I went to see Mr Pascoe every Wednesday at 12.30. I would drive the twenty minutes from my office and sit in his shabby waiting room with the pleasant receptionist who didn’t have a computer and never seemed busy.
When he called me in he would leave the room while I got undressed. I remember that I always took my socks off, even though it wasn’t necessary, because keeping them on made me think about porn movies, and that was uncomfortable. Then I lay on his bed and waited.
Looking up at the bare lightbulb and the wood chip paper I would become aware of him, sitting at the end of the bed above my head. Then I would feel his hands reaching underneath me and down to the small of my back. His fingers, still at first, followed by almost imperceptible movement, like he was gently playing a tiny piano.
He would talk to me about politics and how, as an island nation, we should see the possibilities of tidal power. “No government has the patience to wait so long, maybe twenty years, for the investment to pay off. They’re all too short term” I agreed “Yes, we miss out when we are too impatient don’t we?” I would close my eyes, feeling his hands on me. My mind would drift. I thought about Caroline.
Caroline was my therapist a long time ago and she once said to me, in that little room where I could stare up and out of the skylight, but at an angle which only revealed the tips of the tall trees, that I was far too comfortable. I was angry that she could not see my pain.
Sometimes I would sit in that room, always on Monday’s at 9.00am, and watch the rain scar the skylight, blurring the tips of the tall trees, and I wouldn’t know what to say. For an age, it seemed that she was silent and I was silent. At the end of the hour, I would not be able to remember anything that was said, although something was. I could not feel her fingers on me, but they were definitely there because something drew me back, every week, hoping for change, unaware that I was changing.
Years later I wrote to thank her. It was under that skylight where the change had begun. Sometimes because of her words, especially if I didn’t want to hear them, sometimes because of what I heard myself say, and often in the silence when she was strong enough to hold me up until I could hold myself.
After half an hour Mr Pascoe would pull out his hands and I would roll off the bed and get to my feet, dress again in the weak heat of the one bar electric fire, and leave.
Mr Pascoe was a gifted osteopath, but I hadn’t held out much hope for myself. I didn’t know I could get better and I’m not sure I really believed I would. My back had been painful for so long I’d forgotten what it was to feel fit. The strangest thing about Mr Pascoe was that nothing seemed to be happening at all most of the time, but it was.