Friday 22 February 2013

Welcome to Purgatory. Get off your horse and drink your milk


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. 

Bollocks.  No-one forced this stuff down my neck, I did it all to myself.  This is a self-inflicted wound but I do recognize, now that I am addicted and lack the moral fibre to sort it out myself, I need help.  The major part of the programmes offered by private clinics (yes, I have to go private) comprises of Psychoanalogy, the main aim of which is to define, and then help the inmate come to terms with the reason he or she is drinking.

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:

Art Group  

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?

Drumming Therapy

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!’

Mindfulness Meditation

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.

Thai Massage

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

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.


Before they start the admissions procedure, though, they want my telephone number so that their resident psychiatrist can have chat with me first.

 What on earth for?



  1. I can only imagine that the resident trick cyclist recognises a good idea when he sees one, and wishes to discuss changed to the regimen with you.

    With all due respect to the kilted booze-hounds north of Hadrian's barricade, going to Scotland for treatment for an alcohol issue does seem rather like moving to Newcastle to get away from coal dust and Geordies.

    Inadequacy was the only thing that saved me from alcoho... from an "alcohol issue" - I did all of the right things, hung out with the right (wrong) people in the right (wrong) places, drank vodka by the tumbler and could differentiate every available brand in a blind taste test - and yet, fortunately for me, I accidentally lacked the wherewithal of addiction. In the I really couldn't be bothered with it. Nothing that I did, just a very fortunately missing part of me that wouldn't let it latch on and settle in.

    None of which helps your friend with the problem. I'm of a mind that only two things will every change a dependency - a gentle slide into an alternative more benign insanity, or replacement of the addiction with something less fatal. Trouble is, all of the suitable replacement addictions are either illegal, immoral or make you fat, so we're back to finding a more benign insanity.

    Given the lunatic fringe that you already inhabit though (and which hasn't diverted your psyche) I'm at a loss.

    Pay the money, see the kilted booze-hounds and listen to what they say like a man listening to instructions on how to launch a lifeboat. Then get in the lifeboat. Every time you fall out of it, get back in. Get used to falling out, get used to getting back in.

    Nobody died and made you responsible for "perfect".

    1. Good Lord. Now I know I have gone insane. I have read your post through. I read it backwards. I read it Da Vinci style in a mirror. Then I ran it through a few algorithms and STILL it came out as a serious comment.

      What the devil is the matter with you recently?

      I expected you, of all people Sir Owl, to mock, ridicule and jeer. I can't help feeling a trifle shortchanged...

    2. Puts tips of fingers together, assumes "Mr Burns" voice ... 'Ex-cellent Smithers, my plan is working.'

      My medication is slightly off. And it's February.

      Seriously, Scotland: it's one of only two countries on the planet where the DIY shops keep Methylated Spirits in a chiller cabinet. The other country is Finland.

      Word to the wise - never attempt to flame a Methylated Manhattan. Not even if it has olives in it.


    3. I can see the irony of going to Scotland to cure myself of the distilled grain. Clearly it hadn't escaped you. Mind you, if I do get 'wire happy' and unlike poor old Ives, make it over, I won't have far to go to the nearest distillery.

      Some of the 'whisky' we sell in the shop here is concoted in India. I wouldn't go near that with a match either!

  2. I was imagining a brilliant conversation with the resident psychiatrist. Brilliant repartee zipping across the wire from both ends. Hippo fighting to a draw and agreeing to jump in. Go with Owl Wood's advice. I come from a family of alcoholics and other varieties of users. I really love the ones who work at their problems.

    1. I have run into a deal breaker though. They insist on no cell phones or laptops. I can agree with cellphones but why can't I have my laptop in my private room that I am paying so much for so that I can email or skype the family back in Africa and continue to blog? They say they have a public payphone for the use of guests. To call Angola I would need a machine gun to feed the pound coins into the slot.

  3. I think you should have warned us to get the coffee on first. :)
    Seriously though, hope it goes well. Remember your thermals as it's bloody cold in Scotland. I'm fairly sure that a well known place near me in the south of England would be cheaper. And fewer of the men down here wear skirts.
    Are we still going to get a post "trial" update?

    1. I would be very grateful if you could give the name of the place down south. Now that I have been told I cannot bring a laptop, I am not so keen on the place in Scotland.

      I will finish the post trial report!

    2. It's called The Priory Hospital and is located on the edge of the New Forest just outside Southampton. The tel no is 02380-840044, fax is 02380-207554 and e-mail is They are part of a big group in the UK and I'm fairly sure that I have read of various celebs going there. No idea of the prices. Please let me know if I can help any further.

  4. You can always come live with us. The liquor is on the fridge, but nobody drinks it because they get a very disapproving, disappointed look from my wife. It's shriveling and actually painful.

    For work, we have a 100-ft. redwood too close to the house that needs to come down, a 65-foot walnut, too, and a patio roof to install, a lawn to put in, a pond to fix, a workshop to build, and a garden to tend. All on 1/10th of an acre. And if you need somebody to yell at you, I've a 2-yr. old boy, and I can take a turn.

    The cost? Just round-trip travel to your beach resort.

    1. Now THAT sounds like a plan! Can I bring my laptop?

  5. Have you lost the plot or something, Tom? I thought we were all expecting an account of your day in court. Now you are off to Scotland. Pull the other one.

    Whether drinking a lot of alcohol over a long period of time amounts to addiction, illness, whatever is neither here nor there. Fact is: Never ever get off the stuff without medical supervision. As I said to you recently: Your brain's synapses won't like it. In fact to go cold turkey can be deadly. So forget all the psycho babble. Make sure you get the right intravenous drip (and lots of Thiamine) to stay alive. People think coming off heroin is terrible. And so it is. Most unpleasant. However, there is no comparison to the danger to a long addled brain and a pickled liver trying to clean up.

    Tell me all this is one joke in bad taste.

    Greetings from the ward,

    1. Yes, Yes, I'll finish the trial report.

      For all the reasons you have stated is why I am going to a residential detox and rehab clinic.

      I'll tell what the sick joke is. Unfortunately, I have agreed to try a local treatment first and that, quite frankly, scares the bejeebers out of me consisting as it does of three days of projectile vomiting. If I survive that, I'll survive anything...

  6. This sounds serious, as if you mean it.

    Ursula's right, you want the right sort of medical help, and it won't be a walk in the park. There'll be lots of detoxing, and you might find yourself becoming a sugar addict.

    You can keep a journal and type them in for blog posts later.

    Your adoring blog public will be happy upon your return back to Cyberia.

    1. I am serious. My departure is not imminent, I can only go once the restaurant is open so maybe in a couple of months (with the weather hopefully warmer!)

      I will find a place that allows laptops and internet access.

    2. Most places don't allow contact with the outside world because they want the recovering person to focus solely on recovery with no outside temptations. I do hope they can make an exception for you as you'll be miles away from Marcia, Alex, and Marta, but don't be surprised if they won't.

  7. Only you can decide dear boy. The fact that you've recognised a problem is a major step. If cutting out alcohol completely allows you to live a little longer to provide for and be with your wife and children, then I think you'll conclude that they're worth it. It's a serious issue, so I'm writing this with due consideration. It wont be easy, but you're worth it.

    1. I have to do something, it can't go on like this.

  8. 'bitchontheblog' has said all the sensible stuff; so here comes the silly. I drink a bottle of red wine every evening. I don't see this as a problem; more a simple pleasure. I've never really drunk spirits, so I still have a working liver. Wouldn't it be easier, and more cost effective, to just drink a little less? I've known several people who've stayed at The Priory, and as soon as they leave they're back at The Fox and Hounds; money down the drain. My advice (for what it's worth) is to drink lots of water, drink slightly less Whiskey each day, and be aware!!!

    1. THAT has hit the nail on the head. I will spend all in around $50,000, come back to Angola, the same environment and run a bar? What do you rate my chances as? I know I have to be positive, otherwise I have lost before I even start but I am not self delusional!

      I have already started cutting down. It is just about midday and I still have not had a drink. I am already down to just over half a bottle of whisky although I will admit, I am beginning to have difficulty going to sleep at night so yesterday I drank 2/3 of a bottle. I am going to try and stick to the no booze before midday regime and try mixing the whisky with water. We will also see whether this local cure has any effect. Marcia's Aunt was a heavier drinker than I am and she has been clean for seven years now so I would like to try it but am conscious of all the dire warnings here.

    2. Not a drop passes my lips before 5pm, and diluted lemon juice for lunch (very good for the liver). You'll have to excuse me now; my rouge awaits.

  9. Proper medical supervision is vital as Ursula states...thiamine is always given as is a structured reducing dose of a drug like clordiazipoxide to 'big' drinkers
    If any friend of mine needs to stop drinking for whatever reason, an in patient facility With medical input available is totally sensible.....
    Seen many detox cases on iTu.......severe withdrawals can happen even when someone is drinking considerably less than perhaps you are Tom.......

    1. You don't fancy a holiday here in Angola and 'observe' the local treatment?

  10. I don't like the sound of that local treatment. I'm afraid there is not going to be any easy fix. You've identified the problem which has to be a great start but your success is going to be severely challenged by your job so I think Cro's advice to try to wind it down yourself now sounds good. It also sounds like this plan is very much in the future..... how much in the future exactly? Surely trying for a 5 o'clock start ( or midday and gradually later ) would be a step in the right direction and reducing your consumption in whatever way you can will all help make the final process a bit less dramatic?
    Good Luck. You have a lot to live for with that lovely family of yours so it will be worth the effort

  11. Working/running a bar is going to mke it difficult. We always thought one of my best friends had a problem with the drink, he ran a pub so was around it all the time. Now he's left the industry and still has a rink but only on the weekends. i guess the temptation isn't there anymore. I guess it depends on how strong your will power is? Mines rubbish thats why I've never tried a cigerette as I'm sure I'd never be able to stop!

  12. The love of a father for his son -

    The love of a brother for a brother -

    Timeless and strong -

    Yet neither compares -

    to the love of one drunk -

    for another.

    Cut back and get drunk once a week for starts.

  13. I'm a newcomer..via Gentle John a couple of weeks ago...but have been reading Addy for managed to make a challenging topic delightfully interesting...good luck


Please feel free to comment, good or bad. I will allow anything that isn't truly offensive to any other commentator. Me? You can slag me without mercy but try and be witty while you are about it.