Lifestyle gurus: Odes to recovery

Do artists, musicians and writers make for good lifestyle gurus? A new project asked leading cultural figures to contribute their personal take on addiction for a series of self-help guides with a difference


UNDERSTANDING OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER: BILL DRUMMOND

There is a speck of something on the windscreen of my Land Rover. I'm almost doing 75 on the Newmarket bypass, heading for my mum's in Norwich. We are making good time. Not yet eight in the morning and more than halfway there. It is a warm early summer's day and everything is right with my world.

I've had the Land Rover over 13 years and it was old when I got it. In those 13 years, I'm proud to say, it has never been washed. I'm also proud of the fact that this gnarled but sturdy old tank can still touch 75 when the going is good. I am ignoring the speck on the windscreen. I mean it is no bigger than a couple of mill' across. Why should it bother me?

I take another sip from the can of Red Bull, only the second can of the day. And I would like you to know that I always go for the healthy sugar-free option. But that speck is still there. There is also a few score of insects freshly splattered on the screen. But they do not seem intent on catching my attention. I flick on the wipers, but it is out of reach and all that happens is the dead insects get smeared across the screen.

For I am a man in control of my life. I do not smoke; drink no more units per week than the government advises; do not take recreational drugs, or even the un-recreational sort unless the doctor orders. And not one sip of coffee has passed my lips since I had that last double espresso while sitting at an al fresco café on Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow on the third of October 2002. Which means I have been clean of the poison for seven years, seven months and two days.

I roll down the driver's side window and feel the warm rush of air hit my face. My elbow leans casually on the open frame, like I'm some character driving a pick-up truck in a movie based on a Cormac McCarthy novel.

Yeah, this is me, Bill Drummond, a man with an interesting past and, with a bit of luck, an even more interesting future. I mean, maybe it should be me that the movie is based on and not the Cormac McCarthy book. Who would they get to play me? Who would they get to play that speck on the windscreen?

Anyway, once I have bought the can I don't open it straight away. What I do is stand it on the shelf on top of the Land Rover's dashboard and leave it there. My record for leaving it is 27 minutes. While it stands there I can feel it already "vitalizing my body and mind". And to celebrate the fact I'm able to withstand its temptation for so many minutes, I pull the ring-pull and take a first sip. There is nothing like that first sip. And make sure it is never more than a sip; treat it as if you were drinking a good whisky. Not that I ever drink whisky. I despise and loathe everything that Scotch whisky represents... And I hate the way that generations of my fellow countrymen have destroyed theirs and their family's lives because of an addiction to the stuff.

I lift my right arm from where it has been resting in the open window and in my right fist, lift the can of Red Bull gently to my lips and take one ever so small sip. I'm feeling good. Or I would be if it was not for that speck on the windscreen. I put the Red Bull back on the ledge. Lean forward so my chest is almost touching the steering wheel, put my right arm out of the open window, bend my arm around so that my hand is now in front of the windscreen. The tip of my middle finger is less than an inch away from the speck. But I cannot stretch my arm any further. The speck stays in its place mocking me. Jeering my very existence on this earth. It is filling my whole head, obliterating all other thoughts.

I slam my foot on the brake, career onto the verge and leap out the door. You don't mess with Bill Drummond. In the eyes of some people I'm a hero, a legend, almost mythic. Give it a few more years and I'll be on Desert Island Discs. And you sit there on the windscreen of my Land Rover like you control the universe.

Between my thumb and forefinger I lift it off and flick it into the road with as much disdain as I can muster. Climb back into the cab of the Land Rover, head back out into the flow of traffic. And while doing so I can feel this overpowering sense of release flow.



This is an abridged version of the leaflet text

THE TRIANGLE OF SELF-OBSESSION: WILL SELF

Whatever you do once you've begun to read this leaflet, don't on any account put it down. You must, must, must read it through to the end. I don't believe in issuing idle threats, my threats – like Santa's malevolent, little helpers – work full time for me; and let me tell you that people who have started reading this leaflet but failed to finish it, have suffered ever afterwards from an awful, yawning, crackling sensation of paranoia, the sense that no matter which way they turn they can never quite catch sight of the dark figure, wielding an axe with homicidal intent, who hovers in the periphery of their vision.

In the beginning the world was without form and void of all things. Then I was created by God from a handful of primordial clay. And God saw that I was wonky and buffed me up a bit until I was more or less OK. Then he breathed into me and I received his inspiration. But the world remained without form and void of all things, so I asked God to make things that I would enjoy, and create other beings that I might share with them the fruits of His creation. And so it was. God made many things. He made cars and aerosol sprays, diverse musical instruments and fine bone china, knitting needles and beeswax furniture polish, funerary masks and dental equipment. And He saw that it was all good. Then God created the beings of this earth, the salamander and the orangutan, the tarantula and the seagull, the elk and the coelacanth – everything that wriggled and squirmed, swam and flew. And He saw that all of it was good. I, however, was largely indifferent to His handiwork, being a surly, adolescent kind of a character, much preoccupied with my own appearance and emotions.

So God created for me a triangle, saying, 'This triangle is made from bone and nerve tissue and blood vessels and glands and muscle and skin. I shall implant it within the very core of your body. Whatsoever, or whomsoever comes within this triangle of yours shall henceforth become the object of your preoccupation. You will find yourself unable to cease from contemplating their influence upon you, and yours upon them. And Lo! That will not be the end of it, for you shall act compulsively in respect of them, treating them if they be sentient as if they were objects, and if they be objects, as if they were sentient. That'll teach you to be so cocky.'

And so it came to pass. I can feel my triangle within me, even as I write this leaflet, and I daresay you can feel yours. I have endured the influence of my triangle for many years now, even though it has led me into much pain, into angry situations, and blighted my life with fear. I once met a rogue surgeon, and he convinced me that he would be able to cut out the triangle that bedevils me, slice it from me with his steely knives and whispering scalpels. And I bade him do so. But when the triangle was out of me, and lay in a pool of blood and white twistles of gristle on the operating table, I found myself compelled to take it up, and it had a good heft, like a nicely weighted boomerang, or any other finely constructed throwing implement. And I found that I could throw my triangle long distances and it would fall neatly around the shoulders of those that I pursued, snaring them in my bony force field of pain and anger and fear. Anyway, I soon grew another one inside of me, so now I had two.

It isn't a homicidal maniac who's creeping up behind you as you read this. It's me, with my triangle. Get out of here – fast.

MEMO TO AN INMATE WHO MAY BE AN ALCOHOLIC: BILLY CHILDISH

FORGET THE ROMANCE OF THE BOTTLE

i have no desire to be a riter

only

to be

happy lovesome and whole

theres no value to become

somone

only to be no one

and

its no great shakes

to be spark out in barcolona on 10 fat trebels

of spanish brandy

using the curbstone as a pillow

legs jutting out into the road

waiting for some passing maniac

to do a weel spin in your guts

because your sad and

alone

and have fuckt too many

and lost too many

and have been burnt

by every girl

whos eyes have said no

and waking

you realise your idiocey

and stand and walk back into the bar

GETTING OFF CIGARETTES ON YOUR OWN IS HARD TO DO: BETH ORTON

I haven't given up... I'm planning. I'll wait till I've ovulated. If I'm not pregnant... My period is due today. I'm probably... I'll ovulate... probably within a few days. They reckon it's better to quit between ovulation and your next period – the luteal phase. Better for kicking any addiction.

I've been trying to quit since I started. I was 12. I was immediately trapped, completely caught. But I do believe there is a way... a leap of consciousness, not as high falutin' as it sounds. I've done the books, done seminars, watched videos. I've been reading the Allen Carr book all my life. I only do three or four cigs a day. That's all my body can handle. Except sometimes a couple more can slip in. Smoking is romantic, like a collusion – rolling a cigarette is like rolling into a belief system. It's about grief. When I quit, I cry – for dead people, and loss. I cry for weeks. Once that passes I feel amazing. Then I feel on top of it, and start again. I like smoking on my own the best. I don't get up and smoke, but I'd go there if I could. I have picked up butts – when I was young, when I was looking for 20p pieces. Actually, 20p pieces didn't exist then.

I like American Spirit rolling tobacco – I love it. Golden Virginia is too oily. Old Holborn – no. My granddad used to smoke Old Holborn, in his pipe. When he died I found old crusty tobacco at the bottom of his pipe. I smoked it. I started when my dad died. He was a chain smoker – someone said I smoke to be close to him. I love the smell of smoke on your skin and wine on your breath. The smell of smoke on my fingers. You kiss me goodnight... the shadows...

'19 Raptures' launches this evening at Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, London E2 7ES. Admission is £35, which includes a copy of the publication. Texts are also published by Neal Brown as individual leaflets, priced £22. A £245 set in a special slipcase (designed by Bella Freud and signed by the contributors) is also available. All proceeds go to the charity RAPt (The Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust) which offers drug and alcohol treatment services to prisoners in UK jails ( www.nineteenraptures.co.uk)

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

photography
Arts and Entertainment
Adolf Hitler's 1914 watercolour 'Altes Rathaus' and the original invoice from 1916

art
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tvThe two new contestants will join the 'I'm A Celebrity' camp after Gemma Collins' surprise exit
News
The late Jimmy Ruffin, pictured in 1974
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Northern Uproar, pictured in 1996
people

Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the new Paddington bear review

Review: Paddingtonfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Tony stares at the 'Daddy Big Ears' drawing his abducted son Oliver drew for him in The Missing
tvReview: But we're no closer to the truth in 'The Missing'
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible