HARRY'S UNSTABLE STATE PERSISTS
1980 - 1983
Why does it take a bereavement of a wife for a husband to realise that a woman has been a mate to him and catered for his physical and mental needs? How many men fail to adequately show their appreciation to their spouse and to God during the lifetime of their marriage for this heavenly gift.
This was certainly true in my case during my 41 years of marriage. This had made bereavement twice as hard to bear, with the knowledge that I always considered my own needs first.
These thoughts passed through my head, and other morbid ones, as I lay in bed after all the relatives had returned home, leaving me with an empty house. I felt not only lonely, but scared of my inability to cope with the void that her loss had created. I had withdrawal symptoms and passed on the other side of the road, should I see someone I knew approaching me. This avoided the standard question always being asked, How are you coping?
My bridge partner on Wednesday nights became aloof, knowing I was a single man. Although divorced, she had no wish to become entangled with me, for when I asked if I could take her out to dinner, her reply was, This would only be possible if there were no strings attached. Until this moment, I had shared a lot of my problems with her, which of course, could have produced the warning shot across my bow.
In my solace, I sought the company of Reg and Barbara at Bath, for they had been sincere and friendly company. This I did, and stayed at their attractive bungalow, Bali Hai overlooking the depression along Entry Hill on the south side of Bath. I spotted some of the slabs that were used to construct the patio when there in the 1960s.
Bath, to me, had character and charm, unequalled by any other town of Baths size in Britain. The Roman Baths and Spa Room, with all houses required to be faced with Bath Stone, helped to maintain links with its past Roman and 18th Century history. My view had not changed from the time I stayed previously with Reg, during the early 60s when I put a deposit on a house for when I retired 20 years later.
In my silent moments at Bath, wondering how I could put my life together again, I realised I still had a family role to play. I would have Andrew and family each week for Sunday dinner. This would keep me busy, preparing a Sunday beef joint, with its trimmings, such as Yorkshire pudding.
Harry too, still needed his mind sorted out and would require regular visits while he was in Cranleigh locked ward.
The ambulance car driving I had done so far, I found to be both challenging and rewarding. This could be my main calling, and as at work, in sorting out my priorities, I chose this hospital work to be the top of my list.
Once back in Bedhampton, I contacted the ambulance controller officer, based at Winchester, to give him my availability for the following week. This work proved to be the answer to my feeling sorry for myself.
In taking patients to hospital, some of whom needed daily treatment, I came to appreciate that I was lucky not to be one of them. Particularly those who had to be on a dialysis machine several times a week to have their blood processed, due to kidney failure. There were others receiving daily treatment for the cure of cancer. My assignments from the controller each week usually contained some surprises, such as visiting another hospital in the Hampshire area, or, on the odd occasion, outside the county.
This, coupled with addresses of patients in different areas, provided me with an exercise to locate and plan my route, after the controllers phone call. I welcomed new places, like Odstock Hospital for burns; other places like Southampton and Chichester ultimately became routine. The majority of my patients were picked up from Havant, Rowlands Castle, Hayling Island and outlying districts of Portsmouth.
I learned to be greeted with one of two expressions- You are late! or You are early! It was difficult to estimate for delays caused by patients not being ready at the time of being picked up. There were other factors, such as the wrong address being given, due to the patient staying at a relatives address.
Whilst waiting for patients to have their treatment, other drivers like yourself, would chat together and exchange stories about their patients or about their problems in locating them. I soon had my story to tell about an elderly, grey-haired lady dressed in a brown overcoat, who I failed to collect.
This happened when I delivered her to the fracture clinic. At the time I was asked to pick her up in their waiting area, I could find no trace of her, neither could I get helpful information from the staff to find her. Whilst sitting in the waiting compound, I suddenly spotted what appeared to be my grey-haired lady in a brown overcoat. As I have always suffered from colour-blindness, I could easily have got my colours wrong.
I approached her and asked if she was waiting for her driver. She nodded her head. Am I your driver? I asked. Again, she nodded her head. Well, what are we waiting for, lets go. No words were spoken between us in the car during the journey to the address at Emsworth where I had picked her up earlier in the day. I got out of the car, to open the car door, to help her out, when she gave me a strange look, shaking her head sideways. Could I have picked up another patient and not the one on my list, I thought. I asked, What is your name, please? I got another blank look. I had no alternative but to return immediately to the hospital, for a very distressed ambulance driver could be foaming at the mouth for losing his passenger. Sure enough, I recognised Bob, one of the drivers outside the fracture clinic, with a very red face as I drove to the entrance of Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Cautiously, I approached him and asked, Is there anything wrong, Bob?
Yes, Ive been searching an hour for an elderly lady with dementia, who does not know whether she is coming or going. I brought her from a nursing home on Hayling Island.
I said to Bob, You are very lucky, for I have found her for you, and she also has had a free trip to Emsworth. She is in the back of my car, she is now all yours. What he said to me was not printable, which in no way helped me to locate my patient!
The receptionist in the fracture clinic informed me that another ambulance car driver had taken my patient home. The lady had to visit not only the X-ray clinic, but also had to give a blood sample.
The lesson learned here was to confirm by name that each patient was on my pick-up schedule provided by the ambulance controller.
It remained a mystery to me, how Harry was able to keep Joan attracted to him. From the time of his mothers death, he had been put under an Order 26, which meant that he could be kept in a locked ward. Should he escape, he could be forcibly brought back into a locked ward.
Harrys stay in Cranleigh lasted three weeks. He was then transferred to Solent Ward. Joan kept in daily touch with him, in spite of his odd behaviour. They gave me a surprise, when on the 29th October, they announced their engagement, after Harry had been given leave from the hospital. My first thoughts were concerning the money to buy the ring that she was wearing. I failed to remember that I had bought it some time previously, when asked if I could help him get engaged to Joan.
Joan was very important to both of us, and anything I could do to bring normality to his actions, I was always ready to help. Over the Christmas period, Andrew and family stayed with me, as did Harry, who behaved himself well. I had plenty of practice in the culinary skills prior to cooking the Christmas turkey with its trimmings, for each Sunday morning, cooking for Andrew, Linda, Joy, Peter and Jonathan trained me to feed a gathering of hungry faces with a Sunday joint. There were, however, some uncomplimentary remarks about the Yorkshire pudding which I could never get to rise.
Prior to the Christmas period, Harry had been consistently asking for money which he spent immediately on drink. He had discharged himself from St James on the 3rd November. From there, he was resident at home, and managed to curb his drinking habit until after the Christmas week. He then returned to his normal anti-social pattern. He continually pestered me for money to buy drink and cigarettes, up most of the night, having a bath in the early morning, and would roam about the house in his pyjamas. Finally, I told him, he would have to pack his bag if he failed to mend his ways.
I took him to see Dr OFlynn, our family doctor, who prescribed tranquillisers and arranged for him to see Joan on the 8th January. Harry asked me to hand out double the quantity of pills that had been prescribed.
On New Years eve, when Joan was present at home, Harry came downstairs and said he was God. Joan did a half grin. He then sat on the sofa with her and put his arms around her.
During January, he had attended Solent Day Ward at St James, using a run-about bus ticket.
On Wednesday, 26th January, he arrived home, with Joan, smelling of drink. He disappeared upstairs and was sick all over his bed and carpet. Immediately, I became very upset for this was due to drink and meant I had to strip his bed and wash bed clothes and those he was wearing. He changed into clean pyjamas and went downstairs to join Joan. After opening his bedroom window to let the smell out, I had a bath. Whilst in the bath, I heard a thud, followed by an hysterical shout from Joan. I wrapped a towel around myself, and rushed downstairs, to discover the front door open and Harry sitting on the sofa. Joan was standing with her hands over her face. He had facial injuries, including a cut under his left eye, bleeding from his lips and nose.
Joan said he had jumped out of the bedroom window and fallen onto a concrete slab. Fortunately, the roof of the front door porch had broken his fall. Perhaps our Guardian Angel had not completely forsaken us. Without delay I dialled 999 for an ambulance, which arrived within minutes.
He was taken to Queen Alexandra Emergency Ward (QA), with Joan. On going upstairs into his bedroom, and noticing his window fully open, I found his Mogadon bottle empty, and realised he had swallowed a weeks supply. I notified the QA Hospital at once and was told that after the
X-rays had been taken, they would pump his stomach out. I thought of Joan and how distressed she must have been.
I drove to the Emergency Unit after I had collected clothes for Harry. The X-ray plates had revealed no fractures, and I was told he would be finally put into the intensive care unit. I was, of course, anxious to take Joan home, which I did when I had put the medical people in the picture about Harry being a patient of St James Hospital.
Two days later, he had been placed in F3 ward, where patients had been complaining about Harry begging for cigarettes and money.
I contacted Dr Singh, and the Registrar of St James, and was told that Harry had discharged himself and that he would not properly attend the Day Centre of Solent Ward.
On the fourth day in QA, I was informed that Dr Bale had instructed that Harry be admitted into St James. This occurred because the two hospitals medical staff had got together.
Harry had spoken to Andrew on one of his visits to the Hospital, regarding going to the farm in Devon with Andrews family. This I learned from Andrew, and I told him that this was not possible, as arrangements had been made for Harry to enter St James Hospital. Linda, who arrived at 12.30pm with Andrew, as I was about to leave for Hamble to play hockey, told me off for not allowing Harry to go with them to Devon and letting God do his work.
Before leaving, I had phoned Solent Ward about collecting Harry, who was at home, having discharged himself from the QA Hospital. They told me that a community nurse would call that afternoon to collect him.
I phoned Andrew on my return from hockey, to ask if Harry was with them, as there was no trace of him at home. No, they had not, and were very sorry for the action they had taken with me. That was a relief, for I had no-one else to turn to!
After this call, I found a note left by the community nurse, that Harry was in need of urgent treatment and had therefore taken him back into St James in accordance with Dr Bales instructions.
My hockey, bridge and hospital work had just kept my head above water. It was like a knife wound when Andrew and Linda chided me. I thought my Guardian Angel had completely abandoned me.
Any reference to the Hospital Staff about Harrys treatment usually brought forth that he refused to conform to treatment or therapeutic work. Apart from Dr Bale, there had been no requests from the medical staff for me to discuss Harrys behaviour pattern, or for them to discuss Harrys behaviour pattern or tell me how they proposed to treat Harry.
Harrys movements in and out of hospital produced a nightmare for the DHSS as regards his sickness and attendance allowance payments. This usually fell on to me to supply his movements, before payments would be made to Harry. He never had enough money and I was continually being pestered to supply it. I also paid out money for Harrys flat at the Keswick Hotel, to ensure that Harry would be in Dr Bales catchment area for St James patients. However, a beacon was shining, for there was someone who had faith in Harry.
Joan had consistently visited him, in spite of her statement that she was going to finish with him. I had her to thank as well as her family, for preventing me from having a nervous breakdown. I took advantage of their support for Harry by going on a bridge holiday at the Waverley Hotel, Melrose, Scotland, from Monday 2nd February to Friday 6th February. I hoped that by taking this break, I would be able to shed some of my sad memories, which kept me awake most nights.
The hostess, on our arrival, gave us a resumé of the weeks programme, which included a daily walk or a trip to local places of interest. I had been allocated Ken, a widower like myself, as my partner for the bridge sessions.
Our first night was spent on playing rubber bridge, and provided the opportunity for Ken and I to get our Acol system working, before the serious duplicate bridge commenced.
The following morning, our hostess gave us a briefing of the Scottish Borders, where the Welsh rugby team and their supporters rested the night before going to battle with the Scots. The Borders, a bucolic tract, south of Edinburgh served for many centuries as the first line of defence against the Sassenachs. The remains of Peel Towers on many hill tops once held beacons, warning of English raiders. Pilgrims from Edinburgh plodded along the Girthgate route to Melrose Abbey, one of many abbeys and historical houses that can be seen in the Borders.
Our host also referred to the common ridings - the annual ritual performed in many villages in this region. Town residents rode horses around town borders, checking that no farmers had moved their fences or stone walls. These festivities take place in the summer, the one in Melrose is held in the third week of June.
Melrose Abbey, the centrepiece of this town, dates from 1136 and is noted for its fine stonework. Among its extensive foundations, may be found a plaque marking the burial place of the heart of Robert the Bruce.
Two miles away, Scott built his estate, Abbotsford, where he wrote most of his Waverley novels and, of course, the hotel we were staying in was named after him. Our short morning walks allowed us to see the splendour of these buildings, as well as admire the soft land contours of the local area.
The Bridge Director sorted out who was to play together. I had already been given Ken, who had agreed to play the Acol system with a variable club, new to him, but pleased he had adopted this version. The play took the pattern of rubber bridge in the afternoon and competitive bridge in the evening. It was all friendly and for me, brought fresh company.
After a matter of days, in my retreat at Melrose, I was wanted on the phone. It was Joan Powell, with the news that Harry had threatened to throw himself through the window at her house, due to some disagreement. She could not take any more, and had told him that this was the end. There was nothing I could do but express my sorrow for all the pain and suffering she had, in return for kindness to Harry.
I had no intention of returning until Friday at the end of the bridge session. My short stay broke the continuous presence of Harrys threat to destroy himself until this phone call had been received. It was a signal that I could not escape from his living nightmare, which might be described as Hell to him!
A number of phone calls were made on my return home on Friday night. I learned that Harry had been placed in Cranleigh secure ward at St James. I also learned from my Southsea Hockey Club that I had been promoted to the fourth XI team, to play in goal on Saturday! In truth, they could not find any other idiot to take on this role. At my age of 66, one would have thought that a more suitable youngster would have been a better choice - I could not throw off my former goal keeping prowess!
After surviving this hockey match, played at St Helens Ground, Southsea, I visited Harry on my return home. He was very subdued, no doubt through being heavily sedated. He continued to moan that they were all at it, talking about him at the hospital, and he wanted to leave. I mentioned that it was a pity that he and Joan had finished, but he refused to be drawn. Again, money was his chief concern, and later I spoke to the Charge Nurse and informed him that the DHSS, Roebuck House, required the exact dates that Harry had been resident at St James during the last six months. I would call again on Monday, when I would be bringing hospital patients to St James on my ambulance car service duties.
Andrew and family continued to have Sunday dinner with me, after they had attended Southdown Christian Fellowship service. Their leader, Bryan, who with his wife had attended and helped with the catering at Gladys funeral, was a regular early-bird swimmer at Havant baths. We generally had a chat in the changing room.
Once the sea had become tolerable, I abandoned the baths and took to the waters at Southsea. My favourite spot was opposite the rose garden, where the Star and Crescent Bowling Club was situated close by. This bowling club green, adjacent to Canoe Lake was, I learned, the main attraction for bowlers from other clubs to play social bowls in the afternoon.
After making enquiries concerning membership from their Club Secretary, and that I should be accepted should I apply, my resignation to the Civil Service Club was submitted. This action was consistent with a desire to keep aloof from my former associates, who no doubt, intended to show their concern for me, I was generally asked, How are you coping on your own?
Thus, several times each week, my daily routine, when the weather was favourable was - have a swim midday, followed by a picnic on the beach. Get dressed, stroll through the rose garden, feeling like King Neptune after walking out of the sea, and then sign in for the afternoons bowls drive.
I had never, before or since, experienced a more pleasant bowling site nor more friendly fellow bowlers, many of whom had retired, and lived in tall flats, facing the sea in Southsea. At the tea interval, during the afternoon bowls drive, a chubby-faced lady, Mrs Bunday, with assistants, served tea and biscuits to the players. She, with another lady, complained of my tattered grey flannels. I immediately lowered them, whereupon they almost dropped the tea cups they were serving. I had my swimming trunks on underneath. I do not remember them complaining about my dress after this incident.
I was impressed with their method of organising each afternoon event, by using coloured knitting needles. Those who drew the same colour at the start of the game played on the same side.
Tom Watts, their secretary and a highly respected official in the bowling club world, had invented a movement card system for social bowling occasions. Each player, when handed their movement card, knew the side, the position and rink to play on for three separate sessions. Each player held a score card, which at the end of the contest enabled an individual winner to be awarded a prize.
The Star and Crescent Bowling Club pavilion and veranda, pleasantly sited overlooking the bowling greens, became a favourite spot for visitors who were also allowed to use the greens. This gave a holiday atmosphere throughout most of the summer season. This venue gave me an opportunity to call and see Harry on my way to and fro between Bedhampton and Southsea, whether it be St James or the Keswick.
Only if it was an emergency call from the ambulance controller at Winchester, would I allow my ambulance work to interfere with my King Canute-come-bowler routine. This did happen when I was required to replace Bob, a fellow ambulance car driver, who was off sick and unable to take his young spastic girl from Petersfield to Hayling Island. Bob had spoken to me about her, and that her parents insisted that she sat in the car drivers passenger seat. He referred to her as a cabbage and very difficult to control in the car.
I arrived at Janice home at the appointed time and was met by a clean-shaven smiling gentleman at the entrance to the drive. He said, I am Janice father, would you mind driving up to the main entrance? The drive led to a large, detached house, where at the door was a cheerful, youngish lady, manoeuvring a wheelchair down the front entrance steps.
In the wheelchair, was a slumped figure strapped to the chair. I drove to the entrance and looked at my precious assignment, but could not discern the face, which was concealed by her drooping hair. The lady said to me, Janice cannot speak, you will need to seek nurse support when you arrive at Rocky Point, Hayling Island.
I opened the rear car door, when the lady said, Janice always sits in the drivers passenger seat. I usually put her apron on and then secure her with the car belt. This she proceeded to do and I then expressed my concern that Janice might be a danger to my driving. The lady assured me that Janice would be no problem in this respect. Janice was given a wave by this couple, as we departed from the house, but there was no visible sign or audible evidence that she had seen this farewell.
I had previously checked my route, and was aware that after a distance of six miles of dual carriageway, the remainder of the journey consisted of narrow, winding country lanes. Rocky Point was a converted isolated manor house, near sea beaches on a narrow headland strip. Like so many homes of this character, they are chosen for their isolation, society preferring to hide sad cases of humanity and to pretend that they do not exist.
At the commencement of our journey, along the dual carriageway, I found surveillance over Janice was no major problem. To my surprise, however, I noticed the right hand of this almost lifeless figure started to move towards the gear lever between the two front seats. I took hold of this hand and replaced it in her lap and said, in a jocular tone, No, Janice, you are not to touch the gear lever, be a good girl. There was no indication that she had understood or would comply with my instruction.
I continued to keep a watchful eye on Janice, and was alarmed when I noticed again, this hand stealthily moving towards the gear lever. I decided to allow the hand to move and observe the full extent of Janice motive. It was summer school holiday time, and dense traffic was moving in my direction, towards the coast.
The hand had temporarily distracted my attention from the road, and nearly resulted in a collision, with my car hitting a slow moving van in front. Only the quick use of gears and brakes avoided an accident. In using the gear lever to change down, I immediately brushed the offending hand aside, and sternly admonished Janice for being naughty. No further encroachment by Janice occurred on my driving controls for the remainder of the dual carriageway, and I felt that I had managed to control her. However, I had failed to foresee the extent of Janices ability to continue the battle for the possession of the gear lever. She had travelled many times on this route and was fully aware that from the point of leaving the dual carriageway, my attention would be totally engaged with the hazards of meandering roads and lanes.
I joined single lane traffic on leaving Havant as I approached Hayling Island bridge. Immediately in front of my car were two boys cycling in a zig zag pattern whilst closely following in the rear was a mini bus filled with children. After a short while, double white lines heralded a road warning sign dangerous bends for the next three miles. Tall road hedges now graced this narrow country lane as we travelled to our destination with an occasional roadside cottage appearing from time to time. The narrow winding feature of this lane, combined with the high banks and side hedges concealing dangerous bends, demanded all my driving concentration, particularly, as I was in busy holiday traffic. I felt that Janice would be taking an unfair advantage if she should restart her gear lever skirmishes again.
Unable to take my eyes off the road, I reached a reasonable stretch of the lane, which allowed me to take one hand off the steering wheel with reasonable safety and carried out a reconnaissance with my left hand around the gear lever for the possible straying hand. No fingers or hand were encountered and I now believed that Janice had taken on her normal passive role. Still following the weaving cyclist in front, I slowed down to pass an oncoming lorry which had strayed across the double white lines as it came around a very sharp bend. At this precise moment, my gear lever slipped and made a screeching sound, as the metal gears scraped each other. I realised immediately that Janice had achieved her mischievous aim in reaching the gear lever, and in so doing taught me a lesson - to treat her like other normal human beings. Indeed I recalled the words used by a colleague who described Janice as a human cabbage, some cabbage, I thought, that can take over control of my gears!
There was no other action left for me to take, but to de-clutch and gain repossession of the gear lever. At this stage with an appealing voice, I remarked to Janice, I surrender, you have won the battle of the gear lever, so allow me to drive you safely to Rocky Point. The erratic movement of the car caused the minibus at the rear to slow up abruptly and in the mirror, I could see the pained expression of the driver.
I again appealed to Janices tender mercy not to stage another attack on the gear lever, and promised that I would never describe her as a human cabbage and that I would chastise anyone so doing. I had now become a nervous wreck with beads of sweat pouring down my forehead. Would Janice accept my peace offering, or was I to experience yet another assault on the gear lever?
The two cyclists, with their bathing costumes strapped to their handlebars still rode abreast, little realising the potentially dangerous vehicle behind them, which could end their swimming expedition. When we came within sight of the coast, the lane became a single track with lay-bys every hundred yards or so. A large house set back from the lane, partly surrounded by tall trees, became visible and soon we reached the drive leading to this manor house named Rocky Point.
I wiped my forehead as I alighted from the car. A nurse was summoned, who with a wheelchair greeted Janice, and said, Hello Janice, nice to have you back. The nurse gently lifted this formable frail body out of the car, and strapped her in the wheelchair.
This time, I was able to catch a glimpse of Janices face and our eyes met for the first time. I thought I recognised a slight smile as if to convey, you will know now not to think of me or refer to me in the future as a human cabbage!
I followed the nurse pushing Janice in the wheelchair into a ward in Rocky Point. Janice would stay here for a few days while her parents could take advantage of a short break from looking after her.
I had a very quick glance at the nearest ward to me as I passed its windows. Most of the patients were young children confined in their respective cots. I was told that each child required individual attention and were similar ages to Janice.
I questioned myself for the justification for my own grief! Janice had shown me how to use her limited resources in a most effective way and to disregard her disability.
I, too needed to follow her example and use whatever reserves I had in helping others - none more so than my own son, Harry.
After my return from Melrose, Harry improved to enable him to be taken out of Cranleigh Ward and placed in an open ward. He was allowed to come home at weekends and to return to the Keswick Hotel.
Efforts were made by the Welfare people to obtain sheltered accommodation for him at the Portland Place, owned by the Portsmouth Housing Trust. Mr Palmer, at the Keswick had promised a self-contained flat separated from the main building. This was located in the grounds of the hotel. Joan still continued to see Harry but refused to come to Wigan Crescent - it had too many bad memories for her.
The demand for money was a never-ending state, with Harry who smoked and liked his cider. It became quite an achievement when Harry was issued with his own supplementary payment book by the DHSS.
On Saturday 15th March, he was taken to see a film, No Hiding Place with Joan, Andrew and Linda. During that weekend, whilst at home on the Sunday, Harry threatened to smash the windows of the house. I sent for a domiciliary nurse from St James, who, when he arrived, thought he had calmed Harry down and that there was no need to take him back with him.
He still survived at the Keswick, and I was able to go on a bridge holiday at Newquay, knowing that Joan had promised to keep an eye on him in my absence.
I returned from this break on the 2nd May and was pleased to learn from Joan that all had gone well in my absence. There had been a stabilising influence by Sam in charge of the woodwork shop in the Industrial Training Unit at St James. Harry had become a regular attendee of this unit and gave promise that he would start to make a useful life, since he had produced some serviceable woodwork items, such as shelves and stools. He still demanded money and had borrowed £42 from Joan to buy a bike. He promised to pay her back at £5 per week.
This was the weekend of 13th June, when I had Joan and her mother to tea, followed by a ride around in the car, before taking them home. On Sunday, the next day, without warning, Harry asked me to kill him. These requests were always followed by me asking him why he should talk like that, but I never obtained a logical reply. The weekend passed thankfully, without any serious incident. I phoned Sam the next day and asked him to keep a close watch on Harry.
On the 25th June, Harry was admitted to Cranleigh ward. I had returned from visiting my sister, Edith, at the farm in Cheshire to find loose electric wires in the house. Harry told me that he had tried to electrocute himself. I took him back to St James where he was again placed in Cranleigh ward. He stayed there for a few days, and was then placed in Solent Open Ward, and continued attending the woodwork training unit.
I had spent a few days at the Holiday Fellowship Guest House at Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight, playing bridge and on my return found Joan very distressed. Due to Harry pestering her and the family in my absence, she had decided to return the ring and the £100 that Gladys had left her in the Will. He was also very abusive to me. I called round to Joans house and took her flowers and told her I was very sorry that she had suffered distress and thanked her for all her kindness.
During July, Harry returned to the Keswick Hotel, where he was allocated the self-contained flat promised to him by Mr Palmer. This move, together with his work in the Industrial Training Unit, had made Harry much more rational. It was a complete disappointment to learn of his disagreement with Joan on the 3rd August.
I took him to Marwell Zoo on Saturday, 8th August with Andrew, Linda and the grandchildren. They all seemed to enjoy looking at the animals, the giraffe was the main attraction for Peter and Jonathan. We returned at around 5.30 pm, when Harry seemed to go into a dream and acted very irrationally. He had not made any threats of smashing windows and I did not feel justified in sending for a domiciliary nurse. I became anxious to take him back to the Keswick Hotel in order that he would attend the wood-work session the following morning. This I did and wondered why he should act in this manner after he appeared to have enjoyed himself at the Zoo. One explanation could have been the break-up with Joan. It was after I had admonished him for drinking cider and being sick over his bedroom carpet that he jumped through his bedroom window. He may be super-sensitive to being admonished by the few nearest to him!
Later that evening I received a phone call from the Queen Alexandra Hospital, stating that Harry was in their Casualty unit. He had jumped off the balcony at the Keswick dropping 20 feet. He had fractured three vertebrae in his neck and had facial injuries. He had missed being paralysed. Had we to thank the Rayment family Guardian Angel for this miracle?
I at once visited the Casualty Unit and met the ward sister, who had been on duty when Harry was admitted after he had previously jumped through his bedroom window.
She recognised me and said, Harry likes our nurses, it would seem, there must be a better way of seeing them than this! He is now in the intensive care unit, and I suggest you phone tomorrow when we can tell you where to see him. We shall be transferring him back to St James at the first opportunity. I thanked her for being helpful and informative. Harry was moved into St James a few days later and had been fitted with a neck collar. I had been given my ambulance assignment for this week and it was during my visits to St James with patients, I took the opportunity to visit Harry during the week. On Saturday, I visited him after the hockey match, staying till 8pm and on Sunday, I spent from 3pm until 8pm. I took no ambulance car patient assignments the following week, and visited Harry daily.
He promised that he would not do this again, and realised that he had been lucky to get away without being paralysed. I informed him that I had written to Dr Bale, asking for an interview to sort out his future management. In no way would he be accepted back at the Keswick Hotel.
He told me that he had put a deposit with the New Era Office, a lettings agency, before this action, and that he had no money. He had lost the £5 note I had given him, and could not buy himself a cup of tea. I made a habit of supplying him with 20 cigarettes each time I visited him.
After a check-up at the Queen Alexandra, he was required to keep his collar on until the bones had mended. At my meeting with Dr Bale, it was considered that Harry should be found sheltered accommodation such as Portland Terrace, Southsea, or Tracy Lodge, but this would take time.
Harry remained in St James during August and September and took an interest in his wood-work under his instructor, Sam. I was able to buy some of the items that he had made, such as book shelves. One item being made was a bird box and table and after discussion with Sam, he was prepared to have this standard unit adapted as a dove cote.
After my talk with Sam, I had visions of Joy visiting me each day to feed the doves that I hoped to have after I had installed the dove-cote. My plan included a pulley to raise the wired container with bird seeds up to the dove-cote, which I had intended to install amongst the branches of the fir tree at the bottom of the garden.
I visited the local pet shop in Havant and learned that doves were the same as pigeons - they had the same habit of flying back from whence they came. To overcome this feature, it would be necessary to keep them in quarantine in their new residence for at least eight weeks. This meant that a pen would have to be constructed to enable the doves to spread their wings in the enclosure as part of the pen design. I had a stump of a tree about 5 feet high, which would be used to mount the base of the dove-cote and pen. My drawing experience was called into use, which became useful when discussing this project with Sam.
Again, the proprietor of the pet shop was able to give me the address of a person now wishing to get rid of some of his dove flock, which had become a nuisance to his neighbours. The address of this person was Denvilles, a district of Havant about two miles away. This location seemed very close to me, in view of their homing habit, but I was not given an alternative source, so I could not reduce this quarantine period.
Before I could go ahead completely with this project, I too might have neighbours who would find my doves a nuisance.
My neighbour at the adjoining house of our semi-detached, was a retired naval commander. He kept his house as a show-piece and it lived up to its name, Ship-shape. He and his wife were always ready to help me at any time and never allowed their television to be loud enough to hear when switched on. We were lucky to have such considerate and friendly people next door. He did, however, have a hate as regards animals that left their calling cards in his garden, where all his plants were carefully placed in line. To say I was a bit nervous to ask him if he had any objections if I kept a couple of doves, would be regarded as an understatement. I found he had no objections and hoped they would attack the squirrels that made holes in his garden.
Again, my neighbours on the other side, were equally friendly and were of my ilk, in that they took part in bowling and watched sport on TV. Both had lived in the London area, and he, like me, had played football in the London Leagues. He had been a navigator in the RAF during the war. It could be said that both were animal lovers and always had a pet dog. There was no problem here as regards keeping doves. All thought it was a bit of a joke and were keen to see me install the dove-cote.
I visited the address given to me at the pet shop. It was a very old thatched cottage, at the junction of Southleigh and Eastleigh Roads, easily identifiable by the presence of doves perched on its roof, and by the dove-cote in the rear garden. I spotted a grey-haired man smoking a pipe and sitting on a stool, letting the time go by. I walked up to him and said, I understand that you are selling some doves.
Thats right, you can buy the lot, we are moving from here. Whoever buys the cottage will have the doves not sold.
I responded by saying, All I want is two doves, a him and a her. He smiled and replied, Its a tricky business to sort out their sexes, as well as catching them, as they spend most of their time strutting or perching on the roof as you can see. You will need to bring two cat baskets to put him in one and her in the other, before I attempt to catch them in my net.
By September, Sam had the dove-cote complete with a trap door fitted to the roof. This permitted access to the cote for placing doves in or out, once the pen arrangement had been installed. This enclosure also had a trap door to release the doves once their familiarisation period of eight weeks had been completed.
On each Sunday morning, when Andrew and family arrived for dinner, a routine inspection was carried out on the dove project. I had built steps so that Joy, now aged 4, could talk to the doves and feed them, once we had secured them in the pen.
I received a phone call that the doves were now ready for collection, at the time that my sister, Edith, came to stay with me. She was as excited as Joy with this scheme and wanted to be in on the act. We watched carefully how the dove-keeper transferred the doves into the baskets, ensuring the baskets were labelled with their new names, Charles and Diana.
Between my sister and myself, there were many suggestions how we should transfer the doves from the baskets into the cote. The problem here was that when the lid was raised sufficiently to get the hand in to grab one, there was enough space for the dove to fly through. By trial, and ensuring that the gaps were blocked, we succeeded to transfer Diana into her new home. With confidence, we repeated the transfer process when a voice from over the fence distracted our attention and immediately, Charles escaped to freedom, flying in the Denvilles direction. It was fortunate that we had labelled the baskets, for we knew that it was Charles that had escaped and could tell the dove-keeper to return or replace him.
Diana had two weeks of occupation of their home before we got another Charles. Immediately he had been inserted through the roof trap door, into the cote, there was a terrible noise inside, the outcome of which was that the new Charles got slung out into the pen. It seemed from the start that they were not compatible, and my hopes of breeding doves seemed very remote.
Prior to the new occupant, Diana made use of the enclosure, where Joy spent many occasions chatting to her. From the time Charles was chased out into the pen, Diana took up permanent station at the entrance to her abode. The food tray had been positioned adjacent to the entrance of the cote, and so she did not have to leave her post. A trial period of putting bird seed into the cote, through the roof was adopted, hoping Charles would fight his way in. Diana would have none of it, as she always seemed to point her sharp bill in his direction, from the dovecote opening.
Charles seemed to have a very worried look and, not being able to gain access to food, no doubt thought that he was getting a raw deal. I took sympathy for him, and ensured after a few days that he was supplied with his quota of food and drink. He definitely had a scruffy look about him, compared to Diana, who strutted in and out of her habitat, with a superior look about her.
On the day for the releasing ceremony, food and drink was laid on for the neighbours, as well as for Andrews family. Harry was home, too, to take part in this spectacular dove-releasing event. We all held a glass of sherry, apart from Joy, Peter and Jonathan, to toast the future happiness of Diana and Charles stay at Wigan Crescent. The children were given ice-cream chocolate cornets. Joy was given the honour of opening the pen door, once cameras were charged and at the ready.
Within a few minutes the scruffy one, Charles, who had endured the autumn weather in the open, was first to make his way to the escape exit. He cocked his beak in all directions, as if not to believe his good fortune to get away from Diana and finally took to the sky. There was no flying around, he made flight directly over the roof of the house in the direction from whence he came. This caused a lot of amusement amongst my guests, whilst I felt cheated and sorry that Diana would be lonely without Charles to stare at.
It seemed that Diana was not in any hurry to desert her residence, and took several minutes to make her mind up to experience freedom. It was very much a repeat of Charles movements, not believing that her freedom was there for the taking. She too, took to the sky in a straight direction over the house roof and, no doubt, joined her former friends at Denvilles. Perhaps the dove-keeper had a good business with his returnable doves that he sold.
There were many questions being asked. Would I be restocking the cote and would I be going back to the same dove-keeper for replacements? My only comment in self-defence was Nothing attempted, nothing achieved.
Needless to state that the dismantling of the pen enclosure was disheartening, but I did not wish to have its presence to remind me of my flop!
I was not entirely devoid of success during this period, I had been awarded a Bronze Certificate for taking part in the Sunday Times Fun Run at Hyde Park on 27th September in the over-60s. I was 66 that year and had not yet been dropped from the hockey teams - not while the Hockey Club was short of players. The club must also have been short of captains, for I was still the 5th XI Skip!
I reminded Harry before returning to St James on Monday morning, after his weekend stay, to tell his wood-work instructor, Sam, about the doves episode. He must make sure that he is told that the equipment, ie dove cote and pen, fulfilled their purpose, only the doves failed to co-operate in making use of this well-designed and made habitat.
Dr Bale had agreed that sheltered accommodation should be provided for Harry, and several places had been named, all of which he mentioned would take time. On these matters, the Hospital Welfare, had to be responsible, for making the arrangements, once this requirement had been stated by the medical staff. There was a priority for me to be involved with the social worker, Mrs Nunns. That took place on the 8th October, where Harry and myself were present. She explained that Harry had told her that he was going to discharge himself and live at Homeleigh in Southsea. She regretted taking notice of his intention to discharge himself, for no action had yet been taken to obtain him sheltered accommodation. She was due to go to a meeting with the Portsmouth Housing Committee that afternoon, and Harrys case would be discussed. In the meantime, Harry would remain in the Solent Open Ward.
Mike Budd, a nursing sister on the ward informed me a week later that a new house conversion would soon be completed in Waverley Road and Harry had been nominated as a future tenant. It was hoped to be completed by the end of November.
An attempt by the government of the day had been adopted by all political parties, to take the mentally ill out of locked wards and put them in the community, where their care would be catered for in half-way homes. Barbara Castle took a leading role in the promotion of that new thinking.
These half-way residences would provide for medical back-up as well as domiciliary support. Patients nominated to be placed in the half-way homes would have training on being self-supportive in looking after themselves on such matters as - making their own beds, washing their own linen and personal clothing. During the period of waiting for Harrys half-way residence, he received training in the afore-mentioned subjects, including simple cooking. I had a period with Harry at the end of the week, where he was helpful and actually played chess with me.
This half-way house conversion had slipped behind schedule, and occupation was now scheduled for the beginning of next year. Harrys rehabilitation course, meanwhile, had given him confidence to cater for his own needs.
With the signs that the policy of making provision for long-term mental patients to be housed in the community, with back up, was being implemented, I felt, for the first time, that Harry could survive with a certain amount of independence. He had given thought to his personal clothing, and had asked me about the items that he would need when he entered the Waverley Road house.
He was not backward, either, in asking for the key of my car and house while I would be away at the Holiday Fellowship Guest House at Bourton-on-Water to play bridge on 16th November to the 20th.
I received a call each night while I was there, and he gave me the impression that he was relaxed, particularly when he referred to a game of chess he had played. He had arranged to come home late on the Friday night, when I was due home.
Over the Christmas period, Harry went to the farm at Combe Martin, with Andrew, Linda, the children and myself. We were always made welcome by Lindas family - her mother, Joan and her brother, Roger, and his family.
This sleepy Devon coastal village, with its single two-mile long high street, can not only boast of the unusual pub, Pack of Cards, but also can be proud of its Norman Church.
The Church was believed to be one of only two churches to be named Saint Peter ad Vincula (in chains), the other being in the Tower of London. The churchs fine 99 feet tower stands out as you pass through the High Street. On a closer inspection, among the many interesting features is the rood-screen of Tudor date, which extends across the nave and aisle. In the vestry, was an old Elizabethan alms chest, The Poor Mans Box or Chest, provided in obedience to an injunction of Queen Elizabeth in 1559.
During our stay in Devon, Harry seemed more relaxed, making use of the Pack of Cards. He attended the Nine Lessons and Carols service at the parish church with the rest of our family. Linda was keen to point out the Lerwill name on the list of past church wardens. She men-tioned that in old times, after a wedding, the newly weds, accompanied by their friends, used to walk as far as the sea in procession, where a cere-mony of a more lengthy excursion took place. She referred to another custom of the Church.
The first day of August is the festival of the Dedication of the Church, and the Sunday following was known as Revel Sunday. The revel or village feast which followed was kept for some days, terminating down at the seaside on the Thursday following. Wrestling took place at the Pack of Cards Hotel.
It was with relief that I could claim that this Christmas break had been without unfortunate incidents as regards Harrys behaviour on returning him to Solent Ward. Harry expressed his wish to stay at home when we returned on the 28th December, but he was aware that he was due to return to Solent and, thankfully, did not make a scene on returning.
His doctor, Dr Bale was on duty and was pleased to have a good report on Harry. Before leaving, Harry made it known that he would not attend Solent Wards New Years Party! The next day, I received a phone call from Harry, pleading to come home - in no way was he going to attend their New Years Party the following day. My thoughts went back to his childhood days, for he never attended any parties, apart from the Admiralty Research Laboratory Christmas Parties. This inability of his to mix with other people, be it at work or socially, had been with him since his birth; the expression that a leopard does not change its spots rings sadly true in his case. An arrangement was made for Harry to come home early that weekend on the Thursday - News Years Eve Party night.
To my surprise, Harry asked if we could take Joan out for a meal. He had been visited by her in the hospital before we went to Lerwills Farm in Devon, prior to Christmas. This was, of course, good news. We all went to the Post House Hotel, Hayling Island, where both were in good heart, and on returning home, Harry had his arms around Joan, kissing her on the sofa. Joan told me that she would visit Harry at the Waverley Road House, once he had been transferred there. For the first time, I felt the future held brighter things in store for him, and hopefully for me, as a consequence.
Harry became a resident at Waverley Road half-way house on the 12th February 1982, with other patients, who had been at St James more than six years. All had separate bedrooms and shared the kitchen, toilets and showers. The house was funded by the Portsmouth Housing Association and had been equipped from the Portsmouth Lord Mayor Welfare Fund for the Mentally Ill. Each resident paid £9 rent, £10 to the housekeeper and a further £5 for food. Other residents were Kay, aged about 60, Margaret, about 70, Derek about 25 and an old man who Harry had not yet seen. The back up nurse was a Mrs Pelman.
I saw him on Saturday the 30th, for the first time after he had moved in, and I had given him his weeks money - £21. It was obvious that there were teething troubles, especially regarding their sickness benefits. All tenants had arrived without money, and required a Social Security representative to call to sort out the payments for each person. This representative did call, but it took some time for the payments to come through.
He claimed he had lost the £21 I had given him, and was given another £5. Harry had made a sleigh for Andrews children and asked me to pick this up from the woodwork shop at the hospital. I learned that there had not been any guidance from the housekeeper, nor from the back-up nurse. His room was like a dump, his bed was not made up and there did not appear to be any instructions regarding changing bed clothes.
I called again on Sunday, the 17th February, and found that his room was like a dump again. The floor was covered with clothes, ash trays, records, books and he had not hoovered the carpet since his arrival on the 12th January. I had with me a set of sheets, for him to change his bed linen, and gave him instructions on how to make his bed on a daily basis. Although he told me his eyes were small, he must have been fairly contented, for he had not been home whilst resident there. He also made some comment that his neck hurt, when I demonstrated bed-making.
I took him to the Ocean Hotel, where he swallowed two pints of cider, in a matter of minutes.
On my next visit, I found him unable to make conversation. His eyes were glazed, and his only comments were that his eyes were all over the place. I took him to the Jolly Sailor, and all he would discuss was not living, not coping and wanting to go back into hospital. Where was the back-up support that was planned for these half-way houses?
At my first opportunity between my ambulance car driving commit-ments, I called at the DHSS, Roebuck House, but was unable to see anyone without an appointment. Again, in between my hospital work, I phoned Roebuck House, and was asked to hold the line, as previously, when I had phoned them. I waited ten minutes, still not getting any reply other than the operator repeating ringing. I put the phone down and was convinced that the operator had pulled the plug out. I then phoned the Sickness Benefit Section at the same address. Here, the lady was very helpful and promised to go over to the Supplementary Benefit Section and phone me back. This she did, and told me that they could not find Harrys papers and that I should write in to request the information I sought.
So four weeks had gone, and he was still awaiting his Supplementary Benefit to be resolved, and I was left with the need to financially support his keep, ie revised figures, now adding up to £26 per week.
I called in at St James the next Monday, and visited Harry in the wood-work shop. He said that he had no money, no cigs, no pills - I took him outside and gave him £2, and was then asked for Mogadon pills. His local doctor had refused to prescribe them. Sam, the woodwork instructor, put me in touch with Harrys nursing link staff. I told this nurse, Hilda, that I was concerned about Harrys disturbed state and wished to speak about his medical back-up while he was at Waverley Road. After Hilda made a phone call, I was instructed to go to Beaulieu Ward and speak to the nurse in charge, Ken, and the nursing officer, Mrs Pelman, taking Harry with me.
Harry led me to this ward at the back of the main building. It was a very dreary ward, with tables and chairs scattered about. A meeting was taking place in the ward office, where Ken, Pelman and another male nurse were dealing with an elderly patient sitting on a chair.
After a short wait outside the office the frail old lady crawled out of the door, using a walking stick and then we were invited in to this office. I explained to this trio that I and Harry needed advice on where to obtain medical back-up when he had a turn, or expressed a wish not to live, as he had done a few days ago. They merely stated that the situation had not changed from the first time he had entered Waverley Road, he was regarded as if he were in St James. I then expressed concern about his lack of bed-linen and the need for these to be washed. Mrs Pelman explained that the housekeeper, Mrs Howe certainly had them, and that in any case, he could apply to the Social Security for bedding allowance. How about his food? I said, He says he only has one meal at the weekends.
She replied There was sufficient food for them to get their own meals at the weekend.
I then said, He had no money! She agreed that all the residents were similarly placed, and anyway, it was not her concern, this was the Social Workers job, to chase the DHSS.
Mrs Pelman then addressed Harry. Mrs Howe did not believe you lost your £21 the first week, because she had seen a £5 note in your pocket.
Harry replied, My Dad believed me, and I refute the suggestion that I was telling lies.
Throughout this conversation there was no hint that a supervisory order could be placed on him. She made reference to an appointment that Harry had to keep in April with Dr Bale. Whilst in the wood work-shop, talking to Nurse Hilda, I was told that Harry had been very naughty, he had taken an overdose of pills. He was required to see Dr Bale at 12 noon today.
Before leaving the hospital, I understood why he thought that both ladies, Howe and Pelman, were against him. Mrs Pelman did apologise for not believing Harry. I sent a letter to the DHSS immediately I returned home.
On Sunday, I took Harry to see his cousin, Wendy, who was at a Teachers Training College in Chichester. We only stayed around ten minutes with her, I gave her a copy of the Production Engineers Journal to take to Bob, her brother who was in the engineering profession.
He had a glazed look and asked to go back to the house, as he did not feel well. Once in the house, he asked me to put my arms around him, and then added that he thought he was going to die. I took him back to Waverley Road about 6pm. On the way back I gave him £2, and learned that he had sold his bike for £10. He was due to see Dr Bale on the 6th March, and I planned to mention about his frequent complaint of seeing eyes. I had permission from Portsmouth Housing Association to fix shelves in his room, and a bath towel rack. I had changed his bed-clothes when I arrived at his address and put up two pictures.
On one of my fleeting visits to St James, with a patient on my hospital trips, I spoke to Sister Irene Gooding, who knew of Harrys history. They were working towards him being responsible for his own money and being thoughtful towards me. They had encouraged him to apply for the art classes that had been introduced. I was impressed with their consideration for his management and attitude and that an understanding control was being applied.
It came as a shock, when I received a phone call from Harry, telling me that he had been transferred from Waverley Road to St James on the 7th April. He said that Margaret had kept nagging him, and so he had thrown some butter at her at the dinner table. He had been returned to Solent Ward.
I attended a meeting with Dr Bale, Mrs Nunns, Sister Pauline and another doctor. Harrys case had been reviewed and it had been agreed that the only choice for Harry was to stay with a long-sufferer or to go into St James as a long-term patient. It was made clear that no accommodation could be provided at a half-way house and no further effort would be made to provide alternative accommodation. Dr Bale added that long-term stay in hospital need not be a permanent situation.
On Friday, 15th May, Harry was taken to the emergency unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital. He had drunk a bottle of weed-killer after dinner in the local park. I called to see him and was told by the unit Sister that they did not think he had taken enough to harm him. He was receiving drip feed and had a glazed look. The next day he was transferred back to St James, where I saw him with Sister Pauline. He was not to go out for the next 48 hours. I had a cup of tea with him. He was talkative, but no reference was made to his recent attempt on his life. We played chess. He was told that Joan had got a new boyfriend while in the canteen.
While one of my two sons was trying to destroy his life, the other one had the satisfaction of generating new life. Linda gave birth to a 7 lb baby girl, Elizabeth, on the 16th of May. More children mean that more bedrooms are required, so it was not surprising that noises were being made about moving to a larger house. It seemed like only yesterday when they had their first house, a terraced dwelling with no front garden at Waldon Road, Stamshaw.
Their lives continued seemingly without any major problems, work or health-wise. They ceased to visit me on Sunday mornings since their new arrival baby had joined them, and the fact that I had been too engaged with other matters.
Although I got away as often as I could, there was a void in my life, when alone in the house, since the passing of Gladys. I was haunted by the memories of her suffering; this, together with Harrys continuing nightmare made me very depressed, and I could not see any light at the end of the tunnel.
Through a dating agency, I made an acquaintance with a local divorcee, Angela, a middle-aged Irish lady, with a son at IBM. She came round to the house from time to time and was involved with working for handicapped children at Lacy Lodge, Eastern Road, Portsmouth. She showed concern regarding Harrys unusual behaviour when, after a short introduction, he put his arms round her and wished to kiss her.
Of course, Harry had not had a normal, loving relationship with his mother, and this may have been his way of showing his acceptance of Angela. This took place on a Sunday, and when Angela left, we played scrabble. In the evening, before returning him to hospital, we attended St Simons Church in Waverley Road, where we had visited when Harry was resident at Waverley Road.
I escaped to Scarborough to play Bridge and Bowls for a week, staying at a Holiday Fellowship guest house. These two activities were perfectly complimentary to each other. After spending all afternoon on the green, the evening was spent sitting down and using ones cunning to defeat the opponent. Thus, both skill and thinking were exercised during the day. Usually, in the morning, a walk along the sea front provided all the fresh air and oxygen that was needed for the rest of the day.
One evening was reserved to hear Max Jaffa, the violinist and the Palm Court Orchestra play in the famous Spa Pavilion at the south end of the sea front. Whilst sitting in this tall and spacious building, I wondered how many thousands of Maxs supporters had listened to this colourful character both here and on the wireless. This hall was also used regularly by political parties, as well as trade unions for their annual conferences.
I had, on my return, a weeks car ambulance programme, all of which required checking through to ensure that I had the correct route sorted out after I had confirmed their addresses.
On Monday morning, one of my patients required to be taken to the Geriatric Ward at Queen Alexandra. This was my last patient of the morning to be brought in. I was about to go for a cup of tea, to join other drivers, with a long wait like me, when the ward sister asked if I could help them with a patient. We have a Mrs Legg now awaiting an ambulance to take her home. We have been told by the ambulance people that due to technical problems, they cannot state when transport will be available.
I responded, If it is a short distance, then I could probably take her.
It is a sheltered accommodation in Leigh Park, a matter of a few miles. She replied.
Yes, I can do that, provided she is ready. This was greeted with a smile from the sister, who immediately instructed a couple of nurses to collect Mrs Legg in a wheelchair.
I became concerned after the sister ordered two nurses to handle this elderly lady. I watched them bring Mrs Legg up to the car, and noted that it required both of them to lift her into the car. I asked them, How do I manage to lift her on my own when I arrive at her address? One of them replied, You should have no problem, for her daughter will meet you, but failing that, the warden will be there to help you. I was given the address and checked from my street map the best route to Doyle House, Mitchell Road, Bedhampton, close to Leigh Park.
The nurses had ensured that her seat belt was being worn. As I drove away, I asked this grey-haired lady, with a pointed face, How long have you been at Doyle House?
Her immediate reply was I dont live there! She then followed this answer with the remark, My husband died on our wedding day. I had only one reply to this sad comment, That was a shame, it must have been quite a shock to you! Was it at the same address where you now live, at Doyle House?
She again reiterated, I dont live there!
I was well on my way and decided that this lady was not quite with us. I approached this dwelling with much apprehension and hoped that she would recognise it once I arrived at Doyle House.
As my car came to a stop outside this address, she at once repeated, I dont live here.!
I rushed to the entrance, where a couple of ladies were chatting and asked, Is the warden about? I got the reply I did not want, but for some reason I expected. The reply came from both ladies. She has gone to the chemist shop with residents prescriptions. Do both happen to know a Mrs Legg, who I had brought back from hospital? Both shook their heads and the only useful comment I received was that there was a vacancy in one of the flats. At that moment, when I started to leave, realising that I had been given wrong information, a lady came rushing down the staircase shouting, I am the daughter, I am the daughter. I should have met her at the hospital, but my train was late from London. I had to collect her clothes from her previous address as they transferred her here, while in hospital, to sheltered accommodation.
Please tell me, I asked, Did her husband die on his wedding day?
Yes. They were residents in an old peoples home and he suffered a heart attack. Both were marrying for the second time. They were both aged 72.
The moral of this account is not to marry at 72, that is, if you are a man!
The second moral, for ambulance car drivers, is not to accept requests to take patients home who are not on your assignment given to you from the Controller at Winchester!
Somehow I had been able to continue with my varied activities, in spite of Harrys bizarre pattern of behaviour, demanding my attention without warnings.
I kept three nights a week for Bridge, having three different partners, ie on Tuesdays, play with Alan Wagg, Captain of Emsworth Bridge Club, Wednesday, play with Elaine Witham at Court Lane, Cosham, Friday play at Kingston Prison with Wilma Killean.
I had completed the 1981/2 hockey season without being replaced and for punishment, was elected to remain captain for another season of the 5th XI team. This surely was an indication of the clubs dearth of players!
During the summer period, my King Canute role on Southsea beach, followed with my spell on the Star and Crescent bowling green, seemed to use all my spare moments and keep my sanity.
On a visit to Light Villa, there was a suggestion that Harrys unstable state was due to his coming home at weekends. This was mentioned by the staff nurse, Bob Millingham, and that Harry should settle down for three weeks before coming home. Their aim was to get him self-supportive in such matters as washing his garments. I was happy to go along with their suggestions.
When visiting Harry, he told me that he had digs outside. I made certain that he was aware that he should not discharge himself, as I would not support him. Before I left, I told him he was not to come home this weekend, and that I would visit him in Light Villa on Sunday.
This I did, but was told that Harry had laid on the railway lines at Fratton Station. Fortunately, the on-coming train driver spotted him and slowed up and stopped a matter of a few feet away from him. The police and ambulance had been called to deal with this attempt on his own life again. I felt sad and sick that he should be hell-bent on destroying his life. It was obvious that the hospital people had no idea how to resolve his madness! He has, so far, escaped relatively unharmed, and I thank our Rayment Guardian Angel for keeping her life-saving watch, be it at a distance.
Harry had been heavily sedated in Cranleigh Ward and was asleep when I called. The charge nurse suggested I visit Light Villa, where I could have details of Harrys suicide attempt and then return later.
According to the Light Villa charge nurse, the only comments from Harry were that he attempted to top himself, because he could not get permission to come home at the weekend. This remark made a nonsense of their recent policy of not allowing him home at weekends, because it made him unsettled.
To reduce Harrys anxiety, he was informed by the charge nurse that after four weeks, a place outside would be found.
I returned to Cranleigh, hoping that he had woken up. He had surfaced and was in a kind of trance. He spoke very little, apart from insisting on coming home at the weekends and going to bed. The following weekend, he was allowed home by the doctor, but this leave was objected to by the charge nurse, Ian Chance.
When home, he played scrabble with Angela and myself on Saturday. The following day, I took him for a swim at Hayling Island. We then called at Phyllis Quantrill House, close to the beach. She had invited us to her garden party, when I played bridge with her at Emsworth Bridge Club. In the car, Harry took strange, and said that I looked like a concentration camp guard when the sun was behind me on the beach, and that he did not wish to live. He refused at first to join the party, but later made an appearance.
Everyone had been friendly to him, making our get-away at 6.30 pm, the peak hour summer day visitors to return home from Hayling Island. This meant joining the nose to tail column of traffic, before we finally reached St James.
When I reached Light Villa, I spoke to a student nurse, Tim, about Harrys condition. I was told to speak to the charge nurse, Nick Preston. I was informed by Nick that this was all part of his illness.
During the end of June, Dr Renton was concerned about my own well-being and requested me to visit his surgery. He regarded Harry as his own responsibility and should I find it too difficult to manage him when he came home, I was to tell them. He was glad that I had decided not to take him away to a holiday camp on the Isle of Wight, that I had mentioned to him previously. He emphasised that I had nothing to reproach myself for as regards Harrys illness.
Thankfully, I had not mentioned to him the events that had taken place the previous weekend that he had spent at home.
He went to the Baths with his brother and family, while I had a swim and played bowls at Southsea on the Friday. I found Harry in a dazed state on returning home. He refused his tea and went upstairs into his bedroom. I had my tea and then found him lying on his mattress, rolling a cigarette, with his bed clothes and room in a dishevelled state. His eyes were standing out, in a fixed look, and he was sweating.
I got him to get off the bed, so that I could remake it, and in doing so, found a sharp knife. He claimed that he had been using it to sharpen a pencil, which I disbelieved. Later, I found he had written some rubbish, mentioning the Retreat people.
I took him back to the hospital, and on the way, he muttered that the knife was for the mind-destroyer - himself. The charge nurse, when given details of his behaviour, asked him who the mind-breakers were. All the nurses! was the response from Harry.
Up to now, Angela had not been put off by Harrys mad behaviour. My need for female company was as great as ever, so I was delighted when she agreed to go on a coach holiday with Excelsior to Wolfgang, Austria. I had done this holiday with Gladys, and knew that it was an idyllic setting, where the White Horse Inn film had been made and where we were scheduled to stay at this inn. Gladys thought she was in another world, as she roamed around the neat chalets with flower baskets attached to their balconies, under the overhanging roofs.
It was a mistake, in hindsight, to revisit places with another partner where I had been with Gladys, for wherever we had been before, my thoughts were switching from Angela to Gladys. That, however, did not destroy the magic scenery around us of Lake Wolfgang and the surrounding mountains.
I was impressed with the pride shown by the local residents in maintaining attractive dwellings and gardens without a trace of litter in the villages or the countryside.
Our coach took us to Salzburg, the city of Mozart, where we spent several hours exploring the narrow streets and squares of the Old Town, where Mozart had been born. We found enough energy to climb to the old Hohensalzburg fortress, where a magnificent view of the city and the surrounding mountains was obtained. Whilst roaming around their central square, staging was being erected for the annual musical festival, befitting Mozarts birthplace.
On another day, we had a visit to Austrias capital, Vienna, once the centre of a mighty Empire. Among the many highlights of the city, we saw the Opera House, St Stephens Cathedral, and the magnificent Imperial Palaces of Schonbrunn, Hofburg and Belvedere.
None of these famous places could match the charm of Wolfgang, and the surrounding countryside, particularly when we climbed alongside the mountain railway out of Wolfgang. We observed chairlifts operating to isolated hillside dwellings, where it was almost too steep to climb.
We, of course, got to know each other better, and it was equally an exploratory experience of each other, as well as parts of Austria.
Harry had been informed of our expected date and time of arrival, therefore it was no surprise to find him waiting for us at the house at 7pm on Saturday the 28th.
On the following day, after playing bowls at Southsea, I returned to find Harry again in a trance state, eyes fixed, and wishing he had not jumped through his bedroom window. His odd behaviour continued by wanting me to put my arms around him and kiss him.
The next day started with him still in a trance, but I managed to get him motivated to wash up and peel potatoes. While doing these jobs he spoke about losing the battle and did I mind if he hated me, because he was at home with hatred!
It was obvious to me, that his mind was completely deranged, and apart from the hospital prescribing tranquillisers and everyone showing compassion, there was little else we could do.
I too, had decided to keep my sanity, which meant getting away again. I had decided to go on a cruise, and find a rich widow on the Canberra, while touring the Mediterranean, calling at Malta, Naples, Elbe, St Tropez and Gibraltar.
Angela took me to Southampton, where she came on board the Canberra, to have her photo taken with me before she set sail. You could be allowed to think that you were Royalty, as you leaned over the handrails, watching those below waving you goodbye, to the music of the Royal Marine Band.
I lost my way several times, before I located the 4-berth cabin I shared with three others on E deck. My fellow cabin mates were all single, and did not snore at night, nor did they smoke. This economy class cabin, located close to the bowels of the ship contained two double bunks in its confined space. In the bunk below me, slept a thin, bald-headed cockney pensioner. He claimed he was a member of the P.O.S.H. club, having cruised many times on the Canberra. He lived in a tall council flat in London, and was able to save off the welfare state to go on these sailings. I did not think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have been pleased to learn that state pensioners could afford these trips, if this be the truth.
The other double bunk was occupied by Arthur, a single, middle-aged chap who slept on top, and Barry below, a smartly-dressed individual. Arthur was a freelance author, who wrote short articles and was a World War Two veteran. He came from the Reading area. Barry turned out to be a loner, and little became known about what he did for a living, or where he lived.
Being non-smokers and non-snorers, as it turned out, I just hoped that they were not also fond of drink. This again, proved to be the case, and as a result it could be said that we got on fine with each other.
At the first opportunity, our cockney cabin-mate took us on a tour of his ship, for that was how he regarded it. There was some evidence to support this, for he seemed to wave to all the crew members and to the bar attendants, as we passed through the many bars - Century Bar, Cricketers Tavern and the Crows Nest.
The first item on the ships agenda was the life-boat drill, which was compulsory for all passengers. This out of the way, it was time to attend the Captains Cocktail Party, where passengers had the opportunity to meet the Captain and his officers, not to be missed, for all drinks were on the ship.
With the preliminaries out of the way, the next activity was to get my evening suit on, complete with dickey tie, for the dinner in the Atlantic Restaurant. Once seated at my appointed table, I became confused when attempting to read the seven-course menu, where there were two or three choices for each course. The waiter seemed amused and just to make this formidable task worse, he smiled and informed me that each day there is a different menu. I had not anticipated such an over-eating problem, but it was obvious that a disciplined approach would have to be made when faced with this wide choice and unlimited amount each day. No matter how hard I tried to restrict the food I ate, the weighing machine was saying to me, You are not trying hard enough, are you? I could not see this situation changing whilst on the Canberra.
I resolved, for the rest of the cruise, to make full use of the three swimming pools and the ships gymnasium; maybe I would join the few who jogged several times around the ships open deck.
Of course, the most pleasurable way of doing exercise is to be dancing with a rich widow. At the first opportunity, I made my way to the Ocean Room, where with a pint of beer, I sat at a table alongside the dance floor, weighing up the ladies for beauty, wealth and compatibility. On the dance floor were several grey-haired ladies dancing together, with about another half-dozen sitting and drinking, all showing off their jewellery.
It was a clear September night, as Canberra made her way to her first port of call, Gibraltar, without a trace of a ships movement felt in the dance room. To my surprise, a relatively young brunette came and sat at my table. She seemed keen to dance, and I could understand her asking me, for there were no other single men sitting around the dance floor.
After a few dances, I learned that she was no widow, but in her thirties and had quarrelled with her boyfriend before leaving. Her father was a doctor, who disapproved of their relationship, and she gave the impression that she wanted to make a fresh acquaintance. In spite of not being a rich widow, I succumbed to her invitation to her single bunk cabin, where we became intimate after a very short time.
During the course of this spontaneous courtship, she revealed that she suffered from flushing, and that her boyfriend had checks for infection at a VD clinic. This brought me to my senses, as I had no wish to become infected with syphilis, as did a fellow soldier in France, who had to be discharged. The thoughts of having to attend a VD clinic in the quest of finding a rich widow, was to me too high a price to pay.
There were to be no further amorous adventures for the remainder of the cruise, all I was concerned with was that my health was none the worse for this one-night fling.
The rest of the journey I wished to make full use of shore visits which were regarded by many of the passengers as the highlight of the cruise. Each visit ashore was controlled by ships officers, smartly turned out in their spotless white uniform, marshalling passengers to the coaches and giving helpful advice whenever needed. I thought that this would have suited me, doing this ships officer job in my younger days.
It is doubtful if there is a piece of the British Empire more strategically positioned than our next port of call, Gibraltar. Equally doubtful, if there was another piece of the Empire which was dependant on the survival of a tribe of apes, as is Gibraltar, where apes habitat on rocks overlooking the harbour. This legend can only be matched with that of the British Crown, which is equally as tenuous, being dependant on the survival of ravens in the Tower of London.
The party I was in from the Canberra were taken to the top of the rocks, to make sure that these apes were evident. The apes, in turn, wanted to be seen for feeding purposes. It was questionable that apes could have chosen a more suitable place to be fed, for this spot had a wonderful panoramic view for visitors to see the harbour and its approaches at the neck of the Mediterranean. In the distance, from this position, we could see Africa, whilst looking almost straight down we could see the town.
In the High Street, we saw familiar shop names, and British style Bobbies and telephone boxes, which made us think we were back home.
Two days later, Canberra allowed a shore party to visit St Tropez, where we were able to visit Cannes and Monte Carlo. This was a re-visit for me, having visited this part of the coast when doing the tour of the capital cities of Europe with Cosmos Coach Company. I failed to spot Brigitte Bardot, who resided with the jet set, with their luxury yachts along this Riviera region of the French coast.
The next day, the landing parties explored the pine-fringed beaches and myriad cafes and bars on the Elbe Island, where Napoleon was invited to stay before the battle of Waterloo. I visited the house where Napoleon had been kept prisoner and which had become a tourist attraction. On these shore visits, generally, a whole day was set aside, passengers had flexibility as regards how long they wished to stay ashore.
Half way through the cruise, we visited Naples, and as we made the harbour, an armada of coaches awaited us. Our coach made its way through many side streets, and it was a feat for the driver to be able to weave his way through streets lined on both sides with broken down cars. Many of the buildings matched the broken down vehicles, and now I came to understand how the expression Come to Naples and Die came about.
Whilst visiting a hotel, news came through that off-duty officers of Canberras watch had been arrested for some offence at another hotel. This was a period when there was anti-British feeling in the world for seizing back the Falklands from the Argentines, especially in Latin countries. This had the makings of a serious international incident.
The Canberra could not sail without these arrested officers, and it became necessary to fly out from England replacement crew. Very little appeared in the press subsequently, and I assume that the Italian police just wanted to make things difficult in sympathy with the Argentines Falklands cause.
Most nights, following the evening dinner, entertainment was provided by the ships resident cabaret and guest artistes. A fancy-dress contest was held - I entered as Nero, with the build to suit. This was just one of the themes chosen for each night.
Before Canberra returned to Southampton, we were given an account of the part that the ship had played in the Falklands War by her captain, D J Scott-Masson.
Captain D J Scott-Masson addressed his invited audience from the passengers returning to Southampton on board the Canberra, after completing her first cruise following her involvement in the Falklands War in 1982.
He gave his account of the multi-purpose role of this vessel in support of the Royal Navy in this war, which he had experienced as Captain of the P&O Flagship.
It was a surprise to learn that this huge ship, whilst at sea, still retained its original colour of white throughout the war and not surprisingly became dubbed as The Great White Whale.
Within two days of the Argentineans landing in the Falklands, on 2nd April 1982, the government had requisitioned Canberra, along with numerous other merchant vessels. Not for 138 years had P&O ships been used to support the Royal Navy. Her primary role was to be a troop carrier, but she was also fitted out to be an ambulance and hospital ship. Further roles included a replenishment ship for the forces and to act as a prisoner of war vessel at the cessation of hostilities.
In order that these functions could be carried out effectively, two helicopter pads were hurriedly constructed on the upper deck at the time of setting sail. It was not often that troops had the luxury of dining in Canberras Atlantic Restaurant, as did the Corporals and Marines whilst on board at sea, a far cry from the usual and relaxed prosperous cruise passengers.
An operation theatre was constructed and proved necessary from the out-set of the invasion, with the Royal Marines acting as stretcher bearers.
The Canberra took up stations off the Ascension Islands, half-way to the Falklands, using merchant ships as a shuttle service to supply and carry troops to the war front. This base was regarded as a safe haven from the Argentinean Air Force. However, the Captain referred to the occasion when Canberra was required to disembark troops off San Carlos. Fortunately, the weather helped to conceal this Great White Whale from enemy planes. On this assignment, on 3rd June, over 100 helicopter loads left Canberra before she sailed to safer waters of the South Atlantic.
On the 30th June, the day after Argentina surrendered, Canberra loaded over 4,000 Argentinean prisoners - over three times the normal passenger complement. So, the Captain could claim to have been a prison governor during his career.
I felt part of history, as I am sure many others did, as we sat listening on this Great White Whale and being present at a plaque presentation by the Mayor of Southampton to commemorate Canberras role in the Falklands War.
My return home after my 14 days escape from the real world on the Canberra, was accompanied with very mixed feelings, not knowing what to expect when I opened the door. Thankfully the house was as I had left it. Bill Dracket, my next door neighbour, was pleased to report that there had not been any visits by Harry during my absence.
The hospital charge nurse of Light Villa had a favourable report to give on Harry, and that he had attended his woodwork sessions in the rehabilitation centre.
The ambulance car drivers controller at Winchester had a schedule of patients to pick on the morrow, which included one for St James, giving me an opportunity to visit Harry.
I found Harry more settled and able to visit me at weekends, with occasional spells of going into a trance.
I did not think there was any serious future in my relationship with Angela. Further progress in other directions was called for, using a dating agency, as had been the case with Angela. Within a short time, I had several dates taking me on a circuit terminating at Ludlow, to stay a night with Sams ex-wife, Ella, who I had not seen for several years. The expression killing as many birds as possible with one stone perhaps is not appropriate in this case, but could be adapted if seeing and tour replaced killing and stone.
Before reaching Ludlow, one of my candidates, who came top of my list, was both attractive and a widow, and had inherited a factory. Her CV was further enhanced, for she had taken a Canberra cruise each time she had a birthday, as a present from her former husband. We promised to meet again.
My mind went back to my cycling days, when my cycling companion, Tonya, a Colonels daughter, was very eager to introduce me to her parents. I lacked confidence, as I had no career prospects in support of their daughter to the standard expected to match the fathers rank.
I later received a call from my top candidate inviting me to join her on the next Canberra cruise. My final destination, Ludlow, where I felt I was on firmer chartered land than hitherto, along this hazardous route in search of a kindred spirit, pre-empted my final choice.
I stayed overnight at Henwick Terrace, Gravel Hill, Ludlow, where Ella had moved from Wolverhampton to live near her daughter after the death of her mother.
Our time was spent catching up with the past from the time Sam had left her with three teenage daughters, up to her last few years nursing her mother after the death of her father. Not surprisingly, her cares had left their traces since I had last seen her. A few wrinkles here and there did not spoil the broad smile that I remembered from her early days.
We said our farewells, and that we should meet again soon. We had so much in common, and were always on the same wavelength. The subject of Harrys condition was a matter of concern to her, and could be enough to scare her off my patch!
Shortly after my return, I received a call from Ella, asking me to come and stay at Ludlow whenever I had the first opportunity. I had no urgent matters to keep me in Bedhampton, and so early December 1982, I was only too happy to visit her.
As mentioned previously, we had much in common in our early school days, our compatibility and affection had yet to be put to the test. Ella confessed that she was surprised that I had slept in my own room on that visit. On that second visit, she had no complaint on that topic!
Ludlow had been the Civil Service Headquarters for administrating Wales from the Tudor period, and it had retained much of its character from that period. Like Bath, it proved to be a favourite retirement dormitory town for the senior officers of the armed forces. Ella had become accepted by the local community, having joined their Crown Green Bowling club. She showed many of her paintings, mainly flowers, that she had done at the local art school.
We went to an improvised cinema house, and saw the award winning film, Chariots of Fire, which has remained one of the all-time greats. The high spot of my visit to Ludlow, was when we ordered a steak meal at the famous Feathers Hotel. I was wearing my new false teeth, which, when used on the rump steak, failed the toughness test. This meal suddenly came to an end for me, whilst Ella carried on with it regardless. My only concern was that I did not swallow pieces of the broken dentures.
This courtship was suddenly brought to a temporary end. My neighbour next door, Bill Dracket, phoned to alert me that Harry had tried to break into my house. He had phoned St James and the latest news was that he had been put into Cranleigh Ward, after taking an overdose of pills, and had broken a hospital window.
I returned home, leaving Ella with very mixed feelings. She must have wondered was this on-going human self-destruction saga by Harry never to end? If not, what was there in it for her to become his step-mother? The same as for Gladys, stress and sadness?
I met Harrys doctors, but very little was said regarding his treatment, apart from resisting his coming home at weekends. There was no order on him, so they could not prevent him.
I was blamed by Linda for going out at weekends playing hockey when Harry did come home.
I was successful in taking Harry to the Salvation Army Christmas Carols at the Guildhall on the Sunday prior to Christmas Day. This was always a great concert, with the tambourines much in use, along with their loud sounding band playing favourite Christmas carols. After this matinée concert, in which he behaved in a subdued manner, I returned him to the hospital, hoping that the music would soothe his thoughts!
For most of the Christmas period, Harry shared his time at home or at Andrews family, with Angela still being an acquaintance. No serious problems arose, apart from his provocative comments, such as, did Angela think I was strong enough to throw him out? He was occasionally abusive and called me a f------- bastard and that I was in league with St James.
This form of bizarre behaviour continued for several months until Dr Renton considered that I should get away and let Harry stand on his own feet. After all, I shall not always be here. This advice, I took seriously by going to Ludlow to stay with Ella on Sunday, 27th March.
Andrews negotiations for the purchase of a detached house at Well Copse Close, Clanfield, had been precipitated by a buyer who wanted immediate occupation of his current house at Kestrel Close, Clanfield. Naturally, they were very pleased when I offered them the use of my house during this transition period.
Thus, my stay in Ludlow enabled me to kill three birds with one stone, ie, 1) get away from Harry, 2) continue my courtship with Ella and 3) provide temporary accommodation for Andrew and his family. Not all the foregoing objectives were achieved, for a series of break-ins by Harry took place, making him always close in mind.
Harry had gained access through the back door, having located the spare key, kept on the top shelf in the downstairs toilet. This took place the first weekend away, and was discovered when Andrew and family returned from Combe Martin Farm at the end of their Easter break. Andrew contacted St James and was told to inform the police. This he refused to do, thankfully, for this would relieve the hospital of caring for Harry. Two weeks later, he returned to the house and upset Linda, who claimed he was following her around and saying endearing remarks. She called in the next door neighbour, Bill Dracket, and eventually got him back into hospital. Andrew phoned me and said that the hospital wanted him to inform the police.
I did not think that Harry had any intentions of molesting Linda, for he had said endearing remarks to Angela. It is a matter of not having a female loving relationship, which expressed itself in this form. Again, no action was taken to involve the police.
Now Ella was having to live with Alan Rayments real world, whether it be at Bedhampton or at Ludlow. She was able to visit her youngest daughter, Laura and family, living close by at a converted farmstead where the farm land had been sold off separately. Peter, her husband had a chemists shop and liked to spend his free time on modernising his dwelling at Mount Flirt, Henley.
They had a daughter, in her early teens, who appeared to be musical and was learning to play the violin. Christopher, who had just started school, a very tall boy for his age, completed their family. He was born following a difficult pregnancy, resulting in Laura having post-natal depression. Ella told me that she spent many hours nursing her at this time, with the doctor advising not to have another child.
Ella took me to her Crown Green Bowling club, and I had my first experience of playing this type of bowls, where the green has a high spot in the centre. All my bowling play had been on flat greens, where there is only one bias of the wood to be considered, whereas, on Crown Green, there is the green slope bias to be additionally allowed for. When referring to the ball bias, it is the profile that causes this bias and is not due to a weight on one side of the wood. There is less protocol, particularly as regards dress, when comparing Crown to flat green bowls.
My second spell of courtship again came to a close, with Ella leaving me on the same note, having to sort things out on the home front. The distressing condition at home continued.
My return to Portsmouth gave me a quick reminder that going away did not solve the hopeless state of Harry. He was in Cranleigh secure ward, having been brought in by ambulance, following an attempt to commit suicide by throwing himself in front of a bus. Again, he got away with only a few bruises, and I was surprised that no order had been placed on him, since it was evident that he was a danger to himself.
I told him that I was playing bowls at Southsea on Sunday, 8th May and would look in after the match. He arrived home before I left to play bowls, while I was away visiting a neighbour. He was quite calm, and returned without a show-down. I saw the charge nurse of Light Villa during the following week and was told that Dr Renton considered that Harry was worse for not seeing me and should be allowed to come home on a day-to-day basis.
He came home the next weekend, slept till 12 noon, and during the day revealed that he had received £50 from the Social Security services and was going to stay at the Strand Hotel, Southsea. The next day, he left the house on his own and later I spotted him sitting on a wall, when on the way to pick up my sister, Edith, from the station.
I returned him to St James, and when they phoned the next morning to state that Harry had gone missing, they were upset that I had not told them about the Strand Hotel.
Later in the week, I returned from Harrys nightmare for a few days by staying with Ella at Ludlow. I did not reveal in detail Harrys unstable state, that I had left him in; I wanted to leave this behind me and relax in this quiet dormitory town of Ludlow and have sane company.
On my return Monday 23rd May, I learned from Andy, Light Villa nurse that Harry had returned to hospital on Friday night with facial injuries after hitting his head on the wall and floor at the Strand Hotel. He had told them that he had had a turn of madness. I then saw the charge nurse about Harrys position as regards weekend home leave. He claimed that as I wanted him home, and that they did not wish to put him on a section, he was free to stay with me. I corrected this and stated that it was Harry who wanted to come home.
I was then informed that it was the view of the doctors that Harry should become settled in Light Villa, but they did not wish to put him on a section, I should send for the police if I did not wish Harry home. They were prepared for him to discharge himself whenever he wished. I made it clear that I would not involve the police, for his actions were due to a sick mind. This situation, in chess, could be described as a stale-mate. The hospital allowed Harry freedom when in a self-destructive state, expecting me to call the police if I could not handle him: I refused to involve the law to control him.
Occasionally I played in friendly bowls matches for the Star and Crescent Club. On 28th May, I was invited to play against a County Presidents Team, a kind of prestige match for the club, where all players turn out in their whites. At tea time, after all had eaten, speeches were made by the county and home team presidents. For the county president, it can only be an expensive term of office, for on these occasions, he provides souvenirs to each player of the winning rink. I always enjoyed playing on that green, so pleasantly situated at Canoe Lake, Southsea.
Harry spent that weekend at home, and I found him relatively calm on taking him home, after the bowls game. He beat me twice at chess before we played scrabble. However, on Sunday evening, he went into a trance, walking about with his arms raised and his eyes fixed upwards. I took him upstairs and laid him on his bed. Later I heard him roaming about upstairs with his knees exposed, revealing scars on his legs and knees, caused by crawling in the hotel flat the previous week.
I managed to get him into bed, and told him to take his pills. His jaw dropped and he nearly choked as he tried to swallow the pills and drink. The pills remained in his mouth!
I took him back to hospital on the following Monday morning and gave him money, for now he was a resident in hospital, his money had been reduced from £29 to £6. He seemed to understand that he could not survive on his own. I made it clear to Harry that he must not come home the following weekend, as I had arranged to play bowls and bridge at the Holiday Fellowship Guest House, Scarborough.
After this get-away and return, to my horror, Harry turned up with scars on his head, caused by hitting the table top in his ward. I told him he could only stay until the evening. We had dinner and he went to bed, while I played bowls. Before returning him, we had a game of chess. On the way back, he became talkative, revealing that he had met Sue at the IT Painting session he had attended at the hospital. He would have liked to have taken flowers to Sue!
I had a surprise visit from Arthur Nicklin, one of my cabin acquain-tances on the Canberra. It was a fine day, so I took the opportunity to drive Arthur to Southsea Front, where we sat and had tea alongside the bowling green at Star and Crescent. Arthur had an interest in Harrys sickness and persuaded me to take Harry with us.
He behaved quite rationally while out with us and listened to Arthurs experiences when handing in manuscripts to sub-editors. From what I gleaned from this comments, one had to be on very good terms with editors if you hoped to have your work published.
Arthur bought Harry a packet of cigarettes, which he chain-smoked the whole time he was with us. I told Harry he could come home on Sunday.
There were further facial injuries, when he did arrive on Sunday and said that this had to be due to him running around in Light Villa and bumping into chairs and tables: it was a nightmare in that ward. He had finished with Sue, he needed money for his Giro had not come through. I gave him £1 and money for 20 cigarettes. He had informed me that in the bed next to him was a patient from Rampton.
With Andrew taking possession of an almost new detached house, there were many requests to assist him in various tasks, particularly in laying patio slabs. In my life-span I had only moved twice into my own property. Here was Andrew, who had had three moves into his own property in barely ten years, and of course he had an increasing family to match his moves.
No matter what he handled, he had an air of confidence, and I never seemed to be concerned about his future after I had chided him at the time he was about to leave his job. He now consulted me on the advisability of applying for each trawled post within the Inland Revenue. One such post that was trawled, concerned investigating cases of tax avoidance, often referred to as people living on the black economy!
I had always benefited from gaining fresh experience and generally I recommended that he applied for these posts and for this post in particular, as it was based locally and he would be able to stay at his new address in Clanfield, without too much travel. Should he get the post, he could be involved as a private detective, commonly known as a sleuth. By the very nature of obtaining information to obtain a court conviction, particularly where persons were not declaring jobs they had worked on, a knowledge of court procedure was essential.
He had plenty of travel and worked irregular hours to obtain incrimin-ating evidence against suspected offenders of tax evasion. Although this was a completely new field of work for him, I sensed that he missed being in the structure of an administrative office. The spell on this work at Chichester was to be of a short duration, for another trawled post he had applied for required that he attended an interview.
This post was one of many that had been created at Telford, where a large computer base Information Technology had been set up to provide a back up for the whole Inland Revenue.
For several months, there was uncertainty at Well Copse Close, as to where their future home would be. After several trips to Telford New Town to explore the area, should he be successful, Shrewsbury was regarded as the favourite future home town. Most towns which had been established for many centuries usually had the main community services, such as education, well established. Later this proved to be the case, for the church, sporting clubs, and swimming baths.
Andrew thought he had a good chance of getting this post and during the waiting time he had many sleuth assignments to keep him occupied and amused.
For the 1982/3 hockey season, I had been elected as chairman of the Portsmouth and Southsea Club which had been formed in 1905. The club was recognised by players turning out in club colours, maroon shirts, black shorts and black socks.
It was a well-balanced club, having five Saturday teams, playing each week, as well as other matches on a Sunday, such as a mixed XI, Sunday mens XI, Colts XI, plus Midweek Floodlit XI, Under 21s XI. As with all clubs, a time had to be set for the selection committee to assemble each week to meet a deadline for publishing the teams on a Friday night.
Alan Hicks was one of the longest playing members, and although he held the post of Treasurer, he was generally thought of as the clubs god-father. He was a Maths Lecturer at the Portsmouth Polytechnic and was a highly respected official of the club. One felt that the future of this friendly club, with a strong youth content, was secure as long as Alan Hicks played an active role in its management.
Again, the home ground proved very attractive, as was the case with bowls; the hockey pitch was sited at St Helens, Southsea Front, close by the rose gardens.
Whilst Chairman, I was also elected the 5th XI captain, so again the club had a shortage of players to take on this onerous role.
When a player joins a sports club, many friendships are generally generated, which, as in my case, were of a younger generation and these helped me to feel younger than my true age of 68. However, this false feeling was soon coming to an end, for both planned and unplanned events.
Ella spent the first two weeks with me during July 1983 and when asked to marry me, she happily agreed to do so. Our assets in human terms meant that I would be adopting three daughters and their families, whilst Ella would be adopting one family and a step-son with a continuing behavioural problem. Both sides of our families were known to each other, who were very pleased to hear this news of our engagement.
Much had to be sorted out, as regards setting up home, for one of us would have to leave our abode to join their spouse. This proved a hard nut to crack, for Ella was keen to give me the reasons for staying at Ludlow. Here is some of the history of this ancient town that could boast of a castle dating back to the eleventh century:
The Mortimers owned the castle, and when their heir, Edward IV came to the throne, he established a Princes Council at Ludlow. This council later became known as the Council of the Marches, by which Wales and the Marches were governed, creating a social centre and bringing continued prosperity.
Ella gave me all this back history to counter my reasons for staying in the Portsmouth area with all its naval dockyard history, dating back to the Henry VIII period. What mattered most, however, were our friendships and activities that both of us had cultivated in our respective locality.
Ella pointed out that she would be deserting the Marches, should she decide to move in with me. I did not have any idea who the Marches were, and pleaded ignorance. Grinning, she gave me a history lesson about the tribal battles fought between Celt, Roman, Saxon and Norman on the hills and in the valleys bordering Wales and Shropshire.
This query on the Marches was a delaying tactic, before I brought up the need to be near Harry until he was stable enough to fend for himself. I pleaded for us to settle at my home on compassionate grounds, to be in Harrys locality and to share my world here in Bedhampton. I thought she could be happy reshaping the garden layout and renewing the house decor to our liking.
Fortunately, Ella knew Harry from a baby and had pleasant memories of him taking her round Kingston in his car, during his teenage period. Even on her stay at the time of our engagement, she had held his hand while he had had a turn, and had to be taken back to hospital. Gladys had a high regard for Ella, and I am sure she would have also been pleased to know of our engagement and that Harry would be having Ella as a step-mother.
A date for the marriage needed to be settled, so that the reception could be organised and the honeymoon planned. This, we agreed, would take place in Ludlow, being more central for our relatives to reach from both sides of our families. Most friends of Ella were from the local bowling club and it seemed fitting to plan the reception in the Bowling Club Pavilion in Ludlow.
Ella returned to Ludlow the third week in July, and I joined her on the Friday of that week. The wedding registrar at Ludlow was able to fit us in on the 6th October, which was confirmed, although deep down I felt it was awfully close to Gladys funeral date of 20th October.
Whilst on my stay at Ludlow, Ella took me to Stokesay Castle, a typical fortified house from the period of fighting by the Marcher Lords in medieval times.
I could not fail to notice the friendliness of the Ludlow local people, who all seemed to know each other. After meeting Mabel and Ken, two of Ellas bowling friends, who welcomed the news of our engagement, they persuaded us to have our reception in the Bowling Pavilion, where her friends could attend and assist in the preparation of this special event. They asked if they could do the organising, once the Bowls Committee had agreed to this being held in their premises.
Ken, who had held office at this club, praised Ella, for although a relative newcomer to the Crown Green Bowls, she was regarded as one of the best lady players, and had won numerous competitions.
It was agreed between Ella and myself that only our families and very close friends would be invited to the wedding. Even so, this would account for around 30 or more to be catered for at the reception.
I returned back to my domain on Sunday, feeling that the essentials of the future marriage had been dealt with, apart from catering for Harrys unknown state.
Immediately on my return home, I obtained my ambulance car schedule for the following week, making particular note of calls at St James hospital, and was pleased that there was a need to visit on the next day, Monday.
I had a word with Sam, the instructor in charge of the wood-work shop, who stated that Harry had been attending and had not been a major problem. He still went into a trance from time to time, otherwise he was able to work on shelves for kitchens. Whilst we were talking, he came into the workshop, where we talked for a few minutes, and since he was not on an order, it was arranged for him to come home on Friday.
During the week, I had a surprise phone call from my former clerical officer, Daphne Dickenson, requesting I help her husband, Dicky, to construct a patio. In the past, she had visited us when Gladys was alive, and always admired my handiwork in the garden, especially the patio. Whilst I was constructing it, my next door neighbour, Bill Dracket, wanted to know whether it was a rocket launching pad. I told them that I would be delighted to give them help and that I would bring Harry with me on Saturday morning, to assist with the task in hand.
Dicky had been an instructor in the regular army, so I knew that when laying the patio, everything had to be correct, especially for flatness and slope. Harry was made welcome and was supplied with many mugs of tea. While the work on the patio proceeded, he wandered off down the garden, and fell into a fish pond. It was evident that he had gone into a freeze state, for after getting out of the pond, he then fell down the garden steps. Fortunately, no injuries occurred, and whilst assisting him to sit down, he referred to the lampshade at home. It had Sam Wellers face printed on it and had caused him to have this impression on his mind.
All work on the patio ceased, for Harry needed to be returned to Light Villa. Daphne chose to come with us and refused to believe Bob Milligan, Charge Nurse, who claimed Harry had been putting it on when given the details of his bizarre behaviour.
After I returned home, I received a phone call from Harry. He had knocked his face in and the doctor needed to put several stitches in his eyebrow. He then referred to Dicky and wondered what he had been through, during his 35 years in the army. He mentioned that he had thought that everyone was looking at him from the local houses and that all the stones in the garden had eyes. He asked me to tell Daphne and Dicky that he was sorry about what had happened.
The following Sunday, 31st July, I took Harry to the beach, where he lost his keys to his locker. While we searched, he took on another turn and had to be returned to Light Villa, where I left him with Andy, a staff nurse. Ella arrived the same evening and was present to hear, the following morning, some more injuries that he had done to himself. He told us that he had walked into a hedge at the hospital and had caused further facial damage, requiring stitches around his eye.
We called to see him and took him out on Tuesday evening to a quiet village, Southwick, for a drink. He was pleased to see Ella and refused to tell us why he did these things to himself.
On Saturday, we received a message that Harry had done further damage to himself and had been placed in Cranleigh ward. When we called to see him the next day, we received from Dave, nurse in charge of his secure ward, news about Harrys actions on Friday night in Light Villa. He had had a turn in the dining room, banged his head on the floor, and then ran out into the road and bumped into a stationary car. His eyes were rolling and his running into things was something new. He was asked why he had done it, and he told them that it was the stress of Light Villa, but that it only happened when he had a turn - he thought it was a build-up of drugs. Dave told us that Harry had been heavily sedated and was sleeping, and suggested that we did not disturb him. He would inform Harry that we had called.
We returned to Light Villa ward, with a view to drawing the consul-tants attention to our deep concern for Harrys safety. On our arrival at the ward, the charge nurse required us to confirm that we could attend a discussion with Dr Renton to try to identify why Harry had turns. At this meeting, held on 9th August, other related medical staff would be present. We were only too ready to confirm that we should be very pleased to be present at this search for the cause and remedy to Harrys self-wounding turns.
At this meeting with Dr Renton, a comparatively young doctor, were also nursing officer Nelson, welfare and IT officers. We were told by Dr Renton that our nearness to Harry was not desirable. He would seek a psychologists opinion on the cause for Harrys actions in harming himself. I was required to phone in on Thursday, to be told if Harry would be allowed home for the weekend.
Frankly, very little came out of this meeting, leaving Ella none the wiser for handling Harry when in one of his turns or freeze states. Before this discussion, Harry had asked if I was going to finish with him, and then asked for money and cigarettes. He had been returned to Light Villa from the locked ward.
We had permission to collect Harry the following Sunday. Ella cooked the dinner, at which Harry acted and talked quite rationally. It was a sunny day, so we made for Southsea, where I had a swim. On the way there, Harry asked if he would be all right. When this sort of question was asked, I generally assured him that everyone was trying to help him.
After the swim, Harry sat on the grass border in the Rose Garden, frozen, with a cigarette in his fingers. His eyes were fixed upwards - we took him back to St James. When giving the details to Andy of Light Villa, he remarked, I knew he was going to do this. Not because of you, but because of Harry.
Harry phoned the following Tuesday and told us that people caused him to have turns, especially in hospital. We did not have him home that weekend, and heard from Andy that Harry had gone into a sprint, and crashed into a window, and had done more facial damage!
Ella had, fortunately, returned to Ludlow to complete our wedding arrangements at the time I received news of Harrys recent further facial damage. I found it difficult to understand how a mental hospital could allow this self-inflicted wounding to continue, knowing Harrys state of mind. Could this be a case of trying to attract his fathers attention away from his future step-mother to himself? This was not unlike the time when he had struck a mental nurse in Light Villa, at the time when his mother had been in pain from cancer in St Marys Hospital.
My inner-most fears were that, with the continuance of this self-destructive behaviour by Harry, that Ella would call the wedding off.
Unknown to most local inhabitants of Bedhampton, a bowling green had been in the process of construction during 1983, behind a hedge alongside a path leading to Bidbury Mead Recreational Ground. This had come about through the efforts of their local Conservative Councillor, Bill Yeoman. It was Bill who had called the meeting I attended, to form a future bowls club at Bedhampton, to lease the bowling green at Bidbury Mead on its completion, scheduled for Spring 1984.
I learned that Bill, who chaired this meeting and who was well into his 70s, had never played bowls, nor had his wife. Nevertheless, they had been fond of sport from their earliest days and it was known to those close to them, that in their teenage days they had played tennis, before going to work in London.
This meeting, of over a hundred, proved difficult to control, for there were many experienced bowlers present, from well-established bowling clubs, all with differing views on how to establish this new club, based on the club of which they were currently members. Most of the locals were non-bowlers, for whom Bill made it known that this was primarily to be their club. Issues such as total membership became a main subject, with numbers being quoted as 150 as against 120.
The chairmans main objective was to form a steering committee, so that the rules of the club, fees, fixtures and weekly format of play would be established, once the green had been officially opened. It was my objective to adopt the Star and Crescent Club style of ensuring that roll-ups were available on an organised basis most afternoons. Many clubs formed little groups, making it difficult for a single person to get a roll-up.
At this meeting, there was difficulty in nominating a minutes secretary. Knowing that Ella had been secretary to the Girls Public school Head Mistresses Association, I had every confidence that, once she arrived in Bedhampton, she would be ideal for this post. Without further ado, she was adopted, after I had explained her experience and future status! I am not sure how many posts have been filled by a candidate living 150 miles away at the time of their nomination! I dare not print the remarks that Ella made, when I gave her this good news. It proved an excellent way to become accepted in a relatively small community.
At 11.30 am on Saturday 10th September, Harry phoned to state that he was coming home, but I told him that I would see him at the hospital at 2 pm. To my surprise, he walked into the house around noon, having hitch-hiked from Milton. He had further scars on his forehead, which he told me had been caused the previous night after walking into a table in the ward. He was full of remorse, and mentioned that a fellow patient of Light Villa had cut his throat.
I was unable to come to terms with these violent actions to themselves, taking place when staff were on duty. I took him back later in the afternoon, having supplied him with cigarettes and £2, and told the charge nurse that I was concerned by Harry continually wounding himself. He told me that the only solution to this was to keep him in a locked ward, which was no longer done.
For the present, I had to separate myself from Harrys nightmare and concentrate on our future marriage arrangements, for the 6th October was fast approaching.
Ella and I agreed to invite only a few close friends, in addition to our relatives. In no way could I allow Harry to travel around 150 miles and know that he would be stable during his stay in Ludlow.
Ella had announced that she would invite her bowling friends, Mabel and Ken Brown, together with Dot Wainwright, whom I had met on a previous visit, and had dubbed The Salvation Army Lady, due to the bonnet she had worn.
I should be meeting Ellas brother, Jack, who I had not met for around 50 years, also Barbara, Ellas daughter, who I had given away at her wedding in Dunster in the 60s. Her other two daughters - I had last seen Laura when visiting Ludlow recently, whilst Janet, the eldest, I had not seen since her wedding in the 50s.
It was left to Ella, whilst in Ludlow, to arrange my accommodation for my pre-wedding night. We hoped that Ken and Mabel would oblige on this matter, which they were very happy to do.
Unlike my first marriage, where the honeymoon had consisted of me leaving to join my army unit immediately we had become wedded, a sea cruise was thought to be more befitting this blissful occasion.
Regretfully, I could not obtain a passage on the Canberra, as I had hoped, but I was able to obtain a Mediterranean cruise with the Italian Costa Line vessel, the 30,467 tons, Eugenio. This sailed on 8th October, from Genoa and was scheduled to call at Alexandria, Port Said, Ashdod and a few other Greek and Italian ports.
Ella phoned from Ludlow, giving me the news that her bowling club could be used for our wedding reception and that Mabel would organise the wedding cake and the luncheon. The choice of our venue, Ludlow, was ideal, being central for our guests, scattered 150 miles to the west country, where Barbara lived at Dunster, and almost the same distance to the north, where Jack lived, close to Sheffield. Apart from these two families, all the remaining guests were able to arrive on the day of the wedding.
All our invitations had been well received, and apart from one friend, Myra, who was upset at not being invited, everything seemed to be taking shape. Even my grey suit had been pressed and the dickey tie found to go with it.
One does not easily cast aside memories of the past, as if my previous wedding had never happened. I wondered if Gladys was watching, and if she minded me going through this ceremony for the second time. I felt sure she did not mind and probably remarked, Trust you!
Gladys knew Ella well during her marriage to Sam and had given Ella support after Sam had left her for a lady lecturer at the Wolverhampton Technical College.
Thankfully, there had been a lull on Harrys scene, as we entered October. It was also a surprise to learn that he had attended several evening art classes in Albert Road. This was obviously a move in the right direction, for he had always done well at art when at school. The test would come when he had to conform to the discipline of the classroom and mix with other students, but nevertheless, a welcome move.
Whilst Harry was home for the last weekend of September, I returned from my last outdoor game of bowls at Southsea, to find Harry with his eyebrow bleeding and in a turn, walking into walls - he fell close to his bedroom window. So much for my optimism that he was becoming more stable! I managed to return him to Light Villa at about 8 pm that Saturday night, with a male nurse instructing me to leave him on the floor at the entrance to the ward. This seemed an inhumane act, but I did not feel qualified to challenge him on this action.
The next morning at 8 am, I received a phone call, telling me how sorry he was for having this turn, and that he could not help it. Around 11 am, when I was talking to my hockey captain on the phone, Harry walked into the house through the back door. It came as a shock to learn that his home leave had not been restricted by the doctor. I explained that the time to our wedding was getting closer, and I could not give him any more attention until this event, and the subsequent honeymoon had been completed, and I had done justice to Ella in becoming my wife and his step-mother.
On returning him back to the hospital, I made certain that he understood that he was not to come home again until we returned from our honeymoon on Friday, 21st October. He accepted what I told him in good grace, particularly after I had given him a packet of cigarettes, and £1.50 for his fare to get him to and from the evening art class at the Albert Road school.
© Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: January 15, 2001