Margaret’s Story


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175 in stock


By Margaret Bushay

ISBN: 978-1-78382-088-7
Published: 2014
Pages: 70
Key Themes: Mental Health, Play, Psychiatric System


This is a defiant but upsetting play about the psychiatric system as a burden and a curse upon a patient who becomes its victim- its prey.

A woman, Margaret Stanley, is sectioned. She feels she is being imprisoned, not cured.

It is her first frightening night in the Tyrie Centre, a psychiatric hospital that is haunted…

Haunted by ghosts from her past…

Spectres and phantoms beating into her this one terrible truth…

That insanity is everywhere, that insanity is the axis around which the world spins, the core of existence, and that schizophrenics such as herself are only the scapegoats for a phenomenon- insanity- which is unfortunately universal.

Society projects madness onto them- the vulnerable inmates locked up in ‘loony bins’. But madness is everywhere, in everyone.

Here is Margaret’s story.

A tale of fear, of doomed resistance, of inevitable mourning.

About the Author

Margaret Bushay is 46 years old, and was born in that dull and backward- looking commuter town, High Wycombe, which is a concrete blot in South Buckinghamshire.

High Wycombe is unforgivably Tory. It is so conservative, the bourgeois version of Hell.

Her parents, John and Daisy, are sadly both dead now. They came from Saint Vincent, in the Caribbean. Many of the black people in High Wycombe can trace themselves back to Saint Vincent.

She has two daughters, and four grandchildren.

All she has experienced in High Wycombe as a black victim is a feeling of being abused- above all, by the mental health system. She has been regularly sectioned since 1997, and is currently on a Community Treatment Order, which is like a perpetual permanent cage around her.

The psychiatric drugs she is forced to take have grim side effects. Being ‘medicated’ is like being compelled into the boiling sulphur and brimstone of Hades. She is on a fortnightly depot injection, which is degrading and humiliating. Depixol- an older neuroleptic- fattens her up and slows her down. It makes her zombie- like, uncomfortable, unable to think, love, function. It is about harm, not healing.

She is a feminist of the radical crusading sort. She believes that man is an oppressor, and that the relationship between man and woman is often no better than rape.

She has a controversial attachment to ESP and telepathy, things which others would dismiss as non- existent. The conventional world is only the surface of things- there is a deep core beneath that we cannot find while we refuse to liberate our neglected telepathic selves within.

This play- Margaret’s Story- is a collaboration with her Asian advocate, Zekria Ibrahimi, who is embattled himself as he sinks under all the difficulties of being disabled and elderly.

Book Extract


(Waving at her in a mocking manner as he saunters offstage)

Bye, bye, babe. Being with you was too much melodrama, too little reality. What am I now? Just a shadow in the wind, merely a ripple in the stream of time (He turns his head towards her, then away from her, as he exits), vanishing, vanishing, vanishing…


(With a voice undermined by resignation, and sitting down in a grim defeated manner)

I had to bring up my daughter- for the baby was a girl- on my own. Joseph refused to stay with me, as though pregnancy and childbirth immediately turned me into a leper. I had terrible stretch marks inscribed across my belly, and I felt that they were the ghoulish souvenir of him for me. I was so conscious of them, I was ashamed of my body, they made me feel like an undesirable heap of flesh. And the even more ferocious scars he had left on my soul deep inside will never, never heal. Carefree thuggery, snide betrayal- these were what summed up Joseph ultimately. And yet…and yet…there had been pulsating romance to start with, there had been love; in the end, though, the romance and love withered away, like a deplorable nothingness.

My daughter…

She seemed total sunshine to me, the girl of the dawn, my rainbow princess. Alice. She looked as beautiful as something in an art gallery, her skin the colour of copper, her hair developing into a vivid jet black.

But it was not easy, being a single mother in Lower Watson. Unforgivably Tory Lower Watson. A place determined to crucify me on the Cross of Respectability.

As I was struggling with the arrears and the bills, with all the problems of my humiliating poverty, a second man came. He was black, in a black car. He had a job as a clerk in a bank along the High Street.

After the impact of Joseph, who was white, I needed to turn to my own race. To blackness. To Mark.

From the start, Mark regarded me as someone to conquer, to consume. I was lonely, when Joseph had left, and, to a degree, I invited Mark into my existence.

We used to travel round in his car. Once, he went to Slough. We traipsed into MacDonald’s. ‘I like to see my women eat,’ Mark said.

It was me he was intending to devour.

The burger with ketchup was slippery in my mouth. I munched through the French fries, and slurped down the Coca Cola. He smiled at me, in a shark’s manner. I was naive. I didn’t understand Mark, all that he was. I don’t want to insist that he was all bad, all rotten. Joseph, and Mark- they could shine, sometimes. A spark, a glimmer, of compassion always seemed to exist in Mark, but… the viciousness of desire was also in him.

I was with Mark for years, throughout the 1980’s. I suppose I should say that he loved me, yet…yet…there was always IT. IT stood above us, like a grotesque obscene monument, beneath whose cruel dark vastness I trembled, and IT was the thing called sex. IT drove him towards me. IT became a monster chewing up my soul. As things had been with Joseph, so they were with Mark. Mark was black, yet he was domineering towards me, just like a white man.


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