THE FRIARY NEWSLETTER: We treat the Westminster misfits ever so gently

`On her first day, she marched down the west wing draped in an orange bathing towel, bashing a saucepan and crying: no surrender!'
Click to follow
The Independent Online
The grass on the croquet lawn is a dismal brown. The chairs in the adults' post-therapy play area are too hot to sit on. Our dedicated but overstretched staff yearn for happier shores. Yet we are busier than ever.

As admissions officer of what we modestly claim to be the top rehabilitation centre in the country, my job grows ever more demanding. The growth in client numbers has been given a boost by a transfer from our Westminster out-patients' department, which has had a hectic week following the political reshuffle. Our other clients have been asked to be considerate of the hyper-sensitivity of these incomers, many of whom seem to harbour strange delusions about having once belonged to an elite.

Try as one might to maintain objectivity, one cannot help feeling touched by these sad creatures. And the strain is beginning to show among the staff, most particularly our Oedipal specialist, Mr Farthinghoe, who showed uncharacteristic impatience with Client Marjorie M, in for some detox treatment after a thankless stint in Belfast. On her first day, she marched down the west wing draped in an orange bathing towel, bashing a saucepan and crying: "No Surrender!". Mr Farthinghoe, whose CV states that as a two-year old in Vienna he was breathed upon by Freud himself, downed a bottle of massaging linctus and walked out of the gates dressed in nothing but matron's floral swimming cap.

Two admissions to our Nadir Clinic (in the low self-esteem wing) have caused quite a stir. Client Tony B, a Cockney who addresses each staff member as "Me ol' China", is battling with dual personality problems. At our first introspective workshop he said he was charged with organising everything from topless darts to multi-million pound sporting stadia. Sobbing quietly, Tony said he had been "rogered" by his erstwhile colleagues and thrown on to the political junkheap.

However, during the next session, having exchanged his dark suit for a Desailly replica Chelsea shirt, Tony described himself as the toughest centre-half since Jack "the Enforcer" Charlton. He caused chaos on the ward by organising a game of football (under Friary rules a forbidden, competitive activity) between the Transformationals and the Hypnotherapists, during which Ms Livinia, our primal integration specialist, received a nasty graze.

Tony has since spent an extended period in the YinYang tank and the quieter, more reflective side of his personality is now finally emerging.

You are also asked to be considerate of another of the former out-patients, Client Glenda J. She is an altogether more complex case. What our psychologists find so intriguing is the almost complete absence of what they refer to as "self". Extended, all-consuming role- playing seems to be the problem.

Clearly suffering low self-esteem after losing her job, Client Glenda talks obsessively of taking on a new part and "hitting the boards" again. During transition therapy sessions she insists on being addressed as "My Lady Mayoress", and rants about a character she calls "Ken". It is all very sad and though our staff have made efforts they have failed to strip away these layers of delusion and identify the cause of her undoubted paranoia. Clearly this client will be here for some time yet.

On a more positive note, we are delighted to welcome to the staff Dr Arthur McCoy, the former meat trader turned human potential therapist. His pioneering work at the Institute for Distressed Gentlefolk in Palermo has been hailed as challenging the frontiers of psychoanalysis. Dr McCoy will have special charge of our Remedial Progress Unit and be dealing with some of our more intractable clients, such as Paddy A.

This client, who insists on issuing meaningless orders to staff and patients alike, says he was both a captain in the Marines and the leader of a political party. He says he finds himself stripped of rank and put on square bashing duties. Client Paddy harbours dangerous fantasies of being made head of an international armaments body. Dr McCoy will be employing techniques learned during his rehabil- itation work with the orang- utans of northern Sumatra. I have every confidence in his expertise, though the Friary, I fear, is in for some fiery times. Sensitivity from all clients and staff will be much appreciated.

Clarence Popinjay, GLC (Bar), BA Finance (U of Belize), new admissions secretary.