I’m writing this here mostly just to catalogue it - to help me understand it and its context - and to supply an update to those of you kind enough to ask after my brother.
My brother had a psychotic break earlier in the year. He was briefly institutionalised in Malta and, after being given a prescription for psychiatric medicine, it was agreed he could fly back home to the UK. The doctor here, to whom he spoke alone, said he appeared fine and that provided he stuck to his course of medicine, he should not need further examination by a psychologist/psychiatrist.
He walked out of the house one evening a week or so later, disappearing for 5 days. Evidence pointed to the fact he’d stopped taking his medicine, possibly as soon as he’d arrived in the UK. The police were mobilised and a very wide search was put out. He phoned after the 5 days from a Buddhist monastery he’d wandered to. He ate largely out of garbage bags in that time.
He returned and was interviewed by a psychiatric professional who recommended he be hospitalised. He eventually agreed to this but ran away before the response team could arrive, 36 hours later. (He literally ran away, in fact, sprinting away from me when we were out for a walk.)
He phoned after a few days demanding money for a train ticket to a Homeopathic/Alternative Healing centre he’d previously agreed to do work for. The money was sent, the theory being that at least we’d then know where he was.
Once he’d arrived, we informed the police and the psychiatric unit local to that area. They went to the Homeopathic Centre and interviewed him, but said they were unable to forcibly restrict or retain him in any way as he didn’t seem to be a harm to himself or anyone else.
The owner of the Homeopathic centre was very helpful and understanding, providing updates and emailing us about his general state as often as we requested. He had agreed to work there for the summer in exchange for food and board and some money. He quit a few months in, instead opting to work for a company that constructs playgrounds for whom he’d done some manual labour in the past. He wanted to do so to earn more money so that he could fly to Spain to walk the Pigrim’s Way, a long hike between towns of religious significance, and meet with a girl he’d met at the centre.
With no money and nowhere to stay before the work had started, he attempted to turn up at my mother’s house. The first time he did so, she allowed him to stay for a few days, bought him some clothes, and fed him. The second time, her partner (who’d been away on the first occasion) refused to allow him in, citing the last few months’ mental toll and, among other things, my brother’s refusal to discuss his mental health.
My brother managed to get in contact with the boss of the construction company, who agreed to put him up until the work began.
He began working and was doing so up until last week. With another break in work, his boss offered to let him stay with him at his place in Guernsey, an island off to the coast of Spain. Last Monday evening, alone, my brother decided to jump on the trampoline in the bottom of his boss’s garden late in the evening. He fell, fractured his spine, crushed his pelvis, and was knocked unconscious for a few hours. He awoke early in the morning and screamed in pain until his boss awoke to find him outside. He was taken to a hospital, who then airlifted him back to the UK. As Guernsey doesn’t fall under the National Health System, the costs for the ambulance, hospital care, and airlift fall on him, though he doesn’t know this as yet.
Airlifted to the UK, he then underwent surgery to put pins above and below the fractured/smashed vertebra. He’s maintained feeling and movement in his legs throughout and we’ve been to visit him a few times. Tomorrow he’s due to have surgery on his pelvis as the doctors aren’t particularly happy with its placement/recovery. In any case, he probably has a long recovery period ahead.
That’s how it is at the moment.
As I stood waiting on the platform for the train, I noted that beyond my stop it continued on to a place called Hamworthy.
I was already late and due to visit my brother in hospital, but for a brief while I considered staying on the train and continuing on to Hamworthy.
There, I though, I would be able to carefully take the measure of the town and its residents (Hamworthians?) and try to work out what, exactly, made it worthy of ham.
Perhaps it was simply that its people considered themselves all worthy of ham and, in joyous agreement, decided to celebrate this fact. But this then posed the question: if a citizen was deemed unworthy of ham - possibly by committing some slight against the fine meat - would they be expelled?
How would one then determine the exact hamworthiness of a Hamworthian? Was there a Comittee For Hamoworthian Values that made such determinations, perhaps composed of those deemed most worthy of ham?
Most crucially, would I be deemed worthy of ham upon my arrival - given a celebratory lei of ham, kissed quickly and briefly on both cheeks, and shown swiftly to my new, council-provided Hamworth residence?
Or perhaps I would be found wanting, the Committee noting my known public associations with vegetarians, and chased out of town with brooms and ham-bone missiles.
I got off at my stop.