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Today’s SevenDaysOfAction post, “16 Years”, asks us to put ourselves in the shoes of Tony Hickmott, who has spent 16 years, from age 24 to 40, in an ATU, and think about what we ourselves accomplished in those 16 years.

Between my 24th and 40th birthdays, I:

  • Finished my postgraduate degree
  • Worked for five different employers, then began working from home
  • Sang in a dozen different opera productions
  • Bought a flat, sold it, bought a house, sold it, moved to another one
  • Travelled in Europe, Asia and South America
  • Attended the weddings of many friends and the christenings of their babies
  • Attended one family funeral and one friend’s funeral
  • Got married and had two children
  • Began a further postgraduate qualification
  • Made many friends and hosted them as guests in my own home
  • Spent at least one weekend a month walking in the wild places of Britain
  • Went to plays, concerts, the cinema, firework displays, fairs, ceilidhs, restaurants, dinners and parties
  • Went to bed in the wee small hours rather oftener than I probably should have


  • Left not one permanent footprint on the sands of time, without regretting a single minute of it.

Tony Hickmott hasn’t left a mark on history either.  In his case, it’s been because he’s been locked up, for no crime, without hope of appeal or reprieve, in near-solitary confinement, as a publicly-funded patient of a privately-run Assessment and Treatment Unit.

Sixteen bitter years.