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Indy Lifestyle Online
THE OLDEST member of our group is Terry. He's 62, though when he arrived he looked a half-dead 92. Terry spent a few days in the detox unit, tottering out once in a while for a cigarette as if it might be his last. The detox patients are like hurt ghosts until they come across the yard to live with us. Terry actually was a ghost.

By the time he did join us, however, he'd lost a few decades and become a lairy hard-nut ex-coalminer who's so quick to anger he dares air to knock against him. The words "Shut up" are the trigger to his real fury and date back to unkind years at reform school.

After his first explosion, I decided to be robust about this and whenever I'm at a reasonably safe distance in the corridor, the yard or the garden, our conversation goes like this.

"Hey, Terry?"


"Shut up."

After some nasty early moments, he's still falling for it, but then replying good-humouredly, "You're a f-kwit, Ben."

But this week really has been Terry's week. He not only fell in love with Lil, a dreamy smack addict 40 years his junior, but actually said so in Process Group. Until he came here, Terry had probably never even admitted to his shoe size in case someone used it against him. Now this old head-banging coalminer was baring his self-confessedly doomed pash to a roomful of nutters, including the object of his desire. It was hard to identify with this Beauty and the Beast scenario.

We all tiptoed carefully around him for a few days, while he marched through the house red-faced, oblivious to anyone coming in the opposite direction. But he saved his full-scale assaults for the Cool Chef's food. Terry certainly marches on his stomach. At every meal he lays waste the serving table like a mercenary army with worms. Mountainous platefuls are followed by second mountainous platefuls before some of us have unfurled our napkins. Soon the finicky boardroom lunchers among us became annoyed.

Terry belligerently refused to see his eating habits as anything other than "a healthy appetite".

"You have to be pretty healthy to knock people out of your way to get to the serving table," I agreed.

"You're a f-kwit, Ben."

And so, after a decent interval had passed since his lovestruck confession, Terry was denounced in Process Group for his prandially challenged behaviour.

"You're 'using' on your food, Terry," the TD said.

"I'm just eating my f-king food."

"It's hiding your feelings."

Terry was "plated", which means the Cool Chef prepares a plate in the kitchen with Terry's name on it. Now we'll find out what Terry really feels.