Once when I was in hospital I was interviewed by a very earnest researcher who was investigating the use of alcohol. At that time I was drinking nearly a bottle of wine each night. The last question he asked was, had I ever had any hallucinations? I answered, “no”. But this is what I should have said.

“How would I know? Any half-way decent, self respecting hallucination is indistinguishable from reality. That’s what makes it an hallucination. Maybe this whole business is an hallucination. Maybe in real life I am a teen-age girl, a vampire slayer and the horrors of my vocation have driven me to believe I’m an old man, suffering from cancer in a universe where vampires are fictional creatures.

“The question is, then, what are you? Are you a real person, trying to help me come to my senses. Or are you a demon trying to drive me even further insane. Or do you exist at all? Are you just a figment of my imagination, an hallucination in your own right?

“Nah! No, I’m not hallucinating. All this is real, you are real, the hospital is real and those bats up there in the corner, they are real.”

But I doubt whether he would have seen Lost Weekend, so he might not get the reference.

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