“Get me baccy” came the vouce at the other end of the phone. It was a quarter past midnight.
We were used to this by now. We never quite knew what Joan was going to do. The last time she had gone like this, she had thrown a television out of the window which was two floors up. The police put her in the cells for the night, but she drove them mad by singing hymns all night long in French, Italian, Russian, English and Gaelic. From the Isle of Lewis she had gone to the University of Aberdeen to study Languages. She was a natural. But she tired of the academic world and decided she was going South. Anywhere at all but back to the Isle of Lewis. This was IT. She was going to be a dolly bird.
And so it was that she arrived in a town in Derbyshire, with little money in her pocket, but with her hair dyed blonde and a pair of stilettos on her feet. Her aim was to get a man, and so, on her first night in the town she presented herself at the local pub, where there were many suitors. One man in particular took her fancy, and within a few weeks they were married. She had achieved her dream. To be a dolly bird on the arm of a man.
Four children and a few years later, she was divorced and throwing televisions out of windows. And driving the local police mad by singing hymns all night long in the local clink. They knew just what to do with her. She was well known to them. The next day she was seconded to the local mental hospital, where she was drugged up and jept for a few weeks until she was suitably calm again.
So, when the vouce came, demanding baccy, we knew what was in store. She was going on a high again. Somewhere or othere there lived “the baccy man.” Joan always got her baccy from him to roll her own cugarettes with. But we had no idea where he was, and she was too high to describe it.
“You’ll have to wait while morning,” we said. But she was having no e of it.
“I want baccy, NOW.”
We put the phone down on her, knowing that there was to be no talking reason. The next day we did not see her. She had been taken into hospital when she had turned off the water of the man in the flat below her, the stop cock being in her flat, and pranced wildly in the hallway flicking the light switch on and off as if in some kind of morse code that could possibly be interpreted as “Help me, help me.”
I went to see Joan in hospital. She was my best friend. She had undergone a METAMORPHOSIS. Sitting there silent, numb, with a dead look in her eyes, this was not the Joan I knew. The Joan I knew was the most clever, clear sighted induvidual I had ever met. She coukd outdo anybody in wit and intelligence. Soon, she would be back in her flat, doped up and ‘normalised.’ What a metamorphosis!