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Stories & Scripts

Source: Adults

Author: Darren Nicholson

Title: Devocabularisation

When you loose your vocabulary you loose your ability to express emotions. The result…anxiousness, frustration and mania. You probably won’t know this. No offence, but it’s not a problem many people experience. Most people are lucky devils.

How I know this is, I’d run out of money. After many months of saving and planning I found myself in a small hostel in the centre of Sydney. My first few weeks are a blur. I know I had a good time and I know I slept very little, but further than that I cannot tell you much. Then after two weeks I realized the money that I had accumulated painstakingly over the past six months back in the UK, was nearly all gone. And my rent was due at the end of the week.

I resolved that morning to get myself a job as quickly as possible. The idea of going home so soon was repellant. So I mouched down to the local corner shop in shorts and bare feet and picked up the local rag, I returned to the hostel, jumped up onto my bunk and spread the classifieds out in front of me. Although I knew I wanted work, I still hadn’t shaken the holiday feeling, so I guess I was hoping for something that didn’t involve too much effort.

I think it was the first ad I looked at. It just jumped out at me. A small clump of text in the bottom corner of the page. “Participants required for groundbreaking new experiment. Only those with good command of the English language need apply. Good rates of pay offered for the right candidate”.

It sounded perfect. A little bit odd but perfect. Could I be a guinea pig? yes I could. Could I sit there while a guy in a white coat played with my body and mind? Yes I could. Did I have a good command of English? Indefatigably I did. I leaped from the bed and ran to the phone.

As is the case with most of our fateful decisions, I took it lightly and with little thought of consequences.

The following are some excerpts from my journal. I will only include a few to give you a taste. The entries are taken from a five week period beginning on the afternoon of the day I made that call.

13th July 2001. 7.30 pm

Right, the Professor said I’m supposed to keep a journal so here goes. Samuel Poole, 22 years old, Batchelor’s degree in English literature, and all round good guy…or so my mother tells me. I’m from the UK. But you already know all this don’t you Professor, after all those forms you made me fill in. Seriously you need to streamline your admissions system, my wrist is still aching from all that box filling. So I spent this afternoon completing your forms and eventually receiving the unquestionable honour of meeting your good self for the interview. You will remember that that was a very pleasant little chat and you may have noticed that I was doing my best to display my sufficient grasp of our mother tongue (I still am incidentally). You were very charming and your enthusiasm for this project was evident from the start. When you gave me your speech about our language being, how did you phrase it? ‘The conduit of the soul’, well I have to admit you got me excited. Well I hope that’s enough for my first entry in your journal Professor. I’m off out now, the pub. ‘Til tomorrow then.

21st July 2001. 3pm

Right, so we’re a week into this thing and I’m not really noticing much of a change yet. To be honest I’m starting to think this is some clever experiment where you tell me one thing is going on when it’s actually something else. The sessions we have are pretty weird. I mean when you inject me with that stuff and then do your hypnotism thing I really go under. I really can’t remember anything that happens from when you get me to count down from ten to when you tell me I’m back in the room. I’m trusting you Professor. To be honest the money you pay is really useful. My rent is paid up and I can even buy the beers most nights which is making me popular. I’ve been hanging out with this guy Steve. He’s older than me and he’s been travelling for years, been everywhere. He was telling me about China last night and the gap between the rich in the cities and the poor in the countryside. A lot of it seems to be about education to me, maybe something your experiment will help with Professor. Who knows.

29th July 2001.

OK Professor. Not a good night last night. I was out drinking with this guy Steve, I told you about him. Anyway he was banging on about some shit. Something about Africa or something. Its bad and all what’s happening over there but what can I do about it, you know. Anyway, he was going on and on and I was trying to listen but this guy kept looking at me from across the bar. So when I was getting some more drinks I told this guy what I thought of him. And he said something back and we had this big row. Steve come over and tried to pull me away. Not get on my side, but just pull me away. So I told Steve to leave me alone and then we had a row and he started talking bad about this experiment of yours. He said it was making me loose my mind or some shit. I told him he didn’t mind the money I made buying him beer all the time and he left. I haven’t seen him today. I don’t care. He was boring anyway.

8th August 2001.

I do not know what I am doing but I am not happy. No one talks to me no more. I try and say good things to people but they do not talk to me. Steve has gone. He said he was not liking this place no more. I told you today I am not happy. You said our thing is over soon. But I am not happy. I feel alone. I want to go home. I need to go home.

This was my last entry. When I went back to the University the next day I was crying uncontrollably and one of the assistants had a big argument with the Professor about the state I was in. Eventually he agreed to end it but only after all the assistants said they would put in a complaint to the Board if he didn’t. I was hospitalized and spent the next month under going treatment to restore my vocabulary. I didn’t feel right within myself for a long time. As soon as the University and the doctors said I was fit to leave I came home to England. I stayed with my parents for a while until eventually I was able to get out on my own. As far as I know the Australians never published their results. Too embarrassed to admit what they did to me I suppose. I’ve decided to study Linguistics and Communication at College. I’ve never told anyone about the experiment until now.

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