‘Come in, and sit down. Hello? Please sit down. Right, I think it would be helpful, if we review why we’re here today. OK? Right, I started to see you some six months ago, when you first sought help. Yes?
You’ve nodded, so I will assume that so far we’re in agreement. You presented as a lonely, rather isolated young man, who had difficulties in making relationships and friendships. Those that did occur, were primarily short term, and in respect of work, and fellow employees. Right?
‘In other words, if your job ended, so did your friendships?’
‘Can we therefore confirm why you lost your three most recent jobs. First. Quality Controller on the hand made Pasty line. Their MD was gob-smacked. Operatives on crimping pasties are female. Each woman has different size hands, fingers, and techniques. Yes? In your first shift, you rejected 90% of the products!
‘I was looking for absolute crimping consistency.’
‘Two shifts and you were gone. Now tell me about the Fish & Chip shop? In one weekend, you nearly made the owner bankrupt. Queues down the street, fish portions getting cold, whilst you rifled through the chip tray, insisting that every chip should match?’
‘Thought the customers deserved more in chip consistency.’
‘OK. So what about the petrol forecourt? You were a cashier. As each customer paid for their petrol, did you think your comments were helpful? “Hello Sir. Pump number 5? Thirty pounds and five pence? Wahoo! Not much evidence of hand and eye co-ordination there!
‘On reflection, it was a bit insensitive.’
‘So, in my assessment, I concluded you were showed classic O.C.D symptoms. Obsessive, Compulsory, Disorder. In turn, this aggravated your work related feelings of isolation and loneliness. Agree?’
‘So far, so good. Therefore, 2 months ago, I asked you to do two things. Firstly, try and find an interest, hobby or activity, totally unrelated to work. Then you could actively explore friendships and relationships with other people, not affected by your apparent death wish in terms of jobs. Secondly, I asked you to keep a detailed diary or journal.
Thank you for handing it in before our session today. I’ve studied it with great interest. However, can you explain why, having suggested you find an activity, you appear to have taken on multiple tasks? John in a 2 month period, 26 events! On some days you were engaged in 3 different experiences all organised from A to Z.’
‘Could seem like that I suppose. In the absence of a job, just wanted to keep busy, and explore your ideas to the full. Was that wrong Doctor?’
‘Not wrong. I’m trying to understand what you set out to achieve, as opposed to the eventual outcome, and your O.C.D. Let me now refer to your journal. Page 1. A – Art for Amateurs?’
‘Found it on a local website. Run by the Council.’
‘How many sessions?’
‘Well it was meant to run for 8 weeks.’
‘Week 2, I suddenly realised it was all about “live art”, proper models and all that. Tutor said he thought some of my drawings were “crude”. I thought he meant like amateruish. But he meant “rude”.
I mean if a naked man is sat in front of you, with his willy on display, and you’re asked to do a detailed drawing, what part of the body, should you focus on? Clearly I got it wrong.
‘Didn’t you give him certain enhancements?’
‘The erection you mean? That was meant to be a joke. However, it wasn’t me with the lady.’
‘Week 3. She walks in, all calm and collected, in her silk gown, then drops it in front of all of us, and goes to sit down in a pose.’
‘Someone shouted “look at that fat cow”. It wasn’t me, but I got the blame for it. She put her gear on, and walked off in a huff, and I got chucked off the course. Not fair.’
‘What about B the Bridge Card Game experience?’
‘I put my hand up for that. Always wanted to understand more specialist card games. I got in the room, found I had a partner, and opponents, and then all my childhood experiences came flooding back to haunt me.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well until then, my total experience of cards, was when I played with my brother and sister at Xmas. Sometimes Mum and Dad would join in. We always played “Snap”, so when I got into the Bridge game, as soon as anyone put down the same card, I went into auto mode, and began to shout, “Snap, Snap, Snap”. They did; I got evicted after 3 games.’
‘Tell me about your experience with the Psychology Department at the University’
‘Saw an advertisement in the local paper. University was paying £5.00 to members of the public, willing to help their Psychology students carry out behavioural studies. Sit down with the students, answer a few questions, let them analyse the responses, and then go home. At the same time, might make friends. Easy peasy’
‘Two of the students immediately resigned from the course. Said apparently they hadn’t realised they would be dealing “with twats like me” for the rest of their working lives. Totally unfair. Still haven’t been paid.’
‘What about the prison?’
‘I read this report, which said that over 50% people in prison, were illiterate in terms of English and Maths. So I joined a voluntary tutor group and ended up walking into Dartmoor Prison.’
‘Sounds interesting John. How did you get on?’
‘I was taken hostage.’
‘What!! I saw nothing about it in the local media. For how long?
‘Much longer than was necessary. My organisation never reported I was missing. Seemed to think prison was the best place for me! Some loyalty. Prison Officer nearly died a death when he found me in the cupboard. Mind you, I needed a sanctuary the next week.’
‘I joined this conservation group. Lots of really nice, very committed ladies, all ages, all sizes. Felt quite at ease, until we had the saga of the endangered species. Went for a briefing, and was told that someone walking on Dartmoor that day, had found one, of only three, known species, of this particular plant.
Everyone started jumping up and down, hugging each other, then we all piled into vans, and off we went. When we got there, we spread out across the moors, and were told to “seek and find”. I struck lucky straight away, and after an hour, almost fell over the plant. I got back to the assembly point with it, looking for praise, and found everyone really pissed off with me. Apparently, there was now only two known species of this plant left alive, cos I’d just destroyed number three. They made me walk home.’
‘Talking of death, how did you manage to kill your Landlord’s cat? This is listed under T for Taxidermy in your activity journal.’
‘Doctor, I genuinely don’t believe I killed it. The course was very interesting. I love nature, and nurture, and wondered if it would be possible, to retain the body, and the spirit, of a domestic animal, thereby giving comfort to the owners. I was simply holding the cat, considering future taxidermy options, when it became clear, that then was now.’
‘What was the outcome?’
‘Landlord gave me notice. Got to find somewhere else to live. Not easy. That’s why I joined the Medieval Reenactment group. Knew they had a couple of local landlords amongst them’
‘Got carried off the battlefield on my first outing.’
‘Why? I thought it was all carefully controlled.’
‘Well it is normally. It was primarily my fault.’
‘Well properly this time. I was meant to be a basic foot soldier; carried a heavy stick, with a chain. On the end of it, there was a spiked, and apparently dangerous ball. I had to swing it around and strike objects and people.’
‘Well it quickly became clear to me, that the ball on the end was only made of rubber, and wouldn’t swing properly, and definitely couldn’t inflict any proper damage. It was like a black tennis ball with bits.’
‘So what did you do?’
‘Put a lead insert into the ball, so it swung better and harder. Problem was, during my first battle, I hit Sir Guinevere of somewhere or other, and took him out. Next thing I know, his official aide de camp, and protector, and I emphasise the word “camp” came charging at me with this bloody great sword and hit me. Woke up in Derriford Hospital. Found out Sir Guinevere was the biggest landlord in town.’
‘John. I’m exhausted. Having read your journal, I need to take time out, and reflect on options for future support. I’m conscious that we’ve not covered your experience in other activities, such as Zulu Dancing, Tibetan Cooking, Flower arranging, Evangelical Church work, and Alcoholics Anonymous. That’s for another day.
In the meantime, did any of these experiences result in you finding a friendship, or relationship, outside of a work environment?
“Oh Christ. Yes! Sorry Doctor. It’s in the journal somewhere. Met this smashing girl, we’ve been going out for over a month, see each other every day. Brilliant.’
“May I ask who it is?’
“It’s Sonia, your receptionist. Got on like a house on fire during my appointments. Thinks I’m the bees knees! See you next month?’
‘If you need me John. If you still need me.’