A is for Alphabet
Bank holidays always seem to creep up on me and take me by surprise. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but where most people live for their days off and eagerly anticipate any excuse not to go into work, the novelty has never really hit home for me. As such the day never really gets noticed in my diary, and it usually takes someone to remind me that it’s happening for me to realise that I don’t have to do any work that day. Maybe it’s because I work from home. Maybe it’s because I’m just not very observant. Maybe it’s because I don’t do enough with bank holidays for it to be special enough to look forward to. Maybe.
Anyway, on Monday it was a bank holiday, and since Ellie had reminded me of that fact I just about remembered not to do any work. Which was a good thing, because we’d arranged to go round to Anne-Marie’s house to watch Takin’ over the Asylum, a BBC series from a couple of decades ago starring a very young David Tennant, set in a loony bin mental health hospital with a would-be DJ trying to get a hospital radio station up and running. It wouldn’t work today, of course, which explains why it was never repeated, but now that’s it’s on DVD (mainly due to David’s popularity, no doubt) it’s become a quick favourite among Tennant fans. So Anne-Marie made us invited us to watch it with her on Monday. All of it. All 6 episodes of it. And it was hilarious.
It was an interesting insight into the sort of people in such mental institutes, and the complications they face every day. Not only do the residents face their own mental struggles, but they face discrimination from ‘sane’ people who treat them like children, and conflicting feelings about where ‘home’ is. As was demonstrated so powerfully in The Shawshank Redemption, long-term confinement is something some people get used to, to the extent that being ‘released’ is a sentence in itself. For many, their prison cell is their home, the walls that keep them in are their safe sanctuary. Being released into the public is like being kicked out of your home, and for some it’s something they just can’t bear.
What I found particularly interesting, though, was how the audience (or maybe it was just our group of friends watcing) were able to identify more with the loonies than with the sane people, and that sometimes the line was so fine that either side could be exchanged for the other. Mentally disturbed people have their lucid moments, just as normally balanced people have moments of insanity. Looking at myself, and my group of friends, it could easily be argued that we all have some form of insanity, all with some level of mental misalignment somewhere. Whether it be irrational fears, obsessions, physical ‘ticks’, multiple personalities – we have them all in some form. At least, I know I do, and I know several others who would readily admit to it too. But then, I guess you could say that’s what makes for balanced people – having both sides in equal measure. Pause for thought.
I got two things out of watching Takin’ over the Asylum. One was that David Tennant has apparently been a fantastic actor for many years, and in some ways it’s a shame we’ve not seen more of him before now. The other thing was actually more of a challenge, inspired by Anne-Marie when she put the DVD back into the cupboard, making sure to maintain the alphabetical order in which they had been arranged. And so, starting today, I shall be alphabetically sorting my blog posts. Today begins with A. My next post will begin with B. And so on. Not a massive revelation, granted, but it gives me something to do, and gives you something to check up on.
We’re all mad. Yes, you too. The only difference between us and them is that we haven’t been caught yet.