Today I bypassed the 60,000 word mark. Not an unlucky day for me. So far…
I first saw Friday the 13th in a mental institute when I was about 12 years old. I wasn’t a patient…
My best friend, Naeem, lived in a house nearby; his father was a doctor who worked at Winwick Hospital, a Victorian mental asylum (the largest in Europe), in the days before Care in the Community. I used to visit him a lot during the summer. We would play cricket on the cricket pitches, or tennis on adjoining courts, or go fishing in one of the gravel pits on the hospital outskirts, or climb through the window of the lodge house to play snooker on a full-size table.
Once a week we would sit in the main hall and watch a film projected on to a white screen. With about fifty heavily-sedated patients. I watched a fair few horror movies and tense thrillers on that screen, and in that company. I remember watching Still of the Night there, and Jaws and Friday the 13th. And then the lights would come up and it would be like being on the set of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Happy times, good memories… believe it or not.
Winwick Hospital Tower was a landmark that I would search for whenever I was coming home. It was a beautiful structure, but it, like the hospital, was doomed once community care was introduced. The entire complex was razed in the late 1990s. Housing replaced it.
My affection for Winwick Hospital meant that I was bound to write about it at some point, and I did, twice, in Decay Inevitable and Blonde on a Stick (its name changed to Slow Heath and Summerhead, respectively).