Mr. Humm is Honorary Research Fellow, School of Health Sciences, City University London, London, United Kingdom.
The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.
E-mail correspondence to Mr. Humm can be sent to
In September 2012, at the International Network of Psychiatric Nursing Research (NPNR) conference in Oxford, England, academic staff and members of the Service Users and Carers Group Advising on Research (SUGAR) from City University London organized a workshop on collaboration with service users and carers in mental health nursing research. They provided a live, participatory, interactive demonstration of how service users and carers collaborate on a range of mental health nursing and other research projects. The workshop began with an exercise designed to put the participants at ease while also demonstrating the point that all individuals “wear different hats” at different times and have different types of expertise. Within SUGAR, the aim is to respect and value those differences. Approximately 40 hats of all shapes, sizes, designs, and color were spread around the room. People were asked to stand up and put on a hat. A number of statements were read out loud: “If this is your first time at the NPNR conference, keep your hat on”; “If you have ever been involved in a research study put a hat on.” The statements built up to include “If you or someone close to you has experienced mental distress, put a hat on.” In a fun way, the exercise helped reveal the different and often overlapping experiences within the room. This exercise inspired Richard Humm, a member of SUGAR, to write the poem, “Hats.”
It’s a cliché of course, but Mental Illness really does affect people from all backgrounds.
It’s not the only hat I wear.
I may be a “patient,”
but I’m also a parent, a pedant, a pleb, a piss-poor punk poet, the Grand Panjandrum himself, a peripatetic pilgrim, a philosopher, a prole, a pessimist, a polymath, a plumber, a paragon, a most amusing paradox, a perambulator, a pragmatic phantasist, apostle of Le Petomane, participatory partner in οι πολλοi, an armchair Paralympian, a plotter of π to a plenitude of places, spotter of pies at twenty-two paces, a monopod, a pedagogue, a pundit, a prodisestablishmentarian, a practicing pacifist, a patently pulchritudinous, perfectly polished, pugnacious perspicacious persistent proselytizing pagan and procrastinating philanthropist.
The one who’s always in the kitchen at parties:
Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch’entrate
I am an anarchist, the anti-Christ,
Sugar and spice and all things nice.
Am I overly dramatic? NO!Just emphatically, empathically,
I’m an oxymoronical prurient prude
(That’s someone embarrassed about being lewd)
I’m a kind soul, a heel, a mensch, a schlemiel,
As hard as clarts and as soft as steel.
A thinker, a doer, a reader, a writer,
Mackie Messer, a fresser, a pisher, a scheisse.
Politically, I’m personal and personally I’m politic
I am the very model of a modern major clever-dick.
I’m Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious,
Curt Vile and Maria Callous.
I’m Lord Snooty, Lady Muck;
Don’t take offense, don’t give a shit.
I’m Spring-Heeled Jack and Sunny Jim,
(I wonder what became of him).
I’m Sloppy Joe and Weary Willie,
Tim Nice-But-Dim and Simon, the Silly.
I’m Giant Haystacks, Little Tich,
Father of two and a son-of-a-bitch.
I’m the Burger King and the Dairy Queen;
Statistically speaking, I’m averagely mean.
My Gawd Forbids are Dustbin Lids;
A Currant Bun and his Skin and Blister.
I’m Radio Rental and Elephant’s Trunk,
I’m a China Plate and a Jeremy Hunt,
Rambling Syd Rumpo and Cupid Stunt
I’m Mr. Toad and Peter Pan
A Bright-Young-Thing and a Dirty-Old-Man,
Minnie the Minx and Desperate Dan.
(Cow-Pie is, of course,
“NOW TEN-PER-CENT HORSE!”).
I’m Jack and I’m Jill, I’m the Fool on the Hill
I’m Batwoman, Catwoman, Buffalo Bill
Ich bin ein Berliner, ein Hamburger too
Ein Frankfurter, ein Wiener, Ikh bin hungerik, nu?
I’m John Bull and Uncle Sam
A Russian Bear, New Zealand Lamb
Richard the Lionheart, the Crookback, the Lame,
Puffed up with pride or shadowed with shame.
I yam wot I yam and that’s all wot I yam;
Cogito ergo sum and I don’t give a damn.
I’m Foreign Scum and a Dharma Bum;
A Rocker, a shocker, I’m...