Hogarth had me all wrong you know, I wasn’t bad but just good at making bad choices and as a result I have been famous for centuries for being an idiot twice baked.
I knew them all, Tommy J and Moll and Fanny, I knew Harry F’s father when he was young, they were a lovely group of people and perfect to carouse the areas of Gin Lane with as there was never a cross word between us. We just accepted each other’s fallabilities and got on with enjoying life for it’s own sake, it was a wonderful era of change and development with so much to see and do.
As I sit on the steps of this great Building, staring at the wonders around me, I contemplate the past and what on earth I am to do now that I am back. This is where I spent the final period of my last life, never hoping to smell fresh air again, and it is a novelty to be wandering around outside.
For those who do not know I am Tom, Rakewell officially but RakeHell to my friends, such as they were, and I had precious few genuine ones of those. The three I mentioned and young Buck Flash were the best and truest but there are others who I miss now and I am a little disappointed that I will not see their like again.
It is odd to be here and free and I am not sure what has happened, all that I can tell is that one moment I was not and then in the next instant I was. It was a little inconvenient to be naked for a moment but I am in a park and it is a Summer’s day so perhaps I will pass for an eccentric or madman (appropriate I suppose for this place) while I resolve the issue of covering myself.
I suppose that the only thing I can do is seek help but as I viewed the area from behind the mound where I appeared I could not judge which were the inhabitants of the hospital and which the custodians. Another issue appeared to be which sex they are as they all dress the same and there appears to be little difference in hair or gait, someone I took to be a young boy lay down on the grass and removed his outer garments revealing himself to be a well formed young woman. In fact so much of her was revealed that there was no doubt of her sex, entertaining though this view was I adjudged that she would be an inmate of the Bethlam who has escaped her keepers and felt a little sorry for her in her lunatic desire to rid herself of clothing.
Tom’s gone soft I hear you cry, where is our Rake? Do not worry kind reader, Tom is as he was but after my past adventures I seem to have developed a little empathy for my mad brethren and I would not wish them to come to serious harm.
As I watched the young woman taking her ease in the warmth of the sun I saw a tall fellow approach her, similarly attired in a light undershirt and thick, tight long breeches of some kind. The two were dressed so similarly that I took this to be a uniform for the establishment, it looked functional and basic and presumably was easy to clean.
To my astonishment the fellow removed his shirt, exposing his upper torso to the young madwoman and then proceeded to further remove his lower leggings and boots leaving himself naked bar some kind of short under breeches. The girl appeared to welcome his company as she reached up and embraced him in a most familiar fashion, I was not shocked but deeply surprised at such behaviour in a very public place. I can honestly say that I have seen more reticent greetings from the whores of Piccadilly when accosting possible clients for their services. I know this to be a hospital for the insane but even so I would not expect to see inmates of both genders permitted to fratenise in such a loose manner. Where were the Custodians and keepers for these people? This and many other questions which I had not even begun to contemplate were to be answered all too soon!
As I look around I notice other inmates there does appear to be a great deal of freedom within the gardens as I cannot see any of the uniformed bullies I would expect to keep order. There has also been some massive war in my beloved London as in front of the hospital are two huge guns of a type and style that I have never before beheld, clearly great violence has been done in this city. Perhaps it is this violence that has caused a softening of the treatment in this once harsh institution.
All that I can see just creates more questions to which I have no answers and will have none without seeking them and in order to do that I will need to be clothed as I cannot imagine that male nakedness is socially acceptable even yet. So….clothing, hmmm!
An idea strikes me as the fellow and the girl are exercising their very public passion for each other, he is about my size or perhaps a little larger so that is a possibility but I have five clear yards distance to the pile. There is also the issue that I have no idea of what my body is capable or what form others see when they look at me (or even if they see me at all. perchance I am some mere shade in their sight!). This latter thought suggests others, I wonder if clothes will actually hang on me, they may just fall off or even through me….what would that feel like? Would it tickle…. no that is ridiculous, if it fell through me it would be because I was not there and if I am not there then I need no garments as others should not perceive my shape.
This seems to be typical of my current mood, falling into flippant philosophy rather than getting on with the task in hand and thus risking the other two becoming tired of their embraces and leaving.