Tea Bags, Soap, Be Normal
‘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.
‘Alright Ian, I’ve got my hands full at the moment.’ The nurse is doing the 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 again.
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.’
A funny, conversational, moving and poetic memoir about the pitfalls and brilliance of the human brain
and how, sometimes, being broken is our only salvation.
“To be born, you have to come from a pretty dark place.”
In 2010 David came around from a coma in hospital 'suffering' from euphoria and finding everything hilarious, with many broken bones, no memory, a severe brain injury and no idea how he ended up in New Timber Ward.
As he pieces things together, all sorts of dark secrets emerge. A past of unrequited love, discovering the piano, a lost album, 'Good Friday', of pain and recovery … he slowly remembers the other way his brain has been broken and how it has blackened his life but shaped him as a man and artist.
Out of the hospital and staying with his long-suffering parents, he continues his recovery and is struck by the wonders and simplicities of life anew. The sky, not spilling a cup of tea, the trees in the wind, learning how to swim again, all seem incredible to him in his euphoric state. As he puts the final pieces of the jigsaw together he realises something else.
"I have been given an incredible second chance and I am not going to waste it."
**SHORTLISTED FOR PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE 'WriteNow' 2018 **