THE FRIARY NEWSLETTER: Volts in the right place put an end to flirting

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The Independent Online
This week, Lance Bombardier, therapy co-ordinator, Sex and Drugs and Rock'n'Roll Wing, writes:

IT'S NO secret that this ward of The Friary - once, in the late Fifties, a hushed, monastic place, full of shame-faced incognito crooners desperate to avoid any mention of their dousing in the cesspit of corruption - has become packed out of late. Frankly, I'm shocked. You get such weirdos. We have people in here with Bad Sex Addiction, Good Sex Addiction, Upside- Down-Until-You-Get-Dizzy-And-Your-Nose-Bleeds Sex Addiction, Chronic Sexual Fantasy Syndrome (Barnyard Animals) and Chronic Sexual Fantasy Syndrome (Ann Widdecombe), men with an uncontrollable urge to lick the TV screen when Kirsty Young is on it, men suffering from Groin Mutilation Compulsion and from the, in some ways nastier, Vacuum Cleaner Attachment Insertion (by proxy) ... The place fills up with these ghastly inadequates, noisily discussing their adventures "down there". It makes me tired, quite frankly.

And then there's Greg, our handsome new patient, who became engaged to a leading party socialite and was dumped by her after a newspaper article accused him of uttering the worst chat-up lines in the history of human relationships. They include: "How'd you like to come home and be spread-eagled across my billiard table?", and "Can I be alone in remarking on your astonishing resemblance to Kathy Bates in Misery?", and "Do you know anyone who's got pots of risk capital, and doesn't mind shagging someone with dyed hair?".

Greg is now a chastened but wiser man, no longer in denial, who admits to some slight peccadilloes in the past and has submitted, with becoming humility, to the clinic's globally famous Complete Bastard Makeover 12- step programme.

The first week was spent un-learning his habitual forms of discourse with women. Greg's trousers were wired to a 5,000-volt truck battery as he enacted classic Flirtation Rituals into a mirror, and violent shocks were administered as he practised his Antonio Banderas flashing-eyed under- glance, or promised to secure "an absolutely key role, baby" in his forthcoming movie or uttered the words: "You know I think I'm ... falling a little in love with you."

The treatment is coming along nicely, provided we can keep him from trying to snog his reflection in the mercury. And we've scored one public success. Preparing him for an interview with a national paper, we discovered he was about to refer to his ex-fiancee as "a beautiful unbalanced baboon"; by the time we'd finished with him, it had become "a beautiful untethered balloon". Phew. Close one.

The musical end of the SD&RR department has been getting oversubscribed too. It's full of quite ordinary people who once strayed into the rock'n'roll world, got stuck there, had a success by accident, and have rebelled, to return to being quiet, law-abiding members of the community. This is such an original development - like someone giving up "full time writing" to become a plumber or schoolteacher - it was given a ritzy new name (Oasis Mirage Syndrome) and we devised therapies for the aspirant Boneheads and Guigsys arriving by the score.

We have to persuade them it's their destiny to be a rock star. It's their god-given right to behave disgracefully, overdose on stimulant chemicals and utter hostile profanities when questioned by the police. Nothing is to be gained by insisting on "staying in with the wife for the evening", "gasping for a cuppa and a packet of Hobnobs" or "considering the benefits of an endowment mortgage".

Hence our exciting Crazy Pop Star And Drug Monster Shocking Behaviour Refresher Course. Our pathetic refugees from the rock demi-monde are given basic classes in Snorting with a Fifty, playing the lick from "Day Tripper" round the back of your neck, Hotel Suite Trashing, basic and advanced auto-erotic asphyxiation, and Choking on Your Own Vomit.

This is an expensive programme and we are strict teachers who expect results, so don't be surprised if we seem a little bullying. "Get under that 25-inch television set, Dirk," you may hear us cry, "and hurl it through that 18th floor window."

No, no. Don't thank us. Our reward, apart from the pounds 15,000 weekly fee, is the satisfaction of returning a stable human being to the howling maelstrom of rock madness. To us, it's just a job well done.

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