I was always a strange bugger. Or perhaps I was an acute observer from a young age and around me I saw nothing but strangeness, so this made me feel that I was strange. The outside is reflected within me. I am a mirror—a “strange” mirror. Apparently.
I have a few choice memories from my pre-school years and legend has it (or, at least, the recollections of my mother has it) that I did not speak a word until I was four; she took me to all sorts of specialists who, after much head scratching, told her that there was nothing wrong with me and I would talk when I was ready. Even at that age, it seems that when I felt I had nothing of interest to say, I did not bother speaking. And then one day (the same legend has it), at the age of four, I began speaking, but not starting with the usual baby talk; instead, I was talking in complete sentences. My mother (as she tells it) was amazed at this; but when I consider my behaviour, it seems obvious—of course I would speak in complete sentences; why should I do anything else?
I think it was at that stage that a gulf appeared between me and my family, and it only widened as the years went on.
On my first day of school, apparently, I kicked the teacher and told her what I thought of her, though I have no recollection of this.
The family then decided to move to the West Country (from Wolverhampton, my town of birth), not because of my outspokenness at school but for other reasons. I was then somewhere between the ages of five and six and it is here that my memory begins to supply me with a more complete record of my escapades.
Apart from feeling like a “strange” mirror, my life progressed pretty much as any “normal” life would until I came down with chickenpox which then transformed into a skin disease, psoriasis, which covered my entire body. Very much later, after training as a healer, I discovered that this skin disease had been caused by the emotional trauma of me moving away from my home and friends one year earlier (it was a “separation” trauma—which, incidentally, is the same type of emotional trauma that causes skin cancer. Western medicine is—as ever—looking in completely the wrong place for the cause of disease).
My skin disease dominated my life from then onwards and my reaction to it was responsible for creating a large part of my character, which, it has to be said, probably got more and more strange as the years went by. But this is far too sad a story for me to tell in detail; I don’t really think there would be any purpose in sharing such trauma—no legitimate “writing” purpose, anyway; so, let us skip my school years, not mentioning my “strange” family; not mentioning that I was almost illiterate when I left school and did not read my first novel till the age of twenty-four (I seem to recall that I had decided I would write a novel and that I had better read a few first, just to get an idea of how you go about it); not mentioning either my apprenticeship with Westland Helicopters at the age of sixteen, in which I felt imprisoned, nor mentioning my one year of undergraduateship at Bath University at the age of nineteen; and not mentioning the remainder of my twenties, in which I spent my whole time learning musical instruments, studying music, writing fiction (completing my first novel at the age of twenty six), and writing computer software.
This led to my first stint of self-employment. I had decided to market a program that I had written for the BBC Micro. Friends had always called me eccentric, though I never knew what they meant by that, what traits in my personality they might have been referring to (we can not see ourselves as other people see us), and perhaps one aspect of my eccentricity was reflected in the name I chose for my company: Slippery Slug Software. Needless to say (though the product was praised by reviewers) the venture failed.
I then moved to Weston-super-mare, a Victorian seaside town. I lived in a bedsit just off the sea front and went for daily walks along the sands, sometimes late at night, when you could see the distant city lights from Cardiff, across the Bristol Channel, which always seemed to me like distant Viking campfires.
I completed five novels (each one eliciting mostly positive comments from agents and publishers but no offers to expose my writings to a wider audience).
I then realized (in much the same way that I had realized when it was time to write my first novel), that it was now time for me to begin seriously dating men (which is another sad story, as any sensitive person who attempts to date men will attest to), and I achieved about the same level of success in this as I did with getting my writing published.
At the same time—this was all happening around my late twenties to early thirties—I also realized that it was time to do something about another health problem that I had had since boyhood. While doing my newspaper round as a boy, I would feel a burning pain over my left shoulder, which was being caused by the strap of the heavy sack biting into my shoulder. A few years later, I started to experience this same burning pain at other times, often when I was in a rush to do something. And as the years passed, my left shoulder began to waste and developed loud crunching noises and a deep ache on cold and damp days. I began by enduring the usual Western medicine consultations, and a range of procedures were tried, all having no effect (my previous experiences of Western medicine had all been the same; whenever I presented them with a serious health problem they would go through a range of interventions, all having no effect, then simply shrug, nonplussed), but at that stage I knew no better—who else do you turn to to tackle a health problem?
It was at this point, almost by accident, that I discovered Chinese Medicine acupuncture. For some years, my energy had felt low and I had assumed that it was part of getting “old” (I was then only about thirty-two) but after the first session of acupuncture, I felt like a nineteen year old again. During the session, I could feel a powerful energy opening up within my chest (a feeling that I have never forgotten) and that evening I was due to go out, socially, but instead I decided to stay indoors. I felt like a different person and I felt that I needed to remain alone until I got used to being this new person; it was certainly the most bizarre sensation that I had ever felt.
From that moment onwards, my health and my life were transformed. Miraculous coincidences began happening, which presented me with whatever I needed at the time. I soon found myself being offered my ideal home, a lovely flat in Bristol which had spectacular countryside views and was also perfect for me in every other way. Not much later I was offered my perfect job (in fact I was offered it by two different companies), and I became a Technical Writer, writing software documentation. The job was part time and my plan was to spend my remaining time continuing to work on my own writing, but the job was so well paid that I could afford to buy my flat (I was a tenant in a council flat and I bought it under the Right to Buy scheme), begin driving and afford any other luxuries that I needed. I mainly worked from home and had complete creative control over the work, since I was the only writer working for the company, so it seemed that I had managed to find a legitimate place in the workforce, despite all my eccentricities and the “strangeness” that was a deep part of my makeup. And this success, there is no doubt in my mind, was all due to me receiving proper Chinese Medicine acupuncture treatment.
A few years later the company was taken over by a large American company and I was made redundant, but even this event seemed to have been designed to provide me with exactly what I needed at that stage of my life, since, only two or three weeks later, I began a three year training course in Chinese Medicine acupuncture. Since receiving that first treatment, I had wanted to practice acupuncture (in much the same way that someone is inspired to spend the rest of their life playing the cello after experiencing an inspiring performance by a master of the instrument), but previously I did not have the financial resources to even consider this option.
I have now been practising acupuncture for over five years and I have set up my own successful practice. This in itself would be enough to provide me with a lifelong passion, since the practising of acupuncture is very much a healing art; each practitioner must develop the abilities himself, in his own way and under his own initiative (in much the same way that any other artist develops his craft), but along with this passion, I am continuing to develop my writing. Over recent years, I have rediscovered my passion for writing. The fact that after twenty years of writing I am not yet published in book form (which was previously an increasing disincentive), I no longer see as a limitation. Instead, I have produced the CuriousPages.com website, which has enabled me to publish my own works in electronic form. For the time being, this is a sufficient (and attractive) platform. And in the future there is always the possibility, hopefully within my lifetime, that an astute publisher will recognise the potential that my works would have if they were published in book form.
The other big passion in my life has been music, and a few years ago I began teaching myself to play the cello. I had always wanted to play the cello, since first hearing the Bach Cello Suites in my early twenties. This has been another extraordinary journey, and I am now playing many movements from the first three Bach Cello Suites, from memory and (increasingly) in tune.
Another new recent experience for me has been foreign travel. I had never left the UK and had never flown, and then, at the age of forty-nine, I decided that it was now time for me to take my first holiday aboard (in fact, my first ever real holiday). I flew to the Philippines and spent three weeks there over the Christmas and New Year of 2009-10. It is now May, and in just over two weeks time, I am due to receive the ultimate prize, for I think I have finally solved the greatest challenge of them all—I have found a beautiful person (in every sense) whom I am compatible with in every way and he is flying to the UK to join me here in my eccentric, “strange” world.
After five decades of struggle, turmoil, artistic exile, social exile, and bouts of near-insanity, it seems that I may have finally worked out how to be a human being.
1 May 2010
© Copyright Fletcher Kovich 2011