BY ANDREW MOODY
One of the stipulations for my transfer from the Secure Unit to the Acute Ward, after eight agonising months, was that I would lose the flat. Of course I told the Acute Ward psychiatrist that would be just fine. The flat reminded me of Khair, it was one of our safe houses, for months we travelled back and forth from my place to her apartment. She was in the throes of a string of affairs, once she told me during an argument that I was the only one that counted. I dumped her, we got back together. I dumped her, we got back together. The hardest part was that I knew I was the only one she loved. Once, in a post office up in Glasgow where she had moved, the attendant in the window asked if I was her bodyguard. Khair giggled and said: “No, he’s my boyfriend!”
I learnt to negotiate with the Acute Ward care plan, mostly lies: that I had a long history of violence, had been addicted to heroin, thought cameras were watching me at all times, that MI5 were tailing my every move. Gibberish, I don’t know why or when they had written this, but they had left out my not inconsiderable career as a freelance journalist and the fact I had written and self published two novels.
I have been on the Acute Ward for nearly two weeks, and so far it’s been a holiday camp compared with the Secure Unit. A friend of mine who’s yet to hit the transfer list texted me to say the new admissions were so unhinged they’d removed the punching bag from the garden and phone time was back down to half an hour, observed. At first admission to the Secure Unit, (randomly falling on Remembrance Day 2019) I was hooked on cigarettes. Eventually, as the months rolled by, I realised that phone time was far more satisfying than cigarette time, and I was yet to arrive at the Acute Ward which had a new policy that gave us all a Vape pen every day.
On escorted leave the other day from the Acute Ward, my nurse marveled at how I had managed to serve eight months in the Secure Unit.
“It’s notorious, one of the most notorious units in the country. But you got yourself out. That’s amazing.”
My parents visited me around Christmas, got me a new phone and wireless headphones. I managed to diligently submit an article a week for the magazine I had contributed to for about two years. It wasn’t easy to concoct a fresh article each week with only the bare minimum of resources in a place where fights were common and where some of the patients would never leave. The articles I worked on kept my mind away from Khair, the love of my life.
I now approach homelessness again. Do I care?