The Spoon

Creative Future, a local charity that works with marginalized and disabled writers ran a creative writing course at Brighton Museum in January. The following piece is one of the many great pieces of writing that came out of the course. More of the participants’ work can be read in the pamphlet Museum Tales on sale now at the Brighton Museum shop, price £5.

Creative Future run the creative writing workshops in partnership with Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

Museum Tales, Poems and prose inspired by artefacts in Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
Museum Tales, Poems and prose inspired by artefacts in Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Originally, I was a serving spoon,
Shiny, new,
Enticing mouths that begged for freedom
At the asylum in Hayward’s Heath.

Before each meal,
I was counted ‘out’
After each meal
I was counted ‘in’

There seemed no escape
From the loony bin.

I was kept under lock and key,
Just like the patient who rescued me.

One day, at lunch, a big fight broke out.
The patient seized his chance:
He gave the warden such a clout –
He knocked him out.

Next he picked me up,
And showed me love.
He kissed me on the cheek.
Tears ran down his red-rimmed eyes.
Then he hid me up his sleeve.

He snatched the warden’s keys,
Did a little dance,
Advanced to the bathroom,
And stole a bar of soap.

He made deep impressions

With the keys inside the soap.
He now had a cast to chisel me out.
(He knew he had to return the keys
To prevent a full-blown search.)
Soon he’d be free as a bird upon a golden perch.

Day by day,
He carved me into shape.

Day by day,
We were planning our escape.

He turned me clock-wise around the lock,
First a click and then a clank.


Then we sneaked out through the door.

Before his feet had touched the floor,
A warden blew a whistle,
Someone rang a bell.
We were caught red-handed in the corridors of hell.

The patient was strung up in a straight-jacket and locked up in a cell.

I’m on display in a cabinet, locked up to no avail.

(Inspired by a spoon from St. Francis Hospital. The handle was carved into a key.)

Mary O’Dwyer

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