Well, I’ve got the form. I’m one of the ‘socially prescribed’. And guess what… its an art class that might be the answer. More precisely, it’s a painting and drawing class. The medication might help me to stay good as the outside world sees it. But as John Lennon says, ‘one thing you can’t hide, is when you’re crippled inside.’ That’s what has been going on with me… and folks like me. We’ve fallen off the track. Somehow we are no longer in sync with the world. I think they call it being ‘socially isolated’ or perhaps just lonely. A social prescription is something your GP or occupational therapist might ‘prescribe’ – a smorgasbord of different community activities to address health, social needs and other stuff not found in your local pharmacy. And it’s true, my problem is not just the physical ailment – it’s the consequences… losing your mojo.
I feel sorry for the healthy folk. Every day, there’s some news item telling people how they should interact with us immobile citizens. Through your equality training you’ve been told not to mention medical conditions; to avoid using able-bodied as the opposite to disabled; avoid wheelchair bound or suffering from… Others get upset with phrases like ‘heroic’ as its disempowering. Heck, I don’t really care as long as people feel free to talk with me. Perhaps then I can have the opportunity to set things right. But please, let’s keep the conversation going. Make the mistakes on the way to seeing the person.
Anyway, this painting class is my chance to become socially included. I’ve always wanted to be a creative. That’s what they say isn’t it – If you’re not a creative, you’re some sort of emotional outcast. Hampered at birth by a left-sided brain that means you will only ever be a scientist or a health and safety officer. I’m waiting outside the gates of the adult education building reflecting on my artistic glories from the past. There aren’t many of them – one in fact. I was in Miss Hope’s class at the age of seven. I had hit on something – a night-time skyscraper painting – the intense yellow dots of the office lights creating a magical contrast with the panoramic night sky. Only trouble was, my friend Nicola sitting next to me, had decided to do the same. I was outraged and inconsolable. But Miss Hope said sympathetically that “imitation is the greatest form of flattery”. I wasn’t quite sure what it meant at the time but it stopped me blabbering.
I’m still peering through the cast-iron gates with a feeling of foreboding. I feel like Jude the Obscure standing at the walls of Christminster.
“Only a wall divided him from those happy young contemporaries of his with whom he shared a common mental life; men who had nothing to do from morning till night but to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Only a wall – but what a wall!”
Part Two, Chapter 2, Jude the Obscure
Perhaps I’ll never cut it as a creative: never belong to the club. I’ve lived too long in the Cartesian world of certainty and scientific fact. Let me enter into the world of Epicurianism, the world of the senses and spontaneity. If not, let me just peer through the gates and see how it’s done.