HARRY'S CLOUDS REAPPEAR

1986

All was well with Harry when we called at Radnor House to give him cakes, chocolates and cigarettes on his birthday in April.   In the lounge, a resident, Alan Keydale, told us as we waited in the lounge for Harry, that he was doing relaxation exercises, specially prepared for him.  Alan left the lounge to bring us some tea, while Harry described the dinner that he was required to do on the dinner rota.  This was scrambled egg on toast.  He had also to prepare the tea for the residents.  This was welcome news, that he was co-operating in the running of Radnor House.

Nurse Lorna came into the room and, after greeting us, set about preparing a black board for a training session in the afternoon.   She told us that Harry had attended a local health club on two occasions and was co-operating well.  All in all a good visit.

Within two weeks of this visit, to our surprise, Harry had been transferred to a house in Stubbington Road, along with Alan Keydale and Stephen (a fire raiser), all from Radnor House.

The house was owned by a young couple.  The mother was Chinese, and had qualified as a civil engineer, but was now in bakery.   She had four children, and knew Harry from when she had been a nurse in St James’ and was aware of his record.

During the next few weeks several calls were received from Harry such as - “I want my music centre repaired, and this is still at St James’.”, “Will I get a TV set?”, “Will I get his trousers repaired, also his jacket.” but very little serious matter had occurred.  We called to collect his clothes for repair one evening around 6 pm.   He met us at the door in his pyjamas and took us up to his room and mentioned that he had a bad turn lasting three hours and that Radnor House had to send him some pills.   Since his move here, his allowance weekly payment had not been sorted out by St James’ Hospital.    He had been informed that he would be able to have a Post Office account locally, to claim his allowance.

Following an urgent call from Harry to sort out both his domestic and financial situation, which after nearly eight weeks had still not been sorted our, I visited Stubbington Road.   My first action was to take him to the Co-Op Optician and clear the way for free glasses, for which he had been charged 18.

I took him to the DHSS at Cosham to sort out his allowance payment, which he claimed he had not been receiving since moving into his present address.   This, the DHSS assured me, would be in the post that night.   During this time, I had to support him and this contributed to his feeling of insecurity.

He maintained that at his address, doors were locked and the mother of Lin, who owned the house, had caused him to have head-bashing turns, due to her continually tidying his room.   I could not see this move being suitable without nursing staff being on call, and now Harry, in his way, was making this quite clear to his mentors.

Two days later, I received a call from St James’, stating that Harry had been admitted with head wounds, due to head bashing at his residence.    He would be returned to Radnor House, when fit.   I called in to see him in St James’ and he told me he had still not received his money, although it was over a week ago they promised to send it that evening.   I spoke to Raj, the nurse in charge, who thought Harry was being difficult, but would check with the DHSS about his money.  

Again, I was phoned that no money had come through, and would I help him out.   I spoke to the nurse in charge, Joyce, who said the money had arrived at Stubbington Road and was being sorted out.    I was told not to be concerned, it was Harry’s fault for moving back to Radnor House, where the allowances are different to those at Stubbington Road.

There was a feud taking place between the three addresses.     Lin declared that she had not known that Harry was subject to fits.  Lin also blamed those at the hospital for not sending the pills at first to Harry, they had now been received and were awaiting collection.  His turns should have been highlighted when taking new residents into care.

It was around this time that we made our disastrous journey to Ludlow.  I called at Radnor House after our return, hoping that his money had been sorted out.   Julie, his key worker, confirmed that the DHSS back-pay had been received and had been put into Harry’s account at Barclays Bank.   I was not to give him any more money.   I smiled when I heard this, for it had been an on-going saga, demanding money.

She stated that Harry had signed a form for temporary accommodation at Radnor House.   When I saw her again in November, she was full of praise and told us he was doing Radnor House chores and earning 8 per week.   They were pleased that Harry played his relaxation tape.

It was a change to hear this news from a person who, being his key worker, had a special care for her charge.   This was the first time that we could talk to someone on the spot, having a direct responsibility for the individual’s well-being.

Could this be the start of a new policy, where an individual could feel that there was a person they could go to, like a foster parent, to seek help and advice from time to time?   For their relatives, like ourselves, it meant too, that we could discuss matters with someone who had an on-going care for their patient.   Julie also told us that Dr Bale had seen Harry and was pleased with his recent progress and had full confidence that Harry would continue to improve.

During the bowling season, work ceased on the pavilion while members concentrated on their bowling skills.   For a relatively new club, it was quite an achievement for the secretary, Maurice Underhay, to have arranged around 50 friendly matches, in addition to another 25 League and inter-Club matches.   Some of these fixtures took place as far afield as Bath and Farnham, but the most important match of all, he had retained our fixture with Southampton Old Green!

I had made the Club’s League team, playing in the Portsmouth and District Division IV League.   This meant playing at night and there were clashes with my bridge commitments, especially at Emsworth, where my partner, Alan Wagg was not pleased if I gave preference to bowls.    We had won the Bridge Duplicate competition for the previous year, and he was keen to have our names on the cup a second time.

In addition to these bowls fixtures, there were the club’s individual competitions, where members where expected to take part.   Ella had already made her mark in the club, by winning the mixed pairs with Eric Googe, the club’s captain.   The best I could do was to share the runner’s up cup for this event for 1986.  However, I had a cup to place alongside Ella’s on the mantelpiece.  

One event of a personal nature was a club bowls match to celebrate Bill and Vi Yeoman’s Golden Wedding Anniversary, where Vi received a bouquet from the players.   All else was on the house as regards food and drinks to share this event with them.   A tribute was paid to Bill, our 1986 President, thanking them both for their part in founding our bowls club and for ensuring that we had continuing support from Havant Council.   Both were in their mid-seventies and had proved that your are never too old to take up bowls, for until their bowls club had been formed, two years previously, neither of them had played this sport!   Both proved they had ball sense and gave a good account of themselves with every chance of winning a cup in the future.

President Bill Yeoman carried on in this position for the following year.  George Hall, who was the current Vice-President and who should have taken over as President, suffered a heart attack and died.   This happened while digging bait on Langstone Harbour mud flats, to take with his two grandsons on their first fishing trip during April.  

After the AGM, amongst the new appointments, my name appeared as Vice-President of the bowls club.   Needless to state, Ella was still elected as minutes secretary, and so we had a continuing involvement with the destiny of our club.

My friend, Ernie King’s name also appeared as competition secretary, who was still running the Friday afternoon’s All Change Drive.    Both he and I ran the end of season Fun Drive, where bowlers were required to roll an occasional bowl with their opposite hand to their normal bowling hand.   This caused much laughter with  one bowler’s ball straying onto another rink and getting mixed up with another competition.

Our circle of friends and acquaintances had increased, and we seldom went out locally without meeting someone we knew.   Thankfully, we were both interested in this game, for we could plan our matches so as to be in the same team.   This meant also, that we could go to the beach swimming together, be it Hayling or Southsea beaches, on a fine sunny day, and take Harry with us, if well.

Our favourite spot on Southsea beach was opposite the rose garden, which also suited Harry, as this was the least crowded area.   I seldom remember him taking a dip, and I think this was also true for in Ella’s case.   She was just content looking around her in the environment of the sea and beach, where there was plenty of activity as far as sealife was concerned.

  We liked to watch the seagulls skimming along the water surface and then diving their beaks into the sea to help themselves to a fish for breakfast.  Just one of the marvels of the creator, who from an egg devised a whole optical system in the seagull’s head to perform this feat whilst in flight.   Of course, the other miracle is that, if a hen bird, it can lay an egg and reproduce itself.   For the Ministry of Defence to be given a project to produce one seagull, with a built-in optical system to perform the fishing act, would I believe, make the country bankrupt, without the second part of their feat in reproducing themselves.

We learned that Harry would be moved to a house in Outram Road, Southsea, a short distance away from his present address.   I was at a loss to understand the reason for this move, after we had a good report from Julia, his key worker at Radnor house, during November.   When I made enquiries from her about the reason for this move, I was given to understand that Radnor was a base for making the patient self-supportive, without the presence of a full-time nursing staff.

Outram Road was one of two residences in the area, where there was no full-time staff on the premises.   His move was planned for Monday, 1st December, when he would receive 30 to pay for food, heating and all expenses to do with his keep, including clothing.

Again, with much apprehension, we visited him on Wednesday at 7pm, during his first week.   A big, roundish chap opened the door of this typical, large Victorian house, with high ceilings.  We announced that we were Harry’s parents and could we see him?   He indicated that he was upstairs in his room and to follow him.   On opening his door, he was walking to and fro in his pyjamas, and then laid on his bed and told us that he was not well.  At that moment I spotted a tin of lager that was empty,  by his bed.   When I read the riot act out to him, that if he went on the barrel I should finish with him, he assured me that he would not do that, and that he only had one tin at a time, of alcohol, which did him no harm!   He phoned after this visit and reassured me that he would not let drink get out of hand.   Would I see him sometime next week?

This I did, and I found him very amenable.   We went into the kitchen to sort out the Christmas presents and cards.   He had decided to have Christmas dinner at Radnor House, which put my mind at rest that we would not have to worry about what he was doing on that day, while Ella and I were staying at Barbara’s over the Christmas period.

Before going away we took him for dinner at the Dolphin on 22nd December.   It was almost in disbelief when he asked for coffee and not alcohol.   Little had been mentioned about his tenants, apart from Bill, who he had known at The Retreat.   He referred to him as a ‘drop out’ and hoped he would not bring his ex-Retreat friends to his residence.   He made reference to a lady who had arrived since he had been there.   Her name was Mary, had a degree, aged 39, came from North End and had a bad father when young.   There was little he was able to tell us, apart from the non-resident housekeeper, Fay, whom he seemed to regard favourably.

We were pleased that he seemed content generally with his new, spacious abode, for it had been fitted out with all the essentials, such as washing machines for the use of tenants.  The kitchen adjoined the breakfast room with a serving counter.

The house was not enclosed, being at a road junction, so that there were no houses closely overlooking their entrance.  This was important, for Harry still had paranoia, which always showed itself when at Wigan Crescent.

At times, I thought of the patience and the difficult task of those who have to look after the mentally ill.   It is not something that gives them immediate results or success that can give them success in their calling.   Likewise, parents of these patients, such as ourselves, could only hope that things would improve in the future.   This move of Harry’s, would no doubt be monitored by those responsible for his future management with the great hope that he becomes stabilised.  

When we left Harry, after our meal at the Dolphin, his final words, that kept ringing in my ears, were, “Have a happy time at Barbara’s.”   This consideration for our happiness had seldom been expressed, for his head has generally been too full of his own living nightmare, to bother about our concerns.   It was, for me, an indication that there was some change taking place towards some normality.

All was well when we returned from Barbara’s and it was a relief to learn that he went to Radnor House for Christmas dinner and showed us a pen present he had received, with his name on it.   He had presents for us to take to Andrew’s family and had bought Ella some music tapes.   This had been a wonderful Christmas, indeed, would it be too optimistic to expect this change to continue?   We hoped not, for there was yet another family matter of concern, to be resolved.

Contents - Introduction - Home

Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: January 15, 2001