THE FRIARY NEWSLETTER: A place of rest for old bigots and young fogeys

We hope Phil will emerge a better-adjusted member of society, once he has come to terms with being a slitty-eyed septuagenarian
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The Independent Online
Another royal patient! The excitement in here has been intense. Some of the nursing staff were so thrilled by the prospect of his visit that they had to book themselves into the Ruby Wax Calm Down For God's Sake Unit until they were less hyper. It's understandable. After all, it's not every day that a real-life duke can be found wandering the corridors, hob-nobbing with sufferers from Bogus Royal Delusional Syndrome - Harry "Duke" Witherspoon the former rockabilly star, Edwina "Duchess" Palmer- Tomkinson the interior decorator, and the Rev Arthur "Bonehead" Metcalf from the Screaming Dukes punk band.

We hope Philip will enjoy his stay in the Incurable Racism wing. We've identified his problem as a chronic compulsion to blame everything that goes wrong with the world on Indian and Chinese people. It's something to do with his childhood reading of imperial adventure stories by G A Henty. ("Take that, Johnny Rag-head," grated Dick, connecting a ramrod left hook to the electrician's nose. The man shrank back, gibbering in his own wretched language, waggling his head from side to side...") But it's also fuelled by his dismay at being taken for a foreigner - a Greek - all his life. It's his way of hitting back.

We've prescribed a two-week course of delicious take-away meals from the Wrath of Khan, Roehampton, a strict regimen of raga music, ophthalmological corrective surgery and round-the-clock screenings of Farewell My Concubine. We hope Phil will emerge a better-adjusted member of society, once he has come to terms with being a slitty-eyed septuagenarian of dusky hue. Only by confronting our worst fears head-on, we believe, can we grow stronger and able to face the modern multicultural world.

There's been a lot of undignified barging and queue-jumping in the cleaning roster since His Royal Highness arrived. This form of therapy gives sufferers from Incredibly Grand Syndrome a chance to get in touch with their ordinary selves from the days before 24-hour room service, by having to muck out the rooms of other patients, picking up their socks, mopping their floors, washing their smalls and dusting their knick-knacks. It's a calculatedly demeaning and reductive programme.

The whole point, however, will be lost if people start vying with each other to tidy up Philip's private quarters. You are not here to seek advancement at court like some 18th-century arrivistes. You are patients in the grip of serious addictive behaviour patterns, not lapdogs of the royal bedchamber. Leave Philip alone. And really, there's little point in smarming up to him when all he's likely to say to you is "Have you come far?" and "What's your function here, Adbul?".

We're also delighted to welcome William to the Friary. He will be joining Cher and Geri Halliwell in the Excessive Makeover Victims department. William - or "Street Willie" as he now likes to be known - is a Conservative politician addicted to bizarre and confusing shifts of age-identity. When only 16 he behaved as though he were 60. While a young MP of 30, he came on like he was 95. When he became party leader at 35, he started pretending to be 18. Now 38, he has been persuaded by unscrupulous associates to embrace total baldness but behave like a man of 25, clambering up steep hills in disastrous headgear and simulating an interest in drum'n'bass music. His life is, frankly, a mess. In Shakespearean "seven ages of man" terms, he looks like the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, and sounds like the whining schoolboy.

We are rather at a loss about how to treat him. A spell in Heseltine ward may persuade him to embrace a more luxuriant hairstyle, even if he has, perforce, to buy it over the counter. A strict regimen of Spectator articles will broaden his range of stodgy opinions into musical and literary areas. And we've put him on our How To Be Interesting (beginners) course. We start with simple tabloid and soap-opera general knowledge stuff, then more complicated drinking-in-pub scenarios and travelling-by-Tube role play, followed by more advanced classes in Correct Pronunciation of Chelsea Footballers' Names and How to Talk to It Girls At Movie Premieres. It's slow progress so far, but at least we've persuaded him to stop wearing a club tie with a trucker's jacket.

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