O.C.D & ME
A play for radio
ALL ACTION TAKES PLACE WITHIN THE CONSULTING ROOMS OF DR ETHAN STREET, A CONSULTANT PSYCHOLOGIST EMPLOYED BY THE LOCAL NHS. THE DOCTOR IS IN HIS MID 50’s, COLIN HIS PATIENT IS MID 20’s).
FX (KNOCK TO DOOR)
DOCTOR Come in Colin.
FX (KNOCK TO DOOR)
DOCTOR Hello, Colin come in.
FX (SOUND OF DOOR OPENING, THEN SHORT PAUSE)
COLIN Hello Doctor. Nice to see you again.
DOCTOR Colin, please come in and sit down. Hello? Please sit down. Sit anywhere you like Colin. There’s a choice of chairs, but I do need to be able to see you, and talk.
FX (SOUND OF CHAIR BEING SCRAPED ACROSS FLOOR)
DOCTOR Thank you Colin. First of all, I think it would be helpful, if we review why we’re meeting today. OK? Yes? Right Colin, I started to see you some six months ago, when you were referred by your GP. OK? You’ve nodded Colin, so I will assume that so far we’re in agreement. You presented as a lonely, isolated young man, who had difficulties in making relationships and friendships. Yes? Those that did occur, were primarily short-term and in respect of work and fellow employees – right?
COLIN Yes Doctor.
DOCTOR In other words, if your job ended, so did your friendships?
COLIN Yes Doctor.
DOCTOR Can we therefore look at why you lost your three most recent jobs. Firstly; a food production unit, wasn’t it?
COLIN Quality Controller on the hand-made Pasty line, local Company.
DOCTOR Colin, in your first shift, you rejected around 90% of the products. The MD couldn’t believe it. Operatives engaged on pasty hand crimping are primarily women. Women, like men have different size hands, fingers and techniques – yes?
COLIN I was looking for crimping consistency. Thought it was important for the customer.
DOCTOR Two shifts and you were sacked Colin. Now, what 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.
COLIN Looks nicer on the plate if they do. Again it’s about what’s best for the customer.
DOCTOR Thank you, Colin; now the petrol forecourt? As the cashier, when customers paid for their petrol, did you think your comments were helpful. I quote. “Pump number five? Thirty pounds and three pence? Wahoo. Not much hand/eye co-ordination there Madam. No test pilot career for you. Eh?’
COLIN It was a bit insensitive. But many customers use the pumps like a Video Game, trying to hit the exact moment when they’ve spent £30. They get quite aggressive, and think us till operators are controlling the pumps. Just trying to encourage her for the next time.
DOCTOR Colin, my assessment of your behaviour was that you were showing classic O.C.D. symptoms. Obsessive, definitely compulsive and creating disorder. This aggravated your work situation, and reinforced your isolation and loneliness. Agree? You’re nodding Colin. So far so good. Two months ago, I asked you to do two things. Firstly, try and find an interest, hobby or activity totally unrelated to work. This would enable you to actively explore friendships and relationships, not directly affected by your apparent death wish in terms of employment. Secondly I asked you to keep a detailed diary or journal.
COLIN I did the diary. Gave it in.
DOCTOR Colin, 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 experiences? In a two month period, 26 events! Colin, on some days you were engaged in three different activities, organised from A to Z.
COLIN Could look like that I suppose. Didn’t have a job, so wanted to keep busy and try your ideas out in full. Was that wrong Doctor?
DOCTOR Not wrong Colin. Definitely not wrong! Just different. I’m trying to understand what you set out to achieve, as opposed to the actual outcome. Now can we refer to your journal. Page 1 – A – Art for Amateurs?/
COLIN Found it on a local website. Run by the Council.
DOCTOR How many sessions?
COLIN It was meant to run for eight weeks.
DOCTOR What happened?
COLIN Week two, I suddenly realised it was all about “life art”, proper models and all that. Tutor said he thought some of my drawings were “crude”. I thought he meant like amateurish, but he meant rude. I mean if a naked man is sat in front of you, with his thingy on display, and you’re asked to a detailed drawing, of some aspect of his torso, what decision do you make? I clearly got it wrong.
DOCTOR Did you deliberately give the model certain enhancements?
COLIN That was meant to be a joke. Mind you, it wasn’t me with the lady.
DOCTOR What lady, Colin?
COLIN Week three. She walks in, all calm and collected, in a silk gown, then drops it in front of all of us, and sits down in a pose.
COLIN Wasn’t me. Someone at the back muttered “Look at that fattie.” It wasn’t me, but I got the blame. She put her gear back on, walked off in a huff and I got chucked off the course. Not fair.
DOCTOR What about B – Bridge for beginners?
COLIN I put my hand up for that. Always wanted to understand more specialist card games. Got in the room and found I had a partner and opponents. Then all my childhood experiences and training kicked in.
DOCTOR What do you mean? Kicked in?
COLIN 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’d play Snap all day….constantly. 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.’
DOCTOR What happened?
COLIN They did snap; I got evicted after only two games.
DOCTOR What happened with the Psychology Department at the University?
COLIN Saw an advertisement in the local paper. University were paying £5.00, to people willing to help their Psychology students carry out behavioural studies, tests etc. Sit down with the students, answer a few questions, let them analyse the responses and then go home with a fiver. At the same time, a chance to make friends. Easy peasy.
COLIN Two of the students immediately resigned from the course. Said apparently, they hadn’t reckoned on dealing with “People like me” for the rest of their working lives. Course tutor went daft. Totally unfair and still haven’t been paid. Not my fault.
DOCTOR What about the prison?
COLIN I read this report, which said that over 50% of homeless people, and especially those in prison, were illiterate in terms of English and Maths. So I joined a volunteer tutor group and ended up walking into Dartmoor Prison.
DOCTOR Sounds interesting Colin. How did you get on?
COLIN I was taken hostage.
DOCTOR What! I saw nothing in the media about it. For how long?
COLIN Long enough. My organisation never even reported me missing. Seemed to think prison was the best place for me! Some loyalty. Prison Officer nearly died when he found me in a cupboard the next day. Mind you, I really needed sanctuary shortly after that.
COLIN I’d joined this conservation group. Lots of really nice, very committed ladies, all ages and sizes. Felt quite at ease, until we had the saga of endangered species. Went for an urgent briefing and was told that someone walking on Dartmoor that day had found “one, of only three” known species, of this particular plant. Everyone got excited, started jumping up and down, hugging each other and kissing. Didn’t mind that. Even began to enjoy it and respond; then suddenly we all piled into vans and off we went.
DOCTOR What happened Colin?
COLIN We spread out across the moors and were told to “seek and find. I struck lucky straight away, and after an hour, nearly fell over the plant. I got back to the assembly point with it, looking for praise and found everyone really hacked off with me.
COLIN Apparently, there were now only two known species of this plant left alive, ‘cos I’d just killed number three. They made me walk home.
DOCTOR That’s sad. Talking of death, how did your Landlord’s cat die? This is listed under T for Taxidermy?
COLIN Doctor, I genuinely don’t believe I killed it. The course was interesting. I love nature and nurture and wondered if it would be possible, to retain the body and the spirit of a deceased animal, thereby giving additional comfort to the owners. I was simply holding the cat, stroking it, considering future options for it, when it became clear that the future was here and now.
DOCTOR What was the outcome?
COLIN Landlord gave me notice. Got to find somewhere else to live. Not easy. That’s why I joined the Medieval Re-Enactment group. Knew they had several local landlords amongst them.
DOCTOR Fascinating rationale Colin. And?
COLIN Got carried off the battlefield on my first encounter.
DOCTOR I thought it was all carefully controlled?
COLIN Well it is normally and basically it was my fault.
DOCTOR Your fault? Again?
COLIN Properly this time. I was meant to be basic foot soldier; carried a heavy stick with a chain. On the end of it, there was a supposed spiked and dangerous ball. I had to swing it around and strike objects and people.
COLIN Well it quickly became clear to me, that the ball on the end was only made of rubber, and it wouldn’t swing properly. It was like a black tennis ball with bits.
DOCTOR So what did you do?
COLIN Put a lead insert into it, so it swung better and harder.
COLIN Problem was during my first battle, got a bit carried away and hit Sir Guinevere, of the local LGTB group, and took him out. Next thing I know, his official aide and Protector, is charging at me with this bloody great medieval sword. Woke up in Derriford Hospital. Apparently Sir Guinevere was the biggest landlord in town, so that scuppered that idea.
DOCTOR Colin, 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 experiences in other activities such as Zulu dancing, Tibetan cooking, Alcoholics Anonymous or Classic French. The Evangelical Church experience also looks quite interesting, but that’s for another day, as will be your feedback on Sexual deviances through history. Hadn’t realised the local Council were still running it.
COLIN What have you done that one….? By the way, it’s not in the diary but I’ve just finished Xylophone or Xenophobia. That was a hoot.
DOCTOR (Hurriedly) I’ll see you in a month Colin. Make an appointment with my Receptionist Sarah, as you leave.
FX (SOUND OF DOOR OPENING FX DISTANT SOUND)
COLIN Bye Doctor. Thank you. See you soon. Thanks again.
FX (FADE DOWN)
FX (FADE UP. SOUND OF KNOCK TO DOOR)
DOCTOR Come in Colin. Hello! Please come in Colin, or whoever you are.
FX (SOUND OF DOOR OPENING)
COLIN Hello Doctor. Sorry. Couldn’t hear you first time round. Still had my headphones on. Do you know Adele?
DOCTOR Adele who? If she’s one of my patients, I clearly can’t talk about it.
COLIN (Laughing) Doctor, you’re pulling my leg, aren’t you. Adele? Best British female singer, won more awards in the past few years than any other artist. Three albums, Adele 19, Adele 21, Adele 25…….No?
DOCTOR No! Sorry Colin. They don’t mean a thing (SHORT PAUSE) However, Colin I’ve just realised that what I’ve just said was sung by Ella Fitzgerald (SINGS) “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing” 1950’ish!
COLIN I wasn’t even born then!
DOCTOR Neither was I, but it doesn’t mean one cannot benefit and move on after a particular experience. For example Colin, you’ve had problems in the past with relationships in both a work setting and a leisure or recreational environment. I can see you’re making an effort to resolve that. Last time we met you mentioned Zulu dancing. What happened?
COLIN Doctor, that was before I saw you last month. Since then, I’ve also made progress in terms of trying to find a job
DOCTOR Oh, well done Colin. Hadn’t realised. So tell me about the jobs, and then we can have a look at the Zulu dancing and perhaps other experiences, and how you dealt with it.
COLIN Job Centre sent me to work on a local farm. Picking daffodils. Hard work. Made my back ache like buggery.
DOCTOR How did you get on? I have a sense of deja vu.
COLIN Don’t know about deja who? But I had the same problem as in the chippy. All daffodils look the same, but if you look closely, there are distinct differences in size of the heads, colour, even the stalks.
DOCTOR Can I presume you lost the job?
COLIN Not immediately. They tried me on potato picking, not the heavy stuff, but the quality end – new potatoes.
DOCTOR That must have been very challenging for you.
COLIN Challenging ain’t the word for it Doctor. My mind began to freeze/
DOCTOR That’s fascinating……..tell me more
COLIN I got completely overwhelmed. Everywhere I looked, there were these round objects all virtually looking the same, perhaps at last I didn’t have to make choices, I could just shove them in the sacks/
DOCTOR That must have given you a real sense of relief..
COLIN It did and it didn’t
DOCTOR Please explain
COLIN It did. It did give me a sense of relief. But it didn’t. Didn’t last. However, there were some nice people working there, Polish mainly, so I did make some friends. Even picked up bit of the lingo. Have a guess at the Polish for “Thank You”
DOCTOR I’m sorry I haven’t a clue.
COLIN That’s a radio programme! No in Polish you say “Jen koo ja”. “Please” is Prosze”
DOCTOR Thank you Colin..
COLIN One of them put me onto another job option, with a Polish building company.
DOCTOR Well that’s positive. Doing what?
DOCTOR Colin I don’t remember you including that in your list of skills and experience?
COLIN I decided to wing it.
DOCTOR I don’t quite understand. I’m not familiar with that term….”wing it”
COLIN You know, you know. Enhance my skills.
DOCTOR Do you mean lie?
COLIN Well some might call it that. But I really wanted to try, so yeah, I winged it. Sort of.
DOCTOR OK Colin. How did you get on.
COLIN Only lasted a day. You know what I found most difficult?
DOCTOR I’d be fascinated to know.
COLIN Well I’m colour blind ain’t I.
DOCTOR I should have remembered, so you had problems identifying the negative and positive leads.
COLIN Big time. Supervisor tested a piece of work, next thing there’s a bang and a flash, and I’m our the door.
DOCTOR They sacked you?
COLIN No. I ran. He was a big bloke and he used another Polish word I’d learnt.
DOCTOR What about tools?
COLIN No that wasn’t the word they called me.
DOCTOR Colin I meant what did you do about your tools.
COLIN Oh. I’d told them I was awaiting a grant from the Job Centre, so they lent me all I needed. I just hoofed it.
DOCTOR That’s seems like an ideal link and to address the issue of Zulu Dancing.
COLIN That was short and sweet as well.
DOCTOR I had an instinct it might be.
COLIN Oh no! This was definitely one, I could say was entirely outside of my control. I’ve always been interested in Africa. Ever since I saw that film with Michael Caine.
COLIN Cor that was clever Doctor. You’ve seen it obviously.
DOCTOR It’s one of my favourites. Demonstrates the best of British.
COLIN (Puzzled) Yeah I think I know what you mean. Anyway I went to this evening class at the local University. They’ve got lots of overseas students there, and one of them was from Natal, which is where the Zulu’s primarily live. Said all the gear he had was genuine.
DOCTOR What do you mean “gear”
COLIN Well, the swords, shields, beads, drums and the costumes. Looked like leopard skins, but you could tell they were fake. Smelt a bit as well.
DOCTOR Sounds fascinating
COLIN Well it might sound like that, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience.
COLIN Well they went for it big time. We had to take our clothes, shoes and socks off. All except our pants, then we put the costumes on, and the beads around our necks and ankles. Then it started.
DOCTOR What did?
COLIN The itching. My costume must have been live. Within minutes, I’m twitching around, scratching, pulling at it…..then the leader told me to stop dancing, we hadn’t started yet. Still waiting for the drummers to get kitted up. Told him I wasn’t dancing and that my costume must have been lousy.
DOCTOR What did he say?
COLIN Nothing. Just stood there. Meanwhile, I’ve already got a rash developing around my crotch and couldn’t stop scratching. So I thought bugger this and walked out, took my kit off, had a shower, and left. The only consolation was that the treasurer hadn’t turned up, so I hadn’t paid.
DOCTOR What do you think you gained from the experience?
COLIN Nothing apart from an itchy crotch and backside. Still twitches when I think about it.
DOCTOR That must have been very distressing for you.
COLIN Not as much as Fifi.
DOCTOR Fifi? I’m completely lost Colin. Explain.
COLIN Well I’ve always fancied learning a language, and my experience with the Polish lads on the farm brought it all back to me. Luckily, or so it seemed at the time, in the window of my local newsagent was a card. It looked quite genuine. “Local French lady offers lessons. Cheap rates for students.” I still had my student card from the University course, so used that. Rang up, went round and was shown into this waiting room.
DOCTOR You sound a little apprehensive, what happened?
COLIN Well, it was a funny room. I was looking for posters and things in French, or advertising the course, perhaps some books. Couldn’t seen any. All there was were a couple of dodgy magazines, stuffed away in a corner.
COLIN Adult stuff! Anyway the woman who let me in, explained she was Fifi, and that she was on the phone, and would be back in a couple of minutes. She didn’t actually sound French, more Devon, even Cornish. Mind you those counties have strong links to France, so I put it down to that.
DOCTOR This is very interesting. Tell me more. Oh, and where was this house?
COLIN Just round the corner from the High Street, traffic lights. Smith Street. House with red curtains, just on the left. Do yah know it?
DOCTOR No sorry, I was simply trying to get the geography right in my head.
COLIN So did I, especially where the front door was.
COLIN After about 10 minutes, I was just getting fed up, when this Fifi suddenly appeared again, and she’d got changed. She was wearing a Kimono. I’m thinking French lessons – dressed like that. Then I cottoned on. She wasn’t French. She was on the game, and here am I sitting in one of those dens of iniquities. So I made my excuses, said I’d left my wallet at home and legged it.
DOCTOR How did you feel?
COLIN I think the word is relieved. Nearly messed myself.
DOCTOR Was it the sexual aspect that made you nervous? We may need to explore that Colin.
COLIN No, it was what my Mum would have said, if she’d found out, she’s got a friend in that street and they meet once a week. Just imagine bumping into her as I came out. Or one of my mates, they’d have a field day! Fifi and me! I’d die!
DOCTOR I completely understand Colin, however, once again I would ask…….what have you gained from the experience?
COLIN Well nothing really, ‘cos I did a runner.
DOCTOR No Colin, I didn’t quite mean that, as in just a physical experience. I was trying to explore how you deal with situations generally, and what has changed, particularly since we started meeting some 6 months ago. Colin in normal events, I would be bringing this session to a close, however, I’d like to suggest we continue a little longer, as I sense we are approaching a crossroads.
DOCTOR That’s a metaphor – a way of expressing ideas and things in a different form. For example, after 6 months, we are now reaching a point in our working relationship, and I am asking for us to both review progress, from either person’s point of view. OK?
COLIN When you put it that way, come to think of it, my life recently has been a series of crossroads. Get to a point, have a choice or choices to make. Make the wrong one and I’m in trouble, like the chip shop, but make the right one, and I’m on the road to success. Like when I found the flower on Dartmoor. Success in finding it, but then the downside, wrong crossroad, then I had to walk home, and was ostracised.
DOCTOR I think you’re generally getting the gist of what I’m trying to establish.
COLIN Gist? That’s a nice word, like the sound of that..what does it mean?
DOCTOR It means Colin that you have a general understanding of an issue or matter, without needing a detailed knowledge.
COLIN What like being an Electrician and nearly killing the Supervisor.
DOCTOR Exactly. However, detailed knowledge was definitely needed, and missing.
COLIN Right. What’s next?
DOCTOR Colin, would you like a cup of tea or coffee? I’ll buzz Sarah, and ask her to pop in.
COLIN That’d be nice. Tea please. Oh and by the way, I’ve got some good news. Should have mentioned it earlier, but got so involved in this therapy thingy.
DOCTOR Good news? I feel quite overwhelmed already, by some of the developments this afternoon. Explain! What is your good news?
COLIN (Excitedly) I’ve been offered a job, and it’s a dream. Never in a month of Sunday’s would I have thought that I would being doing that sort of thing. But it’s happened!
DOCTOR What’s happened? Why are you so clearly excited….?
COLIN Couple of weeks ago, my sister Mandy rang me. Her car had broken down, and she was in a panic. Needed to collect her daughter Vickie from the Nursery before they closed. Asked me to do it.
COLIN Shot round there. Found out I had masses of time on my hands, so the staff let me join in their games with the kids. Singing, dancing, reading from books, painting, cutting up paper and material. It was wonderful. Apparently quite a lot of kids have never known a male person in their lives. Single parents and all that. Don’t know what they see as the difference, but apparently it’s there.
DOCTOR So what happened.
COLIN Well it was weird. It was as if the kid’s knew I had my own issues, but they weren’t bothered. Kept coming up to me with things to do, things they wanted to share. Ended up reading to them, some even sat on my lap. Mind you as in all things, there had to be a clever clogs.
DOCTOR Please explain Colin.
COLIN Well Doctor, as you well know, I can hardly read myself, so when this little boy came up to me with a book, I decided once again to “wing it”.
DOCTOR Like you did with the Electrician’s?
COLIN Yeah, but in this case, all I did was make up a story, rather than what was in the book. Most of the kids seemed to enjoy it, however, the little clever lad who gave it to me, could clearly read better than me. He realised I was reading porkies.
DOCTOR What did he do?
COLIN Nothing. He just looked at me in a special way. I knew, he knew, and he knew I knew he knew – but he didn’t say anything.
DOCTOR What did that experience give you?
COLIN I finally realised what I wanted to do. No matter what! As long as the kids needed me, I needed them more, and we had a bargain. Anyway, the Supervisor was obviously watching what went on, ‘cos they’d have to, especially with me being a bloke and all that. At the end, just as I was taking my niece home, she asked if I was interested in a job. Subject to all the police checks, references, intensive training, and the lot. Thought I had potential, especially as a male figure.
DOCTOR How did that leave you I wonder?
COLIN Feeling on top of the world. I was walking on air, all the way to my sisters. I start in two weeks time. Kid’s have already given me a nickname. Uncle Col Col. Nice!
DOCTOR (Excitedly) Colin, I feel a little bit of air under my feet as well. Now all we have to do is find you a girl friend and your life will be complete.
COLIN What do you mean? I’ve got one. Been going out for about 3 months. Getting on like a house on fire. Love her to bits, and I’m getting the feeling she feels the same way about me. Who knows – a few more dates, and I might be asking her a serious question.
DOCTOR What sort of question?
COLIN Whether she wants to continue being your receptionist!! It’s Sarah. Whilst I’ve been sitting in the waiting room all these months, and after my appointments, we’ve had lots of chats and things. She’s lovely, and I think she likes me as well. Let’s hope she hasn’t read your notes. Might change her mind.
FX (SOUND OF DOCTOR ACTIVATING INTERNAL MICROPHONE TO RECEPTION).
DOCTOR Hi Sarah. Could you pop in. Oh and by the way, in the office fridge there’s a bottle of Dom Perignon, left over from Xmas. Bring it with you, with some glasses/
COLIN Sorry Doctor, I haven’t explained how I got mixed up between Xylophone and Xenophobia yet. Nearly cost me a pasting, when I met all these skinheads by mistake.
DOCTOR I suggest you keep that one in your memory box. It would make a nice opening at a wedding reception speech.
FX (SOUND OF DOOR OPENING)
DOCTOR Ah, here’s my delightful and undoubtedly lovely Sarah with some glasses and the champagne. Please excuse my familiarity with my Receptionist, but until today Colin, you hadn’t realised you’re dating my daughter.
COLIN Is that OK Doctor, or should I say Father in Law?
DOCTOR Get pouring!
END OF PLAY – OCD & ME.