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Silver Meadows [Fables from the Institution]

by Vinny Peculiar

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1.
In the institution Drs do their rounds Ask how you are feeling what’s getting you down? Nurses serve the dinners Domestics clean the floors And there’s always a long stand waiting for you in the stores In the institution Patients queue for fags And some of them have rubbish stored in several bin bags Staff nurse counts the cutlery makes another pot of tea There’s a party in the nursing home after work come along with me Bonfire night and everyone is gathered round the fire Charlie from the social club gets caught short with desire The pretty girl in the kitchens has been pleasuring him so But the ward clerk has reported it now everyone will know…. Janis runs the day centre and she’s been there for years She lives with Len the painter and she knows all the words To every Beatles song well she’s from Liverpool don’t you know? She saw them when they first stared out all those years ago A couple in the woodwork group kicking off again Terry’s had another fit and he needs his PRN The porters on the blower the trolley will be late Then it’s be good for the night staff come tomorrow I’m on late Rick the charge nurse fixes broken cars He lives on site in staff accommodation but his finest art Is beating up the patients I reported him but no The witnesses were petrified and they as good as told me so I had to go A group from psyche rehab cooking beans on toast In the self help skills department where I swore I saw a ghost Of a woman pushing an old pram she just floated through the wall I was staying late rehearsing with my band in the old dance hall The pretty young psychologist is sitting on my knee She says this is the first time that she’s taken LSD You can stay on the sofa bed if you’re really that bleary eyed But no soon as I’ve mentioned it she’s throwing up outside… There are women who have lived here all their adult lives They tell you crazy stories about a missing child The punishment in those days was to throw away the key There’s a world of bitter sadness here and subjective cruelty In the institution It’s an institution We are the institution
2.
She’s handing out the biscuits and making a sign Touches her elbow and she smiles Young man in a wheelchair with an alphabet board Support him at the wrists and he will tell you which team he supports Which team he supports Everyone has something to say All you’ve got to do is listen We’re just learning how to listen Girl on the swings in a world of her own She doesn’t speak but she’ll text you on her phone Man in the pram with a giant head Watching the cricket he knows everything they said Ask him score go on ask him Cause everyone has something to say All you’ve got to do is listen We’re just learning how to listen
3.
Handing in the mobile phone iPod & Dictaphone Security man in uniform at the gate Takes a picture like so ID badge you’re good to go You’re good to go mate Julie will escort you to the meeting you’re expected Across the forecourt to the lift We’re running just a little late I hope that you don’t mind the wait And there’s a coffee machine, great Dr Martin says hello Do I know you? I don’t think so You look kind of familiar he says The patient arrives and we talk about the contents of the last report He says he counting off the days He’s sick of being locked away Tries to do whatever they say You have to take it day by day I say Then the meeting starts reports and pretty colored charts Are passed around the room this way The patient walks out soon enough He says I hate you Dr Marshall not true Dr Marshall not true He’s sick of being told what to do By idiots like me n you cause we’ve no idea what people go through This is what I do now This is what I do I make some notes and say my bit They say he’s getting there but he’s not ready yet We’ll need to keep him here awhile longer More feedback from the new OT She says basket weaving makes him angry Is it any wonder? I meet a girl who I used to know on the way out she says hello Just tell me what on earth brings you back here? I say I got a new job I took over from Bob Remember Bob the one with a beard? This is what I do now This is what I do
4.
Andy was the saviour of challenging behaviour He came to change the world And half the people in the room were swept away on Andy’s broom And the other half just didn’t believe a word Andy’s revolution took on the institution As his disciples found their voice The management were frightened the patients enlightened So now’s the time to make a choice And the misfit voices in his head that sang in perfect harmony We have to set these people free Let them be who they want to be their time is coming Andy took the struggle to the local Town Hall And chained himself to the railings Special education was in the doc and the council the architect of failings Andy made the local news and a spot on the TV He got everybody talking But of the big decision makers never could agree And he was like a dead man walking As the misfit voices in his head that sang in perfect harmony We have to set these people free Let them be who they want to be their time is coming Andy didn’t stay for long but he left a big impression Even now the patients talk about him with affection Someone said they last heard he was working in a school Somewhere south of Liverpool And the misfit voices in his head that sang in perfect harmony We have to set these people free let them be who they want to be let them see who they want to see The time is coming
5.
There’s woman from the agency Coming to see you tomorrow She wants to ask you some questions She wants to get to know you Who me? Why me? She runs a house not far from here And there’s a vacancy Perhaps you’d like to go and see After my shift at a quarter to three Really? Yes really - But I’ve been here for twenty-two years I’m used to the smells and the staff and the rules What if I don’t fit in? What if I can’t settle in? To community care Community care Everybody’s moving out there You know Terry from the ATC And Josie sweet Josie They moved out not so long ago They have a dog-called Benny they go shopping at Tesco Oh I didn’t know… There’s an amazing chippy a short walk away And the staff make incredible bolognaise Your own room and a front door key They look after your money If you’ve never caught the bus on your own They will teach you how be alone How to live in your own home Just say you want to Go on Community care community care Everyone is moving out there Community care Community care Just say you want to…
6.
Want some peace and quiet and a pretty place to die? See those weird lions in a psychedelic sky The radio and the TV play at maximum volume simultaneously Spend all day in a giant pram listening to Dexy’s Spandau & Wham And the ward manager says hello you remember her of course you do She’s been here for twenty years she’s an end of life specialist On Hospital wing You never recover Hospital wing You never get better Mural mural on the wall painted by art students Disney characters snow white They’re just trying to cheer the place up all right? You might as well be a ghost for all they see of see of you Shift ends switch off the light think of your brother how he put up a fight he ended his life here Now it’s your turn to face the fear Bib on feeding time here comes the fat NA with the toxic skin You open your mouth she shovels it in You choke on your breath and spit out the food On Hospital wing Hospital wing The side room empties as the relatives leave The kid in the wheelchair has been deceived A couple of weeks left before he checks out And that’s more or less what the songs about On hospital wing You never recover Hospital wing You never get better Hospital wing On Hospital wing
7.
Wendy opens a box of toys she says lets engage and be quiet Fit the plastic shapes like so good boy Stephen there you go Time the session set the clock the handsome student arrives on the dot From the university something to do with psychology Room Management that’s his thing He’s bought his guitar he wants to sing And its well done Stephen ‘clever’ Dave Good boy Colin good girl Elaine The data’s looking really good Like he knew it always would Residents occupy and engage Earning their drinks n their sweets n their praise Trolleys here what’s for tea everybody’s getting hungry Room Management that’s his thing He’s bought his guitar wants to sing Then the session ends I’ll see you tomorrow There’s a naked women running by She’s brandishing a teapot and she looks him in the eye She says what do you think you are looking at? What do you think you are looking at? What do you think you are looking at? What are you looking at? Come on you wheelchairs line up by the door Its time to go for a little walk For a little walk Room Management that’s his thing He’s bought his guitar he wants to sing Just sing along
8.
Going back to Silver Meadows my former years were there Past the quarry where your brother worked the other year In the clearing ‘neath the open skies on the edge of town Climbing trees and scraping knees as the big fat orange sun went down The outreach worker greets us with a new brochure to read I tell them I’ll be good this time and I’ll stay until its time to leave Going back to Silver Meadows same old faces working there Stan the caretaker still smiling and Jenny she cuts your hair I lived here when I when young and I felt safe n sound Falling asleep beneath a big fat Disney eiderdown But when they ask me how I’ve been I tell them not so good They say we understand but then of course I knew they would Going back to Silver Meadows it’s got a weird hold on me Doctor Marshall says I need structure and clear boundaries So I take the medication and as I report for therapy I know it’s going to take a little while before the others warm to me I recognize a girl I knew from the last time I was here She smiles and says come in sit down there’s nothing for you to fear Going back to Silver Meadows Going home to Silver Meadows I believe in Silver Meadows I belong at Silver meadows Going back I’m going back Going back to Silver Meadows….
9.
Albert 02:49
They called him a slow learner they called him names Sent him to the funny farm without little hope to gain A runaway teenager they tried to put him in his place Tied up in the kitchen with a roll of sellotape His name was Albert oohh Albert ooooh Family in the social club dancing the twist Albert in the back room eating other peoples crisps Albert was resourceful and he made the great escape Got picked up by the duty team at the back of the estate They called him Albert ooooh Albert ooooh Albert oooh Six fat coppers pinned him to the floor Six fat coppers bought him back to the ward Six fat coppers couldn’t hold him down No soon as they returned him he was back off into town… On taxis and on buses Albert never paid The drivers loved him and the passengers were amazed Albert travelled Merseyside putting Kerouac to shame A restless spirit no psychiatrist could tame They called him Albert… No secure facility kept hold of him for long He was here just minute ago now he’s gone Found in the tunnel by the cleaners late at night Run over by a speeding car but he survived all right His name was Albert Albert My friend Albert oooh Albert oooh
10.
In the self help skills unit People learn to dress themselves Wash them selves feed themselves Use the toilet by them selves In the self help skills unit patients form an orderly queue While the staff sit around drinking coffee With clipboards recording what they do Verbal prompt gestural prompt Physical prompt result Score the task log the graph Feed it back result In the self help skills unit the toasters on the blink Ted the union steward puts his feet up on the sink The charge nurse goes home early the student’s tidy up Practicing their injections they have assessments coming up Verbal prompt gestural prompt Physical prompt result Score the task log the graph Feed it back result In the self help skills unit people cannot lose themselves Remove themselves forget themselves Become another version of themselves Its two-way mirror observation take your jumper on and off Clean your teeth comb your hair Wash your hands flush the chain Until they press the stop-watch They press the stop, watch Verbal prompt gestural prompt Physical prompt result Score the task log the graph Feed it back result
11.
I’m the Gerald the porter I am your local deliveryman I can get you whatever it is that you need Anytime day or night I will see you all right Sample whatever you like it’s all right by me And I’ll meet you in the grounds and we can listen to some sounds when we get back to the room My girl will be there too she’s no idea what I do so keep it sweet… be discreet Pharmacologically I fell in love with 1983 On my face I wore I wore a permanent grin So if you want to get properly high before you lay down to die I’ll send you eight miles high like Roger McGuin And I’ll meet you in the grounds and we can listen to some sounds when we get back to the room My girl will be there too she’s no idea what I do so keep it sweet…yeah be discreet I’m Gerald the porter hey ho tabs and wraps and Columbian blow There you go and good to see you again So you like hashish …you want to try this Moroccan shit It’s amazing… Mushroom tea anyone, twist my arm then, go on
12.
You and me me and you lots and lots of jobs to do Knitting a shawl making a bird house weaving a basket then we’re back in the big house Making a pot painting a fence helping the porters doing some errands Laundry away ironing shirts we don’t get paid but we know what we’re worth And every Wednesday night at the Wednesday club Everything feels right it’s where we fell in love We’d dance and sing along then we’d all applaud as Steve the DJ says same time next week you all Walk back to the ward holding hands Like a regular couple making plans Feet up / watching TV it’s the Sale of the Century Patients in need help and support That’s what we do its what we’re here for Mavis in the mirror talks to her self Jeremy thinks he’s somebody else And every Wednesday night at the Wednesday club We held each other tight we were so in love Brown girl in the ring and the birdie song We loved to dance and sing but now that time has been and gone Going on trips out and about answering phones when the staff sneak out Dinner together in the canteen we heard a rumor we don’t believe t The place is closing and they’re moving us on sending us back to the places we’re from If they do that I wont see you again my head will explode and my heart will be broken And every Wednesday night at the Wednesday club Everything feels right that’s where we fell in love We dance and sing along and then we all applaud as Steve the DJ says same time next week you all I left the hospital in 84 I was one of the first out of the door They gave me a room in a house with five other people who’d scream and shout And I thought of you every day but you were just too far away I still miss the old place but once I was gone all they ever said was time to move on / And every Wednesday night at the Wednesday club We held each other tight we were so in love Brown girl in the ring and the birdie song We loved to dance and sing but now that time has been and gone Been and gone
13.
Waiting for someone to come to come and see me Someone to talk to, for someone to be with Waiting on someone like you waiting to be found out To have second thoughts and cast a shadow of doubt Anyone will do anyone I’d just rather it were you I’ve lived here in this room for most of my life I lie in my bed look out of the window it’s a beautiful night Nurses come and they go there’s a full moon high in the sky I’m sat in a chair by the door people are walking on by Anyone will do anyone but I’d rather it was you I caught you looking at me in a most peculiar way So what are you thinking if I blink will you run away If you play your cards right you could end up a star Unlocking the mystery your very own place in history well Anyone will do anyone I just hope it will be you Can’t move cant speak but I can feel your breath upon my cheek When you kiss me goodnight at the end of the day Is there nothing more you that you wanted to say? I’ve been waiting for someone like you sit up and notice me You have every permission to set my heart free Cause anyone will do Anyone but I’d rather it was you Anyone will do anyone but I hope that it is you
14.
You better behave or they’ll send you away Send you away to the back wards Just settle down and do as you’re told Or they’ll make you pay on the back wards Remember Peter Davies stood on his tiptoes Smashed a lot of cups broke a lot of windows Now he rocks like a baby doesn’t say a word He’s just a pussycat these days so I heard The silent giant sweeps the day room floor People bang their heads on the wall The nurses are smoking, smoking and joking Knuckle sandwich a black aspirin Remember Penny Jones with the amazing hair In the micro skirts showing all her underwear They hit her where it hurts and she stayed down No witnesses no recourse no one else around There’s a punishment block a time out room Where they give you a good kicking No body hears you when you scream Everyone says it was nothing The ward clerk and the fat NA Take their evil secrets to the grave Tell stories about the good old days On the back wards The porter leaves the trolley in the snow The big wigs come and go When you’re out of sight and out of mind All leave applications declined On the back wards We’re going backwards…

about

UK based singer-songwriter and poet Vinny Peculiar [aka Alan Wilkes] who has been variously described as “an under-sung national treasure” (UNCUT Magazine) and “the missing link between Ray Davis and Roger McGough” (Irish Times) is set to release, on S&D Records, his thirteenth studio ‘concept album’ inspired by working in (he’s a former nurse) and visiting (his schizophrenic brother) long-stay mental health & learning disability hospitals during the 1980s and early 90s.

Set in a fictional 1980s psychiatric/learning disabilities institution Silver Meadows addresses the fears and isolation of lives beyond the mainstream, a world fearful of change, impending community care, back-ward misdemeanours and meaningless ‘training’ activities. In pursuit of normalization, patients are moving on, lives are changing but not always for the better…

The Wednesday Club is a love story set in the hospital disco that ends in separation and tragedy. Silver Meadows welcomes a returning patient unable to make it in the outside world. In Waiting Games, psychology student Beth Williams is on the precipice of a discovery – she’s working with Jason, a long stay patient with multiple disabilities, and he’s fallen for her – but no one realises the extent of his ‘locked in’ intelligence. In Room Management grown-ups are taught how to fit plastic shapes into boxes, an exercise in controlled occupation without purpose. New psychologist Andy Merritt, The Saviour Of Challenging Behaviour, arrives at the Institution and it’s all change; his passion inspires patients and staff, shakes up the old guard, takes on the establishment. Andy’s plaintive protest ballad gently chimes for freedom. Hospital Wing is beautiful in its understated sadness; a young man with a terminal genetic condition awaits his impending death in similar fashion to his older brother, with a dignity beyond his years. The closing track The Back Wards sets Institutional abuse to a neo-classic sound track of harrowing, atmospheric Floydian guitars…’You better behave or they’ll send you away, send you away to the back wards’.

In Silver Meadows Wilkes, who has so often been labelled as ‘quintessentially English’, has created his most lyrically accessible and musically engaging record to date, with poignant songwriting, heartbreaking melodies and comically incisive observations. Musically speaking it’s a more socially engaged Divine Comedy, reminiscent of the plaintive simplicity of EELS and the storytelling panache of Ray Davies.

credits

released June 6, 2016

Bobby Kewley – bass guitar
David Marsden – keys, electric guitar, backing vocals, piano arrangement on ‘The Institution’
Paul Tsanos – drums
Alan Wilkes – main & backing vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin, ukulele, mandocello, keys, EBow,

All songs written by Alan Wilkes [aka Vinny Peculiar] 2016 p & c owned by Alan Wilkes/S&D Records

Engineered by Ian Lewis and David Marsden at Whitby Studios, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, UK

Produced by David Marsden

Mastered by David Marsden

Photography & Design by Paul Cliff

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Vinny Peculiar Worcester, UK

Vinny Peculiar variously described as – ‘An under sung national treasure’ [UNCUT Magazine]– a warm hearted Morrissey [Q Magazine] and ‘The missing link between Jarvis Cocker and poet Roger McGough and some of the wittiest lyrics this side of Wreckless Eric’ IRISH TIMES ... more

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