Well that was nice. I've just come back from an event that will allow me to realise my full potential, be happier than I've ever been in my life, succeed in all areas, become a better person, and probably grow an extra couple of inches to boot.
And all in just three-and-a-half days and for the bargain price of £295 (includes a £50 non-refundable deposit).
I met up with Quentin, the chap I haven't seen for five or so years, and attended this forum he'd been banging on about. Quentin still looked exactly the same, except his hairline receeded further and his cheeks were slightly sallow, as if he was dying of hunger or perhaps AIDS.
The forum was interesting. The age range seemed to be late twenties to thirties and above. Some European Hare Krishna devotees sat next to me which did make me wonder how desperate for answers must they be to shave their heads, don robes, AND attend a glorified self-help group. But I did spy several Quite Attractive Women™. To be honest, I was utterly, ruthlessly skeptical from the outset. An hour in and I was just ruthlessly skeptical. By the time they were summarising the evening's talk however, my simple skepticism had almost evaporated into a big puddle of Betterment until they mentioned signing-up, happytalk for 'Give Us Money'.
And that is the cold, hard ligne de derriere. If they all really dug people as they seemed to suggest they did, if all the toothy, disturbingly smiley people running the event really did just want to spread happiness to everyone, if this entire corporation in its 20 year history was all about Humanity, and Empowerment, and Life, then make the fucking thing free.
Or to put it another way, I don't like having to find happiness in a corporate self-help group.
There. That's it.
But I do feel bad at dismissing this out of hand. They made perfect sense, as much as I resented being made sense to. My perfectly well-developed cynicism knew that I could forget my past and my embarrassing moments and perhaps live a potentially blissful future unencumbered by negativity and vicious circles and blah, blah, blah, etcetera.
But then again, you don't solve arse by chucking money at something. And certainly not all of my issues (which by the way can be summed up in four words and a desire: Career, Love, Success, Happiness, Spawning devilchildren to carry on my lineage.)
After announcing that I wasn't going to pay to change my life for the better and be rid of all my personality defects, I bade farewell to Quentin, but not before he insisted we meet up for drinks soon - us and the friend he brought along tonight.
And then he turned to his friend and asked him if perhaps he and I would like to exchange phone numbers now that we'd met briefly.
Good old Quentin. Still woefully incapable of adhering to the simplest of society's rules.
So on the tube home later, my mind full of all sorts of existential stuff, I skimmed through a newspaper. There, in the midst of stories about murder, celebrity, and new gadgets, was MAKING POSITIVE CHANGES TO YOUR LIFE, a series of common-sense tips by a Life Coach.
I noticed this was essentially an advert.
For a credit card company.