By Andy Martin - April 6, 2009
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A psychologist friend of mine, called Alf, once treated a man named Bob. He was the opposite of a litter-bug. He spent all his time going about picking up stray bits of paper, cigarette packets, empty lager cans, in fact just about any detritus. In a way a good deed for the community, cleaning up the world - what could be wrong with that? But of course taken to an extreme - as he took it - he became completely dysfunctional. He couldn't get from A to B, not without endless diversions, as he pursued litter relentlessly. A journey into madness. Alf tried to fix Bob with his special patented aversion therapy. Alf set about imitating what Bob was doing and Bob, seeing Alf behaving like a madman, stopped picking up litter - for a while anyway. OCD - obsessive-compulsive disorder. We all know (or perhaps knew) someone who thinks he has to step on that particular crack in the pavement everyday just to make sure the world goes on spinning. But, when you stop to think about it, aren't we all a little obsessive-compulsive? Don't we need a good dose of OCD just to get through the day? (brushing teeth, washing hands etc). I think writers tend to be a bit like Bob - they go about collecting stuff that other people are just throwing away, as if it didn't matter. Maybe they want to clean up the world a little too.