I’m walking along in the cold. A lady suddenly ambushes me, leaping before me like a cat. She is unusually agile for a short woman of such bulk. She grabs me and starts squawking on about some survey she’s conducting. It’s only going to take a few minutes maximum she says. I figure why not.
Like the genie, she asks me for my three wishes. First of all, what would I most like to be in the world, assuming I could be anything. I think about answering ‘Angelina Jolie’ for a second, but then decide to go with my second choice, the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister of what she asks. Was this not obvious? Of the United Kingdom I say. The next question. She asks me what do I most want in the world. She suggests money and love (a leading question? I am already suspicious of this survey). I think about what I really want in the world at the moment. I don’t really know what to say, so I just suggest fame, since this is the main way that one can do good in the world. Fame she asks, querulously. Nobody else seems to have suggested this (no one else seems to have suggested Prime Minister either – it seems as though I’m ’special’). The last question is how would I want to change myself? I really don’t want to change myself. I just want to stay the same. It takes a while to find an answer. I say one appropriate to the situation – I wish I was more aggressive (I mean, if I were, I could have brushed her off and wouldn’t have to answer these rubbish questions).
The interview is over so I want to jet. But the lady isn’t moving. I tell her I’ve got to go. She doesn’t budge. She wants me to fill out a free personality test. This is something that I really don’t want to do. I tell her I’ve just got five minutes – I really am meeting someone. She somehow manages to lever me into a small shop front – the Dianetics shop outside Goodge Street Station.
It is an eerie-looking and empty kind of place. She seats me on a low bench before a flatscreen TV. This is just three minutes she says. I’m already feeling brainwashed. A strange video comes on, telling me how to overcome my fears and break the cycle of terror. It features a guy from the military and a bunch of other losers. The video is in super hi-definition quality and has a soundtrack. It’s a quality product. It might even work on someone that’s depressed, but I’m actually feeling pretty good at the moment. I try not to laugh as an unlikeable looking woman drops a pan of supposedly hot water all over her bosom and the narrator drones on about how bad life experiences warp our minds or something (thanks for the obvious, Dianetics). I sit there looking at my watch being bored (why I do not just get up and go, I don’t know).
It’s interesting for someone so well-read in psychoanalysis to see this kind of pop psychology crap.
As the video ends and I make my way out (I’ve already forgotten everything that has been said), another big-boned and very short lady pushes a DVD at me. It’s for free. No thanks I say. Dianetics kidnappers.