It's not a pretty sight, Post-Woolsack Depression. The clinic has been swamped this last week by hundreds of sufferers recently kicked out of the House of Lords. They display the classic symptoms: the dazed look, the port-wine complexion, the loss of identity and self-esteem and a free parking space for life.
These sad people have been milling about the clinic's third-floor Bewildered Aristocrats Wing for days now, looking for servants to order about. "Get us a copy of the Racing Times, there's a good feller" they say to no one in particular.
PWD syndrome is deep-rooted and far-reaching, since it involves the entire lifetime of the sufferer: hereditary peers by their nature acclimatise to a life of rich and pampered equilibrium from the moment they are laid in their first escutcheoned bassinet. They grow up with the prospect of the Upper House as a kind of inherited family seat, its mullioned arches and Pugin cornices very similar to the ones at home. Their days are deliciously formulaic. Having spent years in an endless cycle of chatting, snoozing, eating, drinking, smoking and sitting in armchairs reading Horse and Hound, they have never conceived of life holding any excitement, danger or lively interest. The most heady frontier of personal choice, for them, is trying to determine whether Bath Olivers or Carrs Originals are the most appropriate base for a wedge of Stilton.
Imagine their state now. Pitched into a world for which they were not born, an alien place full of people in shops who call you "squire", public houses who couldn't tell an '82 Chateau Talbot from a can of Tizer, and large red motor taxi things which, rather than take you to your destination, merely drop you off somewhere in the vicinity.
We offer a course of treatment designed to bring patients gently into the post-House-of-Lords world. We offer a Simulated Interview room, where peers seeking paid employment in the real world can have their interpersonal skills assessed and elementary errors (such as saying, "How dare you ask me what m'hobbies are, you ghastly little man!") eliminated.
Our fully up-to-date Aversion Therapy Centre can turn the most traditional- minded of peers into a kickin' modern dude by curing his inbred attachment to a) jam roly-poly, b) prostitutes, c) thoroughbreds, d) cigars and e) ermine. And a specially hired Power De-briefing Consultant will explain to patients that they can no longer
i) overturn Government legislation on a capricious elderly whim;
ii) vote, whether for important matters (like the reinstating of Frank Cooper's Oxford Marmalade at the Lordships' Breakfast Buffet) or minor ones (Welsh devolution, taxation, war); and
iii) no longer wear silly clothing to go to work.
It's a tall order for one man faced with 570 patients, but we're getting there steadily.
There's just time to welcome patient 92018, Windsor E. to the clinic. He is chronic sufferer from Compulsive Grandmother Exploitation Syndrome, characterised by a morbid desire to make impertinent films of members of your family and flog them to the highest bidder. Eddie has been up to his old tricks more than usual recently, following his marriage to a co-sufferer.
There's only one way to combat this disorder, and that's to extend it ad absurdum, until the sufferer finally realises the folly of his behaviour. So in the next few weeks we will put Eddie in a variety of scenarios. We'll put him in a mock-up of the Palace's main bathroom, attempting to bottle his mother's wee. And we'll have him trudging up Birdcage Walk inside a large sandwich-board which reads "Eat at Honest Eddie's" on the front and "Gimme a Grand and You Can Snog the Missus" on the back.
Stern therapy, I hear you say. But - as Patient 54667 Brown, Gordon used to say after an afternoon in the Kirk O' The Heather Self-Flagellation Room - if it ain't agony, it ain't working.