversation with.  That is only acknowledgement of the patients not the staff.

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