We hear a lot about the need for 'joined-up thinking' in our public services; indeed, we hear so much about it, the phrase has become one of these cliches that are thrown around when people have nothing much to say.
Sometimes what they mean by 'joined-up thinking' can better be described simply as 'thinking'. But it does exist in its original form in certain areas, and it came to my attention recently when I heard that it is not uncommon now for a drug addict to pay their dealer by lodging money to the dealer's online betting account.
In normal circumstances, you can go into a betting office and hand your cash over the counter, which is then credited to your internet account.
One of the benefits of this is that your deposit isn't coming from, say, your credit card, so it will not raise any questions if you happen to be looking for a loan from some financial institution - another bit of joined-up thinking there, helped along by the fact that gambling corporations now have their own 'credit cards' as such, for betting purposes.
And I suppose I could hold forth here about the irony of the banks taking a poor view of gambling that is on a far smaller scale than their own spectacular efforts in that domain, but that is for another day.
For now, let us look at the punter making that lodgement across the counter into the punter's own account, or indeed into someone else's account - yes, you can do that too, if you so wish. Though, of course, in the normal run of events, you would not so wish.
Unless, of course, you are a drug addict paying money into the account of your dealer, in which case you and the dealer would so wish, given that it is a much more agreeable alternative to the usual method of handing over cash on street corners - with all the unpleasantness that comes with that: the risk of attracting the attention of the police, and so on.
Of course, this could not happen if there was some system whereby only the holder of the account is authorised to make lodgements to that account - perhaps some form of photo ID might work here - but since there is very little in the way of any kind of regulation of the betting industry in this country, we are probably being way too ambitious there.
And so it has come to pass that one form of addiction - to heroin, for example - is subsidising something else that can easily turn into an addiction, especially if you're having frequent transfusions of cash into your online betting account.
Traditionally, of course, the joined-up thinking in this area was perhaps more explicit, with a betting office often being situated beside a pub; the two 'places of low resort' feeding each other, forming a dark alliance.
And traditionally too, betting has attracted the kind of people who may have large amounts of cash at their disposal, derived from unorthodox sources; cash which they need to put to some sort of 'legitimate' purpose. And to have a bit of fun while they're at it.
How quaint, then, that even as the technology has moved into a different dimension, it is still meeting the most ancient needs of Man - expanding on them, indeed, with this new Drugs Payment Scheme creating a synergy between all sorts of addictions.
In one scenario, the drug addict pays for his cocaine by lodging money to the online account of a dealer who is also a compulsive gambler, who, if he is winning, may develop further weaknesses for online shopping for luxury goods, or the consumption of gallons of whiskey.
I mean, let's face it, if you're far enough gone to have your online betting account being topped up by the contributions of drug addicts, you are probably capable of anything.
Sunday Indo Life Magazine