Monday, April 14, 2003


The first of my friends to prove a certifiable loon was admitted to Royal Park hospital years ago and I find it difficult to look back on. It was a crisis for Jo's family and her wide circle of friends. As we know, crisis often brings out the best in people but some arrive at their best through very circuitous routes. I still remember the considerate friend (hereafter Mr X), by his own reckoning closer to Jo's family than I, who phoned to tell me that I was in very bad odour because, on the weekend that she went missing from the family home, she was staying at my place with me and the ex-wife.

It hadn't been a pleasant weekend for us. It was obvious that Jo was deranged (we later learned that she was in the manic phase of bipolar disorder). She was also too paranoid about her family to be persuaded that the best thing she could do was to go back to them. We had enough of her trust that she was prepared to stay the night with us - the alternative was to let her leave and she was obviously in no state to fend for herself. The only reason we hadn't contacted Jo's family was that we didn't know their telephone number, nor did anyone else we rang to try to find it out (unless that's a confabulation to gloss over a glaring and embarassing lapse of reason). I don't think it was a listed number either.

I think that it was also through the idiotic Mr X that I learnt that Jo's family didn't want any of her friends - especially me - visiting her while she was in hospital. At least not until we had their say so. As I write this, I find that I'm doing that silly bloke thing where you get really infuriated about a slight that happened years ago and angry at yourself for not dealing with it better at the time. If I'd told Mr X then just how insulting his remarks were, we might have sorted it out and the friendship wouldn't have gone into a long slow decline.


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