Former carpenter performs miracles in Essex

Gabriella looked dazed but radiant: `I can't tell you about it now,' she said, `but he's amazing'
Click to follow
The Independent Culture
WE COULD have stayed at the Miami Hotel in Chelmsford - patients at the clinic get special rates - but Gabriella wasn't keen. Bad feng shui, she said knowingly, though she has never seen the hotel nor, to my knowledge, has ever set foot in Essex. Gabriella is beautiful, Polish with bright red hair, ice-blue eyes and an insatiable thirst for alternative therapy. In between detox sessions in clinics as far-flung as Tashkent and Tijuana, she makes incredibly expensive hats which appear on the front cover of Vogue and on the heads of some of Europe's most fashionable women. Which is why she hasn't got much change out of today's thrash at Windsor. Usually she cleans up at society weddings.

It was Gabriella's idea to go to the psychic surgeon. She has ongoing stomach ailments, I have intermittent arthritis and a frozen shoulder. We've both tried everything else. I am currrently on a diet recommended by the National Arthritis Helpline which bans dairy food, meat, wheat, corn, eggs, citrus fruit, coffee, nuts, tomatoes and potatoes. I can eat as much cabbage as I like - every cloud has a silver lining. It was Gabriella's friend Margosha who told us about the Chelmsford clinic. I forget what exactly was wrong with Margosha, but whatever it was the psychic surgeon cured it and now she visits him once a month. If Chelmsford wasn't so far, she'd go every week.

Our first hurdle was to get an appointment. Steven sees 100 people a day and is fully booked for three months. We managed to get two cancellations at 8.30am.

"Miami Hotel?" said a taxi driver at Chelmsford station. "I expect you're going to see Steven. People come from all over the world to see him - Norway, Belgium. I once picked up an American woman with a Zimmer frame at Heathrow. She stayed six weeks and when I took her back to the airport she could skip." He also told us that Chelmsford was the fastest- growing town in Europe - computers, telecommunications, that sort of thing.

The Miami Hotel turned out to be a big concrete block and Steven's clinic a small white concrete block behind the car park. Bad feng shui. The waiting room was full of, well, Norwegians and Belgians, I suppose, and a smattering of Hindu families with beautifully behaved children. We signed forms which permitted Steven to use instruments if he wished, advising us that we might have a scar afterwards so we should take it easy for the rest of the day. A tall young man came in every seven minutes or so, called someone's name and off they went. Gabriella went 20 minutes before me and returned looking dazed but radiant. "I can't tell you about it now," she whispered. "But he's amazing."

My turn. The tall young man took me to a small, dimly lit back room with an operating table in the middle. "Take off your shoes, lie down and relax," he said, whereupon an identical version of the tall young man (presumably his father) came in and asked what my problem was. He had a strong, warm voice with a Somerset rather than an Essex accent. If he'd had occasion to say cider he would have pronounced it "zoyder".

"Frozen shoulder," I said and Steven said yes, put both hands on my shoulder, pressed his thumbs hard into the very spot I had a cortisone injection the previous week and kept on pressing. "Ouch, that's where I had my cortisone injection," I said. A bit impatiently, Steven said yes, he knew that. He was trying to get rid of the junk. I could hear curious squelching sounds as he worked.

Now your stomach, he said, and repeated the pressing, squelching chucking procedure, except that this time I was vaguely aware of something cold - a scalpel? - pressing on my skin. "Gosh, I can feel that," I said faintly. Of course I could, said Steven, I'd just had an operation. Was that it? Yes, it was. He said he would see me in eight weeks' time. Just a couple of things. I should drink tea made with celery seeds every morning. And I should have some of this mixture containing 23 essential herbs.

I paid pounds 20 for the consultation and pounds 20 for the essential herbs. "How was it?" asked the taxi driver, a different one, on the way back to the station. "Fine, tell me about Steven." "I've known him all my life. Amazing man. He used to be a carpenter before he discovered he had healing powers. I think he's Jewish. We must pick up 50 people a day from the station." Forget the computers and telecommunications: Chelmsford is the fastest- growing town in Europe because a former carpenter, probably Jewish, is performing miracles there.

On the train, Gabriella hitched up her blouse and said: "My God, look at that." She had a three-inch scar like stitch marks. Incidentally, my shoulder feels a lot better.