'Oh dear, I am an arse. I expect there'll be what I believe is called an 'intervention' soon. I keep picturing it. All my friends bearing down on me, and me denying everything until my pockets are emptied. Oh, the shame.'In this early thirties, Stephen Fry – writer, comedian, star of stage and screen – had, as they say, 'made it'. Much loved in A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster, author of a critically acclaimed and bestselling first novel, The Liar, with a glamorous and glittering cast of friends, he had more work than was perhaps good for him.What could possibly go wrong?Well, as the 80s drew to a close, he discovered a most enjoyable way to burn the candle at both ends, and took to excess like a duck to breadcrumbs. Writing and recording by day, haunting a never-ending series of celebrity parties, drinking dens and poker games by night, in a ludicrous and impressive act of bravado, he fooled all those except the very closest to him, some of whom were most enjoyably engaged in the same dance.He was, to all intents and purposes, a high-functioning addict. Blazing brightly and partying wildly as the 80s turned to the 90s – AIDS became an epidemic and politics turned really nasty – he was so busy, so distracted by the high life, that he could hardly see the inevitable, headlong tumble that must surely follow . . .