Introduction Foreword Writing Together Coping Within The System Coping On My Own Coping With Teenagers Coping With Relationships Live Performance

Paul Maclennan

The Mad Celts

I remember when Paul walked into the hospital. It was a chance
meeting that could only go one of two ways. He was a big lad and he
had a shaved head. I could tell he could handle himself.
"Are you at war?" I asked him.
"Yes" he said. It went my way.

We set up camp in the spare telly room from that day on. We would share everything, fags, coke, chocolate, lighters and anything else that came our way. I'd been getting into a lot of fights but there were two of us now and everything calmed down. We started our own gang called "The Mad Celts". The aim was to lift ourselves out of the environment that neither of us wanted to be in. Paul had done a few naughty things in his time. That said, in two years of hospital he was the best bloke I ever met. I trusted him. He taught me how to play Blackjack, not the casino version but a game where you have to lose all your cards to win. He was the absolute master and even though I beat him a couple of times the games usually went his way.

Fags are like a currency in hospital. At the end of the day both Paul and myself would have smoked our limit. We would then go on the trawl for the last fag of the night. There was a wonderful woman in hospital. She always used to give one to us. Both Paul and myself loved her for this. Out would come "The Beast", Paul's lighter, and we would two's it. Another day in hospital gone, thank fuck. We also used to make a big effort at meal times. We would always set the table for four people. Meal times were always a scrum and people liked the gentle dignity we would bring to the proceedings. Every day a couple of people would sit at our table and enjoy our company. It was a good feeling.

I eventually got discharged from hospital (ejected would be a more
appropriate description). A few months later I was involved in a road
accident. Paul heard about it and came down to see me. I really appreciated it especially as I knew he used a lot of his benefit money to do so. He came again a while later. I don't know how or why but he got himself into a bit of trouble. I wrote to him during this period and arranged a subscription to the men's magazine FHM. He really appreciated what I had done for him.

One day something switched in my brain and I decided to turn my back on all the people and experiences I'd had in London. Paul phoned to see how I was doing. I told him I was going my own way. You could hear how upset he was but he still wished me well. I put the phone down.

A few weeks later I realised that my new life was as much a load of bollocks as the one I'd experienced in London. I phoned Paul to apologise. A voice I hadn't heard before answered the phone and informed me that he killed himself by taking an overdose. I put the phone down and my stomach turned.

I've never forgiven myself for letting Paul down. People tell you, we're all adults and we make our own decisions and mistakes. It doesn't help. I feel like a complete shit.

Paul you will always be my Mad Celt Brother. If there were us two and twenty men were coming for me, I know you would have stood by me to the last man. I miss you mate and I'm going to make it for the both of us. I promise.


'Being part of this project has increased my self-esteem considerably. I wanted to thank you for inviting me to the performance, I have never felt so proud to be part of my community and I shall now only refer to myself as mentally interesting. I'm recovering from 12 years of bi-polar, and I spend my time blogging and looking after my dog Kyp.
This piece from my blog was a way of giving closure to a particular experience, and the guilt that I felt. It's about Paul, who we later called Connor, because we share the same name.'