Natalis Kuler

In This Moment

I am looking at the forest of coffee mugs sprouting on my desk, their dark circular tide marks sweeping thoughts out to sea. I am watching the mould grow on a crusty plate, looking at the handprints that won’t come off my window. I am wondering how finely I can slice time to arrive bang-on at that sad grey building full of sad grey people. Let’s go.

The door slams, an uncompromising end-of-the-world bang. Freeze, and stand stock-still waiting for the volcanic rumble of falling masonry. The house is just another condemnable shithole. Each time the door slams I expect it to submit to gravity and collapse like a brick-lined lung, one of those comedy moments where the world-weary star turns round when the noise has stopped to a heap of rubble and dust.

I confirm my good timing with a poor wipe-clean-clothes bowl-cut who doesn’t want to be wasting her seconds in this squeaky-clean house of pain any more than I do. Sign in through the safety glass doors. Look upstairs at the suicide netting like it’s an optical illusion, magic eye, and any minute I’m going to see through it to the falling body.

I have a thing in my head I call the Monster Bin. It’s the space I think everyone has in their brain where I put all the thoughts I really don’t want to dwell on, or wish I could cancel out. I mentally draw a thick, red cross over the image and put it in the Monster Bin. I do this while I’m clock-watching in that upholstered magazine rack peeling-paint box where none of us make contact like aliens in the wrong conference room.

I got a great view from this room, with its two chairs slumped like they moulded themselves under the rank sweat of every poor fucker who gave up in their fabric. I look across at the windows, still barred with heavy iron ribs from when this was the ‘Wonford House Retreat for the Insane’. Shudder like I got caught looking at post-mortem photography again.

Ask me how I’m doing, then. I’ll keep to myself any thoughts about beige and stone suits and wondering why I never see you in technicolour clothing. I’ll keep to myself speculation about the origins of your name, I’ll keep to myself the musings on the personality of your handwriting. I’ll talk a lot about my invisible housemate who roams rent-free in my head and breaks the central heating, and you’ll agree to send someone round to sort it out like any nonplussed landlord lucky enough to live in a nicer house.

See, I think of my mind as a loft conversion. The estate agent describes it as ‘bijou’, which means extremely cramped (although sometimes if I creep around it when it’s quiet I can find rooms that weren’t there before), I share it with Mental Problems. Mental Problems is an inconsiderate roomie. MP never takes the bins out, MP can’t pay the rent again, MP thinks that 3.30 in the morning is a good time to sing in the bath. MP ignores the letters from the council with the big red writing and doesn’t shower. MP talks to itself and buys vegetables that go rotten and seep into the cracks in the fridge. I think of my falling-down house with its broken windows and crumbling paintwork and laugh. It’s a bit like dogs looking similar to their owners, I guess.

You and I agree that the pills are working because there is more sleep and less broken glass happening. I padlock my lips shut and nod as we settle an appointment same time next month, and I don’t even need to follow the thick blue lettering A-Z-ing me out, I can smell the fresher air out there like a racehorse in a stable. Past the wipe-down receptionist and safety door, I smack my fist against the wall like I do every time I leave; like pressing a button on the back of a talking doll, it activates the screams that lurk under the plaster, just out of earshot, for your listening pleasure.

I didn’t tell you there is just as much shattered glass, because you’d say it was a symptom when it’s just my insight into the mind of God. Grains of sand blown into proportion, every disordered and crazy-looking line reflects light with an intense and crystalline mathematical precision. I don’t cut myself with it; you know there are no scars of self-hate anywhere on me, Doctor. I just watch, hypnotised, at the bright unfolding of the coruscating centre of things, like a child at the circus, catching for a second the ringmaster’s eye.


I am a writer, photographer and frenetic performance poet. I am also addicted to cheese and am an officially mad person who likes art, coffee, nonsense and Taoism and does not like bigotry, boring hats or those round after-dinner mints you get in some Italian restaurants. This piece is from when I was using the Exeter mental health services at Wonford House Hospital, although I now live in Brighton.