I hadn’t been feeling well
for some time. I was tired. My brain was foggy, my eyes blurry and to top it
off, I had Mr and Mrs Ramsay in my office and the session wasn’t going at all
The night before, sitting in a circle
with two dozen other counselors at the monthly meeting of the Family Court Association,
I’d had a sudden impulse to push my chair into the middle with a loud
screeching noise and recite Three Blind
blind three those, knife carving the with tails their off cut she.”
What a hoot that would’ve been!
in those days, I often just wanted to forget about serious issues, drop
everything including my trousers and go paddling along some far-flung beach, maybe
come across a dog and throw sticks into the surf.
Anyway, where was I?
Oh yes, telling you the story of Patrick
“What on earth is it,” I’d said
daughter when I opened up her Christmas present.
“Dunno. I just wanted to buy you
something weird, because you’re a bit weird yourself and I know you like weird
“Good thinking!” I replied. “The
I picked the thing up, stroking it
gingerly. “What’s its name?”
you what,” I said, thrilled to have been
given such a thoughtfully chosen gift instead of the usual ties and socks,
“I’ll post a photo on Facebook and see if we can get some ideas.”
And that’s how the name Patrick Hatrick
came about, suggested by the daughter of a friend of a friend, who claimed she lived
in a toadstool and was married to a field mouse.
I took Patrick Hatrick to the office and
sat him on the desk, where he attracted a lot of lighthearted ribaldry from my
clients and helped to introduce a note of levity into a serious process.
I was one of the guys that the Family
Court sent distressed couples to when they were splitting up and struggling to
resolve parenting issues – such as who was going to look after the kids on a
day-by-day basis, when would the other parent have time with them and so on.
It was not easy work, I can tell you,
because there was often a lot of hot emotion and things could get really
stressful. One of my colleagues used to say it was driving him slowly round the
bend and another would joke it was driving him sane - I’m not sure if he was being
serious or not.
Anyway, let me take you back to the day
when Patrick Hatrick showed his true colours.
Picture this, if you can: an office with
a mahogany desk and two high-backed chairs in front of it. I’m the older guy behind
the desk with a bald head and a worried look.
Sitting to my left is Mr Arnold Ramsay, a perplexed man in blue overalls
who continuously taps his left boot against his right boot. To my right is Mrs Fleur
Ramsay, an immense, red-faced woman with arms and legs like whisky barrels.
Sitting on the desk, watching quietly,
is Patrick Hatrick, a knitted entity of improbable species and unknown
ethnicity, with a brown body the size and shape of a jam jar, no legs and no
arms. He has a pointed yellow hat which rises to a great height and droops at
the top under the weight of a dangling purple bell. The hat is pulled down so
low over Patrick’s head that it completely covers his face. Only his beard is
visible. And from his beard, quite oddly, grows a nose.
Mr Ramsay was a pleasant small man who
wanted the best for the children and was willing to negotiate. Mrs Ramsay was
the most disagreeable woman I’d ever met. She argued, yelled, and flung her
arms about, and wanted total control of the children. She said that her husband
was “a psycho ” and insisted he should only see the children for one hour a
fortnight, under close supervision of a welfare worker. She wouldn’t compromise
at all, so I decided to apply a little pressure.
“Mrs Ramsay,” I said, “if you
husband can’t resolve your differences and come to an appropriate arrangement
in this room, the dispute will have to be settled in court.”
”You siding with him?” she spat out. “You saying I’m going have my kids took off me,
mister?” Her lips were stretched so
tight they’d almost vanished. Her chest was heaving. I saw her fists ball and
whiten, and her face grow crimson. A chill ran through me.
At this point, Patrick Hatrick made a
it was, I don’t know. I was so shocked, I
couldn’t take it in. It was just an enormous noise. His presence suddenly
filled the room. All eyes and ears were on him.
Mrs Ramsay half rose in her chair,
looked wildly about, sniffing, then
slumped back, staring at Patrick, then at me, her eyes fixed on my lips, as if
wondering whether I were some kind of demented ventriloquist.
Patrick Hatrick leapt down from the
desk, ran across the room and jumped onto
Mrs Ramsay’s head. Don’t ask me how, because he hasn’t got any legs, as
I said before. But that’s what happened.
Then, despite being also armless, he
clicked his fingers in front of her eyes and she went out like a light. He let
out a jubilant yell, then plunged his hand inside her skull. . .didn’t make an
incision, just went right on in, and started fishing around, singing a funny song.
I remember it clearly.
Hatrick found a head,
I. E. I. O.
in that head he healed a brain,
E. I. O.
a cut snip here and a new bit there,
loosen here and a tighten there,
twiddle there and a twiddle here
a twiddle, here a twiddle
a twiddle twiddle
Hatrick healed a head,
I. E. I. O.
He kept singing as he worked, his hands working
furiously, splattering bits of brain and blood in all directions, while Mr Ramsay
looked on with a perplexed smile.
“All done,” Patrick cried out, finally.
He clicked his fingers and stood back to admire his handiwork.
“I’m a new woman,” exclaimed Mrs
waking up and punching the air with a jubilant gesture.
angry look had gone. In its place was a
face devoid of lines and wrinkles, with an expression of serene contentment and
“Let’s get down to business,”
“Let’s put our personal differences aside and make an amicable parenting
agreement, the best ever made.”
Within five minutes we had a wonderful
agreement all sewn up.
The Ramsays left, holding hands.
Patrick Hatrick resumed his position on
my desk, sitting still, back to his old self, looking like nothing had just
happened and butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.
Later that day there was a loud knock at the office door and before I
could hide under the desk, it burst open and a big policeman came in, followed
by a couple of scary guys in white coats.
That was a good while ago. I can’t tell
you exactly how long ago, or what happened next.
These days, Patrick Hatrick spends most
of his time just sitting on my bedside cabinet, grinning at people.
Sometime I take him for a walk around and
everybody makes a big fuss of him.
bedtime, the nurses tuck the little fellow in