Relax you’re two Tents


On my first morning here, walking out in the autumn sunshine, I noticed a tent. I was walking on a bridge over a big freeway and the tent was pitched on the banks of one of the slip roads. I was amused at first because hotel rooms here are expensive and I wondered whether one of my colleagues had taken the ultra budget option for conference accommodation, but as I got closer I realised that whoever was in the tent (and there was only room for one) was arguing with his inner demons and it sounded like his inner demons were getting the better of the exchange. Obviously the Americans have the same approach to care in the community as we do. The tent moves around from night to night but seems to be a more or less permanent fixture – I’ve taken to looking out for it on my walks home – although I’ve never heard it talking since. And it kind of made me wonder. When did we (Brits and Americans both) become the sort of society where having somebody who was visibly and audibly mad wandering aroung amongst us was normal? I saw a guy a few weeks back at Hyde Park Corner who was literally barking mad and we all just avoided his eyes and walked on. We’re slightly better than we were in the Eighteenth century and asylums were places like zoos where people went to be amused by the nutters, but not much. Obviously, persuading our respective governments to invest in decent care and treatment facilities for the mentally ill is just going to be too much like hard work but I have thought of a much cheaper and quicker solution. We should buy them all blue tooth headsets – they don’t have to actually work – and then they’ll fit right in.


13 responses to “Relax you’re two Tents

  1. I noticed when I lived in Manchester that there were a lot of crazy people on the streets. I don’t notice it so much in London, but perhaps because there are so many people. I know everyone’s got their biases, but I always feel terrible when I see an old person who’s homeless. Bag ladies or old men – I just wonder where their families are or why something isn’t done for them.

    Another legacy of the Thatcher era.

  2. A good idea. The outfit would be completed by issuing them with a Starbucks takeout coffee cup

  3. oink – there was a heartwarming story (I don’t normally do heart warming but the midwest is beginning to rub off on me …) about an old irish guy who was identified by his family from a photograph in an inflight magazine and reunited with them – he’d never bothered to get in touch because he didn’t think they’d want him back, and they didn’t know where he’d gone.

    Lilo – maybe also a laptop bag stuffed with all of their worldly goods?

  4. Oink. Help me out here. How are bagladies/men/persons a legacy of the Thatcher era? I know that Thatcher is used as an excuse for most things the nice Mr Blair has got wrong but bagpeople? Iraq will soon be seen as a ‘legacy’ of the Thatcher era-if you are not careful

  5. I think she’s referring to care in the community – definitely one of Hers. Although the nice Mr. Blair could have undone it, I suppose

  6. Yep, Care in the Community. It started long before Blair. Care you justify why you think it was him this time?

  7. that should have said ‘care to’

  8. Funny, there used to be a mad woman who would rant about just about anything getting off the train every morning at Kew Bridge station, but she hasn’t been seen this last week. I don’t know whether to worry about it or not.

  9. James – yes, very funny. She’ll be back…

  10. Could she be Baroness Thatcher -or her legacy?

  11. Care in the Community arose as a result of a coincidence of approach between the Left (who objected to the notion that those who had done no wrong should be “institutionalised” – i.e. effectively imprisoned) and the Right (Who wanted to cut public spending). I think there is enough blame to go round on this one. For instance, any mainstreaming approach also assumed that we, the community, would help the mentally ill play a role rather than avoiding their gaze (as I do).

  12. And I think with that magnificantly balanced response from Moobs (you’re not in training to become a politician are you?) I shall declare the discussion on care in the community over…

  13. OK So the discussion is maybe over… I would like to ask where care in the community ends & street theatre starts

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