Rathbone Kydd

Sex’n’drugs’n’quantum stuff

Extract from Chapter 10

Rathbone didn’t like mental institutions. He’d never been an inmate of one before, and he intended never to repeat the experience, but he had known before he was admitted that he hated such places. It was because of his father.

Everyone thought that Danny Kydd was such a nice man: steady, reliable, considerate. They didn’t know the truth of it; the merciless beatings that both Rathbone and his mother had endured at his hands. The first time Rathbone had seen the rage was when he was aged seven. They still lived in a small terraced house in Macclesfield at that time, two up, two down, outside toilet shared with four other houses. Danny was an engineer in a local textile mill. One Friday night he had come home drunk following an after work drink with his work mates. Rathbone’s mum had merely asked him where he had been: lashing out with clenched fist, he blacked her eye in an instant.

The seven-year old Rathbone didn’t know what to say or do, so he just stood in the doorway between the front room and the kitchen, staring in disbelief. His father turned to him and said, “Oi, you little runt. If you say one word I’ll wring your fuckin’ neck.” Danny then grabbed Rathbone’s mum and slung her backwards against the rickety gas cooker. The tie on the back of her apron caught fire when it came into contact with the flames on the front ring. Cussing and swearing, Danny dragged her to the sink and doused her with water.

“You stupid fuckin’ cow. Look what you’ve done now,” he yelled at her.

Once the flames had died out Danny stormed out of the back door, not to be seen until Sunday evening when he came home for dinner, still pissed but this time in an amiable mood.

When Danny had stormed out he’d left his wife leaning against the draining board, trembling, and with a mixture of smoke and steam issuing from her rear. She suffered minor scalding from the water coming into contact with the burning cotton of her clothing, and her hair was singed, but the flames hadn’t made contact with her skin. Rathbone walked slowly over to her, crying silently. Already standing at breast height, he rested his head on her bosom and sobbed.

In the weeks and months that followed, Danny’s behaviour became erratic. He switched from ecstatic highs to depressed lows as quick as it would take him to walk from one room to the other; as their home comprised only of the four rooms it was hardly surprising that Rathbone and his mother soon tired of the mood swings.

By the time Rathbone had reached his ninth birthday Mrs Kydd had alerted their doctor to Danny’s problems. On the morning of Rathbone’s eleventh birthday, the doctor had finally taken one of the beatings seriously. He had examined both mother and son too often to allow Danny’s mental decline to go unchecked.

Within hours of the doctor making a telephone call, Danny Kydd was taken off to Parkside, the local mental hospital. For the next few years Danny made regular visits to the depressing, Victorian structure, often staying for a two-week stint. Rathbone’s mother was always insistent that they visit him. If he’d had his own way he would gladly have never seen his father again.

Manic depression: swing high, swing low.

Danny took the option of early retirement when the offer was thrust upon him. His meagre pension was hardly sufficient for a family to survive on and they all wondered what they should do. The seventeen-year-old Rathbone would just as soon have left home had it not been for the fear of what might happen to his mother. Instead he managed to find a job in the local record shop, and his small wage came in very handy when the bills needed paying. Just when the Family Kydd were convinced that they were destined to spend the rest of their years in the pokey little terrace they called home, the property developers appeared on the scene and offered all the residents a small fortune to move out.

So they did.

The family escaped to Cornwall, a total change from the back-to-back terraced houses they were used to. Danny was on a high for several days when they first moved. Things had never looked better, he said; things are on the up.

Then, just three weeks and four days after they had moved into the cottage in Pentallick (a place that his parents had fallen in love with a few years earlier whilst on holiday) Danny Kydd walked into the woods of the Tamar Valley and was never seen alive again.

And now Rathbone was in the loony bin.

He’d often wondered if the rage was hereditary, and if he would find himself beating up his own nearest and dearest on a whim. He didn’t have any nearest and dearest, so for the time being, he supposed, he was safe.

He had always fought at school, a place that closely resembled a war zone even on a quiet day, and was frequently given detention for sounding off at the teachers. He sure did have a temper about him. Now he found himself over thirty-two years out of his own time and having his nut examined. Maybe this was all part of his illness. Maybe he was in his own time and all of this was a form of psychosis.

I think I might be mad!

Normally he would have left these thoughts buried in the back of his mind, but now he couldn’t help but dredge up the old memories because, somehow, he had to convince a panel of psychiatrists that he was perfectly sane. But the problem was, how could he do that if he didn’t fully believe it himself?

He looked forward to Derek returning that evening; talking to him was therapy in itself.