Silver Meadows [Fables from the Institution]

by Vinny Peculiar

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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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about

Vinny Peculiar Worcester, UK

Vinny Peculiar variously described as – ‘An under sung national treasure’ [UNCUT Magazine 2014] – a warm hearted Morrissey [Q Magazine 2014] and the missing link between Jarvis Cocker and Roger McGough [Irish Times 2014]. THE ROOT MULL AFFECT is a compilation -
‘The missing link between Jarvis Cocker and poet Roger McGough and some of the wittiest lyrics this side of Wreckless Eric’ IRISH TIMES
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Track Name: The Institution
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
Track Name: Everyone Has Something To Say
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
Track Name: This Is What I Do Now
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
Track Name: The Saviour Of Challenging Behaviour
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
Track Name: Community Care
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…
Track Name: Hospital Wing
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
Track Name: Room Management
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
Track Name: Silver Meadows
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….
Track Name: Albert
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
Track Name: Self Help Skills Unit
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
Track Name: Gerald The Porter
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
Track Name: Wednesday Club
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
Track Name: Waiting Games
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
Track Name: The Back Wards
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…