ABSTRACT

In the early 1960s when I was seventeen years old, I worked as a ward-assistant in a psychiatric hospital. Some of the patients had been there for over thirty years. The ward was an old Victorian building surrounded by a high iron fence. White gravel lay on all sides between the fence and the building. There was no grass. One or two scraggy trees provided mean shade. It reminded me of some of the enclosures at Melbourne zoo. When patients soiled themselves, as some did often, they were ordered to undress and to step under a shower. The distance of a mop handle from them, we then mopped them down as zoo-keepers wash down elephants.