The poor man. I've spent the better part of a week outside the room in which Denis has been sectioned for his own good. I'm not a man given to hyperbole but in this
instance I might say that the good friend we have all come to know and love had finally lost his marbles, gone cuckoo, drifted beyond the land of sanity and found himself shipwrecked on the Isle of Potty.
Not that anybody has missed me (well, perhaps a few of you) but the reason I've been so quiet for the last week is that I've been busy caring for Denis. It's the very least I could do given that the man has no family. I also felt a little to blame for the incidents that led up to his being institutionalised.
I should have acted on my suspicions. My Madeley Sense began to tingle when Denis first told me that his greatest ambition in life was to sail around the world single handed.
'Have you any other choice?' I asked.
He took my quip in his usual good spirits. Judy later claimed that she'd found him weeping in the stationary cupboard but I happen to know he sneaks in their for a quick snort from his hip flask. I suspected that what to Judy sounded like sobbing was merely a man gargling throat tonic.
'Does Denis seem okay to you, Richard?' she asked two days later.
I admitted that I thought he was just a little temperamental.
'But he's never shown a sign of being interested in sailing,' she said. 'He asked me this morning if I knew any good yacht clubs.'
I told Judy that I wasn't going to question Denis' interests. Anything that distracted him from his darts obsession was good with me.
Then, early last week, Judy again found him in the stationary cupboard.
'He's spending a lot of time in there,' she told me as we ate lunch that night.
'Let's not complain,' I answered. 'He obviously feels comfortable in there. It's rare that a man finds somewhere where he feels at home.'
Judy was adamant that something was wrong. 'He was looking at maps of sea lanes,' she said.
'So long as he wasn't reading the Peter Manley newsletter, I really don't care,' was my reply.
Half past ten on Tuesday morning, we had a phone call from the police. Apparently, Denis had put to sea on a raft built from cardboard tubes made seaworthy by numerous wrappings of brown masking tape. They'd traced Denis back to us because he'd used a large cardboard cut out of my lofty self as a mast. It's no idle boast but he'd been picked up adrift off the coast of Spain.
'You should have seen this coming,' said Judy as we drove to the hospital.
'I should have seen this inevitable lull in my blog ,' I replied. 'I haven't got time for Denis and my readers. One or the other of them will have to suffer.'
And unfortunately for you, Denis has been my priority for the last week. I'll be keeping an eye on Denis but I'll try to fit this blog between trips to the hospital and my ongoing work on 'Eye of the Storm 2'.