Piano man

Thursday, 23 June 2005 14:57
strange_complex: (C J Cregg)
You may remember the story of the 'Piano Man', who was found wandering in the rain in Kent in April. He was taken to Medway Maritime Hospital, and although unable or unwilling to speak or write words, he did draw a picture of a grand piano, and played fluently upon the hospital's chapel piano when taken to it by staff.

The story has very much dropped out of the news, but it stuck in my mind enough to make me wonder what had become of this man, and do a bit of Googling today to try to find out. I rather assumed there would have been a happy resolution by now, even if the press hadn't bothered to report it, since a full two months have passed since he was found.

Sadly, however, there has not. I found a series of press statements about him made by Kent and Medway NHS since he was brought into their care, and statement 10 reveals that, as of yesterday, his identity had still not been established, despite 200 possible names being supplied by the public. He is still being cared for by the hospital, still unnamed, still not communicating by any means other than music.

I don't know whether my interest in him is real compassion or mere curiosity. But communicating in words is such a fundamental part of being human that it is hard not to feel frustrated for someone who has locked themselves out from doing so, and to long to help them to reintegrate themselves into the great human conversation. And his ability to communicate through the piano of course only throws his linguistic silence into sharper relief, making it all the more unbearable that he does not speak, because it hints (probably misleadingly) that he would say fine and profound things if he did. I know there are many people in the world much worse off than him, but his story touches me strangely. I hope he finds himself soon.


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