|Sind Sie Wahnsinnig! To cross ze vire is DESS!!
I think most of you regular readers of my blog will know that I have a problem with alcohol.
Actually, I have no problems with it. I rarely spill it and there is always another bottle in the shop.
Just recently though, I stumbled (as alcoholics usually do) across this blog:
I would urge you to follow the author’s instructions and read it from the beginning. I stopped after the rather harrowing description of the miserable death of a once fine man, a productive individual and loving father.
I emailed John Gray and asked his advice. He said what I really needed to do was check myself into a residential rehabilitation clinic.
I emailed my brother and asked him, since he is in Germany blessed with a superb internet connection, functional telephones and something called ‘Common Sense’, to look into it for me.
What I imagined was Stalag Luft XIV. I would be taken there in a truck and dumped into the icy slush of the courtyard, German Shepherds straining at the ends of their leashes to get a chunk of me. Detoxification would consist of being chained to a wall in the Cooler. Every time I reached for my once daily bowl of gruel would see a jackboot crushing down on my already well smashed knuckles. If I was lucky and the shackles allowed, I would be able to catch and munch down on a cockroach.
The reality appears to be somewhat different. It is all terribly ‘Touchy Feely’. I was willing to pay several thousand pounds a week to have the shit kicked out of me. I know there’s not a single city in UK where with a few well aimed waspish comments I couldn’t get that for free at closing time but I think you know what I mean. I pictured an institution not too dissimilar to Dartmoor Prison in a permanent state of winter. Rather than the gentle tap on my bedroom door announcing the arrival of my breakfast at the not unreasonable hour of Ten, I expected Jackbooted guards running their batons along the bars of my cell shouting, ‘RAUS! RAUS! APPEL!’ at Oh My God Hours. I expected freezing cold showers, hard labour and nothing but contempt from not just deeply unsympathetic but sadistic bastards. I expected the psychiatrist to be Stasi trained; instead of a couch I would be manacled to a rough wooden chair with a lamp pointing in my face and be beaten with a rubber hose if I gave ‘ze wrong’ answer.
Recognizing that I really needed a boot camp (or maximum security prison) rather than a humane environment, my brother came up with a place in Scotland. Scotland! Excellent! Nothing could surpass the bible bashing flying spittle of an ardent Presbyterian condemning my soul to the fires of everlasting, all-consuming hell unless I repented. Porridge with salt. Being head butted in the showers. Digging peat for the whisky stills in the pouring rain. Losing at Rugby in the pouring rain. Having my chest caved in by a still animate tonne of Anglophobic Scottish beef in the pouring rain. There'll be a gnashing, A GNASHING of anguished teeth. But Father, I haven't got any teeth. TEETH WILL BE PROVIDED!!!!
So I wrote to the Clinic explaining that I wasn’t really into knitting yoghurt and hugging trees and for their fee of 3,450 English (I mean Scottish) pounds per week I expected a jolly good thrashing. I summarized my email to them thus:
Do you have an evil Sergeant Major who will personally dig a highly polished toe cap into my ribs at six in the morning to toss me out of bed?
Do you have an occupational therapy programme that includes digging soil from one part of the garden, transporting it to the other side and then for no discernable reason whatsoever, transporting it back again?
Are your staff allowed to give lazy and uncooperative inmates a jolly good kick up the arse?
If inmates stray within twenty feet of your security fence in search of distilled grain and cross the wire, can your guards open fire?
Will I be absolved if in twenty years’ time I am accused of pinching a nurse’s bum?
If the answers to all these are 'Yes', please sign me up.
My Angolan wife is hugely supportive. I showed her the costs and she patted me on the back and said, 'Go for it my Darling. As you are British, if you die here in Angola we would have to pay to repatriate your body to England by air and that would be far more expensive'.
The clinic replied. Apparently I am not an Alcoholic, I have a Dependency. This is not an Addiction, it is an Illness.
Well that’s an easy bleeding question to answer. I drank because I liked the taste and I can’t wait for God to come out with a Mark II liver that’s a bit better than the useless one he issued me and everyone else so that we can all drink twice as much and help the government balance its books.
The rest of the time seems to be taken up with Group Therapy. My God, if ever there was a hell on earth it is listening to other wasters describing their miserable lives and how they were buggered by their Maths' teacher as kid which turned them into mass murdering drug addicts. With these guys it is always someone else’s fault. No, if I were to open one of these meetings it would be with, ‘Let’s get one thing straight, we are ALL worthless shits. The idea of this programme is to see just how much of it is worth recycling’.
So I was pleased to receive a list of the activities included in their ‘Complimentary Occupational Therapy Programme’ which I have appended below. I also accept that their ‘Clients’ are not ‘Inmates’ but ‘Patients’. Pedantic Celts. I have added my comments, which I kid you not I sent to them (along with a plea for them to add fly fishing, riding, clay pigeon shooting, chopping trees down and cooking lessons), beneath each activity:
Wonderful, maybe I'll churn out a Hockney, recover the fees and get a dinner invitation from Cro Magnum, the most powerful paintbrush in France, or maybe even the Fifth Communist (I read recently in the Telegraph, Columnist, that some old guy, ex journalist, is still looking for you, by the way. Just deny you ever went to Cambridge and I reckon you’ll be OK)
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyper-barbaric Oxygen Therapy? People pay to lie around in an oxygen tent? Doesn't sound too H O T to me. Can I have a fag while undergoing the treatment?
Equine Assisted Therapy
So they let me, a man who has ridden to hounds on the Quorn and rode over the Vaca Plateau in Central America in search of ancient Mayan ruins, lead a donkey to water and then make me sit together with all the other whacked out donkey wallopers and explain what the experience of being close to a donkey and leading it to water meant to me? Does the expression, 'I seriously need a drink' spring to mind?
We can all sit in supervised a circle on the lawn and beat a drum? After an overdose of oxygen and leading an ambulant Findus lasagne to water with no alcohol to numb the senses, I'd be drumming someone's head alright.
'Please, I can't stand this place anymore! Stick the needles into my eyes! No! Deeper! You have to spear the Cerebral Cortex!’
Mind Fullness? What the f*** are they on about? I saw those Master/Grasshopper movies, I thought the idea of meditation was to EMPTY the mind… I still can’t walk on rice paper without screwing it up, by the way.
OK, THAT I am into. It had crossed my mind that after six weeks incarceration without Marcia I would have bollocks the size of static water tanks, be walking like John Wayne and parting herds of donkey's like Moses did the Red Sea. Maybe I’ll go for some more HOT treatment so I can keep my end of the deal up. If the Thais aren’t up for it at least the bloody donkeys will be too scared to come near me.
Sniff. 'Ye-es, I think that's a 25 year old Glenfarclas and' sniff, 'this is a Laphroig, I can smell the peat'. Can I drink them now?
Relaxation Therapy? I call it 'sleeping' or to give it its technical name, 'Egyptian PT'.
'Don't forget to pour me my nightcap and fluff up the pillows before you go, there's a good chap. Oh, one other thing Old Boy, tell all these other muttering oiks lying on rubber mats on the floor to piss off and, you see that guy in white pajamas up front going, OM, OM, OM? Just shoot him for me, will you'
I prefer the targeted Acupuncture unless ‘Dance’ means watching naked polish pole dancers. In which case, maintaining the spirit of the occasion, I would drink only Vodka. Chilled, of course.
I finished off by telling them that I really wanted to do this.
AND THEY REPLIED!!!
Before they start the admissions procedure, though, they want my telephone number so that their resident psychiatrist can have chat with me first.