AFTER WATCHING Farquhar's The Recruiting Officer a while ago, I considered the comic possibilities of two recruiting officers running into one another. It is the 18th century. Two men meet in a pub in Oxford, one recruiting for the North Devon Fusiliers, the other for the Norfolk Artillery. They furiously try to recruit each other and finally drop dead from exhaustion.

Something like this happened here on Wednesday. Down the road from our clinic is a rather frightening mock-Gothic mansion inhabited by a sect called the German Other Plane Cult. They're Germans who live on another plane. Their Leader arrived after breakfast and asked if he could bring a small party that very afternoon.

For us, this was a pleasant diversion. After all, here was a bunch of real loonies who'd retreated to a rural life for the purpose of planting and chanting - on another plane. (When you think about it, it's an unlucky village, having an addiction clinic and the German Other Plane Cult.) For them, however, it was apparently an opportunity to recruit some collapsed minds onto another plane.

Soon the battle lines were drawn and, brilliantly, it was Paolo (our man illuminated by a light beam from above) who launched the attack.

"Why would any of us want to join you, Karl?" he said to Kurt. "We want to live in the real world. That's why we're here."

With deathly pleasantness, Kurt explained the advantages of the German Other Plane Cult.

"It's your so-called real world that's caused you all your trouble," he explained.

"We don't need other planes to live our lives!" Paolo interrupted rather too emphatically. "We're quite happy on this plane, thank you very much! You're all addicts! You're addicted to this other plane because you can't face the real world! You should all be in here and learn how to live in the real world! You're in denial, Karl!" he accused Kurt. "You're denying the reality!"

This dialectic went on for some time. Foreigners arguing in English is an enjoyable spectacle. But, frankly, Kurt didn't stand a chance against Paolo when he's all fired up and the Germans finally retreated to their plane while we stayed on ours.

Thinking about this afterwards, my mind turned to cults, sects and religion in general. One of the many rearguard arguments people use to avoid treatment for addiction is that the anonymous fellowships are pseudo-religious organisations. Nothing could be further from the truth. As in the "real world", it is a personal choice whether you go for the Virgin Mary, the German Other Plane Cult or light beams from above. It is a huge delusion that AA brainwashes its adherents. You can believe any nonsense you like and still recover from addiction.