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  • How to Make 120,000 People Happy in Just Ten Weeks
  • Brett Kahr

I am seated in a swish leather banquette, discreetly tucked away in the alcove of a bustling, sun-streaked restaurant in Waterloo, South London, just a stone's throw from the Old Vic Theatre, lunching with a very attractive, dynamic Welshwoman called Patricia Llewellyn—"Pat" to her friends—one of Great Britain's most enterprising independent television producers. I have known Pat for some time, having met her through her boyfriend, Ben Adler, also a television executive, with whom I had worked on a television project one year earlier. Pat owns a thriving company, Optomen Television, which supplies programs to the major terrestrial broadcasters in the United Kingdom, such as the British Broadcasting Corporation and Channel Four Television, and recently she has begun to conquer the world as well. Hugely creative, energetic, and successful—as well as charmingly self-effacing—Pat has specialized in making cookery programs, and in her time, she has discovered some of Great Britain's major chefs, most particularly Jamie Oliver—"The Naked Chef"—now a super-chef here in the United Kingdom, and also the "Two Fat Ladies." More recently, she has served as the brains behind several series of "restaurant transformation" programs featuring the increasingly popular entrepreneur, ex-footballer Gordon Ramsay, the twenty-first-century equivalent of Julia Child or Delia Smith . . . with bite.

In spite of having had years and years of psychoanalysis, I cannot boil an egg without experiencing high levels of anxiety, and so I remain very uncertain as to why this high priestess of grand cuisine has not only invited me to lunch, but seems intent on paying for it as well. [End Page 485]

Over roast suckling pig, an admittedly unusual, though tasty, choice, as well as not one, but two bottles of Retro 55, Pat explains that although cookery programs and gardening programs will never go out of fashion, all of her senior chums at the B.B.C. have told her that psychology will soon become a growth area, and some of the executives in the commissioning department—those benighted individuals who decide which programs will eventually be transmitted into our homes—have even begun to speak of psychology as "the new gardening." Never one to miss an opportunity, Pat decides to pick my brains, knowing me to be a media-friendly mental health professional who has already worked in radio and television for quite some time.

Chewing on our delicious food, Pat and I engage in conversation about what sort of psychology program I might like to make. I respond instantly that I would love to write and present a multi-part documentary on the history of psychology, covering all of the great heroes and pioneers in the field, and surveying their major contributions. I try to sound as engaged as possible, but as a trained clinician, I can tell, quite quickly, that in spite of her sympathetic head nods, Pat really has little interest in bringing Freud, Jung, and Adler to the big screen. After all, none of them had bequeathed any memorable Austrian or Swiss recipes to us, and certainly, in Freud's household, Paula Fichtl would have prepared all the meals. I can see that Pat's interest has begun to wane, and in a kittenish way, she desperately attempts to stifle her yawns. A little voice inside my head tells me that this might be a good moment to mention that one-time bestseller, Freud's Own Cookbook, written by the popular Jungian analyst James Hillman, which contains recipes for such delectable delicacies as "Banana O." and "Little Hansburgers," but decorum triumphs, and I swallow my thoughts with another sip of my wine.

Pat then explains that she has an idea that may be of interest. Clearly, she asked me about my own dream-plans merely to humor me. This "free" lunch has had a secret agenda all along. It seems that some wag has proclaimed Swindon —a grim industrial town in the backwaters of England—as the most depressed location in the country. Would it not be wonderful, Pat beams, if she could send a team of psychotherapists...


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pp. 485-495
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