WARNING: GADJO DILO IN NO WAY RECOMMENDS TRYING ANY OF THE ACTIVITIES DESCRIBED HERE AT HOME, ESPECIALLY THE CHESS
Chapter 2: What's My Line?
Right, you’ve found yourself institutionalised, been drafted onto the Acute Department football team and now you’ve got to make yourself at home. Lesson two is: Every psychiatric patient needs a gimmick. If you haven’t got one you might just as well be sitting at home in your underpants or in a pub all afternoon staring into a glass of warm lager. You could for instance be The One Who Dresses Up As His Mother or The One Who Eats Insects or The One Who Believes He Is The Messiah or perhaps The One Where Rachel and Phoebe Disinter People and Turn Their Body Parts into Household Ornaments (that’s “Friends” – Ed.). But these have already been done. Hopefully you’ll think up a new one, one that’s really “you”. Here are some top ideas to try out:
The One Who Talks to the Goldfish
Everybody needs somebody to talk to, and sometimes the psychotherapists are So Rubbish that you turn elsewhere. The hospital cat might pretend it’s listening to you but it’s not a reliably captive audience. That’s why if you’ve got any sense, you’ll pull up a chair next to the fish tank. And don’t worry, you’re not “interrupting” just because your friend’s mouth is still opening and closing your mouth when you want to say something.
The One Who Plays Chess with Himself
(And it’s definitely himself, by the way). Chess players are plain strange, and I myself spent a bit time playing it when young. But to be weirder even than Bobby Fischer you need to go beyond the paranoia by eliminating actual competition. As with other forms of masturbation, solo chess is self-satisfying and self-congratulatory and, most importantly, you’d be even more autistic if you didn’t do it.
The One Who Thinks He's a Robot
Former computer programmer, natch. Again, I’ve fulfilled this function so feel I can speak with impunity. A standard process of psychological disintegration is observed: 1. Admiration (they’re just so smart, and clean, aren’t they!), 2. Sexual Attraction (I take my laptop to bed to play Solitaire but end up falling asleep cuddling it!), 3. Rejection (why don’t girls like me now?), 4. Identification (only computers understand me!), 5. Bonkers (Look into my eyes... see where the circuitry is wrong! No, don’t touch me with wet hands!!!)
The One Who Swallows Light bulbs
To recapture that inner glow, that spark of life, that radiance you felt you lost when you had your breakdown, why not swallow light bulbs? Start by swallowing them when they’re not switched on, to get the hang of it; then wait till Christmas and pop a couple off of the tree in your mouth whilst nobody’s looking - the transformer will ensure that you’ll only get a slight tingle inside (the flashing ones make it even more tingly); then work your way up to 60W Osrams and 3’ long neons. Soon you have an act that you can take on stage and they’ll let you out knowing you can find a place for yourself in the outside world! Hurrah!!!
The cheery song ending this chapter is The Velvet Underground’s “I Heard Her Call My Name" - about 28 seconds into this rather distracted young chap’s home video – which has got me through many a night.