The scene is a group therapy session for Archers Anonymous.
Therapist: OK, let’s introduce ourselves – and first, could I just ask the chap over there – Bob, is it? – to just sit on a chair and not on his bow box. Right. Oh yes, and I notice most of you are wearing green or white clothing. Let’s look ahead to our next session and think: I’ll wear anything but green or white. I think that would be a move forward, don’t you? Now I see Bob is sitting comfortably on his chair, so we’ll begin with you, Bob.
Bob: Hello, my name’s Bob Jones and I’ve been an archer for 16 years. Actually, 16 years, two months and 23 days. I’ve decided to come here today because I’d like to get to know my two kids a bit better. I met them for the first time in eight months yesterday and it amazed me how much they’d grown. I was also a bit surprised that they used a family photo to identify me.
Therapist: What are their names, Bob?
Bob: Well, there’s Intha, she’s nine years old.
Therapist: Intha. Is that how you say it? It sounds quite Celtic,
Bob: Actually, it’s Intha with a hard ‘th’. Intha – or rather, Tracey, as she now calls herself.
Therapist: Tracey? Why the change? If you don’t mind me saying. Tracey is a bit ordinary. Intha sounds so much more unusual, doesn’t it?
Bob: She really dislikes the name. She hates her middle name, though.
Therapist: What’s that?
Therapist: Intha Tenring Jones. You christened her Intha
Tenring Jones? What did your wife say to that?
Bob: You mean my ex-wife. Well, Jan was a keen archer herself at the time and I think she was rather taken with the name herself. She said Intha was very good all through the christening but the vicar was a bit snooty about the name. I was away at a regional championship at the time. I just missed my MB by two points, I won’t forget that weekend for a long time. Nor will Bobby Bowbox Toxophilus Jones – he’s my son, by the way. He got his Junior MB.
Therapist: You said ‘ex-wife.’ Perhaps you want to tell us more about that, it was probably connected to your obsession with archery, I expect?
Bob: Too right. It all started when I got my MB and Jan didn’t. That just blew the lid off everything.
Therapist: I know it’s painful, but I suspect there’s more to it than that, Bob?
Bob: You mean the fact that I got my MB while Jan was attending her mother’s funeral?
Therapist: I expect she was angry because you didn’t attend the funeral?
Bob: She was absolutely brassed off at missing the shoot, actually. It was her last chance for an MB that season.
Therapist: Well, I can see the problem, I really can. I suppose this kind of thing must have affected your family in the wider sense – brothers, sisters and so on?
Bob: Well, Jan’s brother, Roger, was a bit put off when Jan turned up for the funeral in her whites. It does stand out a bit at a funeral. She shot off down to the club straight after the committal and missed the funeral feast. Mind you, that’s no bad thing, she makes Nelly the elephant look like a ballet dancer.
Therapist: I can see the picture now. You are both very competitive, obsessive personalities and you are bound to clash. It’s a wonder you found the time to get married and have children.
Bob: Well, we saved a lot of time and money by tacking our wedding ceremony on to the end of a presentation ceremony at the county championship. It was all over in a few minutes – not like the presentation, that went on for ever, and I didn’t get a brass farthing, total waste of time being there.
Therapist: But it was your wedding, after all, Bob, surely that was memorable?
Bob: Not half as memorable as the divorce, believe me.
Therapist: I don’t think anything can surprise me in my line of work, Bob. I hear just about every peccadillo under the sun.
Bob: So you won’t be surprised if I introduce you to my ex-wife? She’s sitting next to you.
Therapist: Where, Bob? Apart from me, we’re all males in this group?
Bob: OK, Jan, introduce yourself.
Jan: Hello, my name’s Jan, and I’ve undergone a course of male hormone therapy. It didn’t do an awful lot for my marriage but by goodness, it helped me get my MB.
Bob: Look out, Jan, I think the therapist has just fainted.
Jan: Never mind her, what was that crack about Nellie the elephant?
Bob: Jan, put me down, Jan, it’s the hormones talking….Aaaaarrrrgh!