My Tribe. August 2016.

Dear Rowley,

Apparently I have broken some kind of world record in Toronto from landing at Pearson airport to enforced incarceration in an institution dedicated to mental ‘well-being’. It took me just under twenty-four hours to find myself on Nice Mike’s balcony of a morning surrounding by armed police, paramedics, aforementioned eye candy and his boyfriend my erstwhile friend Anthony.

Apparently, our heroine was discovered passed-out (read asleep waking to a hang-over) and on rousing threatening to jump off a balcony (otherwise known as wanting to smoke a cigarette on said balcony). I had consumed a bottle of Prosecco, two cheeky crisp white wines, half a bottle of gin and a few lines of what transpired to be baking powder helpfully left in the fridge in a glass bowl with a silver spoon.

We shall draw a veil over the emergency ward I was taken to in handcuffs in the back of a cop car. Suffice to say, pop to any museum in the Netherlands and take a peek at a hellish canvas painted by Hieronymus Bosch. Fifteen hours later, I was in a 1970s alcohol rehab centre that most resembled one of the grim sets of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

I was then moved in an ambulance five miles up the road to a hospital ward called MAUI (‘Mood and Anxiety Unit Inpatients’) on Queen Street West from whence I write this long overdue letter to you. MAUI is no WOWIE as architecture goes. We are on the fifth floor of a 1970s Brutalist tower block with no windows that open or objects that could be used to top oneself.

There is a games cupboard, however, so if one loses at Boggle one can always try to brain oneself with the sharp corners of the Scrabble board or attempt a noose with a skipping rope. I am on a section that worries I might do some kind of self-harm. Harm to others I would understand but not to the self I have always been told I am too ‘Ish’ for words.

On the down side, I didn’t get any fresh air or sunlight for about five days and didn’t sleep a wink. My cell had red nail varnish on the curtains that registered blood, I loathe the dark and the only light was strip so I could either pole dance or sit bolt upright and wait for the day to break. The bedding is like an old whore’s drawers and there is no lock on the door. On the up side, I am in a unit filled with my tribe and this has given me happiness like you can never imagine.

Sure, there are two LOOOOOOnies: one lady who is the poster girl for manic aggression and wears a flamingo puke silk kimono. The guy stands very close and talks at you in a mad undertow about who killed Kennedy and how he was an armed robber with a fleet of stolen trucks. One could do a Beaches fantasy and pretend he is a bad boyfriend who drown your shitzu and stole your winnebago.

On the very up side, I have met people who have all manner of ‘touched by an angel’ issues but who are all essentially the same damned kind of special as me and have spent their lives surviving it. A funnier group I have yet to encounter since recordings of the Rat Pack roasts in Las Vegas … my favourite being the Bette Davis roast when she basically ran rings round Dean Martin, Vincent Price, Henry Fonda and Nipsy Russell.

What I have learned in choky is nobody’s business. I can smuggle a large Cuban onto the ward from the outside AND a cigar cutter. I can pimp prison clothing so it looks like Margiela circa 1994. I can cook on a dime, tend tropical plants without getting a large prick to my skin and – thought this is as yet untested – I can organise visits from ‘friends’ who bring much-needed sugar to the lonely, hungry and depressed.

They say you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you’ll get what you need. Did I need being stitched-up by an ex-friend, arrested, traumatised, humiliated, brought down to my knees and only eventually put back together by the patients rather than the doctors. In fact, I have often questioned who is the patient and who is the doctor in this joint.

Today was the first I had ‘privileges’ that equalled three quarter-of-an-hour visits to the outside world and a couple of cigarettes each time. Apparently, my privileges will be stretched tomorrow so thank God Grindr and Scruff are in full working order and my milkshake still brings the boys from Toronto to the yard. Once a drunken slut with anger management issues…

Actually, no drink has passed my lips for about five days. Contrary to popular belief, that’s not the longest I have gone in a decade. I was six weeks dry last month thank you very much and can cope rather well. What I can’t cope without is Dame Nicotine. I will smoke until the day I die whether of cigarettes or other natural causes will be a surprise.

Incarceration really does prove what you can and cannot live without. The food or food depravation was the killer for me. When you are fed only swill and decaf coffee for days on end, even a single piece of lettuce with a cheese and chive dip on it tastes like four courses at Wiltons.

In short, I have learned an awful lot from sensory depravation and the lesson I have taken away is that I love all my senses and fully intend to indulge each and every one of them every day until I shuffle off to Buffalo. Finally, I have learned that the only man this man can trust is not his Daddy but his ex-Husband Mr Hesling. End of.