Making of the Man

The Making of the Man

Inspired by J Storer Clouston – front cover image for Carrington’s Cases & the title from A Lunatic at Large.

In another era his face would have been less conspicuously out of place. He could have been bulbous-nosed and peeled-wally without much undue attention coming his way. even the strands of black hair swept over his shining pate would have been unremarkable.

It was not Carrington’s fate to be born in such times when he would be easily fit in, or when he was likely to enter into a profession that was suitably clerical and bureaucratic where his idiosyncratic appearance was acceptable.


Carrington was born into the modern era, named after an oil baron from his mother’s favourite television programme. His mother, petite and formidable had run a hairdressing and manicure business in the back room of their small dwelling. The man who had given Carrington his features had quickly absconded before the boy was old enough to remember him.

As a boy Carrington was not improved by the repeated application of face creams and thickening hair tonics either in outward impression on chances of success in the world.

An undeniably singular bond grew between mother and son and understandably Carrington was most peculiarly affected by his mother’s passing.

Nevertheless it was unjust that he should end up in a lunatic asylum.

The accident itself was an unfortunate event, brought about by the coming together of a pair of curling tongs and a hair removal waterbath; a harsh penance for a lifetime of beautification.

At forty-eight, and having always been very much cared for by his mother, there were many things that mystified Carrington about the world. It was a desperate time.

Grief is an obstinate and unpredictable beast and for Carrington the bleakness of life on his own had been temporarily cheered by the wearing of his mother’s clothes – a harmless comfort. Yet, taken as a poor sign by his less liberal neighbours.

Whether they would have been more forgiving had he been dainty and balletic in his promenades across the communal drying green we will never know.

The details of the incarceration that followed are not in themselves of great interest. Statements from colleagues at the petrol statement where Carrington had swept and cleaned were unanimous. Carrington had unravelled badly. There had been a hell of a mess because of a distraction he’d caused a farmer, petrol nozzle in hand. He would not be welcome back at the pumps in pumps.

The root of these disturbances was partly ascribed to Carrington’s continued free use of his mother’s medicine cabinet. The long-sighted Carrington had such an sparse experience of the consequences of his mother’s various vitamins and supplements that he regularly mistakenly took a cocktail of medicines that was likely to befuddle even the most strong-minded individual.

Shelter, routine, and better quality meals than his octogenarian mother had been able to prepare in her later years, eased Carrington’s sense of claustrophobia in the asylum. He had little yearning for the outside.

However, the certification that he was insane troubled Carrington deeply.

So it was that Carrington found himself one wet, windy afternoon sitting alone on his bed holding a photograph of his bewigged, false-eyelashed but still in his eyes beautiful mother. A sensation came upon him that he would like to do something to make her proud.

As he looked around his surroundings it also dawned on him, in the slow and gradual way that things did, that he was quite in control of all his senses.

Yes, he may not be ordinary. But who wants to be ordinary?

This conviction of his own sanity along with his air of indifferent competence and his striking lawman’s appearance were very much a strong foundation for the adventures to come.

Gabrielle Barnby

11th May, 2018, Orkney

Gabrielle Barnby