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Author: Joanna Thomson
Title: My Nature Cure

Some are born to Nature Cure.
Some achieve Nature Cure.
Some have Nature Cure thrust upon them.

I have experienced all three from both directions!

I am not sure if it is possible to talk about Kingston Nature Cure without meaning James C Thomson Nature Cure, the two are synonymous. Little has been changed or added since the 1920s, nothing on this earth is so perfect that it can remain unchanged for that long - with the exception of a work of art or the odd inanimate object!

I was born to Nature Cure. As a child, Kingston (for 'Kingston' read 'The whole nature cure upbringing thing' !) was a BIG place in all senses of the word, a solid, unshakable, busy, alive place and a helping place.

J.C. was a BIG person, a big scary tweedy person, who took us kids out sometimes and threatened to leave me in a rubbish basket at the Botanics! So he was no saint! If we were ill, it was cold compresses and sips of water. So I had Nature Cure thrust upon me!

I was very involved with Kingston, probably more so than any of the 10 assorted cousins who lived within the walls. I helped out in the kitchen, the scullery, the dining room, with folding Rude Health; I helped in the garden and even did a bit of rudimentary massage one summer in my early twenties.

Kingston was not just a home (if such a magnificent Pilkington house could be 'just a home' ) it always meant so much more. Yes, I went through hell at school - to be fat, vegetarian, non-medical, red-haired and artistic - meant I just did not fit in, I was much too weird for most normal people! Yet, until relatively recently I never doubted T.K.N.C. I had faith. Even when Joyce died at such a tragically young age, and all too shortly afterwards, my poor wee mum gave up her fight with a hellishly painful illness, my belief was not shaken. Why should it be? I had J.C. on one shoulder and C.L.T. on my other shoulder, nag, nag, nag, finger-wag, nag. I didn' t need to think for myself, I just needed to believe and everything would be fine.

Kingston itself was a grand place, a place to be proud of, we helped the people others had discarded, we helped the hopeless. We had eight acres of organic grounds and we had those wonderful big red sandstone walls. Outside the walls lived all the bogeymen, doctors were always wrong, usually stupid and often dangerous and hospitals were terrible places that killed people. Any other alternative therapies were no more than witchcraft. This could have been considered to be brainwashing in any other cult!! & Was this the Nature Cure I strove to achieve?

Despite it all I got on with life, having children (making sure they were born to Nature Cure) getting married a few times (thrusting Nature Cure upon others!) and building up my business. Kingston and Nature Cure would always be there, wouldn' t it? Wouldn' t it? Where DID it all go? I am left with some old books, a few wise words, and a lot of hang-ups. What happened to all that energy, drive and commitment? Maybe it just got tired, maybe it simply failed to adapt to a changing world. It appears that a terrible fear of change has T.K.N.C. in a lethal grip.

We all know that if a patient comes to us with a set of symptoms, a compromised vitality and a prognosis of chronic ill health we will suggest changes! We ask them to look at their life in a different way. WHY ARE WE SO AFRAID TO DO THIS WITH THOMSON KINGSTON NATURE CURE? The movement is sick, it is morbid, it is heading for a premature (?) death, and AT A TIME WHEN PEOPLE ARE CRYING OUT FOR ALTERNATIVES TO CONVENTIONAL MEDICAL APPROACHES! How could this have come about?

Why have we allowed the patriarchal, and rather Victorian, 'thou shalt do as I say' of J.C. to be the over-arching message? The guilt trips are awful. During my studies, that in some ways I felt bound to do in order to truly 'achieve' Nature Cure, I learned a whole lot more than just anatomy and physiology.

But, there must be hope; there must still be some roots. On my daily walk through the Glentress forest I pass a small clearing where there is a fallen rowan tree. To all intents and purposes the main trunk is quite dead, covered in mosses and lichens too rotten even to cut up for firewood. Except that from this apparently dead trunk have grown 6 to 8 strong, tall, straight shoots, some over 15 feet high reaching for the light above the forest canopy. This little tree gives me hope, I believe that T.K.N.C. will die out in its current form with the last remaining Kingston graduates, but I also believe that out of that decay will spring something new, strong, true and vital.

I think that the Kingston Nature Cure movement should be proud of the part it has played in shaping a more open world during the last century; I am no longer a freak! Organic food is mainstream, massage quite normal; I am not going to struggle with the fears that my Kingston upbringing gave me. I am going to embrace other alternatives that make sense to me and feel optimistic about the future. The old school Kingston Nature Cure may well die off, but the true messages will not be lost and its positive applications will live on in new, different and stronger forms.

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