Welcome to the cupboard of broken toys — part 6


Wednesday after lunch is a Ward Group meeting. The chairs in the TV room are arranged in a circle. Everyone attends. All the patients and nursing staff and whichever of the doctors happens to be around. It is a chance for people to get things off their chest. I have been attending for the last couple of months and not felt the urge to say anything. That is about to change.

One of the other patients is gassing on about how you shouldn’t tell anyone your woes as, according to his mum, “A trouble shared is a trouble doubled.”

“That’s a load of crap,” I mutter to myself.

“Do you want to share anything with us, Alan?” asks Waite.

Something inside my head goes ‘click’.

“Yes.” I say quietly. “Yes. I have something I want to say.” Pause. “There is something I want to say.”

The mood in the room changes. Doctor Hardy is looking at me slant-wise and the other staff are suddenly attentive.

“I want to say this.” My mouth is dry and I am feeling agitated. “I want to say; my name is not Alan!” I pause to take breath. “My name is not Alan Lamb!” I have started to get pretty agitated.

“My fucking name is not Alan-fucking-Lamb! My. Name. Is. Not. Alan. Lamb!” I emphasise each word.

“Calm down,” Waite tells me.

“Don’t tell me to calm down,” I shout at him. “You don’t even know me. Don’t fucking well tell me to calm down.”

I jump up and wave my hand in his face. He flinches away as if I am going to hit him but I just want him to see my wrist-band.

“Read it!!” I am yelling at him. “Read it out loud so everyone can hear!” He is looking pretty scared.

“It says Andrew! Andrew Lamb! ANDREW LAMB, ANDREW LAMB, ANDREW LAMB! That’s my name. Say it!” I am practically screaming it out by now.

By this time, two of the other Medics have finally jumped into action. I guess it was all a bit unexpected. Each of them grabs me by one arm. I try to shake them off but I am too weak.

“Say my name, you fucking useless prick!” I shout as they pull me away. I look back at Waite. He is looking very frightened and his face has gone really, really red.

Someone says; “It’s straight-jacket time.” And a ripple of laughter goes around the room. Most people are looking pretty shocked. But a few look after me with interest.


I have been relocated to one of the single-bed side rooms. I have been given an injection of the liquid cosh to calm me down. Largactil. They say it is only a mild dose but I am still zonked out for the rest of the day. Medics come in to take my temperature, blood pressure. Someone takes a blood sample.

That evening I am beginning to wake up a bit. Joe Crabbe is allowed to come and see me.

“That was exciting,” he says gleefully.

“Was I bad?” I ask, expecting the worst.

“No, you were great. I’ve been on this ward for three months and that was the first time I ever saw anyone actually go completely nuts. You are a hero. Everyone is talking about it.”

“I suppose I will have to apologise.”

“What for?”

“I think I may have really made Waite upset. I should tell him I didn’t mean it.”

“He will have to apologise to you. If you both apologise they will cancel each other out.”

Waite is replaced as my keyworker. I now have Lance-Corporal Mulholland. He is an Irish lad with a shock of red hair and more acne than I have ever seen on one face. I can practically hear it squeaking.

“So, you’re this legend that I am hearing about.” He says, “What should I call you? Andrew or Alan?”

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