'I don’t know if you’ve ever caved your back in, but I couldn’t recommend it'

I have been courting osteopaths on and off

Share
Related Topics

Every fortnight, give or take, I find myself laying prone, wearing only my underpants, on a Frenchman’s table. I remain there for 40 minutes, give or take, my eyes closed, as hands are applied to my skin as if I were mere dough. And then I hand over 50 quid, bid au revoir to my Frenchman, and spring off into the night.

The Frenchman, you may have guessed, is my osteopath. And I, in fact, have a bad back. If these two things weren’t the case I would struggle to justify the above, and might even stop the sessions.

However, to label my Frenchman merely an ‘osteopath’ would be to do him a massive disservice. The guy is, in actual fact, a bloody wizard. I don’t take my trousers off lightly, really I don’t. They only come off when they’re ordered off by someone who’s got tricks up their sleeve and this guy’s sleeves are bulging like mailsacks. I’ve been to a few backwhackers over the past 18 months, men who’ve squeezed me, folded me, clicked me and one who even pierced me with needles. But this man, this Frenchman, is the first one to apply sorcery to my injuries. And he’s getting results.

I did my back in in 2012, stamping on a dress in Leeds. Something slipped out or mushroomed up or went pop at the base of my back and soon I was a wretched, stooped mess, drooling with the pain and the injustice of it all. I don’t know if you’ve ever caved your back in, but I honestly couldn’t recommend it. I spent some weeks in tears, only able to walk with the aid of walls, lamp posts or by hooking my arm into the arms of friends. And ever since those paracetamol-filled days, I have been courting osteopaths on and off. But this, I think, is my first serious relationship. It’s only been three months, but I think, sometimes, you just know.

The first thing my Frenchman does is sit me down on a seat in his medical boudoir. The sound of pan-pipes slides about the room and my progress is assessed. My Frenchman is so quietly spoken I sometimes wonder whether he is speaking at all and often, when I look at his lips, I realise he isn’t. But when he needs to, he does. And when he’s done with speaking, he stands up and undresses me with his eyes – well he watches me undress – then he has a good old grope and scratches his chin and orders me on to the slab.

Once I’m horizontal I tend not to open my eyes again. I don’t want to go into his methods in any great detail, because I get the feeling they might be a secret and I don’t imagine he’s very proud of them. Suffice to say, his hands are upon me, but no force is applied, and the time flies. In our first session together he held my feet for about 10 minutes and I thought it was a pisstake. But somehow this drains the pain from my back, so I’m loath to call him on it. I just stay still. He grips me. Occasionally he sighs.

Sometimes I become aware that he is convulsing as he hangs from my flanks. It is as if he is channelling something. A god? Some indefinable energy? A better osteopath? Tiny convulsions. I don’t want to open my eyes for fear of what I might see. I worry I’ll see my Frenchman in a terrifying, rabid trance, like the little boy in The Shining. More likely I would encounter a French medical professional, looking sadly down at the dove-white body of an overweight columnist, reflecting on the life choices he’s made that have brought him to this.

The bottom line is that this wizard is curing my back. And anyone who’s ever had a back complaint will know, that’s the key. If I found an osteopath who flung shit at my face for 40 minutes each fortnight I’d still pay up if I felt it was strengthening my back. So I’m happy to fork out for my Frenchman’s curious mixture of spiritualism and stroking.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: When is a baroness not a baroness? Titles still cause confusion

Guy Keleny
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?