After leaving school jag worked for six months in a solicitor’s office and then became a clerk in a north country psychiatric hospital for three years. He is single, aged 23, and was a Labour candidate in this year’s General Election. Like pc he reflects on the dreadful boredom of his work, also, as he recalls his life as a clerk in the hospital, on the pettiness, spite and cruelty he experienced there.
I left school classified as a failure. All I had were five ‘ordinary’ levels, which were taken over three examinations.
It was an overcrowded, direct-grant school which had taken me at 14 from a Secondary-modern school. For me it was a place of unease, full of people who were confident, assured, and unaware of the strains within me and my background. Yet, during this period, outside school, I plodded to understand music, and to enjoy the theatre. In time, I did learn. However, I failed at school—all three Advanced levels, and was asked not to return to re-take them.
Upon the recommendation of an aunt, I fled into a solicitor’s office, as an articled clerk, and after six-month’s boredom, mingled with a repulsion of the company of professionals—older editions of my schoolmates—I escaped to a psychiatric hospital to work as a clerical assistant.
On my first day, I was introduced to the Administrative Head of the hospital, and then taken to the wages and salaries office. This was to be my prison for a year—the stark, high walls and tiny windows made the hospital appear like a place of detention, rather than the therapeutic community of cure that it was supposed to be.
During the time I was there, I was never officially shown around the hospital or introduced to anybody, apart from the secretary and the people in the office where I was to work.
The office contained three desks, and the other clutter one might expect in an office. The only attractive object which struck me on that first day was a tree, just outside the window—a leaning, spreading mass, with deep olive-coloured leaves. This was to be the pivot of my day-dreams, a way of escape from the routine. Routine which demanded intense concentration, but gave no satisfaction in return.