Danny’s Marvellous Medicine
Today is Roald Dahl Day, in celebration of the life of one of the nation’s most-loved children’s authors. It’s also the build-up to Clockwork Orange at The O2 this weekend, one of my favourite parties. Therefore, today’s blog is a little fictional story that I dreamed up, combining a magical Dahl-esque potion with the mystical wonder of Clockwork Orange…
Jackie Bleaklook hauled her weary 40-something body from the comforting cocoon of her warm bed and padded slowly into the bathroom. Peering reluctantly into the mirror, she winced at her pallid complexion, which appeared to be the exact shade and texture of cold porridge under the harsh strip light. Letting out a sigh, she acknowledged that she could postpone the doctor’s appointment no longer; this could be something serious. She’d been working extremely hard lately, but a slight feeling of “meh” had deepened into persistent pessimism. She showered and applied her makeup as she always did, day in, day out: painting on a happy smile with her trademark red lipstick and concealing the bags under her tired eyes with copious amounts of concealer.
At the doctor’s office, the empty-nester receptionists clucked and squawked into the phones, defensively covering the appointment booking system like a hen guards her eggs. Trying to get a slot with the GP was an ordeal in itself; she’d almost needed a lie-down after the monumental effort involved. Anyone would think the ladies behind the desk were being paid not to book anyone in. Jackie jostled for a seat in the packed waiting area, attempting to drown out the screaming infants and phlegmy cough of the elderly gentleman next to her as she scrolled idly through Facebook for an hour. She was just about losing the will to live when she heard her name being called.
Gesturing for her to take a seat, silver-haired Dr Spiderscrawl sat back in his chair, pushing his horn-rimmed specs up higher on the bridge of his nose in order to get a closer look at her. “What seems to be the problem?” he enquired earnestly. He had the mahogany skin tone of someone who clearly enjoyed regular Caribbean holidays and as he smiled the corners of his eyes crinkled, softening his face. Jackie took a deep breath and began listing her symptoms: lethargy, low mood, anxiety….the list went on. The doctor stole a brief glance at his expensive gold watch as she continued to rattle off an alarming amount of concerns. Jackie even surprised herself with just how many issues she’d been holding in. Once she started speaking, it was like a river that had burst its dam; the flow was unstoppable. Eventually she closed her mouth and slumped back into the seat, exhausted. She looked expectedly at the doctor. He ummed and ahhed as he took her blood pressure, peered down her throat and checked her breathing. “All work and no play makes Jackie a dull girl,” he concluded, as he removed his stethoscope. “What you need my girl is a rather large dose of….FUN.”
Dr Spiderscrawl started scrawling spider-style onto his prescription pad. He paused, thinking deeply. Changing his mind, he tore off the script and scrunched it into a ball, expertly tossing it into the waste paper basket a few feet away as Jackie looked on quizzically. “Ms Bleaklook, my dear. I’m afraid you have a classic case of Midlife Malaise, brought on by over-work and disillusionment. I’d usually prescribe Prozac and exercise, but in your case it is an emergency, so….”
He reached down into the brown leather holdall which was open at his feet and, much to Jackie’s amazement, produced a large conical flask containing a bubbling bright orange liquid. “What the…?” began Jackie. Dr Spiderscrawl held his palm up in a gesture of silence. “Listen, Ms Bleaklook, he said, in his plummy English tone. “I’m old school….or should I say Old Skool with a K. I firmly believe in the restorative power of a good night out, preferably involving a decent crowd of up-for-it revellers, loud, repetitive beats, lasers and flashing lights. Alcohol is one way to relax from the stresses of modern life, but it has adverse long-term health implications; good-quality house music does not. Fortunately I have just the remedy for you – although this one is a non-prescription drug combination, so I ask that you be discreet. I could get struck off for my, ahem, slightly unorthodox – although highly effective – methods. Not because this potion is dangerous – quite the contrary in fact – but there are pharmaceutical companies who lose a fortune when people choose these alternative remedies.
Holding aloft the conical flask betwixt bronzed and manicured fingers he smiled as he announced grandly: “let me introduce to you…Danny’s Marvellous Medicine.”
“But, but, what’s in it? And who’s Danny?!” stuttered Jackie. “Well, I can’t reveal the exact formula, because even I’m not privy to that top secret information, but let’s just say it’s a heady blend of stamina, house music, euphoria, orange-flavoured smoke, glitter and friendship. The side-effects include indescribable happiness and uncontrollable dancing, as you’re transported back to the carefree days of your youth by the restorative powers of music and freedom. Danny Gould is one of the creators of the original formula. He discovered the chemical reaction quite by accident one day back in 1993, along with his good friend Andy Manston. They decided to name the potion Clockwork Orange. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have other patients to attend to.”
He spider-scrawled on his prescription pad once more. “Go to this address on Saturday night. Tell them you are on my guestlist. Drink the potion there. Don’t be tempted to drink it at any other time or place; it won’t work properly.”
Back at the flat where she lived alone, having subconsciously dedicated a large portion of her adult life to an ungrateful boss, Jackie placed the flask of orange liquid on the windowsill and carried on with her busy working week, barely having time to eat or sleep. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a date or a night out with her friends, who were mostly mums and had different priorities these days.
By Saturday she was exhausted and considered not obeying the doctor’s orders, but by mid-afternoon her curiosity got the better of her and she could ignore the flask no longer. Lifting it gently from the windowsill, she carefully removed the cork stopper and took a tiny swig of the bubbling orange liquid. “It’s probably just Berocca,” she mused as she swallowed it down. “He’s expecting a placebo effect.” Within minutes, she knew it wasn’t simply an effervescent vitamin supplement after all: her head crackled and fizzed as if she’d eaten popping candy; she felt alert…and she was sure she could hear the faint sound of 90s house music in the distance. How strange.
Feeling suddenly energised, she hurriedly shimmied into her favourite party dress (which only now was she realising she hadn’t worn for years), wedged her feet into teetering heels and applied the sparkly makeup she’d have worn back in her clubbing days. Stepping back from the mirror, she admired her appearance. It had been a long time since she’d looked this glamorous. That potion had definitely stirred something within her. She took another small swig, before slipping the flask into her sequinned handbag and silently closing the door to the flat, the address the doctor had given her tucked into her jacket pocket.
The chilly September air took her by surprise, and she felt suddenly silly and self-conscious as she tottered to the station and stepped onto the tube dressed up to the nines. She clutched her bag in front of her bare legs, the outline of the flask against her body and the doctor’s words ringing in her ears providing some reassurance.
As she approached the venue she was aware of hordes of very animated people, all heading in the same direction. Jackie was pleasantly surprised to see that they were mostly the same age as herself, and appeared to be highly excitable. Knowing that she’d have a job getting the potion past the octopus-like bouncers, and reasoning that she was almost inside the venue, Jackie nipped around the corner, yanked off the stopper, and downed the orange liquid in one. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand in a most unladylike fashion, she stifled a belch. She caught the eye of another middle-aged woman doing the same, who winked at Jackie and tossed her own now-empty flask into a nearby bin. “First time at Clockwork?” she enquired, noticing Jackie’s nervous demeanour. “It won’t be your last.”
Finally entering the venue some time later, having queued with thousands of other partygoers eager to get inside, Jackie was instantly energised by the music: heavy bass reverberated in her chest and uplifting vocal house music caressed her ears, the words to which she was surprised to note came instantly flooding back, despite the fact she’d not heard them for years. Her feet were moving uncontrollably to the beat and she had the urge to throw her hands up in the air. She grabbed a vodka Red Bull from the bar before jostling through the crowds to get to the dj booth, by which time she’d finished her drink and was determined to focus fully on the serious business of dancing like no-one was watching. Because, well, nobody was.
Everywhere she looked people were smiling and dancing wildly, the dj seducing the crowd with soulful house music interspersed with heavier, dirtier beats. A bongo player accompanied the music and people were singing at the top of their lungs to their favourite tracks, heads thrown back, completely unselfconscious. Suddenly a welcome blast of icy air from a smoke machine hit her, cooling her sweaty body, before a giant glitter cannon exploded, sending thousands of pieces of metallic ticker-tape up into the air before landing on the writhing throng. A cheer went up. Jackie looked around her at the incredible sight of so many happy faces and realised with a jolt that she felt emotional, tearful almost. She hadn’t had this much fun in…well, forever. How had she missed all of this for so long? When had she decided to spend so much time working that she’d forgotten to have fun. How had that happened? She’d lost herself. She shook her head, sad for a moment.
She was roused from her sombre thoughts by a gorgeous tall, dark-haired guy dancing in front of her, who she realised was gesticulating wildly to attract her attention over the din of the music. Making the universal motion of bringing an invisible drink to his lips and raising his eyebrows questioningly, he put a strong arm around her waist and guided her gently in the direction of the bar. Smiling contentedly, Jackie danced towards the bar, taking his hand as he turned to kiss her on the cheek.
“Oh yes,” mused Jackie with a giggle, making a silent promise to herself to seize as much fun as possible from now on, “Clockwork Orange is just what the doctor ordered….”
Are you suffering from Mid-Life Malaise? (Trust me, it’s a very common affliction). Clockwork Orange takes place every six months in London, in March and September, as well as a weekend of events in Ibiza each July. For more information and to become a member check out the Clockwork Orange website here.
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