Chapter Page No
Schizophrenia And What It Means To Me.................................3
Before My Illness..........................................................................7
My Early Life And School Background. .................................................... 7
The Bank ..................................................................................................24
A Change Of Career. ...............................................................................30
A Job As A Sales Representative. .............................................................34
A Degree Of Respect And Success. ...........................................41
The Onset Of Schizophrenia. ....................................................47
A Shoulder To Cry On...............................................................52
My First Admission To Hospital. ..............................................56
As If Nothing Were Wrong........................................................57
An Overdose. ..............................................................................63
A Short Spell Of Anaerexia. ......................................................65
Fighting Shadows. ......................................................................67
Continuing The Story ................................................................69
The Delusions Continue .............................................................71
Reality Is An Illusion. ................................................................75
Myths And Legends ..................................................................................79
The Reality Of Modern Life......................................................................82
Medication And My Last Admission To Hospital....................84
Another New Business. ..............................................................89
Gambling On Shares For A Quick Profit.................................93
The Final Chapter......................................................................96
Schizophrenia And What It Means To Me
When I go for a job interview or just in ordinary conversation I am often
asked what schizophrenia means to me and how it affects me in my day to
day life. There are 3 main aspects to being a schizophrenic and they are as
follows; Firstly, the sufferer hears voices in their head. I am convinced that
this is a perfectly normal phenomenon as I am a firm believer in telepathy.
The difference between a schizophrenic and a normal person is that when a
normal person hears voices, which they do rarely, it is to instruct them to
perform a particular task the reason for which may not be apparent to them
but it has a definite purpose. More importantly they do not get into trouble
for doing it no matter what it is. With a schizophrenic they may be told to do
something and they invariably get into trouble or cause trouble. Also the
voices often talk about them in a derogatory manner. Sometimes they even
reassure the sufferer when they are depressed or in trouble.
This was seen when Peter Sutcliffe, an infamous schizophrenic was in
prison. He often said that the voices comforted him while he was awaiting
trial for the many murders he committed under their guidance.
Another aspect of hearing voices is that they can often be heard talking to
friends about the schizophrenic or something that they have done.
Where do the voices come from ?
I believe that they originate from a very large number of people who guide
all of our lives for the good of the community and not necessarily the
individual. I am convinced that all people hear them and receive their
guidance whether they are a policeman on the beat, a teacher, a judge or
even a doctor.
They come from trained medical people Psychiatric nurses, doctors
consultants etc. Ordinary people are employed by them to help control the
population but that is I believe what their function is.
Some schizophrenics do not hear any voices until they first become ill and at
this point they are not in a fit state emotionally to rationalize about them.
Why do they torment/pester schizophrenics ?
This is for a very good reason and I believe it is basically to control them
emotionally and to find out when they reach the point when they can no
How are the voices heard if telepathy really exists?
I believe that we all have an organ called the pre-frontal lobe situated at the
front of our brains, the so called 3rd eye. This organ receives radio waves
from the electro magnetic spectrum, of which light is a part, and processes
them into sound.
Many years ago the only cure for madness was a lobotomy. This was an
operation where the lobe was surgically removed. Nowadays it is destroyed
with drugs or medication.
Electric shock treatment has also been used to burn the organ out but this
method of treatment has also been phased out almost entirely. The problem
with using potent drugs is that they also affect the nervous system harming it
slightly and making it function less efficiently. This in turn causes a problem
because the life force or electric impulse that the brain creates that keeps the
lungs and heart working becomes weaker and falters. This causes the victim
to stop breathing and then they need a jump start from a healthy individual.
The spark of life is imperceptible and a gentle touch to the temples will
usually start somebody breathing again. If the victim is left to long then
resuscitation techniques may be necessary such as a respirator and shock
Ultimately death would result if the person was just left for days. You may
think that if someone's heart has stopped for 4 minutes they are dead but this
is not true as we have all heard about children who have fallen into an icy
river and been trapped underwater for anything up to an hour before being
brought to the surface and revived with no ill effects.
However this temporary 'death' again causes a problem and that is a small
amount of brain damage is indicated by a reduction in memory. The more
times a person has this kind of attack the worse their memory gets. Also they
will eventually get cataracts in their eyes.
Perhaps the most important aspect of schizophrenia is that of unconscious
actions. Schizophrenics often do or say very silly, rude or disgusting things.
They may strip off in public or even worse urinate in public places. In fact
anything that a normal person can physically do then so can a schizophrenic.
The difference is that when they have an attack and do something irrational
they have no conscious control over their actions. The attack can last for a
few seconds in mid sentence, minutes, hours or even on rare occasions a day
or two. When asked to explain these attacks I usually give an explanation
that is readily accepted and that is as follows;
The schizophrenic when acting irrationally is basically asleep and is sleep
walking. That is to say the conscious part of the brain is not in control but
the subconscious is. This part has no emotional control and no self control at
all. Anything that you are capable of dreaming the schizophrenic is capable
of doing without any feelings or thought for the consequences. If it means
hurting a loved one then no feelings are felt nor do they obstruct any actions.
The person becomes totally unpredictable and is capable of doing anything
Furthermore the schizophrenic will not react to any amount of pain and
cannot be brought back to consciousness with pain.
Most schizophrenics I should point out when in this state do not commit
violent acts, only a small percentage do, most are far more likely to do some
harm to themselves such as commit suicide.
This explanation usually satisfies most people but I believe it is not quite the
truth as I believe there is control in a person who has such an attack.
However the control is not internal but is external as in a radio controlled
toy. It is done by telepathy.
The instructions are sent to the person who's subconscious hears the
commands and blindly obeys with the conscious playing no part at all. If this
is true why do the controllers make the victims do the crazy things that they
are prone to do?
All I can answer to this is that they have their reasons at all times although
we the lay men may not always readily understand them. Perhaps the most
frightening thing about someone having an attack of this nature is the
strength that they have. The average woman becomes more than a handful
for the average man to restrain and a man becomes a circus strongman in his
How is this possible you might ask?
Well as we all know the body functions by electric impulses sent down the
nerves. The impulse makes the muscle contract or relax giving rise to
movement. The stronger the signal, as in any electric motor, the more power
the muscle exerts. When a person has an attack the conscious part of the
brain is short circuited out and as always if the electrical signal takes a short
cut it remains stronger with less resistance in the circuit. Consequently the
muscle exerts more power. This can be seen from the reports in America
concerning the drug P.C.P. or Angel Dust as it is commonly called. When
people take this drug they have phenomenal strength and you can see one
man being mobbed by policemen who are tossed aside like rag dolls. I
believe Angel Dust was designed to give people with muscle wasting
diseases more strength and it works by increasing the power of the nerve
impulses in the body. As with a lot of drugs its use has been criminalized.
Most people don't realize that the pshycadellic group of drugs including
L.S.D. were originally created for the medical purpose of treating certain
types of mental illness of which schizophrenia is one.
Before My Illness.
My Early Life And School Background.
My parents families were both working class with no pretensions. My
fathers father died when I was quite young as he was a fair bit older than my
grandmother, but my grandmother lived until I was about 20 or so. Both
relatives were in their 80s when they died.
My parents met after the war when they were in their 20s and got married
soon after. My father started his career as a furniture salesman but when he
married he bought a small hardware shop in Birmingham which he and my
mother ran jointly. Credit restrictions did not apply then and soon they were
selling larger items on "tick". The business flourished and they expanded
buying more shops in which they diversified by selling carpets and linoleum.
At this time they were living in a terraced house but as they made more
money from the business they moved to a house on a brand new estate in
Solihull. It was not anything special but it was a modern detached house and
was spacious compared to where they had been living. That was in 1955 and
it was here that I was born in 1957.
I have very few early memories but I am told that at this house in Henley
Crescent I had my first real accident. When still only 4 I was playing in the
lounge one day and fell through the patio window smashing it to pieces
without so much as getting a scratch.
However I was not so lucky a year or so later when I was playing with my
elder brother in the front garden. We were chasing each other round and
round the drive and rose bed when he suddenly thought it would be fun to
lock me out of the house.
So he dived inside and slammed the front door. He started shouting at me
through the door and I could see him through the glass panels. I started to
cry and panic and then banged with all my might on the door. Needless to
say my fist went through one of the glass panels and I cut myself quite
badly. Eventually my mother came to see what all the fuss was about and
saw me dripping blood from my gashed hand. Fortunately no serious
damage was done and she cleaned me up and bandaged my hand as she had
been a nurse during the war.
Whilst at this house as with most children of the time I caught the childhood
diseases of measles and chicken pox but never mumps.
We stayed at Henley Crescent until 1964 when I was about 7 and then we
moved for a short while to a house in Dorridge where I attended the
combined infants and junior school which were close by. I remember very
little about these schools other than that they were fairly modern. One
memory that sticks in my mind is that of playing marbles with some of the
other lads, one of whom used much prized king sized ball bearings given to
him by his father who was a scrap metal merchant. By the time I was 9 in
1966 my father had many shops enabling us to move to a very large house in
a very expensive part of the midlands. We started having expensive holidays
to Spain, Italy, etc and I became a spoilt little rich kid.
Anything I wanted I had, train set, motor car racing set, books galore, etc.
The house was very imposing being built on three floors and having 6
bedrooms in all. It had a through lounge some 30 feet long, a dining room,
breakfast room, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, pantry and butlers pantry with stairs
leading down to a small cellar. My father had a large open sun lounge
enclosed in timber and glass to make a playroom for me.
Also he had the yard covered in to make an enclosed walkway to the stables
which were converted into another games room for the grown ups. This
housed a snooker table and table tennis table which were permanently
erected for use. A 3 car garage was built to house the new Jaguar car that my
father had bought and my mothers Mini.
After being at the house for a short while my father had a 30 foot heated
swimming pool built in the 1 acre garden. We had bonfire parties to rival
any small town celebrations with all the managers of my fathers shops and
their families as guests. We also had swimming parties and other regular get
together's. For the events my father would hire a mobile bar and dozens of
glasses. It was my job to act as host to the many other children, a job which I
enjoyed, and see to their soft drinks.
At about this time my grandmother on my fathers side wanted to move
house so my parents bought her a brand new detached house in Grimsby
where she had some relatives.
I grew up as a lonely child or perhaps I should say I grew up as a loner for I
did not seem to want the company of others most of the time. At school I
had a few friends who seemed quite close and I went through all the usual
phases of growing up. This included playing kiss chase in Junior school. I
was not the most popular boy at this past time but it was all good experience.
Even at this age I did things in such a way that I stood out from the crowd
and that included getting into trouble at times.
At this time I was still in Junior school which was about a mile away from
my house. The school was an old Victorian Building but during my first year
there a new building was erected on the playing field and the old block
became more or less derelict. Before the new block was erected there was an
old air raid shelter on the grounds which was out of bounds although
sometimes we children sneaked into it. The school was surrounded by
ordinary farming fields and one year when the farmer had spread some
silage on his land some of us boys noticed how powerful its odour was.
So during dinner time I volunteered to pick a small handful of this
obnoxious substance and carry it into class with me. This done the room
rapidly filled with its characteristic smell which nobody could locate. All
our shoes were examined until eventually the silage was found and removed.
Its effect and smell was almost as good as the expensive stink bombs which
I took to senior school with me one day. Having bought them at the Ideal
Homes Exhibition in Birmingham I wanted to make full use of them. After
letting them off the school was evacuated for half an hour for the smell to
At the age of about 10 the family pet dog had to be put down which upset
me greatly, so he was soon replaced with a new puppy, this time a
Dalmation. He was very friendly but full of energy and seemed to be able to
run around all day which is of course what they were bred for. In the olden
days they used to run alongside the horse drawn carriages and act as guards
against robbers. He lived until my early 20s when he developed bowel
problems and had to be put down.
It was about this time that we had a very bad winter with a heavy fall of
snow which lasted for several days. My family suggested that I build a snow
fort but this seemed to easy so I set about building an igloo. At first my
brother and myself tried to cut blocks out of the snow but this proved to be
impossible because it was to soft. So instead I rolled many big snowballs
and cut the sides with my gloved hands to give them flat surfaces. Then I put
them in a circle and built them up. Eventually I had an igloo shape and then I
filled in all the little holes with packed snow. It was not very big but I was
quite able to get inside it where I found it to be cold and uncomfortable
although it was out of the wind. I should not think that there are many
people in England who can honestly say that they have built an igloo but I
Even at the age of 10 I was fairly competent with numbers, so much so that
one day the teacher told one boy who was slightly backward, to ask me how
to do his maths questions. I was involved in a conversation with a friend so I
told him to ask someone else which he did.
Unfortunately the lad showed him how to do multiplication by making a list
of the numbers to be multiplied and then adding them up instead of showing
him how to use his tables. He quickly filled all the paper he had been given
and when he asked the teacher for more we all got into trouble.
When I reached the age of 11 like all children I took my 11+ exam which I
passed and then went on to a senior school some 3 miles away from where I
lived. The school was modern and very large housing over 1000 pupils of
mixed abilities as it was a comprehensive school with some 7 streamed
classes in each year.
When I was 11 my father got me interested in the peaceful hobby of stamp
He took me into Birmingham to a philatellic shop where we bought a large
quantity of postage stamps, unsorted and still stuck to a corner of envelope.
There were thousands from all over the world, hundreds of which were
British. After many happy hours soaking them off the paper and sorting
them I had quite a reasonable collection for a beginner. But the question was
what to do with all the spare stamps which were duplicates? Even at this
young age I was interested in making money so it was not long before a
solution became obvious and that was to take them to school and join the
stamp club. Arming myself with a catalogue for the retail prices and some
stock books to hold my precious stamps I set up shop at school. The stamps
were sold at half of the catalogue price and went like hot cakes.
Within a week or two I was selling 10 to 15 shillings worth a day which was
a lot of money in those days, specially for a twelve year old boy.
However that was not the end of the story as my phenomenal sales attracted
the wrong sort of attention and one day the inevitable happened and my
satchel was stolen with all my stock of stamps in it. The theft was duly
reported and neither the stamps nor culprit were ever found although my
empty satchel turned up a couple of days later.
The main point of the story is that the headmaster came into my classroom
one day and threatened to cane the whole class as he believed that someone
must know who was responsible for the theft. This outraged my sense of
righteousness and fair play so I stood up in front of the class and told the
headmaster that if anyone should be punished it should be me for my
carelessness and I would accept punishment for the class. Needless to say
the caning was never carried out but it was an early example of my strong
sense of justice which perhaps got me into trouble when I became ill later in
I have one claim to fame whilst at this school and that is I got friendly with
one lad whose father was a chauffeur at one of the big estates in my road.
They lived in the lodge house on the 35 acre grounds of a leading British
food company. The owners possessed a Rolls Royce and a Bentley which
this lads father regularly drove for them.
He was allowed to collect his son from school in these cars so I often had a
lift in one or the other.
When my two older brothers passed their driving tests they both received
nearly new cars as presents. The oldest did well at school gaining A levels
and going on to university to pass a degree in chemistry and then he studied
to become a chartered accountant. The other failed most of his exams.
However it did not hold him back as he soon developed a career in tailoring
and was promoted to a managers job.
During my first year in the senior school the school organized a fund raising
raffle and all the pupils were required to sell as many tickets as they could.
To inspire them there was a prize of a 10/- book token for each year in the
school for the child who sold the most. This was a lot of money in those
days as it would buy two hardback books. After selling them to all my
family and their friends I was disappointed at the number sold so I hit upon
the idea of going down the road where I lived and going from door to door.
Bearing in mind that this was one of the most expensive roads in the
Midlands where most of the houses would fetch several hundred thousand
pounds today, some maybe a million or more, I did quite well. When the
school discovered how I had sold so many tickets there was an uproar but I
still got the prize for selling the most.
Play fights were also part of growing up, whether it was an argument with
my best friend, which would end in being friends again, or whether it was
with a stranger.
The fights got more intense as I got older and went to senior school but they
were few and far between ending with nothing more serious than a
I discovered at an early age that I passed out at the sight of blood whether it
was my own or someone else's. Even something as trivial as getting a
splinter out of my finger can cause me to pass out although when it is
someone else the injury has to be more severe. During my school years I cut
myself several times in woodwork class and the like which invariably
resulted in my ending up on the floor. Once when I was younger I was
sword fighting with a friend with pencils and my hand was stabbed. I
shouted out and much to my teachers dismay I passed out on the floor.
I was told many times that I would grow out of this problem but I have not,
with the exception of one aspect and that is nose bleeds. Many times I have
had nose bleeds especially with colds and they have never bothered me
however copiously the blood flows.
Whilst in my first year at this school I performed well coming 6th overall in
my class in the annual exams but French let me down badly in the second
year. I was so bad that the school decided to drop me down to a lower class
at which I was outraged but at the age of 12 we had to move because my
fathers fortunes took a nose dive. We moved to a big old country house and I
went to another school. This was about 1970.
The house was very old and had 7 bedrooms as well as numerous other
rooms. It had a very large garden of about 1 acre although this was a
wilderness apart from 2 small old greenhouses. My mother had always had
greenhouses and grown lots of plants but now she decided to do it
Within a few years a small retail nursery was starting to develop in the back
garden and more bigger greenhouses were erected.
At school I was one of the larger lads in the school so one would have
thought that bullying would not have been a problem, but it was for a while.
There was a particularly nasty element in my school. At lunchtime they went
round collecting dinner money. They were not supposed to but it was their
own idea. For several days I contributed and then I got fed up with having
no dinner so I ratted on them. Surprisingly enough this did not result in a
beating but an unexpected event stopped the bullying altogether. Shortly
after I ratted on them while I was waiting for the bus to go home from
school one night, the ring leader from my school approached the queue
where I was waiting. He was a good 3 or 4 inches taller than me and a
couple of years older. As he walked across the road I knew exactly what was
coming but stood my ground. The bus shelter was close to the curb and he
reached in and grabbed me. I thought this is it and then something
A bully from another school who lived in the same village as myself stepped
up to him and pulled him off saying something brave like "The lads from our
village will stick together and will sort you out."
My school bully was duly shocked as was I and he turned to his mates who
decided not to back him up. He uttered a few empty threats and then made a
tactical withdrawal. It was pointed out to my rescuer afterwards that he was
standing on the pavement and the other bully was standing in the road some
4" lower making the difference in height seem less than it really was, but
that did not seem to matter then.
Some months later this bully from the other school was pushing one of my
smaller friends around and this time it was me who plucked up the courage
to turn on the bully.
Grabbing his arm I twisted it up behind his back and forced him to the floor.
This did the trick and I gained new respect and friends from his school. On
another occasion he picked on a small lad from my school who was a cheeky
little menace but quite good natured. Again I stood up against the bully and
he backed down straight away saying that the lad was from my school so I
should keep him in order. I remonstrated with the lad threatening him with
detention and he was duly grateful. In fact he still remembers it to this day
some 30 years later which is quite useful because now he is a lot bigger than
me and still a trouble maker.
I only ever got into trouble at school a couple of times and was for the most
part a well behaved pupil. On one occasion the whole class got detention
and this was my only one, but another time I did over step the mark with one
of the teachers and was sent to the headmaster for the slipper.
As a teenager I was interested in many unexplored pastimes of which fishing
was one. The canal ran past at the bottom of the field at the end of my
garden so a couple of times a friend and myself tried our luck with little
success. However I soon tired of it because of the lack of excitement.
Even 30 years ago schools organized holidays for their pupils and when I
was 15 my school arranged a skiing trip to Scotland. The idea appealed to
me so I decided to go on it. The trip was booked and we all were given the
date of the holiday. Unfortunately the school got it wrong and we all
received a phone call the night before departure explaining the problem.
Some of the pupils could not go at such short notice but luckily I could.
We traveled up by coach to a youth hostel in Braemar where we were to stay
and when we got there we were all dismayed to find that there was no snow.
However that first night it snowed heavily and provided great conditions for
us. Whilst in the hostel we were all given duties to perform and were not
allowed into the village on our own. We felt as though we were back at
school with all the discipline and so one night a small group of us ran out of
the front door and into the village to explore. The staff came after us in a
large Land Rover and soon caught up with us. We hid behind some bushes
but were seen. The tutor called out to us to come out and at first one lad did.
Then gradually the rest of us came out of hiding. We were told off and then
told that if we all climbed on the roof of the vehicle we would be able to see
a castle over the high wall.
We duly obliged and then the driver shouted "Hang on" and drove off down
the road with us all still clinging on top. It was a cold winters night and we
were all perished but highly excited by the ride. Nowadays if someone in
charge of children had done that he would have been sacked and probably
prosecuted but in those days things were different.
Senior school was a place where boys and girls developed significantly in
other ways. Perhaps because of my size I was one of the first boys to start
shaving and also I started to become aware of girls.
The school uniform for girls was a pinafore dress with a zip straight down
the back and some girls looked very cute and curvaceous in this uniform.
One girl in particular was well developed and a bit of a giggler. I often sat
behind her in class and that zip looked very tempting. Eventually mischief
got the better of me and I reached out in the middle of the lesson and
grabbed the zip pulling it from top to bottom. The dress fell away from her
and she was duly embarrassed. After this incident she spent several months
embarrassing me by coming and sitting on my lap in the common room.
Don t get me wrong I enjoyed the attention but it was still embarrassing
because I was very innocent.
At the start of one particular lesson the class was milling around waiting for
the teacher when the afore mentioned girl grabbed me and asked me what I
really thought of her. In the best movie style tradition I took her in my arms
and bent her over backwards whispering the biggest load of romantic cliches
that I could think of. She wet herself and rushed off to the toilets. She never
tried to embarrass me again after that.
As with a lot of schools there were several instances of arson. While I was at
the school a new block was built and it was this that became the target for
them. Three times there was a serious fire doing a lot of damage each time.
On one occasion the new library was destroyed and on another the main hall
suffered most damage. The arsonist was caught after the third time and it
turned out to be the ex caretakers son who was doing it because his father
had got the sack.
At school I was a keen swimmer and the sports teacher suggested that a
small group of us lads could take some swimming awards if we trained at
lunchtimes on a particular day. We trained for some weeks on time trials
both in our trunks and fully dressed. After a while we were considered good
enough to do the personal survival awards. Instead of having a few weeks
extra training between each award we took them one week after another and
passed them all except for the honours which for some reason we did not
take. After this we started on the life saving awards but had to stop because
there were age limits on these.
The two lads that I trained with became firm friends and we all started
cycling together around the local lanes. The trips got further and further as
we became fitter but I always lagged behind. One my friends joined a club
and got really hooked, eventually progressing up the county ladder to enter
the national under 18s competitions. He dreamt of cycling in the Olympics
but I dont think he ever made it although I cant be sure how far he did get
because I lost touch with him after he left school. Recently I read a small
article on cycling which featured my friend. The press reported that he was
trying to make a comeback at 40 and still held an unbeaten under 21 British
Practical jokes still appealed to my sense of humour at this age and one visit
to a joke shop yielded a prank which backfired to some extent. I had bought
a rather superior bottle of disappearing ink and taken it to school. After
showing its wonderful properties to my friends we decided it would have the
best effect if used on a teacher, so we hatched a plot during a French lesson.
In those days we all used fountain pens to write with. The idea was to
pretend to fill my ink bottle from the teachers and the my friend would then
come up behind me and knock my arm spilling the ink all over the teachers
nice white shirt. If anything went wrong he agreed to take the blame. The
plan worked only to well resulting in half my bottle hitting its target. The
teacher swung round in fury and swiped my friend across his face with a
blow that left a clear handprint. The class went silent and then the teacher
started ranting about his ruined shirt. Eventually he calmed down and we all
returned to our studies. He kept coming up to me saying that the shirt was an
expensive one and how I would have to replace it in an attempt to make me
feel guilty. He kept looking at his shirt and eventually he realised the stain
was vanishing but somehow the joke had lost its humour by then.
One day during the school holidays one of my swimming friends suggested
that we hire canoes from a local boat hire and take them down the canal for a
short trip. This we did but soon got bored with the canal which had no real
current so we then tried them on the river which was adjacent to it. This was
in full flood at the time and neither of us had any real experience of such
At the very first bend I tipped my canoe over and found myself caught in the
branches of an overhanging tree. The paddle went downstream and we lost it
but fortunately the canoe became wedged in the branches. It was a struggle
but eventually I managed to free it and get out it of the water. Then I sent my
friend to fetch another paddle for me because he was still dry whereas I was
soaking wet and the manager would suspect something. He got a paddle and
we continued on the canal for a while. Some time later the weather changed
and it tipped it down with rain soaking us both. We made our way back to
the boatyard with a good excuse for being wet and returned the canoes and
two paddles. Then we made a dash for it on our bikes before he realised that
one paddle was missing.
As I was now a reasonable age I was trusted to take our pet dog, a
Dalmation , for walks when at home. While passing the local petrol station
one day I saw a tiny chihuahua tied up outside. Suddenly it saw my dog and
struggled free from its tie. It raced over barking furiously and snapping at
the dalmations heels. At first he just looked at it and then beant his head and
grabbed the tiny snapping bundle in his mouth. Then as the owner came out
he shook it like a rat. I was sure he would kill it so when the panic stricken
owner screamed at me I made him drop it.
Fortunately he had never caught a rat before so he had not really known
what to do with it and no damage was done. The owner of this little
monstrosity fussed over it and I quietly left the scene.
Whilst in the 5 th year at school an incident happened in which I am proud
of the way I reacted. One evening I was particularly late home from school
and the nights were drawing in as it was winter time. It was dark and there
were few people about as all of the other pupils had caught the earlier buses.
I was waiting on one side of the road for my bus and there was a young lady
waiting on the other when a man came up to her and started to molest her.
She screamed and shouted for help but there was no one about. Full of
confidence in myself I foolishly ran across the road to her rescue. By this
time her attacker was trying to take her handbag off her and I shouted to him
as I ran. He turned his attentions to me but backed off when he saw how big
The attacker muttered something to the lady and ran off. After he had gone
the young woman came closer to me and commented upon the fact that I
was only a schoolboy and how I was more of a man than the passersby who
had ignored her screams. The Police Station was only 100 yards away so she
immediately reported the incident and apparently my school was informed
because my actions were praised in assembly the next day.
My studies went well in the 5th year and I was selected to take my maths
and english O levels in the november instead of waiting till the normal time
the following summer. I passed them both getting a good grade in English
and went on to pass another 4 exams in the summer. I failed Physics which I
re took and then passed but I did not bother to retake French which I also
Then in the first year of the 6th form I took Additional Maths which I passed
by way of a revision exam for the A level to follow. Also the whole year
was entered for General Studies O level which I passed although I never
attended a lesson because it clashed with another class. In all I passed 9 O
levels with varying grades. I decided to follow this with Maths, English and
Biology A levels.
I never had any serious accidents until I was about 17.
As I was quite a strong swimmer and little interested in any other sports I
was allowed to go to the school swimming pool during games lessons
unsupervised, a very dangerous practice but it happened and so did a very
near tragedy. I was fond of swimming underwater and pushing myself as far
as I could. It was my proud boast that I held the record for under water
swimming. With one breath I could swim 75 Meters before having to surface
for breath. One day I went to far and as I surfaced I took in a mouthful of
water. I passed out but fortunately a nearby games tutor pulled me out. This
was to be the first of several dangerous incidents.
At the age of 17 I bought myself a moped for getting about on.
I had several minor accidents which involved coming off it. One day I was
going home from school when I went round a roundabout to fast and caught
the pedal on the road which fetched me off in front of a lorry.
Fortunately he missed me and no real harm was done.
One day I traveled to school on the bus because my moped was off the road
and whilst waiting for the bus I saw next doors dog run over by a milk float
of all things. It was a large dog and although the float actually went over it,
it seemed to suffer little damage as it got up and ran off. However I
immediately felt faint and just managed to get back into our house before
passing out on the floor. I came to with the Dalmation licking my face and
then went to school later.
During my time in the 6th year I started to shave regularly and then decided
to grow a beard. After this many of the first year pupils mistook me for a
teacher and called me sir.
It was about this time that I got a summer time job through a friend at a local
boatyard ( not the canoe hire one). It was only just over a mile away from
my home and was extremely well paid for someone of my age. It was my
job to fill the water tanks, replace the gas bottles, adjust the fenders and
carry out some other small incidental tasks. I soon got the hang of walking
along the narrow edge outside the boats but was only occasionally asked to
move them about the dock. One day I was maneuvering a long narrowboat
when the wind caught it and blew it sideways into another boat. Needless to
say the front fender hit the other boat and I managed to break a window in it.
But it was a bit more serious when a couple of friends and myself took one
out for a short trip. We took it a mile or two down the canal to look at the
broads near to a local hall.
What we did not realize was that the water was so shallow in places and we
managed to ground the boat. They seem to glide effortlessly along and you
don t realize just how heavy they are but when we got stuck we found out.
After much struggling with poles we finally managed to free it but at first we
thought we were going to have to jump over the side and go for help.
One of the boat hire customers did something much worse with a boat as he
managed to sink it in a lock. He had taken the boat too near to the far end of
the lock and caught the fender on the gates.
When the water level had dropped the boat had tilted with one end stuck on
the gate allowing water to wash in. It had quickly sunk before he realized
what was happening. How they retrieved the boat I don t know.
At the end of the first year 6th form we had a dinner dance at a local hotel.
All of the year was invited and so were our friends. I assumed everybody
would take someone so I asked my sister in laws kid sister who was a couple
of years younger than me but very mature looking for her age. One of the
teachers talked to us over the meal and asked her about herself. Nothing was
said at the time but afterwards it was decided that only the schools own
students in the 6th year would be eligible to go in future.
For a while my father worked for the firm who had taken over his business
but when he lost an eye through a detached retina he put his redundancy
money into the nursery and expanded it further. By now we had 3 x 50 foot
greenhouses and we erected another one even bigger which measured about
70 feet by 30 built in two sections for easier heating. The back section held
the chemicals and sundry goods including cut price books which were
becoming the in thing. The front section housed the pot plants for sale.
A few years after this my brother who had been in tailoring and had had
many other jobs since, came into the garden centre as well. My parents took
on a couple of youngsters on the new YTS scheme and the business went
from strength to strength.
After 3 attempts I passed my driving test when I was 17 and 1/2 I was given
my grandfathers car as by now his eyesight was starting to fail a little.
The car was in quite good condition although a little old. It was an Austin
One of the first big trips that I did in it was to go to a concert at Stoke
football ground with a group of my school friends.
I was the first pupil in my school to drive themselves to school in their own
car and it caused a little controversy at school when I pulled up.
One day when I was going out to my car one of the teachers asked where I
was going saying ' I know the 6th form have a different set of rules to the
rest of the school but the staff car park is still out of bounds'.
I replied 'I am going out to my car sir, its parked over there.'
He raised an eyebrow and watched me get in it and drive off but the matter
was reported and I was banned from using the car park again. I was told to
park my car on the street until a couple of others in the 6th form started
going to school in their cars and then we were allowed to park at the schools
In the 6th year I socialized a lot more but I was still very innocent with
regard to girls.
One girl in particular suddenly took an interest in darts and we spent many
hours playing together, but the penny did not drop until one night when a
friend had organized a birthday party and invited the whole of the 6 th year
The party was actually free tickets for all to a disco some miles from the
school. As I was one of the few pupils with a driving license I was selected
to chauffeur some of my fellow guests to the do.
As some sort of joke on me my three passengers were the wildest girls in the
6th form who all lived close to me.
The night passed without event until it was time to drop them off home. The
last one home was the girl that I played darts with. I stopped outside her
house and said goodnight, but she would not get out. Instead she beckoned
me in no uncertain terms to get in the back of the car with her. I knew her
reputation and it would have been good experience for me, but, being a bit
of a hypochondriac I was terrified of catching something nasty off her. She
became quite irate when she finally accepted that her evening had been
One of the male teachers had a fondness of coming up behind the boys and
grabbing hold of their privates. He thought this practice was a huge joke and
so did many of the adolescent boys he assaulted in this way. I was one of his
favourite victims and did not find it in the least bit amusing but there was
nothing I could do to stop him so put up with it for years until one day when
I was in the 6 th year.
I was in the cloakroom when he crept up behind me and grabbed me. I spun
around, grabbing a handful of his shirt with one hand, threw him against the
wall and made a fist with the other in a threatening gesture. I told him that if
he ever did it again I would beat his brains out.
He was a little smaller than me but still only middle aged and quite fit but he
was obviously a coward at heart because he pleaded with me not to hit him.
From that day on I never had any trouble with him again, nor, did I get into
trouble for threatening to beat up a teacher.
For a few years I drank frequently and occasionally heavily at parties and on
birthdays. Several times I got falling down drunk and on one occasion
especially so. It was my birthday and my friends had got me well and truly
as the newt. To sober me up they took me to a friends house and sat me
outside on a lawn roller. I fell over backwards into a hawthorn hedge but I
was so drunk I was partially anaesthetized and did not feel it until the next
day. For days afterwards I was digging thorns out of my arms.
It was during my time in the 6th year whilst studying for my A levels that
the first warning bells should have sounded to anyone observant enough to
notice. This was when my memory started to wane and I found school work
more and more difficult. I rebelled by spending study time playing cards and
darts in the common room and virtually stopped all my studies. My English
teacher must have realised there was something wrong because he made an
example of me by reading aloud in class a particularly bad essay I had
written. This did not jolt me back into studying but on the contrary had the
reverse effect and for several weeks I did not do any English homework at
Unlike most children I was in my late teens when I started buying records.
I remember the first record I bought well. It was an LP by Genesis called
'Selling England By The Pound'. I bought a few singles or 45s as they were
also called but mainly bought LPs.
I had enjoyed woodwork in my early years at senior school and when I
bought my first Hi FI I decided to make a cabinet to house it. My Father kept
bringing large pieces of thick chip board home that were being scrapped at
the warehouse so I decided to make it out of these. It was no master piece
but was quite functional and when painted was presentable and I kept it for
Whilst in the 6th year it was normal for the students to prepare a religious
reading and take assembly in rotation. Even at this age I did not like
speaking in public and I was a confirmed Atheist so I refused to do it on
religious grounds. This got me into trouble with the headmaster but after a
well worded letter from my mother, who could always be relied upon to
come to the rescue, I got out of it.
When I was in my late teens first one brother got married and then a few
years later the other. Both had children, the eldest had two boys and a girl
and the other one had two boys.
I do not remember my other grandmother (my mothers mother) very well as
she died of cancer at a fairly early age when I was still quite young but my
mothers father only died a few years ago at the ripe old age of 98. All of my
grandparents retained all their faculties until they died.
My mother has one sister who is in her 70s and still in remarkably good
health although she is always complaining about her bad back. She enjoys
walking and the funny thing is her back does not stop her going on 10 mile
walks which I could not manage.
My father did have a brother but he died tragically in an accident when he
was younger. I have no cousins, only distant relations scattered around the
world in such far flung places as New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
After failing my "A" levels I left school and still got a good job at one of the
local high street banks. This was down to a mistake by the manager over my
age rather than because of anything else. It occurred because I took my
Maths and English 'O' Levels a year early at the age of 15 instead of 16. The
manager thought that I had taken my 'A' Levels a year early as well. As the
results were not out then, I got the job.
The mistake only came to light when I got a rise for my 18 Th birthday
which was of course my 19 Th and it was to late for him to admit his
Basically my job for the first 6 months trial period was that of junior or
general dogsbody. I had to print the customers account numbers on cheque
books, answer inquiries if it was something simple, or else find the right
person to help, encode the days cheques that were paid in, list them and
balance this total with the computers. Other jobs had to be done from time to
time such as the post, but more of that later.
The next big event that happened was totally unconnected with work but still
nearly got me the sack. As with most youngsters I did not pay much
attention to the driving laws. I drove too fast and I often drove after having a
The inevitable happened and one night on my way home from the pub after I
had had too much to drink I smashed my car up very badly. Fortunately no
one else was involved and the police were lenient but the car was a write off
and I had knocked myself out from the force of the impact.
After my trial period was over the manager persuaded me to study for the
banks diploma which I did by following the first stage that involved taking a
part time ONC in Business studies course at the local college. This meant
one day off a week to go to college so I promptly agreed and temporarily got
back to studying which I enjoyed.
I found the course relatively easy because in my opinion it was just like
doing 5 "O" levels all at once under one umbrella and some of the subjects
were repeats of what I had done for O Level. They included; Economic
History, English, Accounts, Economics, Elements Of Banking and English
I was advised on my grades not to attempt the HNC which was the next
stage. This was to be taken at a college further away so I took the easy
option and did nothing.
I was not a good clerk at the bank because I was terrible at learning new
tasks and frequently made monumental mistakes such as the day I was in
charge of the post.
The branch sent out hundreds of statements daily as well as numerous
cheque books and other letters. The night before I started I was told to make
sure that I changed the date on the franking machine before starting to frank
the days post with a prepaid frank that the machine produced in ink on the
The next day came and I changed the date as instructed but what I did not do
was change the amount. The last thing to be franked every day was a large
heavy parcel containing the days work.
After I had franked several dozen letters I looked down and was quite
shocked at what I saw. I had franked 30 or 40 statement envelopes at £4 odd
each instead of the normal first class rate of a few pence. The sub manager
was duly informed and threw his hands up in despair. There was some
discussion with the Post Office but eventually the bank managed to reclaim
most of the money so no real harm was done.
My carelessness led to another embarrassing incident with the vault door.
They are just as seen in the movies, a large steel door weighing over 1 ton
swinging on hinges and fitting very tightly.
One day I spilt a box of paper clips, picked them up and thought nothing of
it until the next day. The safe door was given a good hard tug and slammed
shut at the end of work. In the morning the various alarms were disarmed
and someone attempted to open the vault. They pulled on the heavy door to
Eventually 4 of us managed to pull it open just before the timed alarm went
off to summon the police. Needless to say a paper clip was found in the door
jam and the full weight of the vault door had come to rest upon it when it
was slammed shut the night before.
It was a busy branch with about 16 members of staff and it was customary
for the staff to be moved periodically onto new jobs for training and to
prevent boredom. I was moved onto the computer to input the days work
but was worse than useless as I kept making mistakes. Fortunately this was
considered a girls job so I was soon tried on something else.
I received several warnings before the manager found the one thing I could
do reasonably well was be a cashier.
It was the Banks policy to encourage inter branch sporting competitions and
after being there for a short while I discovered that darts was such a sport,
but more of that later.
Snooker also interested me as we had a 1/4 size table at home although I had
never played on a full size table before. I duly entered and lost in the first
round of the competition.
With so many staff working in such a small office disagreements were
bound to occur although everybody was always polite about it. The tea fund
led to such a dispute because everybody paid into it except me because I
didn t drink tea or coffee. I took my own orange juice and drank that but one
of the girls would always refuse to fetch mine when she was on tea duty. She
was not popular anyway as she was a little short tempered and she was quite
ugly. However one day my charm won her over. She was getting all hot and
bothered and was bending over a drawer when I heard her say 'I am all
My witty reply was 'You don t look all behind to me ,it does not look so bad
It was a poor witiscism I know but she was unused to getting compliments
and it impressed her. She was never the same to me again after that.
After 2 years I gained promotion, mainly on the grounds that I was studying
for the banking diploma and was transferred to another local branch. Here
my cashier training continued until I was relief no 1 cashier.
This led to another mishap.
On a busy day considerable amounts of money were paid in to the bank by
shops and other businesses. This had to be counted, bundled up in paper
bands and passed on to the senior cashier.
One day I had a pile of bundles on my till after we had closed and I was
getting behind with my work as usual. Time passed and eventually I got
round to balancing my till which I found to be £500 short. This was 20 years
ago and £500 was a lot of money. The manager came round and asked if we
had all balanced and I said "No sir, I am £500 short."
He was used to my sense of humour and took no notice. Some time later I
had not found the error and the sub manager and myself were checking the
cash reserves in the vault. The manager came down and asked why the cash
had not been put away. He was informed of the error and to say he nearly
tore his hair out would be an exaggeration but he was not happy.
For large errors the banks own Guestappo ( the bank inspectors) have to be
called out and everyone is locked in the bank until they arrive and find the
error which could take half the night.
To cut a long story short another cashier came down into the vault with a
bundle of notes and said that she had found it in the waste paper bin by my
I was not popular for a while.
One day when I was on a till a new account was opened for a lad that I used
to know at school. The manager made some comment about 'I hope we can
trust Hartleys friends'.To which I replied' I would not trust him as far as I
could throw him. He is no friend of mine'
The manager took no notice of my warning and a few weeks later he the lad
was put on the black list. Then when he came into the branch to cash a
cheque the cashier had to check his balance would cover it. This was done
for a week or two and then he came in with a cheque for £50 to cash. The
balance was checked and he had £60 in his account. A short while later he
came in again when it was busy and went to a different cashier. The same
procedure was followed and he had his money. We had 5 tills operating that
day and he went to 4 of them with no one noticing.
The next day when he appeared overdrawn the manager went spare but as I
pointed out he had been warned.
Another unfortunate incident that occurred was when I was opening a
customers moneybox. It was filled with coins and one or two tightly rolled
notes. When I opened it the cash flew everywhere. The customer watched
and said that there was £5 missing which she accused me of taking. The sub
manager was called and the till balanced but no £5 note was found. I was
called into the Managers office and searched, of course no money was found
but the customer was adamant. Fortunately a customer behind her had
witnessed the event and confirmed my story but the bank still received a
solicitors letter a few days later and I was again under a cloud for a while
until the event was forgotten.
Although I was quick at serving the customers I seemed to make a lot of
mistakes as I had rather a lot of till errors, not enough to get the sack, but
several small ones each week.
One day when I was on nos. 2 till another cashier passed me a bundle of
notes that had purportedly been paid in by one of the shops. It was the rule
that bundles of notes should always be checked twice before being handed
out again. On this occasion I did not get round to checking or using them but
passed them on to the nos. 1 cashier at the end of the day. The notes were
counted and found to be short. The cashier was told and instead of phoning
the customer who had supposedly paid them in she got the extra money out
of her till to put the bundle right. Now if the customer had miss counted that
would have made her short but she balanced as usual throwing suspicion
onto her. Nothing was said and I kept on having till errors.
At the bank I formed working relationships with the girls there and became
fairly close to one married girl in particular. ne day she finished work at the
same time as myself and we left work together. She followed me and tried to
pull me up an alleyway saying that it was a quicker way to the car park. I
resisted and she said "Alright then kiss me here in public".
This embarrassed me yet again because A) she was married, and B) because
it was the center of the towns main square. I struggled and so did she, then a
gallant bystander saw this 6 foot man struggling with a girl and came to her
Leave her alone" he shouted and grabbed me.
The girl and myself both looked at each other and burst out laughing. The
man let me go looking somewhat puzzled and bemused as we sauntered off
chuckling to ourselves leaving him wondering what had just happened.
When I was 21 my friends took me out and got me drunk at a local pub. This
had nothing to do with work but I was still at the bank so I will include it
I was well and truly out of my skull well before closing time so my friends
gave me water to drink and told me to have a walk outside in an attempt to
sober me up a little. It was a dark night and I was walking around outside the
pub aimlessly when I heard a couple arguing. The argument turned nasty and
I could hear the girl screaming as the man was hitting her. I shouted out
something like 'Aren t you man enough to hit a man come over here and I ll
sort you out
We could not see each other in the dark and started shouting at each other
but at least he left the girl alone. She ran off and I quietly left with him still
cursing me. After a little while he heard me talking in the pub but my friends
were with me then so he could not do anything and left muttering 'If he ever
saw me again.....etc.'
One day the manager decided to have an impromptu till check and he found
a few pounds on my till in a little drawer. This was not part of my till and
was unofficially used for balancing small till errors which we were not
supposed to have. He said that I should get rid of the money immediately so
I bought a box of cakes with it for the staff as was done on birthdays. This
got rid of the money without my pocketing it which would have looked bad.
In a few days it was replaced.
Eventually I felt that I should leave the bank before I was sacked. I handed
in my notice and as I had not got another job to go to I worked my notice.
That month I did not have a single till error and even the manager noticed
and commented on it the day I was to leave. The Sub manager told him that
he was suspicious of one of the other cashiers and I was asked if I would like
to cancel my resignation, but by this time I had made up my mind to leave so
I did. I had no job to go to so I tried to start my own little business.
A Change Of Career.
By this time my parents had got a small plant nursery come garden centre
going with lots of large 50 foot greenhouses in the garden. I decided to rent
one these off them and grow plants to sell to the Birmingham market and
possibly other garden centres.
I had always been keen on cacti so I bought and borrowed some greenhouse
heaters and started to grow hundreds of them. I also grew bulbs such as
daffodils in pots, house plant ferns, ivies and some other house plants that I
bought in as rooted cuttings.
For a while things went reasonably well and I was selling all I could grow
which was not much. Then one cold winters night I forgot to check the
paraffin heaters when locking up. The heaters were set incorrectly and flared
up producing thick black sooty smoke. They burnt like this for several hours
before going out altogether in the night. The next morning the delicate plants
were dead from the cold and the whole inside of the greenhouse and
everything in it was covered in a thick layer of soot. I salvaged what I could
but it disheartened me and I gave up.
After that I started a fitness campaign and with my brothers encouragement I
started swimming regularly at the local sports centre. With a little coaxing I
commenced various life saving swimming courses and eventually qualified
as a life guard.
At this time I was out of work and when a vacancy for a pool attendant at the
centre where I trained occurred, I duly applied for the post. As I was the only
male applicant I got the job. This was in the days before sex discrimination
really caught on.
Even so the other applicant, a girl who was more qualified and experienced
than myself, was disgruntled. However a few weeks later a vacancy came up
at the same sports centre for a girl and she got the job.
At the age of 22 I really enjoyed the irregular hours and the company of
another lifeguard who was usually a girl.
A short while afterwards whilst I was training for various life saving awards
at the swimming pool a group of us went on an outdoor swim at a local
quarry. It was part of the training schedule and was fully organized by the
RLSS. It was a cold Autumn day and we were warned that the water in the
quarry would be colder than anything we were used to. This was an
understatement as the water was bitter. I foolishly dived in and fortunately
for me the crowd of other life savers around me saw the exact spot where I
entered the water because the cold stunned me. They pulled me out with no
apparent ill effects and I went on to successfully complete the open water
In the sports center I again had one or two close encounters but by now I had
started to feel that it wasn t just me and my embarrassment that was keeping
me from my first conquest.
One girl in particular became close to me whilst at the swimming pool. She
was very young and quite innocent having only just left school. During our
evening break one day when we were sitting in the staff room we started
talking and she was next to me when she suddenly reached out and held my
hands. I did not do anything and we carried on talking for a little while.
Without warning she jumped up and said " I have wet myself."
Then with great embarrassment she dashed out to the staff toilets and came
back minus her knickers. She was still all gooey and we talked until it was
time to return to the poolside which we did.
For several minutes she patrolled the poolside in her short gymskirt and did
not realize why all the little boys were following her around looking up at
her from the pool. Eventually she twigged and rushed out to put on her track
suit. This time I did pluck up courage to ask her out but she declined the
The swimming pool and sports center were quite small as they were really
built for the schools use on whose grounds they stood. When the school was
closed they were open to the public. Because of the many school holidays
and the fact that the center was open evenings and weekends it had quite a
few full time and part time staff. There was a manager and his assistant plus
four full time pool attendants as well as several part timers who were mostly
When there were no members of the public in the staff had to act as cleaners
and perform general cleaning tasks throughout the center. There were two
shifts operated for the staff. The morning shift started at 6 am and finished at
2 pm and the afternoon finished at 10 pm except on weekends when there
was only one shift which started at 6 am and finished at 6 pm.
Apart from cleaning duties the pool had to be maintained. This meant
backwashing the filtration system and checking water quality on an hourly
basis. These were two tasks that I was hopeless at so although I was taken on
as a supervisor the manager soon decided to make the young girl that I
worked with my senior and gave her promotion over me.
On one occasion whilst on pool duty a youngish well endowed girl came
into the pool with her mother. I did not realize it at the time but they were
the wife and step daughter of a darts friend of mine. The problem was that
the girl was not wearing a bikini top and all the world could see her assets.
All might have been all right if the manager had not come in but he did and
immediately ordered her to put a T shirt on to cover up. This was not much
better as when it got wet it was transparent but it satisfied him. Another time
a ladies top came loose and she popped out with her bouncing around in the
water. When I plucked up the courage to point this out to her she was quite
embarrassed and quickly covered up.
Quite soon after joining the sports centre I realized what a disastrous
decision it had been because I found out that people often cut themselves in
such establishments and as attendants it was our duty to deal with them. As I
normally pass out at the site of blood I soon found a reason to look for
An even more serious event occurred before I left which made look even
more fervently and that was a child drowning. The accident happened during
a period of changeover when there was only one lifeguard on duty. I had just
gone off duty a short while before the young boy was pulled from the pool.
When the alarm went up and all the attendants rushed to the poolside I
panicked and could not handle it. In theory I was the most qualified person
to deal with it but I nearly passed out. No one was held to blame at the
inquest but I was extremely disturbed over the incident so I handed in my
notice and left.
A Job As A Sales Representative.
The next job I had was as a sales representative working for a small
company selling their products to garden centres. By this time my parents
had a thriving garden centre on which I helped out. It was this background
that got me the job.
While at the bank I had not been allowed to grow a beard as it was
considered scruffy but when I got the job as a representative the first thing I
did was to grow it back again. My boss, the sales director approved as long
as it was kept tidy. In the bank I had worn a suit and was also expected to
now but I asked if I could wear a blazer/sports jacket and trousers instead as
I had put on some weight and was having difficulty in finding off the peg
suits to fit.
After I got the job I had to first spend a few days down at head office to
familiarize myself with their products. The factory consisted of a large
converted stable block with some other out buildings. The offices were on
the top floor and production was on the ground floor. The first thing I was
shown was one of their propagators in its component bits. This I had to
assemble as I would for some of my customers who wanted one on display
at their garden centres.
After a while my boss came in to see how I was doing. I am not a very
practical person and it was a lot more complicated than it seemed. It was
made of extruded aluminum and each piece could be assembled upside down
and back to front. The boss was not impressed as most of the pieces were put
together incorrectly but after my errors were pointed out I soon got the hang
of assembling them. Some of the other products I was familiar with.
After my induction I was informed that I would be thrown in at the deep end
by starting work proper by attending the big garden trade show held at the
N.E.C. at Birmingham. Here I was to collect my company car and then I
would be let loose on the world.
I soon found out that I was a reasonable salesman but a hopeless organizer.
Often I would lose customers names and addresses so that I could not find
them again to sell to them. Also I did not plan my calls with a proper
schedule so the office did not know where I was going to be at any time.
However I got by because the trade was going through a period of rapid
expansion. My boss was 180 miles away at head office and I worked from
home so I had little supervision. My work took me all over the country and I
stayed away in hotels one or two nights a week every week. My sales area
was loosely described as the Midlands and the north but this included Wales
and Scotland as well.
Over the time I was a representative for this company my area changed
significantly as first Scotland and then Wales and the Eastern counties were
taken off me. This was because they were gradually switching over to agents
whom they considered to be more cost effective.
When I toured Scotland it was a whole week away at the companies
expense. It was a long week as it meant traveling up to Inverness on the
sunday. Here I would stay the night and then travel on to Aberdeen the next
day. I would stay at bed and breakfasts mostly but in Aberdeen I found a
hotel which only operated as such so that they could have a license to hold
discos. It only had a few rooms but they were large and comfy with double
beds and quite luxurious, bargains if you could stand the noise of the discos
downstairs. After Aberdeen I went on to Dundee and then Edinburgh,
finishing up at Glasgow on the Friday. From here I drove home at the end of
My work also took me into north and south Wales where I would spend a
couple of days in each. One of my darting friends had moved to Anglesey
where he had made friends with the Landlord of a small Hotel there so I
would stay there when in the area and visit him.
Leeds and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne also warranted a trip away for two or three
days at a time as did the Lake District. I had an expense account nearly as
much as my wages and a company car.
I was successful. However the company was going through a difficult patch
and they told me to try and cut my expenses by staying in cheaper hotels.
Foolishly one night I stayed in a cheap hotel in a rough part of Newcastle-
on-Tyne. Needles to say the car was broken into and ransacked with the side
window broken and glass everywhere. Anything worth stealing was taken
including my credit cards, a proto-type mist propagator, an expensive
portable cassette recorder that I used for notes and all my papers were strewn
over the road. That night I moved to another hotel in a better district for fear
of having the car stolen altogether. After this the company did not complain
over my expenses again.
At the age of 23 I developed a lump on my left breast and being something
of a hypochondriac I pestered the doctors to do something about it. It was
unsightly but I was told it was benign. However I persuaded them to operate
and they duly did so. The morning of the operation I was shaved and told to
wear some very brief paper pants in preparation for the operation. Then a
very pretty young female nurse came round to give me the premed injection
in my leg. As I said she was pretty and the paper pants did not hide much
when I had an erection. She got embarrassed and in her awkwardness
messed up the injection. Nothing was said and I had the operation but they
had to give me extra anesthetic during the operation and had difficulty
bringing me around again afterwards.
Another incident that happened was when I had a blow out on the car. When
the tyre burst it went down slowly instead of the usual explosive
decompression so I managed to steer it safely to the curbside where I
replaced it without problem. Because I had been traveling at speed it was
some distance after the blowout before I stopped. The tyre was a steel belted
radial and a lot of damage had been done to the it by driving on it. The steel
was exposed and shredded hanging out of the tyre. After getting home I took
it to the garage who had fitted it and asked if they repaired punctures. The
mechanic said "Yes we can repair anything."
So I gave him the tyre and said "Repair that."
He took one look at it and said "You've got to be joking."
I complained that the tyre had only been fitted a few weeks before but they
would not replace it free of charge because of the damage done to it.
After a few months of working as a representative I was urged by my
brother to seek my own accommodation so I bought a little terraced house in
one of the nearby towns. It needed doing up but I was confident I could do
that. I did not do any work on my house and sold it after 12 months. After
this I temporarily moved back to my parents house until I found somewhere
As I had been with the company some time I asked for a rise and was told
that they could not afford it so I made the suggestion that I take on some
agency work if I made sure that it did not interfere with my repping. This I
did and started selling expensive sun dials and weather vanes to my existing
customers. For a short while this boosted my salary.
One day returning from south Wales the engine on my car developed a
serious fault and had to be replaced. This I paid for on my credit card which
was building up with overdue expenses. The company nearly went bankrupt
and at this time owed me the equivalent of nearly 4 months wages but
eventually it was sold to another company that specialized in greenhouse
type equipment. This companies products were mostly made of plastic and
consisted of irrigation equipment whereas ours were mostly electrical .The
two product ranges complimented each other well and great things were
expected of the newly merged company.
When I arrived for my interview with the new company I was confronted by
a new purpose built factory on a new industrial site with its sister company
on the site next to it. The interview went well until I was asked what salary I
would like. I had simply hoped to be kept on and was not prepared to ask for
a raise. My old salary had been £3 000 + 1/4 % commission so I asked for
£4 000 and 2 % commission which was immediately accepted to my
surprise. This meant that my pay went from £3 1/4 K to £5 1/2 K in one
All of the old members of staff were offered a post with the new company
but I was the only one who stayed with them as it did not matter to me where
the company was located and the others did not want to move.
With my new found wealth I found a modern end of terrace house with
central heating and partial double glazing in a nearby town and could afford
to buy it. I obtained a mortgage from my building society and bought it.
When the sale had gone through I rented a van and with the help of one of
the lads from my parents garden centre I moved in.
A year or so later I had another mishap in my car. I was working as a sales
representative and had a company car in which I carried boxes of advertising
brochures and price lists as well as boxes of merchandise to be sold from the
car. These included things like packets of plant labels, greenhouse clips and
One night after an argument with one of the neighbours over my parking the
car outside my house I drove to the pub for yet another darts match. I had
not been drinking but drove very fast as I was want to do in my big company
car. I went around a bend to fast and lost control of it. During the accident
the tailgate of my estate car burst open and all the contents were scattered to
the 4 winds. Papers blew everywhere and small plastic packets were spread
all over the road. The road was a main road and was always busy so the
following traffic just drove over everything throwing up clouds of papers
like a snow blizzard. The small plastic items such as thermometers popped
as the cars passed by and the police were not amused by the mess when they
eventually arrived. They were even less happy when they breathalised me
and found it to be negative. I rubbed salt into the wound by saying I was just
on my way to the pub and had not had anything to drink yet. But there was
nothing they could do as there were no witnesses and I had not hit anyone.
Again however I had knocked myself out in the accident but had otherwise
suffered no other injury.
Before the police towed away the car they had to change a wheel and they
found that the wheel nuts were undone. They looked at the others and found
them all loose. Obviously some kind soul had undone them for me and this
was what had caused the accident but the police did not investigate any
further. Maybe it had been my disgruntled neighbour or it could easily have
been someone else.
Some time afterwards I was working in hilly Bolton when I suddenly
realized that my brakes were not working. I went into a garage and was told
that the brake pipes had been cut with a hacksaw. Stupidly I drove home
using only the handbrake but I was very lucky. I did not report it and never
found out who was responsible.
I firmly believe that all these accidents were contributory in some part to
what followed shortly afterwards, ie. my nervous breakdown.
The above accident nearly resulted in my getting the sack quite simply
because the company had not got another car to give me. The first week I
hired one while mine was being repaired, but that was considered to
expensive so the company gave me the works van to drive around in for
some weeks. In fact it was only because of a mix up that my car got repaired
When the vehicle assessor examined it he saw a two year old car with only
12 000 miles on the clock and so considered it worth repairing. In actual fact
it had done 112 000 miles as it had been round the clock and as such was not
The job I had as a sales representative yet again brought opportunities for a
sexual encounter in the form of a secretary and another representative. The
rep was a little older than myself and divorced but she was very attractive.
We first met at my parents garden centre when she called trying to sell her
company products. I had the day off and my car was in for servicing so I
asked for a lift to the local town which she obliged. We chatted on the way
and got on well. After this chance meeting we bumped into each other at
mutual customers several times. On one occasion we had to attend the same
small show that a garden centre was putting on for its customers. We spent
most of the afternoon chatting to each other instead of trying to serve the
public. Eventually she asked me back to her house some miles away for sex ,
but again I was embarrassed by the bluntness of the request and turned the
Another girl I met was the sister of the owner of a small garden centre and
she ran the shop in his absence. This girl was extremely pretty and a little
shy because she was boss eyed, but in my eyes she was beautiful because
she had long blond hair. Several times I made detours so that I could call on
the business, on one occasion travelling over 100 miles just to see her and
ask her out. But this again came to nothing.
Office staff and casual encounters with desperately lonely women in hotels
also gave me plenty of opportunities for my first conquest, But through all
this I remained a virgin and more to the point I was incredibly naive in the
ways of the world.
I was by the age of 25 a very frustrated young man who kept seeing all sorts
of problems with relationships which never developed.
I did not have my own secretary but I did spend much time chatting to the
pretty secretary at head office whom I got fairly close to as time went on. As
she was my only contact when problems occurred this was to be expected.
I thought I was rich. Everything was coming to easy and I soon had a fall.
A Degree Of Respect And Success.
I am going to write about my early years of playing darts in a separate
section because darts has become such an important part of my life. I have
already stated that I learnt at school and as soon as I left I took up the hobby
which soon entered every aspect of my life.
My first taste of success came in 1976 when I had the most wins for my
team in the season. For this I had the honour to represent my team in an
exhibition match against some professionals on presentation night. I played
quite well and won my game but unfortunately for me the marker had called
the wrong score. After pointing out the error we restarted the game which I
then lost on the final double. When the man of the match trophy was
awarded I received it for my honesty. The glory was all mine and I liked it.
On different nights I played for different teams and after the match on a
friday I was in the habit of giving the captain a lift home. One day after a
particularly heavy downpour we were on the way home when I saw a pool
of water lying across the road. I said to him " Mind your feet as we go
through this puddle as there is a hole in the floor," and he laughed politely.
We did not slow down and must have hit the water at about 30 miles per
hour. His laughter was cut short and turned into a howl of horror as the
water sprayed through the hole. There was so much water on the windscreen
I had to stop and wipe the inside before I could see to continue. He was
absolutely soaked from head to toe. Fortunately the spray was restricted to
his side mostly so I could see the funny side of it but strangely enough he
did not laugh.
I played for several teams and found myself welcomed by one team in
particular in the village where I lived. The captain of the team became a
father figure to me and he and his wife possibly saw me as a good prospect
for their daughter who was 2 or 3 years younger than me and a bit wild.
For a while we got pushed together and started traveling to darts matches
together. At one match she sat on my lap because of a shortage of chairs.
This time there was a very definite effect and she became uncomfortable
saying "What is this lump in your pocket?" With this she reached into my
pocket to find the by now very hard lump.
I whispered "Its me"
She replied "Not over there it isn t" and squeezed hard saying "what is it"
With my eyes bulging out I repeated " It is me." Finally she got the message
and found a chair to sit on to relieve us both of our embarrassment.
Eventually this girl lost any interest that she had in me and started dating my
best friend. He was older and experienced having been married before and
having children. After a couple of years of living together they finally got
married. I was extremely jealous for a few weeks but soon got over it.
Through playing darts I developed many acquaintances and a few friends but
I never really seemed to get very close to other people. Darts nights were
often quite eventful as one might imagine with a group of young men
gathered together over a few pints of beer. On another occasion we were
getting ready to set off for our match when somebody asked "Who has got a
Everyone looked at me and said "Alans got a Mini, can we all get in that?"
Admittedly it was the estate version called a Countryman with the rear
opening back doors, but it was still a Mini with only an 850 CC engine and
there were 8 of us in the team. We all got in by sitting on top of each other
but the car was grossly overloaded and struggled to go up hill. However we
made it to the match and home again but the poor little cars engine was
never the same again.
On another night whilst playing for the same pub there was a terrible gale
blowing. We had been practicing and drinking a few pints when I decided
it was time to pay a call to nature. The only way out was through a glass
paneled door and I was in a hurry. The door crashed to behind me smashing
the glass and sending shards everywhere. As I was the culprit I tried to clear
up the mess. Clumsily I cut my fingers quite badly. As the blood dripped
over the linoleum floor I fainted collapsing in a heap. It was some minutes
before I was over the shock enough to walk without fainting again and with
my hand bandaged in a handkerchief we made our way to the match where I
played and actually won.
After this I won several pub KOs and another team that I played for had
some success in the league. I was still working for the bank at this time and
the various landlords and other players who knew me and who banked with
my bank would come in and chat about the numerous darts matches that I
had played in. The bank manager became very irate on many occasions and
would admonish me saying "It is not the done thing for bank clerks to go
drinking down the pub every night playing darts and if I wanted to keep my
job I would have to curtail my activities."
However whilst at the bank I found out that the bank encouraged many inter-
branch sporting activities, including darts. So I immediately entered. The
local area competitions were played close to the branch where I worked so
there was no problem in playing out of hours in an evening. I won the West
Midlands and Wales Region without to much difficulty and was told the
finals would be held in London at the banks expense. It meant having the
friday afternoon off and meeting up with some others in Birmingham and
then traveling down on the train. We all then stayed a couple of nights in a
hotel that the bank owned and traveled back on the sunday. The competition
was played at the banks sports and social club on the saturday. Before I went
my manager sullenly said " If you are going to have a weekend at the banks
expense in London you had better win."
I played well all day until the final match came and then the pressure got to
me and I crumbled. My opponent was a county player of some repute but he
admitted that he would have struggled against me, if I had played in the
finals the way I had earlier. When I got back to the bank and told my
manager that I had come second he seemed to relax his view on my darts
nights a little as long as it was not talked about in the bank.
During my time with the bank I was sent on a weeks course in London at the
banks expense. In the evenings during my course I would go out to the local
pubs in search of a game of darts. On one such night I was offered a second
hand set of tungsten darts for £10. This was nearly 25 years ago and tungsten
darts were very expensive then so I tried them and decided to buy them.
Then I found that I had not got enough money on me so I told him I was off
to the nearest bank to get some money.
This was in the early days of cash dispenser cards and mine would only give
me £10 but as this was enough I was happy. On my way back from the bank
for some reason I took the penknife that I always carried in my coat out of
my pocket and opened the blade. Then I put it back with the blade still open
and held it by the handle. When I returned to the pub the man who had
offered me the darts came up to me and pulled out a knife. He threatened me
with it saying that I should give him all my money. Then he told me to take
my hands out of my pocket which I did still holding the knife. He took one
look at it and backed off saying that he did not want any trouble. Then he
sold me the darts and I went on my way none the worse for the unpleasant
The next serious incident happened when I was about 21 or 22. It happened
one night after the usual darts match. I left my local pub and went outside to
my car. Unbeknown to me two lads had followed me out and they jumped
me from behind. One of them hit me hard and I went out like a light falling
onto the pavement. They took what little money I had and left me
unconscious. My friends found me sometime later and revived me with a
brandy. The incident was forgotten and nothing more was thought about it
but it was yet another occasion which resulted in my being rendered
I started to win more and more trophies as success piled on success and I
was quite a popular player. One year I entered the News Of The World
competition which was one of the big ones with a car as the first prize. It
was held in various stages starting with the first rounds played off in your
local pub. This I won and went on to the local town KOs. Again I won and
then played at the area finals. This was on a Saturday and when the day
came I forgot all about it remembering at the last minute. I rushed to get
there on time but was late so I did not get any chance to warm up and relax.
Soon after arriving I went up to play and embarrassed, myself I was that bad.
Needless to say I lost but it did not disillusion me and I continued to play as
much as possible.
A lot of the bigger pubs and clubs held exhibition matches from time to time
and I managed to get my name pushed foreword to play in several of them as
the local underdog against the visiting professional. One game I remember
was against the superstar of the day who was John Lowe. It was 1001
instead of the usual 301 and this was supposed to separate the men from the
boys but I gave him a good run for his money although I did not beat him.
One night a car full of the Wednesday team was on its way to a match when
the driver was seen to be having trouble with the gears. One bright spark in
the back seat piped up "What s up cant you find the right gear?" At this the
irate driver turned in his seat and said "No, here you are you have a go," and
then handed him the gear stick which had come out. We all howled with
laughter but after a brief struggle it was replaced without accident.
Another memorable game that I played was in a local hotel. This was a
doubles game of 1001 and my partner and myself played a couple of Welsh
internationals. Every time a score of 100 or more was made and called out
over the loudspeaker system the audience would applaud. At one point
during the game one of our opponents went up to the oche and scored 140.
The audience politely applauded and then my partner took his throw, again
scoring 140. The audience clapped a little more enthusiastically and after
they had quietened down my other opponent had his throw again scoring
140. This time the applause took longer to die down and while it was still
going on I took my throw. When I hit 140 the roof nearly came off and we
had to wait several minutes for silence. Nowadays, 25 years later standards
have gone up but then this was exceptional throwing. My partner and myself
went on to win that game much to every bodies delight.
On a wednesday we had one player who had an artificial leg which on one
occasion brought us all a little laugh. As usual it was a match night and we
were all sitting huddled around the board watching the games when a dart
bounced out of the board hitting the afore mentioned player firmly in his
artificial leg where it stuck. A gasp went round the room as all the
opposition saw it and felt his pain. He did not flinch, well he had not felt
anything as it had not hit the artificial bit of his shortened leg, and another
gasp went up as he pulled it out and returned it to the player who stood there
There were several exhibition matches I played in after this and this was
probably when I was at my peak. One other game worth a mention was in a
local pub. Again it was 1001 against someone who was some international
competition winner and I won. This time however his exhibition partner
played with 6 inch nails performing various trick shots. As arrogant as ever I
thought if I can beat your partner I can throw nails as well as you. I armed
myself with some sharpened nails and started practicing at home. Within a
few weeks I was not only getting them to stick in but was achieving some
accuracy with them so I took them down to my local pub and put on my own
It was the birthday of one of the lads I knew and he was a little intoxicated to
say the least. If he had not been I doubt whether he would have been
persuaded to stand in front of the dartboard with a stick of chalk in his
mouth. I knocked the chalk out of his mouth and coins from his fingers.
Then I played a few regular games of 301 with the nails. The captain and
every body watching was impressed but when he got closer to the board he
saw the damage the thick rough points were doing to it and he banned me
from playing with them on the board again.
I have this one friend who particularly likes a drink. When told by the doctor
that the drink limit was 11 pints he said " Oh, I rarely drink that much in a
night." To which the doctor replied "I mean 11 pints a week." At a match in
a local town one night myself, my friend, his wife and another couple were
sitting together at a table when a young girl doing a drinks promotion for the
brewery came round and gave everyone a free pint. As my friend was the
only one who liked this beer he felt obliged to drink all 5 pints for us before
continuing with his favourite brew. This was the only night I have ever seen
Over the years I have won many trophies for team events and individual but
as any seasoned player will tell you, you don t have to be anything special to
accumulate a great many trophies over a number of years because so many
are handed out. Even so it is still nice to win them even if only to say " I
don t bother about displaying them any more because I have so many," to a
young and unsuccessful player.
When I had my nervous breakdown and started to take medication the
standard of my game rapidly became worse and although I still play to this
day my game has never really recovered, even so I still sometimes have
flashes of my former skill and still win trophies.
The Onset Of Schizophrenia.
Having explained how I now perceive schizophrenia I will tell how it all
started for me with the early symptoms. At this time as I have already stated
in the second chapter I was living alone and like a lot of young men was not
a very good cook. The food I ate was very fatty and high in calories but not
particularly nutritious. However as I only lived on my own for a total period
of about 2 years I do not feel that this poor diet was in any way a
contributory factor to my developing a mental health problem but it would
not have helped the situation.
For breakfast I would have a glass of orange juice followed by beans on
toast and a glass of milk. Then I would make corned beef sandwiches for a
midday snack. When I got home I would cook 3 beefburgers and have them
with lashings of tomato sauce in 3 slices of white bread followed by a slice
of jam sponge cake and more milk. In the evening I would also eat an apple.
The very first sign that anything was wrong was when I became aware of a
very bad taste in my mouth. At first I thought my food was bad and then I
thought it was being tampered with. I stopped making sandwiches for lunch
and started buying cheap pub meals whilst out on the road. Also I would not
leave a part bottle of milk open but, drank the whole bottle every time. I
started buying less economical small cans of baked beans so as not to leave
open cans in the fridge.
Whatever I did made no difference and the bad taste lasted for some weeks.
Eventually it stopped just as suddenly as it had started but by this time other
problems were starting. For some unexplainable reason I started to become
convinced that I had a venereal disease. I sought medical advice and went to
a clinic where I was unconvincingly told that I had nothing wrong with me
which was not surprising as I had never had sex with any one. Not reassured
I went to a private doctor which cost a lot of money for his consultation but
by this time I was starting to become paranoid. Never very sure of my
sexuality because of my lack of experience I started to think that people
would not help me because they mistakenly thought that I was a
My problems started to escalate and the next stage was that this obsession
with disease prayed on my mind and I started to blurt out unconsciously that
I had V.D. at the end of every sentence. As a sales representative who s job
was to talk to customers all day and sell them my companies products this
started to interfere with my work.
Gradually I became more and more emotionally unstable with wild mood
swings. I started hearing voices which made matters worse. The voices
which I heard in my head, from no apparent source, were derogatory,
insulting and critical of me all the time. I began to think that people could
hear my thoughts and even see through my eyes. In an insane attempt to
frighten them I started going out in the company car, when I thought they
were listening to me, and driving at reckless speeds around the local country
lanes. Fortunately I did not have any accidents but that was down to pure
The persecution complex became stronger and stronger with my imagining
that people were getting into my house. In an attempt to prevent this I fitted
a burglar alarm with all the downstairs windows and doors wired up to a
control panel and a very noisy alarm. This did not give me peace of mind so
I then screwed all the downstairs windows shut and for good measure filed
all the heads off the screws so that they could not easily be removed. In an
attempt to prevent people from getting into my bedroom at night I moved the
furniture after going to bed and barricaded the bedroom door.
The house door lock was only a cheap lock so I bought a much better quality
one. Some years earlier I had developed a little interest in how locks worked,
so, for extra security I dismantled it and rearranged its mechanism so that the
original key wouldn t fit. Then I took the lock to a locksmith and had him
cut a new key for it. This totally pointless exercise convinced me that
nobody could have a duplicate key for it. This gave me peace of mind for a
On one occasion after getting home from work I entered my house and
locked the door behind me as usual, put my coat on the banister and started
to settle down. For some reason I wanted to go outside and went to unlock
the door but my keys were missing. I searched for them to no avail and
started to panic. It was a small simple house with only a limited number of
places a bunch of keys could hide. I became convinced that someone had got
in and stolen them and in my panic called the police. When the policeman
came I couldn t open the door, so he climbed through a window which I
managed to open and he helped me look again. He said he found the keys in
a coat in a large under stairs cupboard but when I went to look in the
cupboard he steered me away into another room. I am convinced to this day
that there was someone in the cupboard because I know that I did not keep
my coat in there. However eventually he went away and that was that but the
police were not happy with me. Apparently they saw my parents and advised
them that if I sought medical help they would not prosecute me for wasting
their time. Some weeks later I had another visit from the policeman but by
this time I was seeing a doctor and he seemed much relieved by this news.
The thoughts that people were getting into my house continued.
One night I was asleep in bed when suddenly I was awoken by the weight of
a girl lying on top of me. I struggled to get up and switch on the light but
was hit over the head with something very hard and heavy. The blow
knocked me out and I slipped into the realms of unconsciousness followed
by sleep for the rest of the night. I awoke the next morning with no proof
that anything had happened other than a very large bump on my head but to
this day I believe it really occurred because there was no way I could have
got a lump like that any other way than from a blow.
The next very odd thing that happened to me was becoming over excitable
sexually. One day when I was out on my travels I filled up with petrol at a
garage and casually watched the girl in the kiosk while the tank filled. The
next thing I new was that I had an almighty erection which was so hard that
it was painful to walk. With great embarrassment I paid for my petrol and
hurriedly left. After this the same sort of thing happened frequently
whenever I so much as thought of a girl. This lasted for 2 or 3 weeks and
then as suddenly as it started it stopped and I could not have an erection at
all. This again lasted for 2 weeks before I returned to a more normal state.
I went to see my local G.P. who referred me to a psychologist She was
young and very pretty and I told her my life story which she taped while I
talked. She was very friendly and seemed happy to talk to me which was of
course what I wanted but I became obsessed by her and made a nuisance of
myself, firstly turning up at her office without an appointment and
demanding to see her and then trying unsuccessfully to find out where she
lived. At this stage I started to mistrust her and felt that she was part of the
conspiracy against me so she referred me to a psychiatrist who she assured
me could help me with special drugs.
By now I mistrusted all of the medical profession so the consultant did not
impress me and I was sullen and uncooperative with him. He prescribed
Largactil or Chlorpromazine tablets for me which I did not take.
At this stage work was impossible so I was on a 3 monthly sick note from
my G.P. The company I worked for wanted to know how long I would be off
sick for as they had no comprehension of the problem. I told them it was
indefinite and after about 6 months I received a dismissal notice through the
post. Financially I was not bothered because I had savings which would see
me through for a while. At this point I thought about running away and
starting a new life where no-one knew me. I had money, credit cards and
still had the company car, so one afternoon I drove up to Leeds and booked
myself into a hotel. Here I shaved off my beard in an attempt to change my
appearance and then left the hotel. I drove around for a bit and then started
hearing voices saying that they would find me wherever I went. So after a
little more soul searching I drove back home.
After this my psychiatrist advised me to sell my house and go back to live
with my parents. I hired a van and my mother and a young girl who worked
for my parents at their garden centre, helped me to move all my furniture
out. The house was left empty for several months but eventually it was sold
and I received the proceeds from the sale which amounted to about 1 years
wages after the mortgage was paid off.
Now the persecution took a different slant as I thought that "They" were
going to try and take all my money off me. The logical thing to do was
spend it myself. I decided to buy jewelry for all the girls that I knew. The
presents consisted of gold earrings for one sister in law. A gold plated watch
for another which for some reason I never actually gave her. Earrings and a
gold chain were given to the girl who bought all the plants from the garden
centre. The darts captains daughter had a gold plated arm bracelet and some
earrings but the best present was given to the girl at the swimming pool. This
was a very ornate silver neckchain, the kind that might be worn to some
upper class function such as a ball. This was the only gift that was returned
to me and I had a job convincing the shop to give me a refund but they did
Again at my parents house I was convinced that people were getting into my
bedroom at night so I again started to barricade the door with my furniture.
On one occasion I woke sleepily and heard something under my bed so I
reached out and put my hand down. Unbelievably I felt a girls leg but before
I could move any more and wake up properly I promptly fell asleep again.
This was yet another mysterious occurrence. Did it happen or was it simply
a dream? I don t know but at the time it seemed real enough.
The event convinced me that the barricades were being pushed aside so that
people could get in so I took to screwing a metal bracket across my door at
night and put 2 big bolts on it on the inside. This reassured me for a while
until I started to believe that people could control me telepathically and
make me undo the door and let them in. So to prevent my subconscious from
doing this I tore out the coded numbers from the cheques out of my cheque
book and stuck them with glue across the door.
The argument was that the numbers were individual and not repeated
anywhere else so if I opened the door I would know in the morning because
the paper would be torn. This lasted for a while until the bank complained
that I seemed to be getting through a lot of cheque books without many
cheques going through my account. Eventually I stopped this activity and
just bolted the door.
Some months later, almost in desperation, I started to take the medication
that had been prescribed for me. The first thing that happened was that I
started to sleep heavily and often. I got into the habit of having a short nap in
the morning and again after lunch.
My family put up with a lot from me at this stage because I did nothing for
my keep and was still very moody and irrational in my behaviour. I was so
unsettled that I even stopped going to play my sacred game of darts at the
local pub with my friends. For a whole year I did not go down to any
matches and no one seemed to miss me as nobody enquired after me.
A Shoulder To Cry On
What I wanted more than anything else was for people to listen to me while I
talked about my problems. The first such person who started paying any
attention to me was my sister in law. She had a young family to look after
but always found time to listen to me. She lived about 1 and a half hours
away from me by car but I got into the habit of making the journey perhaps
3 times a week. We would sit and talk for hours and I found much solace in
Over the months that followed we got closer and closer until we started
having the odd cuddle. My brother seemed to pay no heed to the situation
which could have got out of hand but didn t. I was invited to the Nottingham
Goose Fair with his family and we all enjoyed the day out. However even in
my state I could see that his marriage was on the rocks. I hasten to add that I
did not cause it but I couldn t have helped the situation. Eventually the
marriage fell apart and I lost touch with my sister in law not seeing or
hearing from her to this day. My brother keeps in touch and we still see his
children although they are all grown up now. I don t think he blames me for
the break up of his marriage as he is still very chatty with me but we have
never talked about it.
After my sister in law disappeared from the scene another girl very briefly
became the center of my attentions. One day when I was in my parents
garden centre a young lady came in and bought a big box full of pot plants.
My mother asked if she would be alright getting them home and if she had
far to go. She replied that it would be a struggle but she only lived round the
corner in the next village.
I seized the opportunity and offered to give her a lift in the family car. She
accepted and I drove her home chatting all the way. I was smitten so when
she asked me in to help her move some furniture I enthusiastically offered
my services. We chatted some more in her flat and I asked her out for a
meal. She accepted and we arranged to meet. When the appointed time came
I drove to her flat and collected her and then drove to the restaurant where I
had booked a table for two. We enjoyed a pleasant meal and made small talk
with me being the perfect gentleman. After the meal I paid and then drove
her home. Naturally she invited me in and we chatted some more.
We were sitting on her settee when she suddenly said " If you are not going
to do anything I will." and then she pounced on me and we started kissing
and cuddling. I found the experience very pleasant and started to get quite
excited as this was a new experience for me. When she suggested that I get
up and put out the lights I did not really understand but obeyed anyway.
When I groped my way back to the settee she had moved unbeknown to me
but I started kissing her anyway. I worked my way up what I thought was
her arm but it was her leg and went to kiss her on her mouth. I found a lot of
hair in the way and thought that her hair had fallen over her face. Then I
moved down a bit and found what I thought was her mouth. It was not! My
first thought was "she has taken her teeth out!" but when I found her legs
wrapped round my head realization of what I was doing slowly dawned
upon me. As a virgin on his first sexual encounter it came as a bit of a shock
but I stayed with it and she seemed to enjoy herself. After a couple of
minutes she released the headlock and went to the toilet putting the lights
back on in the process. She came back and after a brief conversation I was
persuaded to leave.
A few days later I went round again and we chatted but she said she did not
want to see me again. Christmas was coming so I bought a sack full of
cuddly toys for her two children and some ear rings for herself and took
them round trying to ingratiate myself with presents. She accepted them but
clearly had made up her mind that she did not want to see me again.
The next experience I had shocked me deeply at the time but if I had been a
little more worldly wise I would have seen it coming. By this time I was
going to darts matches again and starting to socialize a little. Frequently I
gave some of the players a lift in the car back through the village to where
they lived and we would chat on the short journey. One friend in particular
liked to chat and we would sit for an hour or more outside his house talking
in the car before he got out and I went home. He was divorced and living on
his own and as time went by we got closer until I considered him my best
friend. When there was a doubles game in the pub he was always my
One night he asked me into his house to show me his Hi Fi which he was
proud of. As we had been talking about it in the pub I thought nothing of it
and duly followed him into his house. He pointed out the Hi FI and I went
over to it and bent down to get a better look. We continued talking until he
opened his zip in his trousers and got closer to me. I freaked out as he made
it plain what he wanted and I hurriedly left his house.
For a couple of weeks I made a point of ignoring him in the pub but
gradually I came to terms with what he had wanted to do and started talking
to him again.
Nothing like that ever happened again, he got remarried and we stayed
friends until he died although I did not see much of him for the last few
years of his life because he went to live in Spain.
After I started to work at my parents garden centre I started to talk to a
young girl who was working there. She had just left school and was on a
Y.T.S. training scheme. Bearing in mind that I was in my mid twenties,
about 8 years older than her the age gap was large but not unreasonable. We
spent many hours every day talking and I rapidly started pouring out my
problems to her. In fact I made a thorough nuisance of myself but she was
scared that I would get her into trouble with my parents so she put up with it.
Nowadays it would probably be classed as harassment but remember it was
a long time ago and I was unbalanced.
Gradually we formed a friendship and I started lending her some money
occasionally. The first was for a motorbike for her to come to work on. After
a few months she had an accident through no fault of her own and repaid me
out of the insurance settlement.
We got closer and closer as time went on until she had a big arguement with
her parents and they threw her out of the house. For a couple of months she
lived with friends but it did not work out. Knowing that my parents had lots
of spare rooms in their house she asked me if I would persuade my mother to
rent her a room. This I did and she moved in for 6 months or so. For some
reason my mother and her started argueing occasionally and my mother
eventually said the girl would have to find somewhere else to live. At her
wits end I suggested that she buy her own house. We found a cheap terrace
house which was almost affordable for her but she had no deposit. I lent her
the money and she arranged a mortgage for the balance.
The house was in a right state and she could not afford to do it up but she
seemed a lot happier for her new independence. I spent a lot of time visiting
her and we went out quite a lot together as she had by now started to play
darts in the local ladies league. She had various girlfriends move in with her
and told me she was a lesbian although I felt very close to her. Sometimes
we had a kiss and a cuddle and on one instance played doctors and nurses
with her in the bath. But we never had sex as long as I knew her.
My mother tried no end of times to split us up and eventually this girl left
the garden center and went to work elsewhere. I still visited her and spent
even more time with her when she became unemployed. As the years went
by she borrowed more and more money off me but I did not feel that I was
buying her friendship although others have since made it clear that is just
what I was doing. She got a grant to do up her house and made it a home that
she was proud of. All this time we remained firm friends, at times more like
brother and sister than anything else. Gradually I lent her more and more
money getting deeper and deeper into debt on my credit cards.
I even took out a loan to buy her a car but she eventually came into some
money and it is all paid off now. However we drifted apart when I lost my
job and now have lost touch altogether. The relationship was always a little
one sided and somewhat unconventional but meant a lot to me and I will
forever be in her debt for all the listening that she did and all the time that
we spent together. On one occasion she asked me to marry her but my
mother was set against it and threatened to disown me, and I asked her a
couple of times. If she asked me tomorrow I would probably still say yes
even though I have not seen her for two years.
My First Admission To Hospital.
On one regular and frequent visit to see my psychiatrist he suggested a short
stay in hospital. This was duly arranged and on the appointed day I packed a
small bag with several changes of clothes, a toothbrush, etc. and my parents
and I made the short journey to the local mental hospital. It was in the
nearby county town so was handy for my parents to visit me each day which
The main hospital was a large foreboding, rambling old Victorian building
but this was for long stay patients and I was booked into the annex which
was a little more friendly in appearance. This building was of a single floor
construction which ran in a straight line for several hundred yards with L
shaped pieces projecting from it.
We approached the building and to my surprise found the door locked on the
named wing in which I was to stay. I rang the bell and the door was soon
opened by a nurse who beckoned me inside. Next I was booked in, shown
around and given my room. Each department in the hospital had 2 large
dormitories ( one for male and one for female, ) several individual rooms,
toilets, bathrooms, lounge, dining room, various offices and store rooms.
The bathrooms were large and single sex but communal affording no privacy
while bathing with the nurses of both sexes free to come and go as they
pleased. The individual bedrooms gave a little more privacy but I did notice
that the doors had a large glass panel in them for all to look through as they
The floors in most rooms were bare to enable easy cleaning but this gave the
whole atmosphere a cold feel with sound echoing around the sparsely
I settled in and explored a little finding that the sash windows were secured
so that they would only open a few inches to prevent escape.
Furthermore the connecting doors between departments were always kept
locked as were all the external doors. It felt more like a prison than a
hospital and in the state of mind that I was in I saw the nurses more as
warders. What horrified me the most was that I was surrounded by nutters
as I still did not associate my own situation with theirs. I made no attempt to
socialize, kept myself to myself and consequently found the place to be
unfriendly. The general impression that the nurses gave was that the patients
were there to be watched but not really given much attention.
One event which sticks in my mind happened at the first meal time I
attended. I saw one of the other patients struggling to feed himself . His
nerves were shot to hell and he had the shakes badly. He was barely able to
hold a spoon full of food. After watching him for a minute or two I
wondered why one of the nurses did not help him but they continued about
their business and ignored him until I said something.
Later that morning the medicine trolley was brought round and I was given
some tablets to take which I refused. As I was a voluntary patient there was
not much they were able to do.
After a couple of days of this non co-operation the doctor said that " If I
refused the medication I would have to leave as the bed was needed for
people who wanted to be helped." So I left. Some months later, almost in
desperation, I started to take the medication that had been prescribed for me.
The first thing that happened was that I started to sleep heavily and often. I
had never been able to sleep in the day time before but soon got into the
habit of having a short nap in the morning and again after lunch.
As If Nothing Were Wrong.
After my first admission to hospital I started to take the prescribed largactil
tablets and calm down a little although for years afterwards I was still highly
emotional. My family felt that I needed an interest so my brother persuaded
me to buy a home computer. It was a very early model called the ZX 81. The
ZX 81 was the brain child of Sir Clive Sinclair and made him very famous
for a number of years. By today s standards it was a very simple model
having only 8K of ROM and 8K of RAM whereas modern home computers
are measured in mega bytes. Instead of operating with a hard disc or floppy
the programme was loaded very slowly from a tape recorder.
Although programmes were only a few K they would still take a minute or
two to load and often had a fault in the loading. The printer was of the early
thermal kind which used special aluminum coated paper.
The computer came with a comprehensive manual which I struggled through
and eventually I started to write simple programmes. After some months I
came up with a relatively simple but novel fruit machine programme. Also I
developed a much longer game of roulette in which the numbers were
gradually revealed by a complicated process. The two games were loaded
onto a number of cassettes and sent off to games manufacturers. After a few
rejection letters I got one back offering to buy the roulette programme. They
said that although it needed a little work on it to stop it crashing it was of
interest to them. After a contract was signed I received my cheque for £150,
which might not sound much now but then it represented twice the price of
the computer system.
After this success with my new computer I tried to expand my knowledge in
the field of computers and tried to learn machine code which is a much
faster way of giving the computer instructions. I bought an instruction
manual and failed miserably to comprehend any of it. I then tried to learn the
language of Forth which was considerably different to Basic which the ZX
81 used. I bought a Jupiter Ace computer and tried to study the manual but
here again I couldn t get to grips with it. The next thing I tried was to be
tested for a special computer school privately funded by a big computer
firm. Here again I failed the test and was told I was not bright enough to
make it as a programmer.
So for many years I abandoned computers altogether. The winter following
the publication of my computer game it was suggested by my father that I
work for him at his Garden Centre. My response was that I would but only if
I could do something to show that I was contributing to the business. By this
time I had started keeping some goldfish and Koi carp in the irrigation
reservoir on the Garden Centre and my brother suggested selling goldfish.
We all thought about it and it seemed the ideal solution although my father
felt that there was not much potential. The Garden Centre had tried selling
the odd pond pump and a few bits and pieces unsuccessfully before. As
Spring came we located some wholesalers and bought 6 fibreglass tanks for
holding fish stocks and built a small cupboard, which could be locked up, on
the back of an old garage. We filled the cupboard with stock and stored
spare stock in a large brick potting shed. The range of goods and choice of
fish we offered was very limited but at this time there were few aquatic
outlets and the trade increased rapidly.
The first year we did several thousand pounds which both surprised and
pleased my father so he told me to expand the show of goods and stock.
The sales site was moved onto some waste ground which I leveled and tidied
up. Another 12 tanks were added with a bigger filter and a 12 x 8
greenhouse was erected as a sales shop. The second year trade doubled
which impressed everybody and the third year we added another 50 per cent
to the turnover.
By this time my father was paying me agricultural wages, which, although
not high, enabled me to start saving quite a lot because I was living at home
with no car to run. I had always been very frugal with my money and was no
different now spending very little. As the third season was drawing to a
close my father suggested covering the whole of the tank and fish display,
which had been outside, with a large greenhouse and taking the 12 x 8 down
for use elsewhere.
That winter I designed and built a 30 x 20 brick, timber and glass
greenhouse installing all the electrics and water pipes as well myself even
though this was probably illegal as electrics are supposed to be fitted to
certain safety standards of which I was completely ignorant. When the
greenhouse was complete I designed and built an aquarium room within it
containing 56 aquariums for tropical fish. This new aspect of fish keeping
never really proved successful but trade went up yet again that year with the
new building. Incidentally because of where the greenhouse was built it was
not built square. In fact it had no parallel sides at all. This meant that putting
a sloping roof with an apex and valley in the middle was a work of art but it
was successfully achieved.
After this 4rth year trade fluctuated up and down with some good years and
some bad but it never really grew any more. However the fish department
remained an important part of the Garden Centre and when trade diminished
in the rest of the centre, due to new competition, the fish department
remained more or less constant.
The regular customers came to refer to me as the fish man but few new my
One day I was serving in the fish department when a regular customer came
in with his son. The man was totally deaf and I decided to see if he could
hear me telepathically. I started thinking various thoughts at him and I was
convinced that he started to answer me. We held a short conversation like
this, at least that s how I remember it, before he left. I am still convinced
that this happened but it is possible that my memory is playing tricks on me.
As I slept a lot during the week when it was quiet customers would come
into the Garden Centre and ask if the fish man was around to serve them. I
would then be summoned from the house while they waited and then would
serve them. They never seemed to mind the constant waiting and seemed to
think that they were getting special attention. Weekends were busy so I had
to be in the fish department all the time but I took to taking a deck chair in to
doze on between serving customers.
The second year we had a burglary so I fitted a silent alarm which rang in
the house and we had many false alarms from birds and mice setting it off.
We also had several attempted burglaries which were fooled by the alarm.
On one occasion my parents had gone on holiday for a few days and I had
gone down to the pub for the evening as usual to play darts. On returning
home I locked up and went to bed only to hear the alarm ring about 15
We had so many false alarms that I thought nothing of it and got out of bed,
got dressed and went out to reset the alarm . When I got to the greenhouse I
found the padlock off and assumed that I had not locked it. I entered and
switched the lights on only to find a young lad of about 20 or so hiding
behind some of the shelving. Somewhat bemused I called out " Its a bit late
for Xmas shopping isn t it?" He sheepishly came out from behind the
shelves and said that he had not had time to get in earlier and was looking
for a filter. He begged me not to call the police and quietly edged towards
the open door.
We carried on talking and when he got near enough he made a bolt for it. It
had not occurred to me to grab him and because I was on my own it would
not have done any good anyway as I could not have phoned for the police
and held him at the same time. Needless to say he got away and I called the
police who arrived a few minutes later. The first thing that they did was to
check up on my personal record and when they found out that I was a
schizophrenic they started questioning me totally disbelieving that anything
had happened. Eventually when I showed them his large bag that he had left
behind they believed me but did nothing else and did not catch him.
Over the years we had several burglaries and just before my parents retired
we had a spate of them which I think was probably partly responsible for
them finally deciding to sell up.
All the time I ran the fish department I was on medication and still very
unstable and unsure of myself, but I think most of the customers thought that
I was a bit odd and did not think much about it. There was one occasion
however when a customer came in who new me and my problems.
At the time I was busy chopping firewood with a rather large and sharp
lumber jacks axe. The customer asked for me and I was called up to the fish
department. So I put the axe over my shoulder and sauntered up to speak to
the customer. He was busy looking at the fish and did not see me enter the
greenhouse. When he looked up and saw me, a known schizophrenic, with a
large evil looking axe over my shoulder, his face went white and was a
picture to behold with mouth wide open and naked terror in his eyes.
Gradually I came to accept that I had a problem and I learnt about life and
schizophrenia but it took many years before I felt remotely comfortable with
myself and my condition. For years I would have nights when I would lie
awake for hours thinking about my problems, trying to understand them.
Sometimes I felt that my thoughts were being controlled and guided on to
certain subjects as if in an attempt to educate me. Gradually I came to see
life in a different light, a little of which has been described in the first
chapter and a little of which will be described later. As this learning process
was slow and gradual I got myself into trouble on more than one occasion.
My psychiatrist only answered questions with questions of his own and was
no help at all.
After my first visit to hospital I did not see a social worker or psychiatric
nurse, nor did I after any subsequent hospitalizations. I feel that if I had had
an experienced person to talk to things might have been very different for
Now that the fish department had proved its value I developed itchy feet and
decided that I wanted to get back to repping again so I was persuaded by my
best friend to go and work for him as a sales negotiator in his small, highly
specialized company. The price of his products started at over £1000 retail
and paid a commission of £200 per sale pro rata.
There was no routine to follow because the job called for a lot of cold calling
as well as some repeat business. Within a few weeks several lucrative
contracts were being negotiated for which I would be handsomely rewarded,
including one which on its own would pay over £1000 in commission.
However, I was used to getting sales on a daily basis and seeing them
completed quickly so I rapidly became frustrated and after about 6 weeks I
quit. Because no sale was completed during my employment I received no
money at all and as it was a friends company I did not make a fuss and just
put it down to experience.
After the disastrous attempt at employment with my friend I started to look
elsewhere and quite quickly found an advert for a representatives vacancy
for a fish pond manufacturer. I applied, was given an interview and duly got
the job. The first thing was an induction at head office, but, as I was already
familiar with the companies products because I had been selling them for a
few years on my parents garden centre, this was cut short.
The job entailed traveling most of the country, including Wales. At the time
I did not realize that being away from home was a serious problem for most
schizophrenics and within 4 weeks problems were to develop.
As I have already explained I was over emotional and prone to exaggerating
problems in my mind at this stage so when I became convinced that my
girlfriend was having an affair with my brother I became extremely upset.
So much so that one lunch time, just before lunch I went inside the house
and found a box of aspirins. Then I got a bottle of cider and went upstairs.
The tablets were swallowed and washed down with the cider and then I went
outside to sit and wait for something to happen. With my mind in turmoil
and confusion I started imagining all sorts of things. I thought what would
happen if I did not die but just damaged my kidneys? I would be on dialysis
machines for the rest of my life. Then I thought about my liver and brain
Next I heard a voice in my head saying "If you want to save yourself go to
hospital." So I did. I told my mother I had to go out and would miss lunch,
then drove to the nearest hospital and went to casualty. Upon arrival I told
them what I had done and was put on a trolley to wait.
After an hour or two I was wheeled in to have my stomach pumped. The
medical staff assumed that I had a full stomach otherwise they would have
pumped out my stomach sooner. Having your stomach pumped out is not
the most pleasant of experiences and is not to be recommended to anyone.
You are strapped onto a table which is then upended and a tube is pushed
down your throat. In this undignified position water is pumped into your
stomach making you sick constantly. The vomit runs down your face
although the nurse does wipe it for you occasionally. This is continued for
what seems like an eternity until they see the tablets regurgitated and then
blissfully they stop.
In my case the tablets had nearly all dissolved before they came up so they
wheeled me to a ward and I was kept in overnight. The ward sister informed
my parents who came to see me wondering what had happened. Because the
tablets had not come up I was convinced that I was going to die and I did not
want to see them. Perversely I did want to see my girlfriend one last time so
I phoned her up and she came to the hospital on her motorbike. She was
genuinely distraught and could not understand why I had done it.
We chatted and I told her I was going to die. Eventually she went home and
told me afterwards that if I had died she would have committed suicide as
That night I did not sleep at all but lay awake listening to my heartbeat.
While I listened it seemed to get slower and slower. A nurse came and sat
with me and talked to me. I told her that I had nothing to live for and meant
it. At one point my heart beat got very slow and I swear it stopped
momentarily before getting stronger and faster again.
After a while the nurse left me and in the early hours I fell asleep. The next
morning a doctor came round and took me off into a side room.
He asked me if I would try and commit suicide again to which I replied that
I would not and then he asked me a series of questions to decide whether I
was fit to go home or if I should be admitted to the local mental hospital.
The questions had no bearing on the situation as they were more like general
knowledge than anything else. He seemed happy, I was discharged and went
home. When I got home I phoned my boss and talked him out of instantly
dismissing me. He told me to take the week off and then he would
reconsider my position with the company. After the week was up I received
a letter terminating my employment.
The attempted overdose could not have done my kidneys or liver any good
but I did not seem to suffer any ill effects.
But it was another instance when stupidity and ignorance had caused me to
do something potentially harmful to myself whereas if I had had a counselor
of some sort to talk to it might not have happened at all.
A Short Spell Of Anaerexia.
My next mental hospital admission came 3 or 4 years after the first and was
somewhat more serious. For a long time I had been convinced that my
mother was drugging my food and one day I decided that enough was
enough. I was overweight and wanted to see what would happen to me after
a few days without any food (or drugs.) So I stopped eating completely
intending to eat when I got too hungry.
The weight fell off me far more rapidly than I could have imagined. It
seemed like only days but must have been longer before I was very slim and
still not hungry.
Another day longer and I suddenly realized that I could barely walk, I was
that weak. The doctor was called and I was taken into hospital as an
anorexic. Again I had a little private room and was settled in quite
comfortably. This time however, my shoe laces were taken out of my shoes.
The next morning I missed breakfast but appeared for lunch.
By now I was concerned over my weight and weakness so I tried a bowl full
of soup. After a couple of mouth fulls I retched violently and was sick
although little came up. Between then and the next meal time I felt I was
given some medication to stop me from being sick because the next meal
came and went without my having any ill effects.
My girlfriend who I have already mentioned, although technically most
people would not consider her to be such, came to see me and saw that my
clothes were hanging off me with my trouser belt done up tight. The next
time she came to visit me she brought me a new pair of trousers that fitted
much better than those I had taken in with me. By now I was eating
normally but it was some weeks before I got my weight back up again.
The stay was very uneventfull apart from one incident which I remember
clearly. It was at a meal time and one old gentleman was having trouble
feeding himself. A young coloured student nurse came up and took his fork
offering to help him. The patient immediately started swearing at her and
this outburst culminated in him spitting a mouthfull of food into her face.
She was as I say, young and innocent and did not know whether to be angry
or to cry. She was extremely emotional and obviously did not understand
why he had done it. She tried to reason with him but quickly gave up and
almost ran off to recover her composure.
Later that day I saw her alone at a linen cupboard so I took the opportunity
to have a quiet word with her. I explained that the outburst was not
emotional, it was not because she was black or because he did not like her.
There was no hatred or even feeling involved at all. It was just something
that he had done as if he had been dreaming it all. I explained that all she
could do in such circumstances was back away, keep her cool and accept
that there was no animosity involved. It was just something that such
patients were liable to do.
She did not say much but must have then talked about it to others because
the next time I was admitted she was still there and she treated me like
royalty, telling one of the other nurses how I had helped her when she was a
student some years earlier.
After leaving hospital life got back to relative normality and I accepted that
if my mother was drugging me then it was because I needed it. I still had no
social worker of any description and after a couple of visits to my
psychiatrist the frequency was reduced to 6 monthly visits again. For a while
I remained out of trouble although I did not improve, but I did take my
prescribed medication regularly. I was quite unstable emotionally and had
one or two outbursts at my girlfriend and my brother.
Throughout my illness I have been convinced that people could hear my
thoughts telepathically and at times I have been convinced that I could hear
other peoples thoughts such as those of my friends. So one day it seemed
quite reasonable to suppose that my brother could hear my thoughts if I were
close to him. This idea might just have been another crazy notion that I had
but for the fact that the idea occurred to me while we were playing cards
around the dining table.
As an experiment I thought hard about certain cards and which I wanted him
to play using reverse psychology. In other words if I wanted him to play a
high club I might have thought to myself, 'Please don t let him play a big
club'. I don t know if it was wishful thinking or whether I was really
influencing his card play but his playing became very erratic and he seemed
to play an awful lot of the cards that I had thought about allowing my partner
and myself to win some very silly tricks.
My belief in telepathy has always been very strong and I have often felt that
at night I was questioned, both telepathically and also by people actually in
my bedroom. I became convinced that if I thought about certain things that
had bothered me during the day I would talk about them at night during the
questioning. The idea then occurred to me that I could plant thoughts in my
head by focusing on them before going to sleep.
Moreover if I concentrated on the negative points of my desires, then using
reverse psychology, the people who were questioning me would do the
opposite as I was convinced they did not want to help me. For instance if I
wanted to have more customers on a weekday I would think about all the
problems that extra customers would bring and how I would not be able to
cope. Then they would make it much busier during the week. This harmless
pastime gave me much secret pleasure as I believed I was thwarting my
tormentors whishes. I would often have a little chuckle to myself whenever I
thought of how I was deceiving them and getting my own way.
An extension of this method of planting thoughts in my head was the
realization that my subconscious mind was very susceptible to repetition. I
had read about hypnopaedia in the novel by Aldous Huxley called Brave
New World at school in my English studies so had some little idea of how it
worked. Basically the subject has a phrase repeated to them over and over
again while they sleep.
The words are heard and gradually absorbed by the subconscious until they
become second nature to it. The problem is that the subject has no
recollection of the newly gained knowledge until a few words or phrase jogs
the memory. Then the subject repeats the new information like an automaton
without any comprehension of what they are saying. I was under the firm
belief that at times when my conscious was not fully in control but I was
awake I stated I was a homosexual because someone else had planted this
thought in my head.
So I fought back by planting the phrase in my head that" I am not really, it's
just something they make me say."
There have been other instances when I have tried to plant this type of
thought in my head with, I believed, some success although, I could never be
sure because I was not fully aware of what I was saying at the time.
Continuing The Story
Sometime around the incident with the cards my medication was reduced, I
became more alert and started to show more interest in the garden centre in
general. The garden centre was trading very well at this time and my father
was thinking of expansion. Due to the limited space on the site he saw that
the only way forward was to start a second centre on another site. We hunted
for months until some land was found a fair distance away, that we felt was
suitable for a garden centre. The land comprised of four fields totaling some
16 acres in all. The family chipped in with my parents paying the lions share
and a large mortgage taking care of the balance. We had water laid on at
some expense and could, when we wanted, have had electricity as well.
The next thing was to obtain planning permission for a garden center. We
approached the authorities ourselves and then employed some professional
help but every application was turned down. The final result was that we
could not be stopped from growing plants on the site and selling what we
grew, but nothing else. We settled for this and proceeded to erect two
polythene tunnels to bring the plants on faster and give some winter
protection. At the time planning permission was not needed for this type of
semi permanent building but it is now. The idea was that my brother would
take over the running of the existing centre and I would, with my parents
help, run the new one.
It was at about this time that I started to become interested in rabbiting and
used to go out with a friend and his son. We took his dog and ferrets along
with us to various sites that he knew of. Then one day we had a look around
our new site near Derby and found that it had plenty of rabbits. The first job
in a days rabbiting is to go round the site with a dog to chase the loose
rabbits down their respective holes and for the dog to sniff out any likely
holes and then to mark them.
Following this we netted up all the holes we could find and then let the
rabbits settle for a while. After a short interval we inserted a ferret. The idea
of the ferret is not to catch the rabbits but to scare them into the nets. In fact
if the ferret does catch a rabbit it means more work. You have to insert
another ferret with a radio collar on it so that it can be followed under
ground. When it stops moving you know it has found the first one and then
you have to carefully dig them out. This can usually be avoided by only
ferreting at certain times of the year when the rabbits are less likely to have
young in their warrens which they try and defend.
Our days work was very successful with a catch of some 20 odd rabbits
which my friend had to gut before we could go home. I liked the days sport
but did not wring the rabbits necks or gut them afterwards because I was to
We did not rid the site of all rabbits but simply reduced their numbers and
the damage that they did to the plants.
Thousands of rooted cuttings were bought in, both conifers and shrubs, and
They grew well with little rabbit damage and all proceeded to plan for a
while until my father became seriously ill. He developed pneumonia, a heart
condition and had a blood clot on his lung all at the same time. He was
hospitalized and we all lost interest in the new enterprise.
After he recovered I was again admitted to hospital with my greatest
delusions to date. This again caused the site to be neglected. That summer
we had a severe shortage of rainfall, maybe it was classed as a drought, I
cant remember, but the plants suffered. To make matters worse the irrigation
system that we had installed was first vandalized and then stolen altogether.
This resulted in the plants deteriorating dramatically. We salvaged what we
could but it caused us to get into financial difficulties with the bank. So the
land was sold to my eldest brother who paid off the mortgage.
Shortly afterwards the highways authorities started a major road construction
nearby and research told them that our land was an ideal source of local clay
with which they could build the earthworks for the new road. Unfortunately
the mineral rights were not owned by my brother but by a local landowner.
So he sold the land for a small profit and the highways authorities quarried it
leaving a gigantic hole where once were fields. Now I believe the site is
being used as a landfill although a stream runs by the side of it.
The Delusions Continue
I will now go back a little and tell of my mother of all delusions concerning
radiation and the Neutron bomb. Outwardly while we were developing the
new garden centre I was calm and rational but inwardly my mind was a
seething cauldron of hysteria. I had always been interested in atomic power
and radiation. In fact for my O.N.C. at college I had written my extended
essay on it. I had read about the new neutron bomb that had been developed
and how it was designed to kill all forms of life without damaging property.
I understood that a large bomb could be exploded in Hyde Park, London and
the blast would evaporate the lake but not damage the buildings surrounding
However the radiation from it would be so intense that it would sterilize
London killing all forms of life within some 15 miles radius. After the
explosion the radiation levels would drop rapidly as it had a short half life of
only a matter of hours or days and then an invading army could in theory re-
occupy London very quickly. With this knowledge and the talk by a friend
that radiation badges worn at a local power station were faulty showing over
exposure, although they had never been worn, it was not long before my
feverish mind came up with the startling conclusion that "They" were
increasing the background level of radiation. " They" were doing this by
detonating small nuclear devices of the type mentioned on waste land around
the country. In fact I came to believe, this was being done all over the world.
The reason for this was quite obvious to my way of thinking. I knew that
radiation affected all living cells in an organism with cells that had been
damaged by viruses the most and also the right type of radiation would
inhibit viruses from developing. This then was a universal method of
treating the whole population of a country and ridding them of all otherwise
incurable viral diseases.
I became convinced that this knowledge was classified and I would be killed
because I possessed it. One night I kicked up such a fuss that my mother
called a doctor and I was hospitalized. I believed that as the hospital was on
a large site which was to be leveled and rebuilt "They" would probably
choose this as a detonation site and kill two birds with one stone by blowing
up the hospital and killing me and all the others who had talked to me about
For a day or two I did not take my tablets and simply hid them in my pocket
before throwing them away. Eventually a nurse realized what I was doing
and my medication was changed to a liquid which I had to take when
offered. After a few doses I came to realize that I was exaggerating the
problem, even if it had any truth in it, and began to calm down.
Incidentally this stay was far more pleasant than previous ones as staff
attitudes towards patients had changed. Gone were the ideas that the patients
were simply there to be guarded and watched over.
Instead patients were called clients and the whole atmosphere was more
informal and friendly. I got friendly with a couple of girls whilst in hospital
and we often had breakfast together. We found that in the morning we could
chat freely whereas later in the day after medication we often exhibited
hostility towards each other.
On one occasion when one of the girls husbands came to see her she
introduced me to him. I, unlike some of the older patients was reasonably
smart, and he mistook me for one of the male nurses. I had to grin when he
started to ask me about her condition and if she was improving.
Everyone was friendly and I treated it like a holiday camp chatting in an
amicable way to anyone who had the time or the inclination to listen to me. I
still believe that there is a lot of truth in the idea of increasing the
background level of radiation to cure disease and furthermore I think that a
lot of the minor wars around the world are based on this and the problems of
some governments not accepting this idea. I believe that Nato, etc. is
bombing the offending countries under the guise of quelling insurrection and
that is what caused the Gulf War amongst others. That is why although,
supposedly no nuclear weapons were used, some of the soldiers reportedly
had symptoms of radiation sickness.
False memories go hand in hand with delusions because they are instances
when the sufferer can t distinguish reality from fiction. As I stated in the
first chapter these memories often result in sufferers admitting to crimes that
they have not committed. I have over the years suffered from many such
memories about trivial things such as being stopped for petty theft from
shops, to one instance where I can vaguely remember one of my friends
telling me that he had read in the local paper that I had been convicted for
I did not see the article but I remember some details about the court case and
the outcome. However my doctor assures me that I have never been in
trouble with the police and that the event did not happen. Other memories
are far more serious and I will not mention them here because they have
never been disproved.
However, I, unlike a lot of my fellow schizophrenics, am not too bothered
by them because I have come to the conclusion that if I did any of the bad
things that I remember I am not responsible for them because I was not fully
in control of myself when they happened. In fact the law says that a plea of
insanity will give rise to an innocent verdict being passed on the sufferer.
Reality Is An Illusion.
In my opinion the brain is divided into two parts, the conscious and the
subconscious. This is not quite the way a psychologist sees it but it is near
enough for my thoughts. It is the realisation of this division in the brains
activity which has enabled me to come to terms with a lot of my problems.
The conscious has all the emotions and moral viewpoint and the
subconscious all the cold brutal reasoning logic.
Every action is funneled through the subconscious but not always the
conscious. When a schizophrenic commits an irrational act the thoughts are
coming from his subconscious. As he has no control over this part of his
brain he is not responsible for the act that follows and has no control over it.
It is our subconscious that perceives reality with sight, sound etc. I believe
that when the brain is in a certain state the subconscious of all of us is
accessible and open to control. Any ideas, statements, thoughts or
commands planted there will take root and be impossible to deny. So if
someone is instructed to see something slightly differently, for instance to
ignore a prevailing smell around their house from the nearby farm, then they
don t smell it anymore.
This is very similar to a hypnotist planting a command in someone and I
believe that all of the following sensual perceptions can be altered and
controlled in this way.
If this is indeed fact and not simply a deranged belief from a schizophrenic
then it explains a lot about the way we see things. We have all seen on
television how the police have taken a picture of a cars number plate only to
show a blurred image. They transfer the picture onto a computer and then
twiddle a few knobs and punch a few keys and then the image becomes
sharper and sharper until it is in focus and showing detail that was not
apparent on the original picture.
This computer enhancement of images is a new achievement which can only
be done on advanced computers but the brain has had the ability for
millennia. It is far superior to any computer in existance and it is quite
phenomenal just what it can do if properly programmed. I believe the
computer image is created by using fractels. These are L shaped sections of
the image which are extrapolated to produce a larger L shaped image and so
on until the whole picture has been enlarged and enhanced. The brain is far
better at doing this as can be seen from the use of video recorders. If you
have ever borrowed a tape from a friend and found that there is only zig zag
lines over the television and no amount of adjusting will produce a picture
and then somebody else walks into the room and says " I've already seen this
film," you may have thought they were being sarcastic. But it is possible that
they can see a picture where you can't. Most video recorders need their
heads cleaning regularly to maintain a good picture quality but if your brain
has been properly conditioned or programmed you may go on seeing good
pictures for months or even years after the picture has deteriorated.
Sound can be manipulated by the brain in just the same way as sight.This
can be shown by the fact that when you walk into a Hi Fi shop the music
systems with their shiney new loudspeakers always seem to sound better
than the old one that you have got at home. I am sure that this is not
necessarily true in all cases as I believe most of us are conditioned from an
early age into consumerism. In other words they sound better so that we buy
My father is a good example of conditioning with sound because he says that
all music is a distorted cacophony of noise to him. Not pop music or just
some music but all music. This is just not possible because it is inherent in
man to make and appreciate music.
We have been doing it since early man walked the planet Admittedly some
people like some music and others like other types but we all have some
appreciation. Incidentally like a lot of older people he has a great fascination
with the second world war and he will sit and listen to any music of that era
such as military bands or Vera Lynne. We can be conditioned not to hear
imperfections in the sound quality of a piece of music to quite a great
degree. This can be shown to most people by a simple test.
We are all used to the high quality of sound that CDs produce but most older
people would agree that if an old LP was not scratched it gave quite a good
and pleasing sound.
However if you try playing some of your old LPs from your collection the
sound quality will be appalling.
Have you ever wondered why some people have bad breath and others don't.
It may be that some peoples dental hygiene is better than others but closer
examination will often reveal that some of those who have bad breath have
healthy teeth and some of those who don t have a mouth full of rotten teeth.
I put it to you that conditioning plays a part in this discrimination.
The fussy child who won t eat his vegetables because they taste horrible
may well believe that they taste horrible but this is only conditioning
because Humans are designed after millennia to eat a certain amount of
Have you ever noticed how old people smell ? Well they don t any more
than most of us. Here again conditioning is responsible. Why I don t know
but I am sure that most old people are no less hygienic than younger ones.
When someone in a room has BO some people will notice it and be offended
and others will not notice a thing. This again is down to conditioning. It can
be seen more clearly from the person who lives near to a sewerage plant or a
When they first move in they notice the smell but after a while they don t
until a visitor comes and comments upon it. As you can see by the above
explanations reality isn t always quite the way we perceive and I am firmly
convinced that these impressions of reality can be altered by a few well
chosen words to someone when their brain is in a receptive frame.
I can t think of any examples where our sense of touch can be altered but I
can certainly think of one where it is enhanced.
A lot of blind people learn to read braille and become quite proficient at it
but have you ever felt a page of braille? You cant feel anything other than a
few faint sensations of an impression. The brain of a person reading braille
is obviously working overtime to interpret the sensations far beyond the
abilities of most of us. Maybe the brain is compensating for the lack of
vision but whatever it is it is quite impressive.
Having seen some ways that our senses can be fooled one might ask who
alters our thoughts and we come back to the medical profession. As to why,
well most of the perceptions mentioned have personal benefits and make our
lives a little more pleasant, but some have more difficult to understand
reasons behind them.
As I have already said I believe that certain people at certain times are
instructed telepathically to commit various acts.
With schizophrenics the act is uncontrollable but with healthy people the act
is voluntary and fully conscious. They simply hear someone telling them to
do something. Most people are told from an early age not to discuss this and
some of the more simple ones probably think that they are special. But I
think the majority of people don t realize just how widespread this control is
or how far reaching and significant in our daily lives.
Most of us think that if our house is robbed it is unfortunate and we might
have invited it by leaving the computer in the window on full view. I put it
to you that the burglar had his instructions to rob your house just the same as
the doctor was told to prescribe the wrong drug that killed the child in
I used to believe in good and bad luck just the same as everyone else but
now I think that most things that happen in our lives are controlled. Some
more than others, admittedly, but all are controlled to some extent never the
I don t think that there are good and bad policemen, they are simply doing as
they are told. The same as the judge who hands out an especially lenient
sentence to the well known, habitual criminal. If this is true it also explains
why police are hot on motoring offences because although the motorists
actions can be controlled to some extent, irresponsible acts such as reckless
speeding and drink driving can cause grave accidents over which They
have no control and innocent lives can be ruined or lost altogether.
Myths And Legends
Some of the physical aspects of those afflicted with mental illness and
deteriorating health with various conditions also explain how people in their
ignorance and simple mindedness gave rise to some of the myths and
legends that exist today.
The Cyclops is the most simple to explain. In early times when people first
started to dissect dead bodies they cut open the skull and saw the frontal lobe
in the center of the forehead. This is often called the third eye because it is
rudimentarily very similar. At the time its function was not understood and
people thought that at some time we had had an eye in the center of our
foreheads, hence the legends.
Vampires are an especially interesting myth and a lot of tangible facts
surround the beliefs.
Vampires are said to have the ability to mesmerize their victims and control
them making them seem willing victims. In nature, a snake does this to its
prey. We have all heard of rabbits and mice being paralyzed in the sight of a
snake as it is about to strike. I believe that the snake controls the mouse
telepathically to make it an easy target. We also see signs of telepathy in
sharks. Very often sea bed telephone cables are damaged by shark attacks.
This is because the shark can sense the electric signals that the cable is
carrying and thinks it is prey.
Vampires have a pallid complexion and don t bleed when cut. This
compares to people who are prescribed warfarin tablets to stop their blood
from clotting and make it thinner. Until they start taking the tablets, if they
were cut they would not bleed very much if at all.
Garlic is reputed to thin the blood, hence it wards off vampires. At one stage
of my illness I cut my finger very badly with a chisel and found I did not
bleed. It was bandaged up and went white. I believe I was and have been
given since, something occasionally to thin my blood.
The problem that causes schizophrenia also affects the bodies ability to
absorb nutrients and I believe untreated would result in an extreme
condition. This again relates to vampires because they drink blood, the most
nutritious food that existed in the olden days that was readily digested.
As to being creatures of the night, the sleep patterns of schizophrenics go
haywire when they become ill and I myself am very often wide awake for
hours on end at night and asleep in the day. Indeed I started typing this
chapter at 1 AM and it is now gone 5am.
The phenomenal strength that a vampire has, has already been explained
earlier at the end of the first chapter where I spoke of PCP.
Chopping the head off a vampire to kill it also has relevance to another myth
and that is Zombies or the living dead.
When a person dies the electric impulses in the brain stop and the heart and
lungs stop functioning. But I believe rightly or wrongly, that energy remains
in their bodies and for a while at least they can be controlled telepathically
with thought waves. They can be made to move about and walk around. In
the parts of the world where zombies were reputed to exist poisons were not
fully understood and were used to kill people without damaging the muscles.
This left a fully functioning corpse which the witch doctor could manipulate.
As with vampires the only way to stop movement was to decapitate them.
The appearance of witches as old hags with long pointed noses and covered
in warts can also be related to sick people. I believe that when a person is
mentally ill their body is less resistant to the little parasitic worm called
toxacara carried by dogs. Healthy adults don t become infected but sick
people very often develop cysts on their heads, especially their faces. These
can be large and unsightly and in olden times would be difficult to explain. I
also believe that peoples noses and ears keep growing so an old person
generally has a bigger nose than a younger, attractive adolescent. AS people
usually did not live very long than it was the exception to see a very old
person still alive.
Werewolves again have some facts on their side although I am not
suggesting that people ever changed into wolves. Many medical conditions
cause peoples muscles to degenerate and slacken causing bad posture. This
leads to a severe rounding of the shoulders bringing their arms somewhat
nearer to the ground and in extreme cases could lead to someone speculating
that they were changing into a 4 legged animal. Hands often develop large
palms like the paw of an animal. Again pointed noses and jaws could lead
one to imagine they were changing. Excessive hair growth on the eyebrows ,
ears and nose often develop in the old and mentally ill and again this might
fire the imagination.
Fortune telling is the one thing that we should all believe in, not because
people can predict the future, but, because the people who are doing the
crystal ball gazing are being told telepathically by Them (the ones who
control us) exactly what they intend to do with us in the near future barring
The Reality Of Modern Life
Young children are sometimes attacked and severely injured by a families
pet dog. The dog has been a trusted member of the family for years and
never been hostile to the child before. This again can be explained by
telepathy. All animals from the lowest insects to dolphins and sharks can
hear other animals. When a person has a schizophrenic attack he becomes
dangerous and unpredictable so most animals turn on it in self deffence. This
includes pet dogs.
I have seen the most friendly Labrador puppy turn into a snarling snapping
beast when confronted by a schizophrenic. Sharks will often attack
telephone cables in the sea because they give off electromagnetic fields
simulating a live animal.
Cot deaths can also be explained by attacks where the child s brain signal
is weak and occasionally stops. In this case the parent does not hear the child
in trouble and does not wake it in time and the child mysteriously dies for no
apparent reason Usually they grow out of this as they get older.
Where older people develop weak brain signals they have a mid life crisis
often leading to a breakdown of their marriage. This is orchestrated by
Them . The reason for this is that if two people living together are both
prone to this type of attack they might have one in the night together and
with no one to wake them they could both die.
Most people are prepared physically for death by them when they become
terminally ill but accidents do happen causing a premature death. Road
accidents are one of the biggest culprits of truly accidental deaths and this is
why the police have come down so hard on speeding and drunken motorists
in recent years.
Different countries have in the past treated mentally ill people in varying
ways. Russia for instance made them social outcasts and adopted a very hard
line on them. In Japan there is aa very high incidence of ritual suicide
amongst the young.
This is I believe their way of removing the mentally ill from the population.
In Britain we have recently adopted a more enlightened view but I believe
they are still treated as second class citizens by Them .
However I do believe that They are trying to educate the population in the
varying aspects of life indirectly through television and the media in general,
maybe even this book. If you think about a lot of the points that I have made
whilst watching TV, specially things like Star Trek you will see many
references to things I have said. Telepathy for instance is commonly featured
in science fiction stories.
I again ask the reader, Am I making a fair comment on various aspects of
life or are my thoughts twisted and distorted by mental illness? You might
feel that I have bound up a lot of half truths with some facts but I believe
that If you think honestly about some of the things I have said, you will
agree with me on a lot of points.
Medication And My Last Admission To Hospital.
It is extremely important that schizophrenics take their prescribed
medication regularly but sometimes drugs are prescribed which can have
serious side effects that can be potentially dangerous to the patient. This is
one reason why patients should not live alone. Over the years I have
experienced various side effects including two bad reactions that I had one
of which resulted in an over night stay in hospital.
I will list some of the more common side effects that are produced by the
drug Chlorpromazine or Largactil as it is commonly called.
1) The patient will find that on heavy doses they will become very drowsy
and probably sleep most of the day and night.
2) Weight gain often occurs and the patient should be advised to concern
themselves with having a healthy diet rather than worrying about
gaining a few pounds. Indeed a healthy diet is important from another
point of view and that is because patients very often suffer from
diarrhea. It is thought that this may be due to a problem with the
digestion of processed wheat or gluten which is the protein in it.
3) Taking Largactil will increase skin photosensitivity. That is to say
exposed skin will burn quite quickly and severly in even modest
4) Sometimes the patient will experience light headedness or dizzyness
when getting up suddenly from a seated position.
5) Perhaps the most worrying side effect is a parkinson like problem which
can occur with a heavy or prolonged dose. In this instance the patient
develops the shakes in their hands and other limbs. It can become so
severe that they can not feed themselves although there are drugs to
combat these symptoms.
Incidentally although Largactil has many side effects it is relatively safe in
another important way and that it is that it is almost impossible to take an
overdose which is a crucial point for patients who may well try to commit
In hospital where patients can actually be medicated under controlled
conditions a liquid form of this drug is often used. In more severe cases an
injection of modecate into the patients bottom on regular intervals is given.
After about 6 or 7 years on the tablets I was put onto injections and then a
couple of years later I was taken off the Largactil altogether and now I
simply have a monthly injection at the local health centre.
For many people Schizophrenia is a thing that they are ashamed of but as
some ½ a million people or 1 in 100 suffer from it in Britain it is a lot more
common than people think and is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about.
The incidence rate is even higher if it is in the family and may be 1 in 10.
Colored men are also 10 times as likely to be diagnosed as having
schizophrenia. Some people are treated and make a full recovery but others
like myself simply learn to live with the problem as best they can. Patients
should be advised to surrender their driving licenses when they are
It was many years before I became aware of the medical criteria concerning
licenses and nobody told me. It was only by chance that I found out about
the conditions. After surrendering it I had a medical and was issued with a
new 3 year license which has to be renewed periodically. After 6 years I
have now been given a full driving license again.
Another useful point that I was not told about for many years is that
schizophrenia is classed as a mental disability and the patient may well be
able to claim benefit for it.
Going back to drugs and their problems, on one occasion I was prescribed a
different tablet which I took at night before going to bed. After sleeping
heavily I got up the next morning feeling unwell and collapsed at the top of
the stairs. My mother heard me and called my brother and father to get me
back into bed but they could not carry me as I weighed 16st. However they
did eventually drag me back into bed and the doctor was summoned. When
he came I was still unconscious and he could not revive me. At first he
thought I had taken an overdose until the medication was fetched then he
gave me an injection of something and let me sleep it off.
The second bad reaction was even more frightening in many ways because it
made breathing difficult. A new tablet had been prescribed for me which I
duly took in the morning.
That day my father, mother and myself planned a trip to one of the
wholesalers in Nottingham. We set of and got there alright but then my
tongue became swollen and became rigid projecting from my mouth. The
attack lasted for about 10 or 15 minutes and then disappeared only to return
later, so we drove to the nearest hospital where I was examined. The doctor
had seen nothing like it and I was told to go and see my GP at home but he
did prescribe something for me.
When we got nearer to home we stopped at the local chemist to fulfill the
prescription and while I was waiting I had a particularly bad attack where
breathing became difficult. An ambulance was called and they carted me off
to hospital where I was unconscious for a time. My mother tells me that the
staff gave me several injections before admitting me at the local mental
hospital for the night for the drug to wear off. This was some 9 years ago
and was my last stay in hospital.
After the failure of the new nursery at Derby and my subsequent hospital
admission I continued my search for a new job. Realizing that a City And
Guilds qualification in Pet Store Management would be useful to any job in
a large pet store or aquatic store I decided to study for the exam. As no
colleges were offering the course at the time I chose to do a correspondence
For several weeks I struggled with it and eventually just abandoned it.
Although the course was designed for teenagers I felt that there was too
much information on the various animals included for me to memorize.
As I had a little background in computer basics I thought that a G.C.S.E.
would be an easier option to get me back into the routine of studying. So I
enrolled at a local college and took the course. I found the work easy and
enjoyed it as my knowledge made me well prepared for it. Upon completion
of the set course work I obtained a grade B with which I was pleased and the
teacher said that I should easily get a B in my final exam.
When the exam came I was the first in the hall to finish and I found it very
easy. Confidently I waited for the results. When my grade was announced I
was shocked to discover it was only an F which was a very poor grade and
totally worthless. After passing 9 "O" Levels when I was younger I was
disgusted but perhaps this reflected my poor concentration and lowered
abilities due to my severe medication and condition.
A few years later my parents were finally persuaded to sell the garden centre
which they had run for many years and retire. When they put it up for sale I
knew that I could not start a new fish department elsewhere unless I passed
the Pet Store course.
After some hunting around I found an Agricultural College some distance
away that offered the course. I went to see the lecturer and explained my
difficulties but was assured that if I completed the course my knowledge of
fish keeping would get me through the exam. Again I struggled with the
essay type answers on pets but probably knew more than the lecturer on fish
keeping. When we were shown some past exam papers I was reassured
because nearly half the exam was based on different aspects of fish keeping.
Exam day came and I flew through the questions as usual but this time I was
to be successful because I passed easily with a respectable grade. I
immediately got a job offer at a pet superstore but as it was a long way from
home I turned it down. What I really wanted was to start my own Aquatic
shop. Now I had qualified I could obtain a license to run a pet shop in my
own name as the new law required.
During the time that the garden centre and house were up for sale, as with a
lot of people, we found that we had accumulated a lot of unwanted items
I found a large cardboard box full of Corgi and Dinky toy cars still in their
boxes. There were some 50 or 60 in total, dusty but otherwise undamaged.
These were leftover from a spoilt childhood.
We made inquiries at one of the larger auction houses and found that they
held special toy sales periodically. Upon taking them to be valued at Chester
I decided to sell them. The estimate was in the region of £600 but they
actually fetched £1600 less commission.
Another valuable find was a collection of children s books. I had nearly the
complete set of William books by Richmal Crompton, a set of Famous Five ,
Secret Seven And Jennings books. All of these still had their paper covers on
and included some first editions.
One of my friends told me of a second hand bookshop locally so I phoned
him up to see if he was interested in them. He said that he might be so I took
them along and he was amazed at their condition saying that he had rarely
seen better for children s books of that age. The dealer offered me over £200
for them which I gladly accepted as I was only going to give them to a
charity shop any way. We found no more treasures but cleared out a lot of
rubbish in preparation for the move.
For many years I had saved the odd commemorative coin but now I started
to collect coins in earnest starting with the predecimal coins and working my
way back on dates. At first I collected different designs on the coins and
different kings and queens heads only but as time went by I expanded my
sights and started to collect by year on the silver. Also I started to build up a
collection of foreign coins. This I did at first by buying small bags of coins
from one of the charity shops and adding to them when family and friends
went on holiday.
The collection grew rapidly and now fills several albums. There is no great
value in the foreign coins but some of the English silver and gold are worth a
bit and the whole collection is my nest egg for old age.
Another New Business.
When my parents put the house and garden centre up for sale I hoped that it
would be sold to a builder of some sort because of the state it was in. It was
semi derelict with large cracks in the walls, damp throughout and collapsing
chimney stacks. The roof sagged and every window frame needed replacing.
The garden centre trade was decreasing as the local competition increased so
this became a less important feature of the sale although there was a lot of
After many fruitless months with an estate agent we had a visit out of the
blue by a young builder in his thirties who had a young family. He told us
that he had no money to pay for the stock but had just built a new house in a
nearby village. He suggested a straight swap for the houses and he would
borrow a little to pay for the business.
The house was a fair exchange but my parents wanted a lot more than he
offered for the stock. However they went to see his house and were very
taken with it so eventually accepted his cash offer on the condition that I
should retain all the stock in the fish department.
Also it was decided that I should continue trading in the existing fish
department and simply pay him rent for the greenhouse. The exchange went
through smoothly enough but a couple of weeks afterwards after we had
moved out of the house he said to me that he wanted me out of the fish
department so he could knock it down and rebuild. My parents were
annoyed that he had gone back on his word but there was little point in
trying to do anything so I decided to hire a van and move my shop to another
I traveled around locally but the nearest place I could find was some 25
miles away in Tamworth. It was a fairly small garden centre but much
smarter than my parents had been. At first the owners were a little doubtful
about my schizophrenia but were willing to give me a chance. We agreed
conditions and terms with a hand shake and nothing was put in writing.
Because of my illness I was not allowed to rent a van to move the stock so I
had to pay a friend for a couple of days work to drive it for me. It was well
worth it to me because there was thousands of pounds of stock and
equipment which would have taken forever to move by car.
My parents bought me an old estate car and I had some redundancy money
from them. A friend of mine had a daughter who worked for a shopfitting
company and she arranged for me to buy some shelving at trade price. This
was delivered and erected in place and then I designed the tank lay out and
filter system. Having already done this at my parents garden centre I was
experienced enough not to have any problems.
As it happened the owner of the new centre was a builder by trade so he
agreed to build the brickwork for me. When he started he admitted that he
had not got a clue how it would work out but as I was paying he was happy
to follow my instructions.
The work took some weeks as he only did it between other jobs but
eventually it was finished and he was pleased with the results as was I. The
aquarium room was on a par with any I have seen incorporating all my
existing stock tanks and equipment. This included about 60 aquariums for
the tropical fish and 20 large fibre glass tanks for the pond fish .I did have to
pay for the air pump to be serviced and buy a little new lighting.
There was a lot of electrical wiring to be done and the owner of the garden
centre insisted that this was done by a qualified electrician. As it happened
one of the darts team was a retired electrician so he volunteered to do the job
for a small price. The wiring involved about 12 plug sockets, 3 light
switches and about 30 flourescent tubes as well as a fuse box. He
commented that there was probably more wiring involved than in the
average house. I borrowed heavily from my parents to pay for the work and
at first they were happy to pay.
However trade was bad the first year and my accounts showed a loss of
several thousand pounds. I continued borrowing to pay for more stock and
eventually my parents said no more. I advertised heavily but nothing seemed
to make any difference. By this time the owner of the garden centre had been
diagnosed as having cancer and his wife had lost interest in the centre.
Eventually during my second year they decided to put it up for sale and run
down the stock. They told me that they would negotiate for me to stay on
with the new owners if they could.
The free newspaper that I advertised most with suggested that I write some
articles on fish keeping for them to include on their pets page. It seemed a
brilliant way to gain free advertising because they said that if they were
happy with the articles they would print my name and address at the end of
them. In all I wrote about 100 of varying length from 400 words to 1000. I
presented them to the newspaper in batches of 10 or 20 at a time and they
selected the most suitable to print. After some months the editor came to see
me one day to do a feature on me and commented on how good some of the
articles were. He added that he thought there was enough information to
make a book and suggested that I have a discussion about it with him about
it one day.
It would need a lot of editing but he said that he would be happy to do that
for me. At the time I thought nothing more about it but took up the idea a
couple of years later.
During this awkward phase at the garden centre there were several break ins
and quite a bit of stock was stolen and I grew disheartened with the trade.
After my parents stopped my borrowing I turned to my bank for a short time
and took out a loan. Trade did not improve and eventually I decide to sell the
stock and do something else. I tried unsuccessfully to have a clearance sale.
After a few weeks the owner of the garden centre agreed to let me sell the
shop as a business if they approved of the buyer. Several people looked at it
but as I was still making a loss it was not a good prospect.
Then out of the blue came a young couple who had a little money and were
very keen. They said they could not pay much for it but by this time I was
desperate to get out as my debts were mounting rapidly and winter was
coming with the prospect of lower trade levels still. The owners of the
garden centre approved of them so I took what was offered which was a
fraction of the value of the stock and became unemployed.
Gambling On Shares For A Quick Profit.
This chapter may seem a little out of place but as I am so unsure of the
chronological order of events detailed in the rest of the book I have decided
to write a whole chapter on my history of gambling with shares on the stock
market. I can be fairly sure of the order of events in this section because in
the cases of the building society accounts I still have most of my old pass
books and most of the share tips are vividly etched in my mind.
When I first started work I bought a few shares in small companies in a very
small way and neither profited nor lost very much but whilst at the bank I
had my biggest share tip. I was on the counter when a regular customer came
in and asked to buy some shares in the unheard of shell company called
Polly Peck. The securities clerk said to me afterwards that the customer had
got the golden touch as he had made thousands of pounds recently on shares
and he suggested that we each buy £500 worth of Polly Peck shares. I did
not have the confidence and just ignored the advice. At the time the shares
were quoted at about 10 P each. In the coming years they climbed to several
pounds before having a 10 for 1 issue. This obviously diluted the value of
the shares tenfold but they soon climbed again. Over the coming 15 years or
so they reached about £10 each. That represented an increase of 1000 times
the original value. If I had bought £500 worth of shares it would have
become worth £500,000. Eventually fraud was suspected and the company
went bankrupt over night causing many people to lose thousands of pounds.
The fact still remains that if I had had the confidence I could have made
enough to retire off from just that one share purchase.
Nowadays I believe that this failure in my confidence to follow tips is down
to "Them" influencing my mind and dissuading me from making the right
decision. The next really big tip came for me when I worked at McPenny
International as a sales rep. This was a subsidiary of the quite large company
called Birmid Qualcast.
One day I was down at head office having my monthly session with the sales
director of McPenny's, when he told me that Fisons share were a good bet.
He advised me that they had a lot of dealings with the company and were
sure it was in a good position for growth. At the time Fisons shares traded at
about 80 P each. He also told me that our own companies shares were
grossly undervalued and well worth buying after a company wide
restructuring. Birmid shares were 18 P each. Needless to say I thanked him
for his advice and promptly ignored it. Over the next 6 months I watched
Fison shares climb to over £6 each and then our shares started to rise. A few
years later Birmid was taken over by Blue Circle and the shares were traded
at over £2.50 in the deal. If I had invested just £1000 as I was advised I
could have turned it into over £60 000 in a few short years but of course I
In 1984 there were rumors that the TSB would Privatise and give away free
shares to its customers. In December I opened an account with them. It was
a friday when I heard something on the radio about it but it was the
following monday before I actually went into town and opened the account.
Months later when the announcement was made officially I found out that I
had missed the cut off date by two days so I did not get anything. Shares had
not been issued like this before and I believed that they would be a run away
success. So I arranged a large overdraft and withdrew my savings then
bought 5000. In my innocence I did not understand that a lot of new shares
are very volatile at first until they settle down and within a few days the
price dropped by 10 P. This may not seem much but it was 10 percent and
the golden rule with shares is that if the price falls by 10 percent you sell. So
I did and lost £500 on the deal. Of course they have been very successful
ever since but I was impatient as always.
After this the privatisation of building societies started so I opened some
accounts. In 1986 I already had an account with the nationwide and I opened
an account with the Abbey National. This was a direct hit and I got my free
shares 3 years later when it was privatised. After this success I opened an
account with the Alliance and Leicester and had to wait 9 years for the fruits
of my investment to occur but it did and I got my shares.
In 1994 I foolishly closed my Nationwide account but as they have fought
off privatisation once maybe I have not missed out. Also in 1994 I closed my
account with the National Provincial Building Society. This was very
definitely the wrong thing to do because a couple of years later they were
taken over resulting in a windfall of some £500 for each shareholder.
Over the years I have had several very good tips through working at the
garden centre, none of which I have followed up. Martins Newsagents is
such a case in point as I was advised that there was a takeover imminent but
I ignored the advice and the shares doubled almost over night.
Another tip I had concerned Redland Aggregates which was taken over a
couple of years ago. This I followed up but bought at the wrong price so I
did not really make anything. One of my more recent failures was with Pace
Micro technology which fell from 70 P to 25 P and then rose to over £10.
Here again I bought and sold at the wrong price which resulted in my
making only £100 instead of thousands. I did the exact same thing with
Allied carpets which I sold for £100 profit instead of waiting a few days in
which they doubled before a takeover price was finally fixed. One share I
have done well with is Pilkington.
A while ago I bought them at 62 P and sold them at about £1.20 which is a
very good gain. Several years ago I opened many small accounts with
different building societies in the hopes of windfalls as they are now termed.
I did sell some shares in Signet on which I made a small profit of £100 but at
least I made a profit and not a loss. Also I have received a £240 windfall
from the AA which was taken over.
This last 18 months or so I have gone on to do even better with different
shares and now I have built up a nice little nest egg.
It can be seen that things are starting to look up for me as I now sometimes
make the right decisions concerning shares but I do feel that my hand has
been guided all along and my newfound success is due to the fact that my
health is starting to improve and therefore "They" want me to be more
The Final Chapter.
Going back and picking up the story from where I sold the fish department
at Tamworth I will now detail my latest attempts to gain success. At first I
simply became unemployed and looked quite enthusiastically for a suitable
job. Then after 3 months the job centre suggested a computer course run on
their behalf. I had a little more confidence in myself after passing the Pet
Store course so I applied.
To get on the course I had to pass an aptitude test which I sailed through
comfortably. I explained my background to the tutors and they said I should
have no trouble in passing the exam which was a G.N.V.Q. in information
technology. I started the course and the first two weeks were not a problem,
then we had to move onto a new section. It was a self teach course from a
manual and I got bogged down. There were so many instructions to
remember that I could not cope.
A tutor realized I was having difficulty and sent me to a remedial tutor for
assessment. She asked me about my basic education and said that she could
not understand why I had been sent to her because she could not improve my
I struggled on until I got completely stuck and saw a tutor again. After
explaining the problem they could offer no solution and I resigned from the
I continued looking half heartedly for work and some of my friends have
made the comment that I will be alright for an Xmas job if I grow my beard
a little longer. I think that they are referring to my white hair, white beard
and my pot belly. Sometimes when I answer the phone I get mistaken for my
father which I don t mind, but when they can see me in person and they still
mistake me for my 80 year old mothers husband I get upset.
White hair does have its advantages sometimes as when I went out with my
parents for a meal, I was on several occasions offered a pensioners special at
a reduced price.
About 18 months ago my father had a fall in the lounge at home and broke
his leg. It was a bad break that needed operating on. His heart condition
caused complications that resulted in him not recovering properly and he
died of pneumonia early on Xmas eve a few days later. My mother took his
death well but I think that if I had not been at home for her she would have
been lost because they had been married for 50 years. Another thing that has
been making my mother appreciate having me at home is the fact that her
eyesight is failing and she is registered as partially sighted. She has a talking
newspaper on a weekly basis and talking books. My father did not like
having music on in the house but whenever my mother sits down now she
has something on, usually a tape that I have recorded for her.
The job centre sent me on one or two more short courses designed to help
me get a job and while I was on one I saw an advert in a local newspaper for
a word processor. It was very cheap so I phoned the gentleman up and went
to have a look at it. He had bought a new computer and had no further use
for the word processor. After showing it to me he admitted that he could not
get it to print so he said that I could have it for nothing and if I got it repaired
I could send him a cheque. This seemed fair so I took it home.
After cleaning it up and buying a new ink cartridge I got it going so I sent
him a cheque as agreed. After I had done a little practice typing I got a friend
to scan the articles on fish keeping into his computer and then as my word
processor used a different disc to his I got another friend to convert the
stored information onto another disc. After this I could insert the disc into
For several months I worked on the would be book on fish ponds until I was
satisfied with it. Then I decided to try and get it published. I sent it to several
fish pond manufacturers in the hopes that they would produce it with
illustrations of their products and sell it as one of their products. I believed
that this would give it a far better potential sale limit than just getting it
published in the normal way.
Whilst waiting for a response I decided that there was a lot of unused
information that I had written that applied to coldwater fish tanks. So, I
rewrote a lot of the pond articles with a new slant so that they applied to
aquariums and added more information on different aspects of aquariums.
This second book was slightly shorter than the first but I felt that as the
finished books would be half pictures and half text they would both be long
enough. This book I sent off to various aquarium products manufactures
with the same intentions as the first. I had no success so I have decided to
get a friend to draw some illustrations for the books and pay to have them
printed myself. With a lot of luck I shall be able to sell enough copies myself
at car boots etc to justify the costs because I have had a great response from
people who have read them. I shall of course trade on the fact that my name
is A.J Hartley and I have a brother called J.R Hartley. (Of Fly Fishing Fame)
Of course it is not the same person but it will make a good talking point at
car boots etc.
The last two or three years I have kept myself fairly busy with one thing or
another. The main thing that has affected my life is the computer course that
I have followed at a local centre. The development of these centres was
encouraged by the government for older people especially who had missed
out on that particular type of education when they were younger as it had not
been developed then. When I enrolled I did not know what courses would be
useful to me but decided to take them all as I had recently bought a second
hand computer as an upgrade on the old word processor.
Shortly after starting the first course on Word the old lady who used to run
the darts league, that I have played in for many years, died. The girl who
took over did not have much of an idea how to draw up a league etc and she
had no means of printing the darts literature anyway. So, as I had helped the
old lady before I offered my services again. I soon realized that I might as
well take over completely and get the recognition that I deserved as I was
doing everything in all but name. At the next meeting I offered to stand as
secretary and was well enough known amongst the men players who made
up the majority attending that I was voted in as secretary. At first my abrupt
manner upset a few teams as did the committees response to one or two
disputes but gradually the league came to some order and started to grow
At one meeting it was suggested that we might run some adverts on our
fixtures as a type of sponsorship to raise additional revenue for the league.
By then I had completed a course on Power Point and I realized that this was
ideal to design and print adverts in so I agreed. At first adverts were
comparatively easy to obtain but now they require a little more shoe leather
and effort on my part but we still manage to obtain a few each season.
Indeed they have been so steady that we, the league, have been able to
present free dart boards to each pub in the league a couple of times and it
seems that it is going to be a regular thing.
The latest development with the league is a web site. Again the courses that I
have completed have proved invaluable with this idea. As I learn more I am
developing the site but it already has a lot on it. The idea is to use it a little
like an electronic newspaper but instead of redoing the whole site every
week I just add to it or update items like the league table. Eventually we
might even get adverts on this as well to raise even more funds for the
league. Running the web site costs very little as it just needs a phone call
like an e-mail to update it whenever. There is no rental as it was free with
from my internet provider. The only draw back is that it can t be found with
a search engine so some of the players are having difficulty getting it on
I have continued with my writing, not only articles for the web site but
additional books. A friend suggested that I write a book on my schizophrenia
and my problems. I thought about it and asked my psychiatrist what he
thought about the idea. He was all for it because I think he thought it might
help me to come to terms with my problems and clarify my thoughts a little.
He may also have been genuinely interested to find out a little more about
me and my thoughts than he could uncover by our routine chats although he
has known me a long time now.
I feel that it could be of use to other sufferers so that they might understand
that their thoughts are not so unusual. Also it might be of use to psychiatric
students of one sort or another or social workers.
If you are a fellow sufferer you will appreciate the difficulties that I have
had in writing this book and perhaps understand why it is not in a strict
chronological order. I have tried to follow a line of thought so that I could
expand on it without losing track of what I was writing about. I have inserted
many anecdotes as I have remembered them. At times things have got a little
muddled but I don t believe that matters so much as the fact that as far as I
can say everything is true.