Mark Barnes

High Security Ward

Arthur’s marching up and down
Proclaiming his wisdom to all around
He tells me that it’s important to know
The difference between ha-ha and Hawhaw
One is a landscape garden feature
The other was a traitor in the Second World War
John’s got a box of what looks like
Little bits of coloured plastic to me
He says he found them in his flat
And they’ll prove that he should be free.
Rory tells me that he’s the King of England
Well of course you are, your majesty.
He says he knows why we’re all here
It’s the failure of Care in the Community.
This ent the kind of place that appreciates subtlety
No one leaves the dining room until they count the cutlery.
I can’t eat when I want to
I’m so hungry I could scream
When it’s time to drink tea I eat the whole sugar bowl
Just a little food would be my dream
Detained without trial
Detained without charge
It ent the kind of thing that makes Amnesty smile
And I so wish that I was at large
“Don’t do drugs” that’s what people like to say
But if you try that here my dear, you won’t get your way
If you refuse to swallow their pills
They’ll pin you down and inject you
With drugs that make you ill
The only person who comes to visit me
Is my friend Criszena
I gave her one hundred and fifty three
To buy me some backy, but since then I haven’t seen her
This ent the kind of place that appreciates subtlety
No one leaves the dining room until they count the cutlery.


‘Through taking part in this project I hope to increase at least some of the public’s knowledge of schizophrenia and help to reduce prejudice.  A fellow schizophreniac and myself were discussing at her birthday party the differences in public perception of schizophrenia and manic depression. The public tend to regard manic depressives as creative geniuses, but regard schizophreniacs such as myself as serial killers. My fellow schizophreniac suggested that “sane” people can relate to manic depressives because “sane” people know what it is like to feel miserable and know what it’s like to feel happy, but don’t generally have any experience on which to base an idea of what schizophrenia feels like.
‘I was hoping that if I manage to be as funny as Seaneen Molloy and Stephen Fry then I might be able to change the public perception of schizophreniacs somewhat.

On the other hand, some of my humour does involve putting myself in the role of a serial killer, so I may be being counter productive.
I think I may be able to give “sane” people an idea of what it is like to be a schizophreniac by explaining how the symptoms are not entirely unlike experiences that “sane” people commonly have.

‘One symptom of schizophrenia is delusional beliefs, such as a belief that England can and will win the world cup, or that the police are honest. Or that pope Benedict the 16th is a good man and has left his Hitler Youth days behind him.

A second symptom is hearing voices. Some people manage to get a salary out of it and are called priests. All the gods and goddesses that used to visit me on a regular basis seem to have sent me to Coventry in protest at me sullying the temple of my body with atypical antipsychotic drugs. You know how religions hate drugs. Especially if people take them every day and intend to do so for the rest of their lives.

A third symptom of schizophrenia is that a schizophreniac will read a work of fiction and believe that it is completely true and vitally important to their lives. I think some “sane” people experience this when reading newspapers’.

‘This is a song of mine, from my album ‘Welcome to Cholsey’.  Almost every word of which is literally true. The exception is where I have changed the names of people I met on the ward.’