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A S T O RY A B O U T T H E R O YA L E D I N B U R G H H O S P I TA L

A Passage of Light & Shade


BY NICOLA WHITE

A PASSAG E O F LI G H T & SH AD E 1

A Passage of Light & Shade


BY NICOLA WHITE
A selection from the reflective journal and papers of Eilidh Moss, research student.

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6th June, 2013


Doctor Dunbar, my supervisor, says I have an undisciplined mind. If I ever get this PhD, I dont think Ill call myself doctor like he does. Its confusing you imagine having to keep saying No, not a real doctor. On the other hand, its a good answer when idiots ask Is it Miss or Mrs? As if your marital state was key information for paying your electricity bill. Doctor Dunbars right. How did I get on to electricity bills? To tame my undisciplined mind, he says, I need to keep a journal. No one need ever look at it but me. The point of a reective journal, Eilidh, is to trace your thinking processes during the construction of your thesis. Research, he says, is a process of recalibration. You start with a question, then try and answer it, and in answering of it, the question changes. Ive settled on my thesis title. Its going to be Architecture as Cure: New Craig House and the Blueprint of Moral Management Sounds like a real book. Something to be quoted in footnotes. But what is my central question? The one that will lead me through my work. How about: Can a building make you sane? * * * * * *

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8th June, 2013


This morning I found a great quote from Thomas Clouston, the man responsible for building New Craig. He was physician superintendent of the Royal Edinburgh Asylum and a typical Victorian patriarch sure of himself, energetic, bearded. He writes about how in the late 1880s he studied all the asylums of the day, then drew up experimental plans made by me and a patient of mine who took a great interest in the matter. Isnt that interesting? He included a patients point of view. They worked on it together. I never expected that. And he talks explicitly about the architecture as part of the treatment, saying the aim of the design is to secure the best chance of recovery, happiness, safety and comfort. I think I could be on to something.

13th June, 2013


Like all the psychiatrists of his day, Clouston was described as an alienist. The mad being alien to the well, presumably. His patients were lunatics. The hospital was an asylum. All these words consigned to the bin of history. The terms become sullied and we move on, nding something fairer, like facility and service user. Fair, but not exactly poetry. I dont think asylum is a bad word, necessarily. It sounds like sanctuary, safety, a place apart from the worlds troubles. Who wouldnt want that? * * * * * *

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Photograph ref. RE/PL7/D/011. View of New Craig House, c. 1895 It is such a huge building that the photograph cant contain it, and it tumbles down the line of the hill, bristling with turrets, chimney stacks and tiny roof temples. A big square tower tops it all. Some scholars claim it was modeled on a typical country house, but the scale of it suggests some kind of massive beaux-arts hotel. Its been described as Italianate, as neo-Gothic, as French, even as Jacobean revival. It borrows its looks from the past, but in a way that no-one can quite pin down. Another quote from Clouston: This charming hill had attracted my covetous attention from the time I went to Morningside. Nothing more lively than its old trees, nothing more cheerful than the views in every direction from it, exists in Edinburgh or Scotland.

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Photograph ref RE/PL7/D/034. Corridor interior with staff c.1895. The corridor is elaborately panelled in dark wood, stuffed with furniture, crystal wall lamps, potted plants, even a wally dog on the mantelpiece. It does look like a well-staffed mansion here. I dont know if thats a maid or a nurse, that girl in the long white apron and cap. The woman in front looks like shes in charge, her stiff black dress makes me think of the word bombazine. Theres a man with a moustache in the background, blurred with hurry. * * * * * *

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20th June, 2013


Exciting day. I nally got inside the building for a quick tour. Its about to be made in to luxury ats, so this might be the last chance anyone gets to see it as it was. Well, not really as it was Napier University had it for years, the few bits of furniture are blandly modern, and walls are pasted now with woodchip paper and studded with exit signs and re alarm boxes. I had to try and imagine the feel of the wards, the communal bathing rooms, the once-genteel drawing rooms. Theres the great hall, of course, double height, impressively gloomy. The upper balconies are barred most ornately with wooden screens against those who might jump off. The hall is where the asylum dances were held, right up into the 1980s. In Victorian times, journalists would come and observe the lunatics en fte. The corridors stay in my mind most of all. The potted plants and rugs are gone, but the space allowed for circulation is generous and well thought out. Main passages are divided up into shallowarched bays. Every second bay is lit by a skylight, some round and spoked like wheels, some with square-paned windows. It reminds me of somewhere I know, but I cant place it. The young man showing me round was in a hurry. All right? he said, standing at the end of the corridor. I followed after, passing through falls of light, shade, light, shade. The corridors in the other part of the hospital are long and institutional. The main part of the Royal Edinburgh is a bit like a town buildings of all types and ages. Theres a 60s tower block,

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30s pavilions, sheds, portacabins, glasshouses. Up here on the hill, the rose and yellow bulk of New Craig and its surrounding parkland feel like a country estate, a retreat. Built for the nobility in a time when such things were thought to be innate rather than lucky circumstance. * * * * * *

21st June, 2013


A librarian just told me there are letters written by New Craig patients in the archives, hundreds of them. Im suddenly excited by the idea that I could include patients opinions of the building in my thesis set their impressions against Cloustons view that the architecture would aid recovery. * * * * * *

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Flat D, 145 Marlborough St, Portobello 24/6/13 Dear Mum, I felt very upset after talking to you last night. I felt you were accusing me of deliberately trying to distress you, when I really had no idea it was New Craig House you stayed in when you were unwell. You never talk about that time, so how can I have known? Think about it. This isnt about you at all, this is about my work, which is very important to me. I cant just choose another thesis subject. I hope you can understand that, and that you can see it more calmly since we spoke. Its very frustrating that you can call me but I cannot call you. If you got a phone line in at the croft, you wouldnt need to walk to the box in the rain. I worry that if you broke a leg or something, you wouldnt be able to raise the alarm. I can almost hear you rolling your eyes from here, so Ill sign off. Your obedient daughter, Eilidh xx * * * * * *

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Extract from tape transcript. Interview with former nurse Agnes Beattie, who worked in New Craig in the 1930s/40s Old Craig House was all ladies then, an eerie old place, but the furniture was lovely. Supposed to be haunted. Of course, New Craig had its own ghost too. Not that I ever laid eyes on her, I dont believe in that kind of thing. We had enough excitement in the hospital, if you know what I mean, without making up hallucinations. All the nursing staff slept in the hospital then, some of us along the yellow corridor between wards 23 and 24. That was the route the ghost was supposed to favour. Anyway, some of the younger ones refused to do night patrols in case theyd see her the Grey Lady they called her. She wore an old-fashioned dress that swept the oor. Some said she was a nurse. My friend Molly Gordon, god rest her, she swore she saw her one night, this misty gure standing very still over the bed of a patient who was in a bad way. But in the middle of a long nightshift, you know, you cant trust your eyes. Wed be sleeping standing up... I shouldnt let myself be distracted by this kind of thing, but what an intriguing idea. A conscientious ghost, a watcher. * * * * * *

5th July, 2013


I dreamt last night I was walking the corridors of New Craig House, looking for something. I started to open a door when I realised that there was something terrible behind it, and I woke up from fright. I never did get back to sleep. * * * * * *

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8th July, 2013


Im in the reading room now, on the very top oor of the library. This is where you access the archive for the Royal Edinburgh. Its quiet and clean and light-lled one glass wall looks out on a decked balcony where no ever goes, another glass wall overlooks the reception, where you surrender your belongings, your food and coat and bags and liquids, to a locker. Only pencils are allowed in the Reading Room. Ive been issued with a little green members card, which makes me stupidly pleased. I have the impression that the other people here are doing work that is both important and terribly obscure. Some tables have big lecterns made of black foam on them, so that old books wont be strained as theyre opened, and there are small and large pillows for the same purpose, and slinky chains covered in knitted silk to gently hold down the pages. The archivist said these are called snake weights. I love these trappings, the white gloves that some of us wear, the linen ribbons that tie les closed, the dull, orderly colours of those les. I could just put my head down on one of these book pillows and snooze the day away. Whenever someone leaves or enters, the door gives a kind of sigh or suck, as if the air in here is so raried it has caused a vacuum. The archivist wheeled in a trolley for me. Shes called Amy and is perhaps Japanese, perhaps not. She always wears black, and makes me feel untidy, scattered. Why am I rambling? She has brought me boxes of patients letters from the early years of New Craig. I am allowed one le at a time. Each letter or paper scrap is held in a see-through sleeve. Some are in neat copperplate, some scrawl.

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Some writers use every scrap of the paper then start new lines at an angle to the old, until the whole is indecipherable. Thankfully, some patients do talk about the building. A little: I sleep in a large room with a lot of people and I dont like it at all I have to go to a hall of immense size for any food. Most appeal to families and friends for their release: Charlie when you were ill I would have laid down my life for you. Will you do nothing for me now there is no hope for me at all in this dreary place. You do not know what I suffer here I know I deserve nothing from any of you but what it would be to be among you all and getting the kindness and good food and the companionship of you all again squashed in the margin of this letter: do write to me It is immensely moving, to see the very marks they left on paper, more than a hundred years ago. Some sound very lucid to me: You must either become a low panderer to the personal vanity of Dr. Clouston himself or live in constant and chronic war with his staff.

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And this woman caught my attention, probably because it mentions the beach near my at: I do not know why I am being kept here, or what reason the people who brought me here gave for doing so. I was told the people at Portobello thought I was going to drown myself, but I never had any such desire or intention, but very much wish to live as long as possible, especially now, when except for my being brought here, everything was on a fair way to come right. Her name was Jessie Venables, admitted in 1900. I asked Amy the Archivist if there was any more information about her, and she brought up the case les for me to see, big bound ledgers of admissions, diagnoses and treatment fascinating. It said Jessie was raving in a most incoherent manner when admitted. A policeman discovered her hiding in someones garden following reports of her walking in the sea. Yet in her letter she sounds so clear. Maybe you can appear worse on the outside than you are inside. I think usually its the other way round. Anyway, Jessie was discharged just a month after she came in. They say she was much improved. Walking to the bus stop, I suddenly remembered something Amy said about the letters. She said theyd been attached to the case notes as evidence of the patients mental state. I didnt think it out at the time. That means they never got to their destination. All those earnest arguments, the appeals to bonds of love and affection. Plucked from their envelopes and shut up in a le. The patients left wondering why no one answered. * * * * * *

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Croft 165, Salen, Ardnamurchan Friday, 12th July My Eilidh, There is always a heron at the lochan that I pass on the way to the store and phonebox. It ies away usually, but today it didnt. Do you think it has decided to recognise me? There is a deep peace here that I love. I really dont need a phone or a computer. I have friends. Sally in the next croft calls by every day and she is even more of an old woman than I am, so dont worry about me keeling over and the cat eating me, or whatever it is you fear. You want to know what I remember about Craig House, about the building. Im not being awkward, but I really dont remember much at all. My head was not good and the drugs they gave me were stupefying. The building was grand, but shabby, and often it was cold. I remember the big hall that you mention. Mostly I remember the terrible lack of privacy. I think thats what has given me a horror of crowds. We all have to nd our way, nd whats right for us. Look at you now, youve found a passion and focus at last, and Im very proud of you. Wouldnt your teachers be amazed that youve turned out academic? Ill phone on Sunday as usual. Much love, Mum * * * * * *

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23rd July, 2013


Ive asked my mother twice now, when it was she was at the hospital, but she says she cant remember the date. She must remember what the year was, at least. I know she doesnt like me asking. I was born in 1972, so it must have been some time before that. I could go up and visit, talk to her face to face, maybe show her some of the photographs from my research. That might prompt something. Its bad to shut things away. Everyone knows that. I asked at the reading room desk if they had patient records for the sixties, but they said no, these things are condential until a hundred years have passed. Seventy-ve if the person is deceased. Unless you are a relative. Im a relative! I said. Well, you need to bring in the death certicate, they said. I felt terrible. Couldnt explain it was my mother I wanted to know about and shes not dead. I pretended it was nothing urgent. I keep getting pulled away from the physical world, into the stories of patients, into wondering about my mother. The building, thats my focus. Stone, wood, plaster, glass. Things you can touch.. * * * * * *

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25th July, 2013


Today I put in a request to view all the archive photographs from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. I was hoping I could track the physical changes to New Craig over the decades. Three big boxes came out on the trolley, each one full of a huge mix of images, many with no information or date. Just reference numbers. Some of the interiors are denitely New Craig, but others are harder to identify could be Mackinnon house, or one of the other buildings. All day, I looked at them. Black and white press photographs a visit from the Queen Mother, people being presented with honours or bouquets, nurses lined up in frilly starched hats and cuffs. Two stark, cold-eyed images show the process of Electro Convulsive Therapy. Before. During. The next set were professionally done, large prints featuring patients engaged in occupational therapy. By their clothes, its the sixties. Someone at a potters wheel. A woodworking class. Men in suits stufng toy bunny rabbits. Were they put in suits for the day, for the photographer, or did they always look so neat? I confess, I did look out for my mother, without success. There was a little album of colour snaps from the 90s that were cheerier than the rest outings, parties everyone in fancy dress, smiling. You cant tell who is staff and who is patient. For that evening they were clowns and wizards and geisha girls. Behind them, on the wall, is a poster headed Resuscitation. I came across another press photo, another line up of doctors and nurses. One day, before it reached this box, somebody got hold of this photograph and scratched every face out angry white Xs and spirals are scraped where the heads should be, almost through

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the paper in places. I sat with it on the table in front of me. So much bad feeling coming from such a small rectangle. Toward the end of the day, I came to a series taken on a womens geriatric ward, perhaps in the 70s. Their eiderdowns are patterned with huge cheery owers but this only serves to mock the bed-bound ladies with sunken cheeks and open mouths, like wee birds. One woman sits in a shabby metal chair, smiling down at the stuffed cat tucked under her arm. Her slippers seem enormous on the ends of her broomstick legs. On a nearby bed, an old-fashioned baby doll waits, face down, for its bed companion, its ancient mummy. Tears pricked my eyes. Ridiculous. I tried to pay attention to the window detailing. Then they were closing the reading room. Always prompt. I stood to show willing, and gathered the photographs. As I did I noticed a detail in one of the geriatric ward photos. In a corner bed a woman looks up into air, half smiling at nothing. But in the window behind theres a reection at rst I took it for a curtain, but it seems to be the long belted dress of a woman. Yet there is nothing in the room that corresponds to the reection, and no curtain. The old woman smiles at the place where a gure should be. Were closing now. The person behind the desk says, calmly. Outside, the cobbles are wet and gleaming. I feel soaked in these people Ive seen. Photographs are made from light. Across all the years, their reected light has entered me. I want to go home and just sleep and sleep. * * * * * *

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29/7/13 13.14 From: Derek.dunbar@ed.ac.uk To: eilidh.moss33@sms.ed.ac.uk Subject: Supervision Session 29th July Dear Ms. Moss, I was sorry to hear you are unwell, and that it was consequently necessary for you to cancel this mornings supervisory session. The university has asked us to request doctors certicates in the cases of absence through illness. Since you did not reschedule the meeting in good time, perhaps you could supply this. Due to my heavy workload and summer vacation, it wont be possible for us to meet until September. Could you let me know that your work is indeed progressing. I cannot over-emphasise the importance of supervisory meetings. Looking forward to hearing from you, Derek Dunbar (Dr.)

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30/7/13 18.51 From: eilidh.moss33@sms.ed.ac.uk To: Derek.dunbar@ed.ac.uk RE: Supervision Session 29th July Dear Dr. Dunbar, I am sorry that it was not possible to cancel our session with you in good time. The u came on very quickly over the weekend. I cannot provide a doctors certicate, because I didnt attend the doctors. I believe people with u are discouraged from spreading germs in waiting rooms. In terms of my progress, I am gathering patients accounts of the architecture. I know you have some misgivings about this, but I really think it will be worthwhile and add a qualitative dimension to the aesthetic and sociological. The Patients Council have been very helpful and have arranged interviews with several past patients. There was also a delay in gaining further access to the building, but I am to be allowed a full day inside it this Friday. Be assured that my research progresses well, and I look forward to discussing it when next we meet. With best wishes, Eilidh Moss * * * * * *

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1st August, 2013


I think Dr. Dunbar knows Im avoiding him. It might not have been real, viral, u I had, but I honestly couldnt leave my bed. I slept for days and now I cannot sleep at all. The view of my bedroom bores me. Im not sure Im smart enough to do this thesis justice. I feel like a fraud. It was so bright this morning, I nally got up from my bed at six and walked down to Portobello beach in the quiet. The tide was far out. I couldnt stop thinking about Jessie Venables standing on that very shore more than a hundred years ago. I walked out to the waterline. Foam slid towards me, drew back. Again. Again. Mesmerising. I didnt mean to walk right in, but then found myself wet to the knees. A man shouted Hey you! I turned and gestured, patting the air in a way that I hoped he would read as everythings ne. He shrugged and walked off after his dog. He didnt raise the alarm. No coach and horses came to take me off to Morningside. Was that what I was after? Like mother, like daughter. Or did I just want to feel close to Jessie? We all have times when we dont understand what we do. * * * * * *

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2nd August, 2013


Im back in the reading room, back at work. Its suddenly festival time again, and theyve set up tents in George Square and stalls selling belgian wafes and gourmet burgers. None of that circus reaches us up here, the high scholars of the library tower. I was just going to write something silly about how this room is my personal asylum, when I noticed the cameras for the rst time. Dark glass spheres hang from grey sockets in the ceiling above every single table. This is a panopticon, not an asylum. Everything is visible to the masters. I tilt my laptop screen towards me, so that, if anyone is watching, they cannot see these words. Thomas Clouston didnt approve of women using their minds. He said, All the brain energy would be used up cramming a knowledge of the sciences, and there would be none left at all for reproductive purposes. He thought education made women barren, and that a future Britain would have to import uneducated women from other countries to continue the race. Not so benign as he rst seemed. His views were of the time, thats the best I can say. * * * * * *

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9th August, 2013


(My second tour of New Craig) They said I could stay as long as I wanted, but couldnt let me have keys, so effectively they locked me in. I had a number to call when I nished. I brought my camera and a notebook for observations. On one of the big replaces in the Great Hall theres a strange coat of arms a naked man, horizontal, oats above a castle and below a hand with an eye in it. Weird, masonic stuff. (since writing this I discover it is the surgeons coat of arms!) The building has a confusing layout deliberately so? I read somewhere that there were secret staircases just for the staff to circulate in, and that tunnels ran between the buildings and down to the town, but I never found them. As I wandered about, I kept thinking I heard movements in other parts of the building. But thats the way old buildings are. New Craig was designed for paying patients, the gentry, but when the NHS came in, there were no more divisions between rich and poor. So how was it for people to come from modest cosy homes to this rambling place, this cold castle? I certainly didnt feel more sane for being there, and thats supposed to be the point of my thesis. Because I was on my own, things that were probably quite ordinary seemed eerie: I opened a door in the basement and found a room carpeted in autumn leaves a foot deep. I found a hatch at the top of a small staircase and entered a low, attic-y space above the Great Hall. Ropes and pulleys stretched the width of it. I think theyre for letting the big chandeliers up and down. The space seemed untouched for many years. There were

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some old clothes there, and grafti scratched in the plaster. I looked close to read it. This is Me it said with a small arrow pointing at something a twist of paper, like a rawlplug sticking from the wall. I pulled the twist from its hole and unwrapped it. It was a tooth. A persons yellowed tooth. This is me. I put it right back. Wanting the light, I climbed up to the square tower and spent too long looking out. The castle rock was straight ahead, the Forth bridges visible beyond. I was thinking that the view hadnt changed so much since 1900 and with that thought came an odd sensation, like I was looking out of somebody elses eyes. Reading this over, it all sounds rather fevered. Its hard to explain. Being alone in New Craig felt like walking around in my own dreams, the same empty corridors and odd discoveries, and a sense of someone watching over me. * * * * * *

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Notes from an interview with Henry K, a patient at New Craig House in the 60s and 70s. 14/8/13 Henry was the rst of my interviewees. He struck me as very dapper he wore a cravat and a yellow jumper, but his accent was not posh. His face was very lined up close. He pronounced hospital hosebottle. He wasnt that happy about me using a recorder. I kept being distracted by the fact that one of his lower front teeth was missing. He talked entertainingly about other New Craig patients, saying that there were people there from before the war, many of them Dukes and Duchesses and whatnot abandoned by their families. He said that the grandeur of New Craig was a deliberate attempt to keep us in our places. He talked of the doctors coffee room where a patient who had been a musician played on the Bechstein while the doctors listened over their china cups and saucers. I couldnt get him to focus on the architecture for long, he wanted to talk about how the medical establishment mismanaged his care. He seemed to see a grand plan or dark game behind what had happened to him, something mapped out. I told him that I thought the world was more random than that, and he looked, not exactly disappointed with me, but as though I had failed a test, just as he expected. At the end, I asked him about the ghost stories. People like us cant admit things like that, he said, you have to be careful. * * * * * *

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16/8/13 10.03 From: Derek.dunbar@ed.ac.uk To: eilidh.moss33@sms.ed.ac.uk Subject: Supervision Session Tuesday 10th September Dear Ms. Moss, Please conrm that you can attend a supervisory session on 10th September at 9.30am. In advance of this, could you send me your thesis outline and draft rst and second chapters, say by 3rd September, to give me a chance to absorb them. I have to say I am concerned with our lack of contact over the summer, and am anxious to see progress. I need to remind you that unless delivery targets are respected, your place on the postgraduate programme may be at risk. Best wishes, Derek Dunbar (Dr.) * * * * * *

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16th August, 2013


Doctor Dunbar is a mean, cold-blooded reptile. I thought doing a doctorate would have its creative side, and that Doctor Derek might be an inspiration, a real mentor, but he makes the whole thing full of doom and grind and anticipatory disappointment. Three weeks to pull together some chapters. Yikes. I have been avoiding it. Now I need to just get down to it, but Ive an interview scheduled for tomorrow with Helen, another ex-patient. Cant cancel her, though I wish I could. * * * * * * Extract from an interview with Helen M, patient at various points in the 60s, 70s and 80s. 17/8/13 I dont know how to process what Helen told me. My head is still reeling, I can only write the words out from the recording. when you rst came in they would give you quite strong drugs, chlorpromazine, I think. They dosed you up, then eased off until you could just about walk, but oh, you shook and you slavered. Dreadful. some of the staff were harsh people. They would talk about you as if you werent in the room. Shes getting so fat. That kind of thing. I liked the Irish nurses or the ones from the islands they treated you softly. Thing was, I was so ill, but because I had trained as a nurse myself, they gave me a baby to mind. What? A real baby? Yes. The staff didnt have time to look after her, so I had her during the day, and they would take her at night, but really it didnt help me at all. Didnt help my anxiety. I dont understand what was a baby doing in the hospital?

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They were more progressive back then, in ways. When mothers came in with puerperal psychosis, they brought the babies in too, so that a bond might be formed. But this mother was so ill, she was practically catatonic, and so I walked the baby around the corridors all day. It wasnt until she left I could get any rest at all. Im still in touch with the mother, and the baby is ne, apparently, turned out to be an academic, she says. Eilidh. She named her after one of the nicest of the island nurses. Oh. Same as your name * * * * * * chlorpromazine n. a drug derived from phenothiazine, used as a sedative and a tranquilliser, esp. in psychotic disorders. Formula C17H19CIN2S. * * * * * * puerperal psychosis n. a mental disorder sometimes occurring in women after childbirth, characterised by deep depression, delusions of the childs death, and homicidal feelings toward the child. * * * * * *

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Croft 165 Salen Ardnamurchan Tuesday, 27th August My Dearest Eilidh, I didnt tell you because there was no point in telling you. I didnt want you to feel that your life had been blighted in some way by spending your early weeks in a loony bin. And perhaps there is some guilt there too, that I couldnt take care of you as I would have wished. When you used to beg me for a brother or sister to keep you company it pierced my heart, but I couldnt go through that again. It was a long time before I could even hold you in my arms. It is chemicals that do these things, Eilidh, just chemicals in the head. Nothing to fear. You have never not been loved. Mum, XX * * * * * *

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29th August, 2013


On the very rst page of this journal, I wrote the question that was my quest: Can a building make you sane? What kind of idiot asks a question like that? I feel as bad as if I went into a refugee camp and interrogated people about their tents the colour of the canvas, the sleeping arrangements, whether they preferred the aps closed or open, as if those petty details could erase the trauma and conict that brought them there. Im back to square one. Maybe even not on the board. Buildings do affect peoples wellbeing. I still believe that. And the patient that drew out the plans for Thomas Clouston believed it too. Architecture is not nothing. But it certainly isnt a cure. Compensation perhaps. My mother couldnt bear to look at me. A young women with schizophrenia and a bunch of Gaelic nurses carried and dandled me in her place, down long corridors I feel I can almost remember. The light fading in and out from bay to bay. I thought I was on one side of a fence and these people, these patients, were on the other. But there is no fence. * * * * * *

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2nd September, 2013


I went back to nish looking at all the Royal Edinburgh photographs today, that last box. I had this feeling she was there, and she was. It was almost the last photograph, as if shed been hiding from me. Nurses and patients play croquet on the lawn in front of New Craig. Theres a tree in full blossom behind them. The grass is spangled all over with daisies. A nurse takes her turn with the mallet and a group watches. Among the group are three young women, standing together. And one of them is my Mum. She is looking down at the grass, one hand xes her long hair behind an ear. She is very thin, but she does not look unhappy. Behind her, in the shadow of the tree, a gure stands in the shade, just a dark silhouette. Her head is obscured by a low branch of blossom. She seems to be carrying a sideways bundle. A little bundle that could be laundry, could be me. Yes, her dress is long and sweeps the ground. But that was the fashion in 1972. There is no reason to think there is anything odd about her. * * * * * *

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Flat D, 145 Marlborough St, Portobello 5th September, 2013 Dear Mum, Apparently, I only have to change once at Fortwilliam, so the bus should have me with you at 4.15 Saturday afternoon. You dont have to meet me at the stop, I can walk to you. Ive been granted a break from my studies, a terms grace to sort out what Im doing. Doctor Dunbar says its not unusual to have to re-think things, hes been very understanding, actually. But dont worry, I wont stay with you all that time, just a week or maybe two. Well see how it goes. We dont have to talk about when I was a baby or about New Craig, if you dont want to. It will be lovely just to sit in the porch beside you and share the view, catch up on some reading. It is odd, though, dont you think, that I was drawn to that place, that subject. Im like a salmon going back to where it was spawned, and not knowing why its doing it. I got a bit too drawn in, I think, let myself fall into some weird imaginings. Id love to ask you one thing. Did you ever feel a presence there, something strange but benign? Sorry, I said we didnt have to talk about it and Im doing just that. You know Im not superstitious, but a few of the things that have happened over the last couple of months, well. Theres more things between heaven and earth than I can get my head around. Thats for sure. See you Saturday. Your loving daughter, E Moss BA, MA, not yet PhD

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Ever/Present/Past
The history of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital spans 200 years, covering many lifetimes and diverse experiences of the psychiatric system. These experiences, some sad, some heartening, some funny and some down right odd, give a different insight into the everyday life of this hospital and the ways in which it has changed over the years. When Artlink was set the task of capturing the hospitals history it decided to approach the whole project in the same way it runs its workshops. First start with the individual; learn from their experience; then see where it takes you. The artists involved in the programme became researchers, meeting with individuals, slowly unearthing stories, collating these experiences, offering new perspectives, turning their research into artworks. The result is EVER/PRESENT/PAST, a year long programme curated and co-ordinated by Artlink which exposes the history of the REH through events, talks and exhibitions. Nicola Whites story is a ctional snapshot of the hospitals history. A way of capturing the many different experiences we have encountered over the years, transforming them into a short story that re-imagines the patients experience of the hospital. Nicola met with patients and staff, spent time in the Lothian Health Services Archive and navigated her way through a mountain of personal accounts of life within the hospital. We were aware that for the writer the sheer volume of experiences could be overwhelming and that for everyone involved that these experiences might be incredibly sad and at points, disturbing. Nicola, began to take little bits of peoples stories and weave together a ction that takes in the Victorian life of the hospital, as well as giving a very personal account of experiences of a young woman and her mother in the 1970s and present day. Artlink would like to thank everyone involved in the creation of this story. Your life experiences, the many years you have spent going in and out of the hospital either for treatment or to work, could never be encapsulated within one short story.

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However we hope that A Passage of Light and Shade dignies the patients experience by giving a little insight into one imaginary patients time within the hospital. Alison Stirling and Trevor Cromie Co-curators EVER/PRESENT/PAST Thanks to: Artlink Director Jan-Bert van den Berg for his invaluable support and guidance throughout the project.

Authors note
In creating this story, I drew on the archive of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and on the testimony of former patients and staff. The incidents are based on fact, but the contemporary characters are imaginary and not intended to resemble any actual persons, living, dead or supernatural. The reading room is based on the Woolfson Reading Room at the University of Edinburgh Library, and the reference numbers are invented.

The Author
Nicola White grew up in Dublin and New York and worked in Glasgow as a contemporary art curator and as a television and radio producer. She now writes full time. Her rst novel, In the Rosary Garden won the 2013 Dundee International Book Prize. Sincere thanks to: Alison Stirling, Trevor Cromie, Dianna Manson, Neville Singh, The Patients Council of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, and Laura Gould and all at the Lothian Health Services Archive.

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Credits
A Passage of Light & Shade is published by Artlink in an edition of 1000, November 2013, as part of a series of commissions commemorating 200 years of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital Copyright 2013 the author and publisher. The EVER / PRESENT / PAST project has been co-curated by Trevor Cromie and Artlinks Projects Director Alison Stirling, the exhibition has been realised in collaboration with the Talbot Rice Gallery. Design by Nicky Regan, Submarine Design Written by Nicola White Edited by Alison Stirling and Trevor Cromie Images courtesy of Scran. Front cover: 000-000-092-897-R Lothian Health Services Archive. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk P5: 000-000-041-365-R The Scotsman Publications Ltd. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk P6: 000-000-092-996-R Lothian Health Services Archive. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk P 33: 000-000-487-112-R Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland; B/64297. Licensor www.scran.ac.uk

Artlink promotes diversity, drawing on lived experiences to inform creative responses which are both relevant and enduring.

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Artlink Edinburgh and the Lothians 13a Spittal Street Edinburgh EH3 9DY Tel: 0131 229 3555 Website: www.artlinkedinburgh.co.uk Blog: www.artlinkeverpresentpast.wordpress.com Artlink is a company registered in Scotland No. 87845 with charitable status. Scottish Charity No. SC006845.