In denial and under sedation

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THIS column may wander around a bit, then run out of road. Thanks to Honest John, I'm heavily sedated. I'm OK at the moment, but in an hour or two I'll be as off my tits as a safari park rhino having its appendix out.

Honest John doesn't usually come up trumps (you may recall that when I wanted a gun the other day he offered me pounds 800-worth of first-class postage stamps instead), but this time he came up trumps in spades. I rang him up yesterday and told him that I was a little down in the dumps right now.

'You've come to the best place,' he said. 'A month or so ago, I had an excellent idea. I had some cards printed in the name of 'Dr Honest John MB FRCS', then I wrote off to all the top pharmaceutical companies, asking for their latest stuff. They sent me samples by the bucketful, the upshot being that I've had to rent a warehouse on the Great West Road. I have in stock medically approved tablets for any situation. I'll bring you round a cocktail.'

I know what you're thinking: you're thinking that it's better to handle life's problems without chemical assistance; that I should take the advice of such as Anna Raeburn, look in the mirror in the morning and say 'I like me', thereafter stepping forth in a striped shirt and with my toes turned


Well, I tried that for a while, was motoring along OK, when I went smack into not one bollard but two.

On Sunday, and having read last week's column, my friend Simon Holiday rang and said that I was in denial. He would say that, of course. He's in recovery himself, and, if you ask me, in the nick of time, since his way of coping with a recent setback was to move into increasingly restricted spaces, ending up inside a cardboard box inside a cupboard in the hall. Thereafter, and very sensibly, he booked himself into a country clinic.

'You're in denial,' he said. 'You think you're over Pete the Schnoz, but yesterday's piece was fatally revealing. Obviously, you're grieving still and your attempt to replace him with Geoff Atkinson is unfair to both of you. You're not ready yet for another relationship. You're just using Atkinson.'

'Good gracious,' I said.

'You should join me here,' he said, 'on an eight-week programme. The chef's excellent and the residents delightful. Shuffling, wax- faced misfits muttering darkly to themselves. And they're the counsellors. Your bed's booked and the sheet's turned down.'

Phooey to that, of course, but on Monday Geoff Atkinson rang to say that he was going to take a family holiday in Wales. That came as no surprise. It is, after all, the point of a Geoff that he takes his holidays in Wales. You'd not expect a man with a ginger wig and with his money on deposit to go to Las Vegas with a speechless girl hired from an agency by the hour.

'Great,' I said. 'When?'

'Today,' he said. 'So we'll not be able to meet this week.'

That was a bombshell. The point of a Geoff is that he keeps to a tight working schedule, that you know from a wall-planner where he'll be for the next six weeks. And the worst of it was, of course, that, left to my own devices, I began to brood about Pete the Schnoz.

Was I still grieving? I hadn't thought so, had been convinced, indeed, that I was getting on with my life as best I could. But as the hours crawled by, my indignation rose, and not so much from the fact of the dumping as from its manner - without warning, without explanation - and I'd make him pay for this.

I wouldn't do anything foolish, of course. I wouldn't follow the example of my friend Stefanie Marrian, the Page Three Cracker, who, when she's dumped, dances in the Greek mode, and at midnight, on her lover's lawn, clothed only in a tea-towel. I'd not pitch up in Salisbury, where Pete the Schnoz - in a move which metropolitan cast-offs dismiss as geographic - has relocated himself. But he did owe me an opportunity to talk like civilised people, to have one last honest conversation.

Accordingly, I rang him up, determined to be light on my feet, to come in at an angle with finesse.

'Hey]' I said. 'Cool running. Remember me?'

There was a terrible silence, then he spoke in a voice which was as chilly, as shocking and unfamiliar as a church service on a sunny day.

'You're invading my privacy,' he sad. 'I need space to develop in my own way. I'm free. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh but I'm beginning to feel that your threatening me. If you call again I'll have to have my number changed. Godbye forever.'

Wow. I know what you'd have done: you'd have rung up his mother and told her how abominably you were being treated by her son. Well, that's what I did, too, and she coudn't have been sweeter or more understanding.

'Be patient,' she said. 'He's still young and wants for a while to pursue life's journey on his his own. Give him tim. I'm sure he'll find a place for you in his life eventually.'

So that was all right, but on Thursday I got a letter froom Kingsley, Napley & Co, saying that ifI contacted their client Pete the Schnoz, again, they'd be compelled to take out an injunction prohibiting me from pestering him.

And that's when I rang up Honest John and he came here or I went their, I can't remember whichh, and I took all these diaza-things. ANd Pete the snioz isn't the only fish on the beach after all all. His arms are too short and his complexion isn't always as it should be. ANd I bet he's bored in Salisbury talking to the cows and getting fat and next week Geoff Atkinso returns and I'll be be back at kudos ltd a cubicle only away from Debie Mason who IU think Iwant to marry. Ao all in all I feel really good about myself and wander whether I'll finish before I fall fall headfirst on to the keys off my & pounds /H&K((+HEB S pounds X*M8G&bkws