"Up the pole" Back in the early 1980s, I was informed that this phrase originated in Fair Mile Hospital, Berkshire, England. Patients in this psychiatric asylum who had broken a leg (perhaps from ECT) were placed on bed rest. For those who would not lie still, a manacle was placed on their good ankle and attached to a metal pole attached to one corner of their bed. A clever inmate would realise that to be free, all you had to do was climb up to the top of the pole and un hook the manacle ring. One could imagine the attendants spotting this and shouting to colleagues that this person was up the pole.