THE FRIARY NEWSLETTER: It isn't easy throwing off the chains of self-abasement

Happy news! Geri has conquered her unfortunate tendency to go out with shallow or insincere media types
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This week Victoria Ironbottom, our interpersonal relationship counsellor, writes:

People are always coming up to me in the clinic and asking: "Vicky, why do I persist in having affairs with speccy multi-millionaire radio DJs who cannot commit to a girl for longer than the weekend?" To which I reply: "That, my girl, is because you are suffering from unsuitable relationships addiction syndrome (URAS), which is why you're here in the first place."

What is URAS? It's a distressing condition with a number of subtle gradations, but behind all of them is a desire to abase oneself by hanging out with people who will embarrass you, leave you or screw you up big-time.

At the low-priority end are sufferers from bit-of-a-wally fixation, girls who cannot resist men who wear polyester slacks, drive a Ford Ka and use phrases such as "Bear with me" and "For my sins ... ". More dangerous is the hopeless-philanderer compulsion, in which unstable young women feel an unconquerable need to go out with James Hewitt, Rod Stewart or Peter Stringfellow, despite the likelihood of being treated like a toilet. Further along the chain of self-mortification is the complete-shit serial- rapture complex. Sufferers from this condition entertain inexplicable feelings of love for really, really awful men. They are invariably persuaded to bankroll the complete shit with money they were keeping for a duplex in Highgate; they do his ironing, weed his garden, change his old mother's library book and indulge in complicated al fresco sex on demand in Harrods food hall or the flight deck of a 757; and do it for at least a year before he suddenly dumps them without explanation.

So it's happy news that patient No 68402, Halliwell G, whom many will remember as our Miss Friary 1998, has conquered her unfortunate tendency to go out with shallow or insincere media types who might bring her some kind of grief or public humiliation. We are glad to hear she has formed an alliance with a nice, quiet, stay-at-home sort of fellow whose hobbies are inspecting church misericords and perusing Wisden's Almanac. Well done, Geri! Come back and see us after the honeymoon!

Meanwhile, back in the URAS wing, I dropped into the Randy Schoolma'am Room to see how Gloria was getting along. Gloria was in the papers again this week, for having seduced another tragic, stricken, emotionally dumbfounded etc etc 15-year-old. She works all over the country under a variety of noms d'amour, but she's always the same girl - Gloria Slapp, 41, the only woman on the entire planet who actually does find 15-year-old schoolboys attractive, rather than finding them scrofulous, spotty, grumbling, whingeing, techno-crazed louts with no conversation and an obsession with Crash Bandicoot. She traverses the nation, from Polperro to Pitlochry, picking up supply- teacher jobs and priapic students with equal aplomb.

It's rare to have a one-woman ward in the Friary, but Gloria is unique in the annals of unsuitable relationships. Her treatment has been much discussed. We tried putting her on a course of remedial gerontophilia, in which she was romanced for a week by suave old men who once featured on Blind Date. Sadly, we had to concede defeat after Gloria struck a Mr Mafeking, 87, several times with a stunning display of Persian gladioli and knocked him out cold. We've tried electroconvulsive therapy, applying a small electrical charge to her naked flesh while she watched a video of Harrow Junior School rugby second XV in the showers. We've even hacked into her dreams with pictures of Prince Harry, while voicing subliminal instructions (such as "Don't", "No, you mustn't" and "Who do you think you are? Tara Palmer-Tomkinson?") into her ear.

Nothing has worked. Dammit, the woman seems actually to thrive on unsuitable relationships. If she goes on like this, she'll continue on a downward spiral until she plumbs the final depths of utter self- abasement. And winds up with her own column in the Sunday Times.

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