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and another thing...
It only has five letters, but put them together and the word itself con-
jures up horrific images of belching petro-chemical plants, of deadly
gasses and human convulsions, of dying a slow, painful death while
clutching at your throat.
If in the past it has popped into my head while I write, I immedi-
ately reach for the closest Roget s to find a replacement. Indeed, this is the first
time I have been brave enough to physically write the word.
So imagine how twitchy I was when I quickly plucked the package from
the chemist s display, stuck it under my overcoat and marched toward the
With adolescent memories of buying my first packet of condoms jangling
already-shot nerves, I removed my sunnies and tried to recognise my fellow
customers. I put the box on the counter.
The pharmacist smiled at me, picked it up and moved towards the till
looking for the price bar.
Then, looking as though he had just trod in dog turd, he turned to me and
bellowed the word across the vast stretches of his 4000-aisle pharmacy.
An audible gasp escaped the blue-haired pensioner next to me, and as my
eyes darted around behind her, another old biddy set off as quickly as one
dependant on a walking frame could toward the safety of the innersoles and
A terrified child broke free from her mother s clutches and ran toward the
door screaming: "Help! help! Fat alcoholic! Fat alcoholic!" I desperately tried
to trip her but she was too fast. Customers poured out of the building as
though a silent fire alarm had gone off.
With a look of disdain he couldn t disguise, Mr Chemist didn t take his
eyes off me as he snatched my Visa. "Sign or PIN, he sneered through curled
lip. "If you can manage... or remember".
Defeated and demoralised, I could not escape the humiliation.
A large, jeering crowd had gathered outside and I saw one of them handing
out pitchforks and burning sticks. When I tried to explain to one of the
officers, he just snorted and issued me with a move-on notice.
It s been 11 days now. Four kilos lighter, I have a clear head, I can remem-
ber people s names and drive into surrounding suburbs without getting lost.
My kids laugh as they watch me slurp my non-fat duck s milk and eat my
gluten-free ants balls, or whatever it is that I brush on my cardboard toast
The colon care is a particularly attractive part of the exercise, and I must
admit, I m become quite attached to the 10ml of indescribable toxic sludge
that forces open the sluicegates. Not.
And let s not forget my morning defoliation, which involves sanding myself
back with an Edward Scissorhands-type glove that comes (free) with the
Let me tell you, it s very lonely when you reach a certain level of perfection.
Even mum doesn t ring any more.
~ Guest columnist Tony Barrass is The Australian s WA bureau chief.
Tony Barrass puts his hard-living veteran journo-lifestyle-conditioned-body
to the ultimate test -- a detox program. « illustration mike rigoll
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