The hospital I know by this name is a different one, I'm pretty sure. I have two stories about this one, which is situated in Harehills, Leeds, England, near where I grew up. The memories leave me with mixed, slightly nauseous feelings. This is my first story.

Strange Yellow Walls

When I was 18 years old, one of my very best friends, perhaps still the smartest person I've ever known, scored himself a schizophrenia diagnosis on Christmas Eve. This is how he did it:

He went into Virgin Megastore and began throwing things around. Then he pushed over shelves with records in them (yep, back then, we had black vinyl records with grooves and styluses and everything). Eventually, he was arrested and taken to a police station where eventually, having been assessed and signed off by the requisite mental health professionals, he was sectioned under the mental health act. This phrase is a corruption; there are a number of different sections of this act under which a person may be detained, and he was detained under one of them. I forget which. Either way, people who become familiar with the field of experience jargonise thusly: he got himself sectioned.

He ended up living in a ward on Roundhay Wing for quite a while, where I visited him pretty much every day for a month or two, then every other day for some time after that. I don't remember exactly how long I kept going there, but it seemed like I spent a lot of time there. Sometimes it was fun. We'd spent a lot of time growing up together, and his thought processes were very familiar to me, so we only disconnected quite rarely. I attributed most of those disconnects to the chemicals they were experimenting on him with. Some of them had weird side-effects like making his tongue stick out and dangle on his chin. Sometimes he'd play with his tongue, as a way of passing the time. There was fuck all else to do in there, aside from smoke and watch TV.

At that time, I was the only one of our joint friends who was still in Leeds. Others had started college, and I had become so disgusted with my last couple of years at High School that I hadn't gone off to university yet. (Needless to say, real life got me back on target within a couple of years.) Occasionally, people would return to Leeds from their various places of indoctrination, and come to Roundhay Wing for grins. I remember sitting in the day room with half a dozen people, my friend quietly toying with his tongue, playing a strange game called Pass the Pigs. For some really stupid reason, the walls were yellow. Why anyone thought that was a reasonable thing to do -- paint the walls yellow that is -- I'll never know. It wasn't exactly a place of reason though.

The hospital is very big, one of the biggest in Europe. It's a truly impressive place. It's also old (Victorian, I think) and almost a caricature of institutional England. Dark, shadowy, overwhelming, and usually topped off with a gloomy, cloud and rain-laden sky. Although people often come out of there in better shape than they went in, it's also true that hospitals attract the dying. Stay away if you can.

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