‘Ice. Cold. Milk.’
‘Alright love, in a minute.’
Ian is an elderly stroke victim. Like a handful of the other men on the ward he’s completely broken. He has a shock of white hair and very blue, but very vacant, eyes. He barely says anything except the odd ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the nurses and spends most of the day staring into space. So, I give a quick double take when this poor old guy, this shadow, utters these three little words.
‘Ian, I’ve got my hands full at the moment.’ The nurse is doing her rounds, dealing with another patient’s drip. She’s used to it, Ian demands this every day. But today’s the first day it sticks for me. Today is the day my memory starts working.
I am something of a word lover (or was) and there’s real pleasure to be derived from the old man’s tiny, misplaced poem.
He scowls at the nurse.
‘There’s no use giving me that look, I’ll be with you just as quick as I can.’
Ian is not in the mood to wait.
‘Ice. Cold. Milk.’ He says again, louder this time. ‘ICE. COLD. MILK.’
In 2010 Dave came around from a coma in hospital ‘suffering’ from euphoria, with many broken bones, no memory, a brain injury and no idea how he ended up in Newtimber Ward. He slowly reclaimed the little things: clapping, crapping and not saying the first thing that entered his rude, disinhibited mind. Then, giddy and giggling, he discovered the true nature of his ‘accident’.
‘Tea Bags, Soap, Be Normal’ charts both depression and brain injury and shows how our darkest moments of recovery can be flecked with humour and beauty. Ultimately it is a witty, unflinching look at the fragility and brilliance of the human brain.
**SELECTED FOR THE FUTURE BOOKSHELF HachetteUK WRITERS MENTORING SCHEME 2020**
**SHORTLISTED FOR PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE 'WriteNow' 2018 **