mechanised
[beneath the rule a country hides]

Sunday, October 22nd, 2000

Time:10:14 pm.
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........#10 - Mental Health Unit, South [Autumn 2006]


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It was purely by chance that I learned about this latest location – overhearing a conversation between two nurses whilst visiting a friend in the south. ..After a quick trip to the local library, I was soon in possession of directions and a potted history of the site; and so decided to pay a brief visit …

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A small section of an otherwise active hospital, these buildings once tended to the mentally ill and those with learning difficulties, eventually closing when treatment became more community-based. Derelict since 2004, they have long been a target for the city’s vandals - although remarkably, save a couple of smashed windows, the damage is limited to graffiti.

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Again, the buildings had been stripped bare; but careful examination still unearthed a few items of interest – decorative paper, ward reports, even a handful of Christmas cards.

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Given the paucity of fittings, I was therefore astonished to stumble across a padded room. In the midst of being stripped (only the lower half remained) its use was unclear - my first thought incarceration; my second, that it may simply have been a relaxation room

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Perhaps the remnants of an earlier tenant, a Beethoven cassette lay unwound on the floor (Symphony no.2 in D major) – but the cell was otherwise completely barren. At once childlike (recalling cushioned playpens) and sinister (every action negated), the atmosphere was extremely discomfiting; and I left almost instantly.

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It was only towards the end of my visit that I discovered anything more personal - a folder of ward reports hidden beneath some curtains. Detailing everything from falls to medication schedules, they afforded a rare insight into the patients’ daily routines - a glimpse of life at its most mundane and helpless.

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