They were both so reliable, and strong.” My own father – who died 18 years ago – always grinned at my rotten jokes.
We were on holiday, in Switzerland, and a grand hotel refused to let us have a drink in their bar.
The place where, as the joke goes, they won’t even let Swiss born Roger Federer join the tennis club. Sharing is not conversation One of the first things newcomers have to learn is that ‘cross-talk’ – meaning dialogue, talking ‘to’ others in the group, during a meeting – is a no-no. The others listen, carefully reflecting on your spilt entrails, like Roman soothsayers. Dialogue leads to argument and argument, before you know it, leads to quarrels. For newcomers they’re coloured leather (or its imitation). It’s flown away, I like to think, to help others embarking on a life without what they thought they couldn’t live without. AA is not, oddly, all that focused on alcohol Only the first of the 12 steps (the admission that you can’t control the stuff, or yourself when you’re drinking) touches on it. I’ve been to meetings at universities where the IQ is stratospheric.
At AA-Gstaad it was espresso coffee and Lindt chocolates to help the millionaires on their path to ‘recovering’. They do not respond (other than with a formal ‘thank you, John, for a wonderful share’, or whatever). Others where there’s a guy just out of prison sitting on one side of you and someone who really ought to be there on the other.
We don’t wish to be – as Lancashire-based chartered clinical psychologist Dr Rachel Andrew puts it – “a gender stereotype”.
“I was the pretty little blond-haired girl, after three boys,” she says, “which for my father was quite special.
He was protective, doting; there was an element of wonder. There wasn’t open emotion or talking about feelings. If I needed support, he’d always listen to me, back me, and respect me.” Thanks to that tender example, Charlotte only chose men who loved her without question: “It’s possibly why I went for older men too.
AA is not the Masons where, outside of gatherings, you keep in touch with code words or secret handshakes and conspiratorial ‘assistance’. AA lives by the distilled wisdom contained in the proverb, motto, and slogan – not ‘theory’. and Dr Bob, founded AA in Akron, Ohio, in the 1930s, when even to have stopped drinking was shameful – evidence of past ‘moral weakness’. The Serenity Prayer Few have heard it before they first attend an AA meeting, but once it's in your life it never leaves.
Keep it simple Supposedly the last words of AA's founder, Bill W (ilson). ‘Perhaps the Day after Tomorrow’ another proverb promises. But the rules have relaxed since the patriarchs, Bill W.
“Women who grow up with meaningful, comfortable, conversational relationships with their dads make better choices in who they date, sleep with, and marry,” she says.