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Real Bodies: Rehab Notes

ON FRIDAY night, we had our weekly "film show": a video. We're allowed to choose the video, the only proviso being that it can't contain scenes of drinking, sex, gambling, violence, shopping, relationship addiction, eating or - if it exists yet on screen - compulsive helping. Try this sometime in your local video shop. The Incredible Journey looms large, as does Free Willie, though both are in the danger zone, thanks to their portrayed sympathy towards compulsive helping.

As it happened, Cynthia arrived at the clinic on Thursday night. She is a pretty 35-year old from Bradford, admitted for heroin and sex addiction. She was all over the place and the usual good people, or compulsive helpers as we must now call them, instantly looked after her. One, Marjorie, once helped someone so compulsively that she landed in hospital with a life- threatening asthma attack.

But after much jostling for position, it was Nathan, our 16-year-old gambling addict, compulsive liar and nouveau over-eater, who got closest to Cynthia. We should have been suspicious: Nathan is never any help at all, let alone compulsive.

I can't remember what film we chose, so it was probably Carousel. The chairs in the sitting room were lined up in rows. The sofa at the back contained Cynthia and Nathan. The lights went out.

It was after the film was over, when we smokers were "enjoying" a cigarette break in the biting cold outside, that Nathan revealed: "I shagged Cynthia during the film."

You have to know Nathan to understand properly the dilemma this put us in. He's the most unlikely back row shagger imaginable. He's very large, prefers sweets to sex - at any rate, with another person - slobbers a lot and is intensely irritating. On the other hand, Cynthia is a sex addict.

If addiction were scientifically provable, shagging Nathan on a sofa in a sock-smelly room while watching Carousel would probably constitute the acid test. Cynthia fiercely denied it.

So. Did we believe Nathan, a compulsive liar, that they did shag, or Cynthia, a sex addict, that they didn't? Opinion seethed back and forth. At Process Group on Saturday morning, it all came out in one colossal heave. Nathan admitted he'd been lying, Cynthia socked him in the mouth and, within 15 minutes, her bag was packed and a taxi was called: no hitting is the unbreakable rule. Lust for violence against Nathan for this injustice, however, was huge. And that's just from watching Carousel.