Tamsin Williams

Police Cell

I run out into the street naked, clutching my baby Neve.
I’m running to my friend’s house round the corner.
She’ll help, I reach her house, all the lights are out, I forget it’s 2am.
I hover near her house, a man walks down the street, I run up to him:

“Can you hold my baby?” I say

“Yes”, he says.

I knock on the neighbour’s door, ask for a blanket and some water.

The man calls 999
Flashing blue lights enter the street. ‘I hope it’s not for me’, I think.

This is my fourth trip in an ambulance. In the last we drove on a tight rope through the sky on the way to the mother and baby unit.
The one before I was laughing, high on gas and air, bum in the air on the way to give birth to Neve. Before that I was clapping my way to a psychiatric ward.

We stop.
I get out expecting to see hospital. It’s a police station.
In my red dressing gown I stare up at the Police Sergeant.

He looks like he’s flying or maybe even operating a flight desk of a rocket. My mind’s racing ‘I’m a terrorist. Why am I here? I’m an artist, I have a website, I can be tracked down, why can’t I go home?’ I’m led to a cell, dressing gown disappears, I’m in a pair of blue police pyjamas.

Locked in, with one window, high and frosted.
I’m really scared now. I know there’s a camera on me, the police use cameras. There’s a toilet, a sink and a concrete bed with a thin mattress.

Later it’s my mother’s voice. I ask her ‘Where am I?’
She says ‘Hollingdean’
But I hear ‘Holloway’!
‘Fuck, I think, I’m in bloody prison and I don’t know what I‘ve done wrong.’

A blanket appears through the slot. I’m desperate, my arm floats out to reach the blanket bearer. He backs away cautiously. Nobody comes in. I don’t know how to get their attention.

‘Ok, they’re watching me with cameras. I’ll dance,’ I think, I step in, I step out, round and round. Open arms… just keep dancing to stay sane.

I’m let out. I meet four people in a little room.
“Do you want a drink?”
I tell them my story. “I’ve got post-natal depression. I’m worried about my daughter.” They nod, I drink water, I shake. I don’t get any comfort, not an arm around my shoulders. They don’t tell me when they will be back. Nor what will happen next.

The door opens. I’m led out, it’s good to be out at last. This time I’m handcuffed, and led to another ambulance. Fearful, I don’t speak, I watch jolly paramedics chatting. Off we go in the damp July morning through the familiar streets of Brighton.

We’re here. I step into the cool air. The handcuffs are removed. I’m at hospital. I walk into the familiar building, up the stairs and into bed. It’s warm and cosy. The nurses are kind. I lie in bed and tell a psychiatrist my story. My partner and dad visit. I hear comforting sounds in the distance,
I imagine it is my artist friends playing samba and dancing in the street. They are coming to my rescue in a beautiful moonlit procession.


‘I’d like to give a huge thank you to Company Paradiso for setting up this venture. I’ve written diaries all my life and played with ideas interweaving them in my art practice. This is the first time I’ve had respect as a writer. The mentoring process gently unleashed a fantastic torrent of poetry! See pages 14 and 108 and www.tamsinwilliams.com. I am mother to three year old Neve. I am also an active member of the Synergy Creative Community (see Contacts) and have bi-polar disorder. This diagnosis came after many frightening hospitalisations, peaking in 24 hours in a police cell in 2008...
“Give me an audience of beaming faces any day after that!...”