Years ago my wife persuaded me to go with her to a health spa for a week.
Like most blokes, this appealed to me as much as a bath does to a cat.
But, on the basis of it’s good to try new things, I went along.
I wasn’t allowed any tea or coffee.
So I developed a real headache from caffeine withdrawal.
But I wasn’t allowed any aspirins either.
So I asked what the alternative was.
They said acupuncture.
So I went along to see the acupuncturist.
He was Chinese, and he started putting needles in me.
But they didn’t stop the pain.
So I went back and said it hadn’t worked.
This time a different acupuncturist, a woman, put some needles in me.
But that didn’t stop the pain either.
So I asked to see the person in charge, to complain.
He was an old Scotsman with a grey beard and a kilt.
His name was Doctor Urquhart.
He asked me to let him try.
He put a needle in each of my big toes.
Immediately the pain stopped and I felt great.
I asked him how come he’d been able to do it when the other two couldn’t.
He said it was like any other profession.
Sometimes the older, more experienced people know things the younger ones don’t.
That seemed logical.
So I asked him how he learned about acupuncture.
He said he was trained as a doctor, he had a degree in conventional western medicine.
He’d been outraged at the fact that people believed in acupuncture and alternative medicine.
Something he saw as mumbo-jumbo, practiced on the superstitious by charlatans.
So he set out to expose it and discredit it.
But the more he learned about it, the more he realised he was wrong.
In setting out to disprove its efficacy, he actually proved it.
And eventually he became a Professor at Milan University.
Specialising in acupuncture and alternative medicine.
Dr. Urquhart proved something to me.
It’s never a discipline that’s good or bad.
Just people who are good or bad at it.
A few years later I was practically crippled by back pain.
It got so bad I couldn’t even sit in my chair at the office.
So I began going to specialists, up and down Harley Street.
Osteopaths, Chiropractors, you name it.
They cost a fortune, but nothing worked.
When you’re in really bad pain, you’ll try anything.
I heard about an untrained man, called Jack Garland, who’d had some success helping people with bad backs.
I went to see him and asked how he could help, if he wasn’t trained.
He said, “I’ve been a lathe turner all my life. All those years of using my fingers to judge the thickness of spinning metal have worn my fingerprints away. The skin is so thin that I can feel things other people can’t.”
So I took my shirt off and Jack felt my back.
He said, “I can feel lots of little crystals formed around your sciatic nerve, that’s trapping it and causing the pain. If I can break those down your body will get rid of them.”
That rang a bell.
When I was young, I used to get cysts on my knuckles.
Cysts are a build up of crystals formed from excess uric acid.
Maybe this was connected.
So, twice a week for six weeks, Jack massaged my back.
Eventually the problem went away and I’ve never had a twinge since.
And that’s after every specialist in Harley Street failed.
A while later I was telling this to an animator, Ginger Gibbons.
He had his arm in a sling.
Ginger said the pain was so bad he couldn’t move the arm and it was beginning to wither.
He’d been to specialists everywhere, even in Switzerland.
They all said he’d eventually lose the use of his arm.
I suggested he try Jack, like I had.
Ginger said, “What have I got to lose?”
He went to see Jack, in his little house in Uxbridge.
Jack massaged Ginger’s arm twice a week, for six weeks.
And Ginger’s never worn the sling since.
I saw him recently and he tells me his arm is perfect.
And that’s after all the experts, in this country and abroad, failed.
So that’s one man (Dr Urquhart) trained, and one man (Jack) untrained.
And both worked where all the others failed.
What did I learn from that?
Don’t blindly trust anyone or anything.
Keep looking until you find what works.
Because every trade, every profession has good and bad.
Judge the result not the title.
Because someone calls themselves ‘creative’, doesn’t mean their work will be any good.
Because someone calls themselves ‘a planner’, doesn’t mean they can give you the right answer.
People will dismiss anything they don’t understand as superstition.
But they’ll blindly accept that a group of twelve untrained people in a suburban front room can tell them exactly what they should be doing.
just because it’s called ‘research’.
What’s that if it’s not superstition?