A Cup Please



Some things are difficult to write about. They either seem overstated or petty.  This account to the reader may sound trivial but it is fundamental to being treated fairly; to being treated like a human being.  The setting is in a psychiatric hospital in London. Which itself conjures up a wealth of descriptions about abuse or failings in psychiatry. It was a locked ward which means you couldn’t go out without permission.  Permission is given in normal situations only after 24 hrs and only when accompanied by a staff member.  So, no nipping to the shops.

This story short as it is, discusses not just fair mindedness, but justice. My right to be treated as my neighbour, to be respected as a human being.

I sat on the torn couch.  It was a dirty shade of green leather with a large tear across the middle; which went well with the “murky” green curtains and the green linoleum, which I didn’t think they sold anymore.  He was an agency nurse.  I stood up and asked him for a cup as there were none left on the trolley and the kitchen was locked.  If I didn’t get a cup of coffee; I wouldn’t have a drink until the next morning at breakfast. This evening's drink at 8pm was the last.  No water was left at our bedside. no luxuries as you would today find in a general ward as I recently discovered on a visit with my osteoarthritis!  The nurse didn’t look at me.  He just stared ahead.  I asked again clearly, but he continued to stare.  I was then asked to sit down.  Well no coffee tonight!

What difference does it make in the big scheme of things if you don’t have a cup of tea or in my case a coffee.  With famine, abuse and whole myriad of disasters in the world, is it that important? Well I think it is.  It feels a little less petty when its written down, because you can embellish it with the action of the nurse or the consequences if you don’t have a cup i.e. you don’t have a drink for twelve, maybe fourteen hours, if they are late with the breakfast. Things are sometimes not as simple as they seem.