Everyone, put your hands up if you love being right. Now put them down! People will think you're strange, waving at a computer screen like that.
Being right is probably my favourite thing. When I'm not scratching for a living, I'm a subeditor, a job that involves being right over and over again. Here's how it works: a sloppy journalist throws together a mistake-addled, grammarless piece of children's literature in the time it takes an editor to shout 'Michael Jackson has died'. They file it and hit the bottle ... and the subs move suavely into action.
Facts are checked, run-on sentences lopped in half and lovingly shaped, rogue indefinite articles removed. Too few medical bodies have clocked the therapeutic effect of being right as often as possible. After eight hours of this, I reach a state of almost sexual excitement.
This is your lucky day, because you were all right - everyone, that is, who pointed out that homeopathy is a sham and a waste of time. And I was right, too, or at least the half of me that secretly longs for everything I do to end in failure. So now the time has come to be right once and for all and to state that, for me, this particular brand of alternative medicine is wrong.
I made my decision a few weeks ago, when I managed to catch not one but two facial skin infections. It was probably the most physically uncomfortable I've ever been, including that time I was burned at the stake as a witch. And I thought: no. I took out the Protopic (horrible cream; good last resort) and decided enough was enough.
People - specifically you people - may say that I have not demonstrated enough patience. My answer to this accusation is threefold, a word which I only use at moments of great rhetorical importance. One: I don't have any patience. I can barely concentrate enough to finish this sentence.
Two: patience is out of date anyway. It's what we had to rely on before electronics. Stoicism, grit, pluck – these threadbare nouns belong to an era of finite TV schedules. I prefer foppishness, arrogance, grandiloquence. Just take a look at the iPhone. Patience is done.
Three: I've got a much better idea for treating my eczema.
About six months ago, a friend - who once suffered from severe eczema - urged me to try a new treatment based on reversing the entrenched, behavioural aspect of eczema. Anyone who has the condition will tell you that at least half of it is automatic: you don't only scratch when you're itchy, but also when you're stressed, irritated or bored. Sometimes you do it simply because your skin is there. As bizarre as this sounds, it's an unfortunate rut your body has got into, and it's a very difficult one to get out of.
Dr Christopher Bridgett, formerly of the NHS's Chelsea and Westminster hospital and now a private consultant, is responsible for bringing this particular therapy into the mainstream. I rang him out of the blue, and he patiently explained the treatment for 20 minutes before recommending I buy a £10 book which could technically put him out of business. If this is entrepreneurship, I'm not surprised we had a banking crisis.
The process involves a mechanical hand-counter - the sort that bouncers wield with maniacal power at nightclub entrances. It comes with the book for a small extra fee. Every time you scratch, you click the thingy. It's as simple as that: scratch, click the thingy. Get your friends involved! When you scratch, they scream, "Click!" Scratch! Click! SCRATCH! CLICK! Great fun. It beats slapping your hand away and making you feel like a naughty dog.
So far - and I'm in the first week - the treatment consists of no more than this: making you conscious of when you scratch. I don't even have to try and resist that urge - only to record it. I gather that the following weeks will involve control techniques, such as arms-by-your-sides and counting to ten. But already I can see a huge improvement, especially on my face.
Having the clicker there means that, often, you don't scratch because you know you're going to have to click afterwards. Also - and this is important - it forces you to limit the scratching bout because you have to go to your pocket and press the button. Before, a scratch could go on for several moons. Now, I have a reason to stop. SCRATCH! CLICK!
As concrete proof, I've come down from a whopping 775 scratches a day to 298 - in only five days. There's a long way to go, but I'm full of optimism and joy, which means it can only end in failure. Let's hope I'm wrong.
This month's verdict (in the style of the early Beatles)
My skin was feeling blue
And it was all because of you
Michelle, my French homeopathy boo boo
Now I'm feeling fine
I wanna hold your hand in mine
But I can't because I'm holding this clicker, let go of me immediately.