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Tuesday, 30 September 2014


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It's evening, and I am reading something on my phone when Olivia, who is 9 years old, comes over to the edge of the blow up mattress on which I am laying and says-'Is it time to play psychiatrist?'
I look up from my phone at Olivia's happy and keen child face.
'Yes,' I tell her, 'but I warn you I have some big issues this evening,'
'YES,' Olivia says, throwing her hands up in the air and running into another room to get her psychiatrist hat.
The hat, a fedora with hounds-tooth pattern, is a feature of her portrayal of my psychiatrist, and when she puts it on her voice gets slightly deeper and she begins to say 'right' a lot.
'I am going to lie down for this session,' I tell her, 'because I am really sad tonight,'

Sitting on the sofa opposite me, Olivia picks up her pad and pen, crosses her legs and says-'Right, what seems to be your problem tonight?'
'I am depressed,' I tell her, 'I am really depressed,'
'Right,' she says, and writes a note on her pad, 'why are you depressed?'
'Well,' I say, 'um, as my psychiatrist you are supposed to tell ME why. That's what I pay you for,'
'But you're not paying me,' she shouts throwing her hands up.
'Yeh, okay, not in the game,' I shout back, 'but if this was real life I would be paying YOU,'
'Right, okay,' she says, in a frustrated tone, 'then, come on, why are you depressed?'
'You're a terrible psychiatrist,' I tell her, 'you take a mean tone with me. I think I should terminate our sessions,'
'Right,' she says picking up a roll of yellow crepe paper ribbon and tearing small pieces off it, 'I can now see that you're just sad,'
Then she starts to throw small torn pieces of paper at me.
'Right, ' she tells me, 'this is the sadness that is left over in you, little pieces of sadness in you and you know, you just need to vacuum them up out of your life,'
I start to laugh and she continues on, pacing around the room now, tearing and flinging more pieces of paper, explaining to me how I can sort myself out.
'You have crumbs of sadness in you, little crumbs, and you won't ever be happy until the little crumbs are all gone, you have to GET THOSE CRUMBS OUT OF YOU! Okay????!'
I am laughing now and telling her she is definitely fired as my psychiatrist to which she responds that it is now time to be my doctor.
I lay on the blow up mattress, my arms outstretched, laughing until she comes back into the room with 2 pieces of shelving that look like big plastic handles for something.
'CLEAR,' she shouts, rubbing the bottom of the handles together and then pounding them on to my chest in an attempt to resuscitate me.

Later, and long after Olivia has gone to bed, I wake up for a drink of water and, then, going into the the toilet and sitting down to wee, I notice a small piece of yellow crepe paper sadness stuck flat against my thigh.

And suddenly, and unexpectedly, I begin to cry.

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