Sunday 28 February 1999
My own appointed household task is "Table Layer" at breakfast, lunch and dinner. "Therapeutic tasks" are central to therapy. The idea is to do things for others and not for ourselves.
The pitfall for addicts, apparently, is that when we are endlessly waited on we become grandiose. This seems to lend credence to the theory here that everyone in the entire world is an addict. If so, addiction clinics at pounds 2,000 a week are soon going to pip the Colombian drug cartels at the annual Business Awards.
Anyway, what actually happens in the selfless act of Table-laying is that Frederico, the lazy Italian dope-head with whom I share the job, is always asleep until breakfast actually starts, forgets Table- laying altogether at lunch-time, and is illegally watching television before dinner.
The third member of our team is Karl, a German crack addict. On the odd occasions when Frederico does make it for Table- laying, it becomes plain the EU hasn't a chance in hell of working.
Frederico is so laid-back, he lives in some kind of purgatory between sleeping and waking. Most days he forgets to do up his flies. Karl is German, as well as a crack addict, and hates slovenliness in all its forms, especially Frederico's. National stereotypes are stereotypes because they're true.
The fourth member of our not-so-tightly knit team is Nathan, a 16-year- old gambling addict and congenital liar who rivals Frederico in functionless apathy. His job is "Food Monitor". This entails liaising with the Cool Chef.
The combination of the four of us is reminiscent of the old Roman method of execution - putting the condemned man into a sack with a dog, cat and snake, and throwing the whole lot into the River Tiber.
Sure enough, Nathan - a budding eating-disorder candidate - is soon caught nicking food, and Karl finally lays out Frederico, instead of laying the tables.
With all this going on, what about the therapy? In "Process Group" we're currently processing why Karl laid out Frederico and why Nathan's nicking food.
In the outside world - the real world, as we call it - problems are all around us. They're what make me, for example, turn to booze. In here, problems have to be invented, to some extent. Throw the four of us together at Table-laying and our characters can be shredded later in group therapy.
Meanwhile, bulimic Sheila sobs in a corner at the memory of her father's sexual abuse.
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