It was 1994. I'd become a master of science in computing. Potential colleagues with bachelor's degrees in the subject would no longer hurl the insult "hacker" at me. My MSc soon led to another programming job, albeit three days long! Extreme stress compounded by almost immediate persecutory ideas, prevented any clarity of thought for me, so I feigned working by fruitless keyboard activity for the short duration.
On day four my mother rang in and said I was schizophrenic, rendering the boss speechless, until he was thankfully able to add that he'd not sent my P45 in.
Years ago Clare had professionally sang at Winwick hospital. We'd also both bought our pianos from the same business based in a Lancashire mill. My father described the owner as a loveable rogue. I doubt he knew what CVs were, and he was both funny and charming. He played piano very well and held two fellowship diplomas in organ playing.
Clare took me back there to see if I might get a job. It turned out that electronically aided piano tuning was possible. If I got the equipment I was allowed to try. My dad bought me the expensive gear, and bizarrely Clare and I spotted a newspaper ad for all the related metal hardware: tuning wrenches, etc.; at that time, on offer from a retired conventional tuner: a very unusual advert indeed. I soon looked professional with my Accu-Tuner I and the tools in a case.
In time I became a skilled tuner. I worked at the mill Saturday and Sunday every weekend for two years.
The mental health significance of this surrounds my relationship with an elderly man who taught piano there. He'd made a makeshift studio in the mill's vastness. Being both self-taught and extremely advanced on the piano I liked and admired him implicitly. I trusted him.
On first meeting, my excitement to try out my new tuning stuff for the very first time, led to thoughtlessness. I badly disturbed his lesson. A few weeks later he disturbed my tuning with a power drill, directly behind the wall where I was listening. I went round to mentioned it as a sort of situation joke, but he thought I was complaining.
His monologue took one or two minutes to annihilate me, particularly my trust and confidence. With myself being so fragile anyway and him being greatly older, I accepted his psychological babble was correct, and whatever it actually meant, I must be an invalid person.
He was almost three times my age. Later in life I realised that doesn't always ensure a much greater wisdom.
I was soon at square one again. I stopped trusting Clare. I just stared at the wall and obsessed about the monologue. Becoming increasingly psychotic, I was home visited by my GP. Thankfully he thought I wasn't as bad as last time, despite me suggesting Clare was trying to harm me, regardless though, I was referred to the Priory hospital for the second time.
After medication and some talking therapies I was better in a few weeks. Life long prophylactic medication would be strongly recommended if I was ill again.
I returned to the mill. "Running away" was not a good option, but there was a lot of air to clear. I didn't expect a recurence of what happened, but the teacher and I were now likely to be no more than colleagues in effect.
I had liked and trusted an eccentric seventy year old man, assuming simply down to his age, that he was wise in thought and action. It was a mistake. However, I carried on liking him.