Chris' Blog

…thoughts on health and stuff.


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Enjoyed the photographs used in this site? They are all Chris’ work from various travels. Leave your email in the subscribe box on the left of most pages [to be used only by Chris], and you can download a high quality version of a remarkable photograph plus the story behind it. Please leave comments here.


The clue to this picture is in the top right corner. Never mind the garish colour scheme, look at the shape and note the rounded off concrete at the top. It is on a wall approximately twelve feet high. This was designed to be impossible to scale by an unaided human being, no matter how desperate. It was actually tested by asking the top athletes available to the regime to attempt to get over it. Of course it’s the Berlin Wall.

The photo was taken in 1990 after I had just got off the Trans Siberian express. A year after the wall had come down, also a year after the events at Tianamen square. Very shortly after the liberation there was a joyful explosion of colourful creativity by the hitherto suppressed artists from the east. The murals stretched for hundreds of yards: outrageous ones of political figures, outrageously colourful and surreal ones such as these cheerful forky banana heads. I loved it.

The Rule of the Artery – Part 2

The Rule of the ArterySince writing this article I have attended the follow up Rule of the Artery course in October this year.  This time Anthony is not in attendance but there is another interesting personal connection.  Our director this time is Maxwell Fravel.  He is another excellent and vastly experienced practitioner, this time from Australia not New Zealand.

When visiting my sister in Melbourne my old dad’s back went into a painful spasm, probably as a result of the rigours of the long flight.  He was duly taken to Maxwell.  This was in 1992 when I was directionless in my 20’s and a bit of a worry to my family.  After school I had duly trudged through a Business and Management studies degree at Liverpool.  I had even got my Desmond [a 2ii honours pass] despite having no interest in the subject.  Since then I had been travelling and doing various McJobs.  Knowing that I needed to put my shoulder to something, I had been considering retraining as an Osteopath.  However I had no money.  My dad had not been keen to further support his somewhat feckless youngest son’s further education.

Maxwell treated him.  Two things happened as a result.

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Uphill Blizzard Trudge

A couple of years ago I went ski touring with my Czech friend Gabriel. I had never done this before. The picture is of one of the many climbs. Visible is Gabriel and four of the group of six French people we ended up shadowing. This day was started in a blizzard. As we gained height it thinned out, hence the nice effect of the hazy sun breaking through the snowy air.

“Ski touring” is not an accurate description. 97% of the time you are trudging for hours up hills -well mountains actually- with skis attached to your feet. And carrying a backpack with everything you need for a fortnight in it. Through deep snow. In whatever conditions the winter and the altitude care to deliver. Avalanches and crevasses claim a few souls for the snow gods every year no matter how careful you are.

It was fantastic.

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The Super Shed


As you can see from the picture, the back of my North Tottenham garden used to be not particularly prepossessing. Some fox-prowled derelict space on the left and a very careworn leaky shed on the right. However there were always plans afoot.

My partner Nicola is a proper grownup person and therefore needs her own space for work, dressmaking, and performing music. Therefore I was always slightly in danger of being edged out of the house unless exclusively engaged in the less edifying activities relating to sleep, food, hygiene or telly watching. Hence the requirement for posh garden office to replace dead shed. For me. Well, for me and my patients.

Posh enough to satisfy the most stringent demands of my extremely classy clientele.

After many hours of work supplied by a large crew of tradespeople, much project management by us, and some energetic limbo-dancing with the Harringay planning department, this exacting task has been achieved. Have a look at the pictures.

I think it’s lovely.

New Tottenham PracticeTreatment Room

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The Rule of the artery – Part 1

The Rule of the Artery“The Rule of the Artery is Supreme” is a quote from our founding father Dr.Still and one of the basic tenets of Osteopathy. In brief it means that if there is not a good blood supply and exchange of fluids in the tissues then disease will occur. The reverse is also true: healing will begin to take place if restrictions on this process are alleviated.

The Rule of the Artery was the name given to an extraordinary postgraduate course I went on a year ago. One of the directors was an Osteopath called Anthony Norrie, over from New Zealand specially. He is truly an excellent practitioner. Powerful in what his treatments achieve, fearless in speaking his mind, and a great teacher. I knew all this already: he had been a mentor of mine when I lived and worked down under in 2000 and 2001.  It was a great pleasure to meet him again.

What he and a few others have developed recently is an ability using the cranial mechanism to palpate and treat directly the movement and quality of the blood itself. This was what was being taught. It allows a level of profound and subtle healthy change that is extraordinary.

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Live forever? Not on your nelly…

I can remember my garrulous dad commenting on the difference between doctors and engineers.  The latter included him, my uncle Sir Alan, my brother and my brother-in-law: all the men in my family apart from black sheep me. His oft repeated wry joke was that doctors can always bury their mistakes.  Engineers however have to live with theirs.

The other aside was that for quite a while doctors were trying to get us to live forever.  Now apparently they had accepted defeat but were hard at work trying to make us all die healthy.

Hmmm.  What me and the old fellah had in common was the desire to give the grim reaper a firm two fingers.  We’ve done it in different ways though.  He drank a bottle of scotch and smoked forty fags a day until forced to stop late in life.  I do slightly over the top amounts of yoga and other energetic stuff whilst keeping substance abuse generally to a minimum.  This allows me to remain in denial about societies’ expected norms for my age, and about my age full stop. I am still able to run, jump, jiggle about and generally make an idiot of myself much in the same way I did when I was in my twenties. And what’s more I’m not about to give any of that up if I can help it.  Nor are my patients either by the way.

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Here we go! Blog creaks back into action…

Right then. No time like the present…

I am sitting here gazing out on a beautiful spring day. The trouble is, I will not be able to enjoy it when I do get outside in a few minutes. Or at least I will not be able to UNLESS I CONTRIBUTE TO MY BLOG FOR THE FIRST TIME IN TWO YEARS…. so here we go.

I am sure it is a common experience for many of us. Tasks, not onerous at all, stack up for lack of attention. Then a miasma of guilt and anxiety settles around them like a bad smell. What was once a stimulating little project becomes stale and a burden. This blog is a prime example. I love writing, so why haven’t i done it?

My psychotherapist sister-in-law describes this experience as like the invisible hands on the steering wheel. You set out in one direction and for no apparent reason you end up on a ninety degree tangent.

What lies behind this is worth exploring. As is anything that can help us live full and stimulating lives. I personally believe the answers lie in subtle structural changes in the brain laid down very early in life. All to do with how the very malleable and plastic connections between neurons hook up. A large part due to input from our environment both emotionasl and physical. I blame the parents…

It all sounds a bit far fetched. However I can -and will- elucidate.

Not now though: the sun is shining and I intend to get out and enjoy it.


Soldier Blog

No, this is not coming from the official Army-embedded Osteopath in some god-forsaken part of Afganistan. It’s just that soldiers often make for interesting patients. It’s a combination of factors. Extreme fitness, extreme injuries, and extreme experiences all make for a lively [to say the least] response to treatment. Also soldiers are not generally the kind who will pander to the practitioner’s unspoken urges to reassured about their effectiveness. So if one receives positive feedback then it will be sincere. To in this way gain the trust of someone who has been regularly eyeballing the Taliban is something i treasure. {to be continued}

I await my muse…

I have something to say on a variety of subjects as most of my patients will testify.

However putting metaphoric/electronic pen to paper is a whole new way of communicating. I therefore ask for some latitude while I get the hang of it. Not least significant aspect of this process is learning how to touch type.

The idea is to realize my long held belief that I am a writer. I know, I know this would seem to be a bit grandiose [and has been said many times before by various feeble scribblers] but I contest that I am the son of a frustrated wordsmith. This was my dear recently departed mum. At the end of her English degree she was required to swear on the bible that she would become a teacher. This was something to do with the money provided as a grant and the restrictive social mores at the time: 1944 to be precise. She wanted to be a journalist but it was not to be. Instead she used her gifts to entertain the family and publish the occasional story and poem. Not a disaster but there was plenty of wordly juiciness that never saw the light of day in amongst the demands of raising four kids.

Anyway I know that I have something of her in me when I get going with something to relate. Time will tell if my efforts are attended to and hopefully enjoyed.

What I will say is that in my professional work there is PLENTY to talk about. I hope I can convey some of the wonderful things that I have experienced with the people I have met and put my hands on.

Wonderful. What an overused and hackneyed word. However it is the only one appropriate for some of the things I aim to share on this blog.

Watch this space!