Every month, the first Wednesday of the month to be exact, we meet in a room above the pub. Jake gets a great rate because he is old friends with the landlady. Habit brings us together along with a sick sense of loyalty. Nothing is gained from the time we spend together; we go home, as we came, broken and full of misguided dreams.

We don’t work because we are the broken mastermind and a mastermind group is only as good as its members.

Jake is the relationship coach without a relationship of his own. He hates his brother, fell out with his sister over his fight with his brother and avoids his parents because of their persistence in demanding grandchildren from him that may never materialise because he is gay and, more importantly, because he hates kids.

Megan is a highly regarded solicitor specialising in family law with a son in prison for drug trafficking. Not that his actions are her fault, he is a grown man after all, but despite her position she wasn’t able to save him from serving nine years in prison and he chose that lifestyle because of the number of times in the past she had managed to saved him. He was her best, and sometimes her only, client.

Stefanie the psychiatrist with mental health issues; she has been clinically depressed for years and does nothing about it. She spends most of the day in bed because she can’t face the world. She believes we don’t know.  We believe she doesn’t either.

Monica is a dietician who does her best to focus on healthy eating but she has a passion for custard cream biscuits, hamburgers and pizza. Not that these are bad for you if eaten in small quantities and not very often but, unfortunately for Monica, quite a few nights she finds herself locked in a battle with food. Food always wins and overeating of the most scandalous substances (followed by bouts of vomiting) follows.

Geoffrey, a financial advisor who sublets a council flat because he is paying off years of bad investments that have left him financially crippled, makes himself available to give us advice. Right now he is watching every penny he spends. Each meeting he begs us to let him waive his financial contribution to the group (we ask for a small contribution to cover drinks and nibbles) and aside from Monica he is usually the biggest eater. The leftovers get shoved into his briefcase before any of us notice.

Then there’s me, the publisher, who has only ever published my own books. I spend my time talking about sales forecast predictions and providing evidence of my increase in sales – 300% last week because I went from selling one book to selling three in one week – progress. My days are spent watching daytime TV because I really do hate mixing with people and I put all my hopes into selling digital products so I never have to speak to a soul.

We do our best to recruit new members and they attend eager to join our mastermind group unaware that it’s broken. It doesn’t take them very long to discover our secrets and once they are out in the open they promptly leave. One man was particularly damning about our ability to get anything done never mind succeed calling us ‘worse than useless.’

We are the broken mastermind but we remain broken together. Holding each other in place, pushing the boundaries of what is expected of us enough to have us believe we are winning.