Dom Joly: Need a friend? Take the dog for a talk

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The Independent Online

Two weeks ago I was the proud owner of a seriously flashy Porsche and an Alaska-destroying Range Rover Vogue. Two weeks ago I used to play the occasional round of "fun" golf with a mate. That was two weeks ago. Now the cars are gone, I'm a fully paid-up member of a golf club and I've been wandering around the forecourt of a local Mitsubishi dealership looking at estates and pick up-trucks.

I feel different and I don't know why. It might just be the final arrival of spring and the last residual effects of my seasonal affective disorder, but it feels more powerful than that. It feels like a sort of male menopause without extensive hot flushes.

Why don't I have a life coach? I'm not quite sure what a life coach does but I know people who have one, and so why not me? I presume they're just a sort of paid friend who has to put up with your neuroses and mutterings 24/7, and I think it's what I need.

I've just rung the information centre in Cirencester and asked them if they have any life coaches on their books. They don't. They do have a badminton coach, several tennis coaches (wife stealers, the lot of them) and a coach that leaves for Birdland at nine every morning. Sadly, not much use - although I might visit Birdland.

So I've decided to employ Huxley, my Labrador, as my life coach. He's available, wise and, best of all, won't go to the newspapers with my jabberings.

Our first session went quite well. Huxley lay on my sofa, as he always does, and I sat on the floor next to him and just let everything out.

He's very astute. He interrupted me after a while and asked me why I'd joined a golf club. I had no answer. Did it just seem to be the right thing to do? Did the voices tell me to do it?

"Which is it?" pressed Huxley.

"The voices," I replied.

"What about getting rid of the flash cars?" he asked. "I bloody loved that Range Rover, loads of room in the back allowed me to lord it over that ponce of a poodle up the hill. I notice no one had the decency to consult me." He was being quite hostile.

"I could actually see the petrol gauge move steadily towards empty as I drove it and started feeling guilty," I protested weakly.

"So do you think that by buying a pick-up truck you'll suddenly be all country and manly and people will think that you're a grounded sort of person?" Huxley had fixed me with a pitiful stare.

"No... I just wanted to rid myself of all material possessions and live a simpler life," I stammered.

"Bollocks," said Huxley. "Your problem is that you've actually had a mid-life crisis and were too dim to even notice. Now you're coming out the other end - you're middle-aged and it's freaking you out. Get used to it, you twat." He raised a languid paw to indicate that the session was over. I poured him a bowl of Boney Chews as payment and wandered out into the garden to think about stuff.

As I stared at some dead flower in the rose garden I realised the smug pooch was right. I'm starting to downsize, getting ready for the end. I've spent the first half of my life accumulating and now I want to get rid of everything. It's like the loony asylum where someone in a padded cell makes a basket and then it's given to another loony in another padded cell to take it apart.

I shouldn't use the word "loony" as Stacey says it's offensive. I found it offensive when the weird man who runs the B&B down the road called me one. He'd caught me emptying the contents of my garage into the river below his place. I tried to say something clever but only managed something offensive that heightened the tension.

I need to speak to Huxley again; the voices are stronger today and they're frightening me. I don't have a machete and I'm not absolutely sure that the person from the golf club called me what I think she called me. Must rest for a while... so much to do.

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