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As a result of decades of being a type 1 diabetic my tendons have begun to shrink. This is not a big deal but it manifests itself most acutely in a curling of the fingers and involuntary (and painful) digit locking especially at night. A new form of lockdown. After some years of sufferance and using various spring-hinged finger strapping torture devices to prevent the condition, I was offered experimental steroid injections. This required daytime hospitalisation and (laughingly) fully gowned operational theatre procedure. Strap me down I’m going to have some tiny injections in the palms of my hands. Laughing turned to joy when it actually worked and the pain of hand distress disappeared in very short order. Phew! The pain was gone but the tendon shortening wasn’t going to lie down quite so fast. Now it masqueraded itself as a dupuytrens contracture and pulled the fingers of my right hand into an ever increasing type of claw formation. This is quite common and when a former prime minister got it, it commonly became known to the common people as Thatcher’s Claw. It makes gripping things difficult. And so to the circus. For many years the charmingly middle-class and eccentric Gifford’s Circus has been colourfully stalking the castle precincts, village greens, large pub gardens and stately homes of quaint corners of the Cotswolds and Chilterns. It is a traditional big top tent with classic showman’s caravans and mobile mechanical organ. It is super cute. Until this eventful year it was run by Emma Bridgewater’s sister Nell Gifford, now unfortunately passed and greatly missed. There were wildly hilarious clowns mixed with athletic performer displays and horses, chickens, turkeys and Jack Russells that did tricks. It was a hoot (albeit now sadly a silent hoot during Covid lockdown). On our second annual visit we stayed on for the special post-circus dinner in a tented enclosure called Circus Sauce. The dining format is shared banqueting tables and shared platters (on Emma Bridgewater plates ha ha!) of food with single guests and couples randomly mingled with family groups and parties of friends. Half way through dinner the kitchen staff put on a highly hilarious improv puppet show. It is very funny in the manner of ‘Spitting Images’ and another mad honk of the glorious hoot. I sat next to a lovely chatty woman called Judy on one side with my wife on the other. Judy and I blethered away quite happily making vague connections with places and experiences. She owned Turkish gulets, was connected to Gloucester Rugby Union club and did lots of community festive things in her Cotswold village of Northleach. With dinner over and the tables being cleared away she leaned towards me and suddenly said,

“I think I can help you”

With that thought still working in my brain as an unprompted request, Judy hovered her hand above my right hand and after a minute asked,

“Can you feel anything?”

I confessed that I couldn’t, and was still very much wondering what was happening.

“Turn your hand over “ she gently commanded.

Then I saw that my fingers were glowing cherry red although, as yet, there was no specific feeling. Judy continued to keep her hand in position above mine (and at no time did they touch) but after another long minute or two I began to feel warmth.

“Move your fingers” she said.

As ordered I moved my previously impossibly bent rigid index and forefinger and they were as straight and as supple as new. I guess the word miraculous is reserved for saintly doings but this was the next best thing. I asked how she could do this incredible feat and the reply was audacious in its simplicity

“I channel the power of the universe through my hands”

She revealed that she became aware that she had acquired the gift of natural healing in her early teens. She didn’t charge for any treatments that she volunteered for others possibly for a potential fear of losing the gift so magically acquired. She thought it was akin to being a reiki master but it wasn’t really Japanese reiki, it was better. I was stunned. My wife, medically trained and medically intrigued, but keen to leave for the hotel with our family party, promoted our departure. Judy offered her final kindly comment with a chuckle

“Another five minutes and I could have done your whole hand”. We have attended another two annual circus events and both times booked with Circus Sauce. On both occasions we wished that we could reconnect with Judy to say a proper thank you as, to this day, my restored fingers remain as straight and as supple as that night and my other digits are as bent as they then were. Indeed I am typing this blog on my touchscreen phone with both of those miracle fingers. So what could possibly do this? What improbable scientific principles are at play to make this possible and how much more amazingly beneficial information could be learned from understanding how this operates through the hands of one ‘gifted’ individual? What’s going on here? Why is the scientific world not rushing to Judy’s door asking the most profound and perceptive of questions? There is a small dedication of thanks to Judy in the acknowledgements of my book ’Whispers of Better Things’ (see LEAF ) as her kindness enabled me to type the whole manuscript with two fingers but without pain - I really feel I owe her more.


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