Today’s stress-engines.

1. Pre-best-of-year-list angst is mounting, and I’m not sure whether iTunes and the iPod are a help or a hindrance. iTunes tells me that I have 1304 songs on my hard drive with a 2004 date stamp – which is a hell of a lot to wade through and evaluate.

But most crucially of all (crucially, I tell you!), what I am I going to do about this year’s “Best Singles” list? Because for the first time, I really have no idea whether half of my favourite tracks came out as singles or not; I certainly didn’t consume them as singles, but rather as stand-alone MP3s or favourite album tracks. Can I really be arsed to sift and Google, in order to determine whether each track should be included? Or should I do what the NME has done this year, and opt for a “Best Tracks” list instead? But then, should I allow favourite album tracks, or should I confine myself to tracks which, in some sense or other, had taken on a life of their own this year, removed from the context of any album? Or should I go the other way and keep it mostly to hit singles?

Oh, stop rolling your eyes like that. You love me for it really.

2. Regarding this evening’s programme of activities: a rather complex etiquette problem, as I have managed to double-book myself a) for an Indian meal with the Posh Crowd, following on from an awfully smart drinks reception for the city’s Great and Good (K’s patch, not mine, as if that needed spelling out!) and b) for drinks at George’s, over on the other side of town, with Miss Mish and the divinely decadent Bohemian set.

(Note: I am aware that “divinely decadent” is something of a played-out epithet these days, being mostly used by copy-writers for confectionery companies, but in this case it is a perfectly accurate epithet, which I shall deploy without shame.)

In the end, I have opted for an early exit from the meal, and a late rendez-vous with Mish. Which raises the possibility of the Posh Crowd deciding that it would be rather fun to come along to George’s, which they’ve heard so much about, and wouldn’t it be jolly?

I am therefore currently feasting my imagination on the delicious prospect of a slightly sloshed county court judge tangoing with the trannies to the strains of Ethel Merman’s Disco Album. When worlds collide, and all that. Oh, say it will happen!

(Note: I am historically not awfully good at managing these When Worlds Collide scenarios, as I always feel it incumbent upon myself to be all things to all people, and cannot cope with the personality split which ensues. However, having stressed about this during the morning, I now find myself feeling unexpectedly relaxed, even to the point of actual anticipation. In this respect, I cannot help but wonder whether Episodes Six and Seven of Joe My God’s “Terrence” series have been of use. Of all Joe’s stories to date, this series has been particularly dear to my heart, and these two new episodes are among his very best. Mandatory reading, I’d say. Start here, then go here.)

3. After a wait of around three months – during which time my wobbles have thankfully subsided to a broadly manageable degree – my first CBT appointment was scheduled for today. My attitude to this, while essentially neutral, was still coloured by various worries.

What if my recovery was so pronounced that CBT would no longer be deemed necessary? (Because, having read up on its guiding principles, I was very much in a mind to proceed.) Would I end up feeling like a time-waster?

Was I really justified in doing this through the NHS, when a course of private treatment was well within my means? Would opting for NHS treatment mean opting for an inferior service?

Would I like my therapist? Would we connect? Would the appointment be unduly distressing? Or would it feel like an anti-climax, which hadn’t even begun to address my needs? Would there be another three month wait before the next appointment?

None of this was helped by an unusually vivid and realistic dream this morning, in which my therapist appeared as a scatty professor type, bumbling around vaguely in a tatty old tweed jacket and loose crumpled chinos, with a shock of wispy, thinning ginger curls and funny little specs on the end of his nose. In the “interview” which followed, he simply handed me a lengthy questionnaire to fill in, and disappeared into the next room. This turned out to be mostly comprised of pop trivia questions: enjoyable, but manifestly irrelevant.

Having taken receipt of questionnaire without so much as glancing through it, my therapist then took me for lunch at County Hall (where I had worked for 13 long, under-achieving, soul-dampening years), where he made cheerful small-talk over the sandwiches and continued to avoid asking me any personal questions. After lunch, he made to excuse himself, explaining that he was running late for his next appointment, and could I come back in six months?

At which point I flipped my lid, and launched into a furious, tearful tirade. How dare he play with my expectations in such a cavalier manner? Had he no interest in me at all? Couldn’t he have posted me his stupid questionnaire before the meeting? How could he possibly expect me to wait another six months? And how could he ride so roughshod over my emotions as to take me back to a place of employment which had caused me so much unhappiness in the past, because if he had troubled himself to discover even the slightest thing about me, then he would never, never…

I woke up still ranting. Not a good way of preparing myself for the matter in hand.

Anyway. It turned out that my appointment wasn’t with a therapist after all, but with an another doctor, whose remit was to assess my suitability for further treatment. This made for a rather weird situation, in which I was invited to talk about all my deepest, darkest, murkiest Stuff, but in the professionally detached manner of a job interview. Weird, but actually quite manageable, as I found it quite easy to give a reasonably eloquent, thorough but at all times relevant account of myself. In fact, it was made all the more easier by her politely interested yet dispassionate manner; being spared any overt displays of head-nodding, eye-contact-retaining empathy, I felt all the more comfortable.

I got the referral, and left the building feeling no more than a little shaky, and pleased that I had been able to give a good account of myself. Another long-ish wait will now ensue, but I’m cool with that.

Ooh, and now a fourth one! All this burbling and I’m running late for dinner! Make haste for the shower, and bollocks to the grammar checking!

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