I write after having anointed Mad Trevor again only to have him storming out of the church once more cursing me and the whole Church. So a lot of good that did. We got off on the wrong foot when he turned up, to be given prayer-for-healing-with-anointing, demanding I sprinkle him with water as well to break a curse. I refused because that wasn't what we agreed to do and the rite of anointing doesn't include sprinkling with water. It would be easier to give him whatever he wants, but pastorally wrong. So he went around the church shouting to God to take the curse off him and put it on me before 'blessing' the font and using the water in that. After the rite of anointing, I gently raised the possibility that his 'voices' are his own thoughts amplified by his illness and that, while they may go away eventually, the thoughts never will and he would be happier not expecting God to do this. Could I perhaps speak to his doctor and organise a case conference for him? 'No, I don't want you talking to my doctor, the doctors are ignorant and evil, science is lies. I am not ill.' He asked for a key to the church so he could come in and pray when he liked and I refused. 'This church is shutting me away from God, you and all the wicked servants will be punished by God, I can't believe you've treated me so badly since I've been here.' I didn't raise the hours I've spent trying to talk through his problems, including the time I helped him fill out entries for internet dating sites that he then abandoned two days later; the £200 I gave him from my own pocket to buy a new cooker he then spent on a keyboard; the urgent appointment last week I arranged for him with the CAB to talk through his debts which he never turned up to 'because I was too busy'. Sorry; I'm just venting.
Mad Trevor now has a friend, Mad Terry, who is superficially more sensible but is perhaps an even bigger fantasist. He wants me to exorcise Trevor as well. Both of them are quite talented musicians in their own way and have an idea about breaking into the music business and Mad Terry quotes various people he says he knows and has worked with. It all sounds nearly plausible, and on the thinking that God's hand might be somewhere in it, I even had a small commissioning service for their venture before Christmas, and persuaded some congregation members to join in. But then Terry talks about marrying Tamara Ecclestone ('I'm meeting her tomorrow') and you think; hang on, 27-year old millionaire heiress and model; balding, overweight, unemployed early-50s musician with mental issues? Does this compute? Do you actually look in the mirror when you shave? 'Fantasist' is a kind non-Christian way of characterising his thinking; an unkinder word might be 'liar'. The truth is that when Terry tells you something is happening, for instance that he has a music contract or is meeting Paul Weller or test-driving a £20,000 car on the basis of the advance he's getting from the publisher, none of this is actually happening in the ordinary sense: he thinks God has told him it will happen, and so he talks about it as though it was going to.
'Why do you think this affects you so much?' asks my S.D. I suppose because it presses all my most uncomfortable buttons about what I believe concerning God, truth and reality. 'You don't realise that most people don't think about things philosophically', he warned me. 'You try to fit everything into some sort of rational structure. Most people just have a few phrases and ideas that they don't examine or think about, they're just enough to help them cope'. This is perhaps the key to being a bit more forgiving and relaxed about Mad Trevor and Terry, and to stop trying to incorporate them into my own world-view. They're two lonely, unfulfilled middle-aged men with a lot of problems wrapping themselves in fantasy to cope with the fact that their lives are crap. Sad really, rather than threatening.