I remember being shown around a ward of a long stay institution as a student nurse. After being shown the office, laundry, dormitory and drugs cabinet I was shown into the dayroom. Thirty-ish people with learning disabilities sitting in chairs around the edge of the ‘day-room’. They were introduced, by diagnosis, by behaviours, and by any other oddities that made them stand out.
One lady was pointed out by name – “This is ‘Lindsey’, she has the voice of an angel.”
“Come on Lindsey, sing for Chrissie – she’s the new student”
‘Lindsey’, right on cue, sang…
“I’m nobody’s child. Nobody’s child
Just like a flower, I’m running wild
I’ve got no mummy’s kisses, no daddy’s smile
No body loves me, I’m nobody’s child”
Over the next few years, at the same institution, during my training I heard other ‘residents’ singing the same song, like an anthem. This was the first time I heard it, but certainly not the last. I don’t know if this ‘Lindsey’ had family who visited, cared for her or missed her. But the poignancy of the lyrics didn’t seem to matter. This was the Lindsey’s of the institution’s party piece and they sang on cue.
Even then, as a naive and very young student nurse in the 1980’s I found this disturbing.