The Friary Newsletter: The clinic's a stage for vocal adoration sufferers

Patient Adams is a bad case. The roots of his problem lie in the trauma he suffered a few years ago, at the hands of the BBC
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The Independent Online
This week: Dr Melita Morden, visiting consultant in Suspicious Behaviour, writes:

A cup of the Prime Minister's favourite Yorkshire tea is at hand as I write, and the air is full of the soothing sounds of our new hospital radio station Friary FM. Or "tunes for loons" as we call it here in the Gordievsky Wing. It is a wonderful way of handling clients, particularly since a former consultant by name of Mandelson came up with the fiendish idea of broadcasting subliminal messages to the effect of "the doctor is your friend". Nowadays, however, we use it in the main as a form of therapy for the inmates.

The chap currently at the microphone is a sufferer from Vocal Adoration Syndrome. It's common enough in politicians and other highly opinionated individuals. But the present incumbent, Patient 54321 Adams, Gerry, is a particularly bad case. The roots of his problem lie in the trauma he suffered a few years ago, at the hands of the BBC. Whenever he appeared on television, the people in charge would insist on getting a luvvie to speak his lines. Sometimes it was Stephen Rea, from The Crying Game, who made him sound dignified and statesmanlike. The thing is, he didn't realise - so now he's convinced he sounds like an Oscar-nominated thespian. He thinks that's why people pay so much attention, when in fact they're trying to figure out what his old chums in those nice warm balaclavas have told him. We tried setting him up as a radio ham, but that experiment had to be abandoned after an argument with Patient 1052 Bates, Simon, over who got to use the set after tea on Wednesdays.

Before we knew it, Patient Adams had slipped out to the corner shop and bought a little transmitter set, which he fitted into the roof of his own car before driving down to MI6 headquarters on the South Bank and handing in the receiver at the desk. Of course, the security forces weren't interested at all, but it would have been rude to refuse. Anyway, we've stepped up the treatment now. It's a form of aversion therapy - we've got him broadcasting 24 hours a day for as long as he can stand it. That should shut him up, in the end. "Boom Bang-a-Bang" - isn't this one by Lulu?

Now to the new arrivals. Patient 1966 Beckham, David - addicted to speed, as a form of public display. It didn't take long to diagnose that it was to compensate for his lack of quickness on the football field and, shall we say, under the bandana. He told the magistrates that he was bombing along the A34 to escape a member of the paparazzi driving a Ford Fiesta. Only it wasn't a member of the Fourth Estate at all but yours truly, pursuing in an unmarked Friary car, eager to apologise for the fact that our security had thrown out his immaculate visitor from Barcelona.

How did a Ford Fiesta manage to catch a Ferrari Maranello? The answer is in the unique treatment I devised for this patient: make him drive a car of such stunning banality that nobody would recognise him, so he wouldn't need to show off. He wouldn't agree - they are all here voluntarily, of course - so as a half measure we had his fancy motors fitted with Robin Reliant engines. It didn't work, and now he's banned. Still, there's always a solution, and I'm rather proud of it. One of his team-mates apparently turns up for training in a chauffeur-driven Roller, and Patient Beckham didn't want to get picked on again - he's still sore from having had "Leytonstone" forcibly tattooed under "Brooklyn" on his backside. So Patient Adams is now driving him about in his old Mondeo. Which has been fitted out like a radio car, so that he can stay on the air. Smiles all round.

Clinic time, I must go. The new admission is Patient 00000 Gorman, Teresa, smarting from the shortest political campaign in history. She came in this morning, lay on the couch and said, "Doctor, doctor, everybody at Conservative Central Office is ignoring me. I feel as though I don't exist." My reply? Just what I've got to say now, I'm afraid. "Next!"

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