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Mr Magic Miracles is explaining to me how the interests of business and health are inimical. “You charge a lot of money, you decide you don’t want to make the patient better,” he says. “You just want him to come back and pay you more money. Me, I cure people instead. Too much money, I don’t need.”
It occurs to me to that “Miracles” as he most frequently refers to himself, might be on the cusp of some kind of revelation – an outlier’s indictment of social good being thrown over for cartel interests, or some such. But he’s driving, and I don’t wish to distract his attention from the large scrapbook of testimonials he is now excitedly leafing through at the wheel for my benefit.
In an excellent column in the newspaper last week, Peter Guy pondered whether predatory capitalism must always prevail over the common interest in Hong Kong. The city, he wrote, “is obsessed with wealth and its symbols. There isn’t much more to the Hong Kong psyche besides making money.”
I won’t venture to gainsay Peter’s pessimism. There is a spirit of well-reasoned wisdom about it. But still – here I am in Miracles’ van and he is preaching rather a different gospel.
According to his card, Miracles, aka Patrick Yan Kin Lam, is a “mover and healer”. I’ve been helping a friend to move house; the job’s a good ‘un and Miracles is dropping me off. That’s the moving part. Now he’s telling me about his magic powers.
“Everything is connected,” he says. “My technique is like a massage. Something is blocked in the body, it causes pain – I find the blockage and re-open it. No medicines, no herbs, nothing. I learned this by myself. By experience I can find the blockage. ”
A spry 63, Miracles’ story begins 30 years ago, with a friend who was suffering from chronic back ache. “Many times, doctors treat him, but none of them can help. Common sense tells me I must be able to help my friend. He trusted me – and so I tried to use my own way. And it works! After a few times practising on him, no pain.”
In the early days, it took Miracles 10-12 minutes to send his patients into remission. Nowadays, two minutes is usually long enough. “Two minutes!” he yelps. He can hardly believe it himself.
The scrapbook is a catalogue of satisfaction. Miracles’ clients are Chinese, Western, Japanese, Russian, Filipino. Their ailments range from back injuries and sciatica to bad sinuses, colds, high fever and insomnia. There is a woman who had been told she’d soon be in a wheelchair – cured. A man plagued by sporting injuries has been able to extend his footballing career. He signs off “Marlon Brando”, but the entries appear genuine and all include phone numbers.
The medical establishment is not, as a rule, interested in the likes of Miracles, but that hasn’t stopped doctors coming to him with their own complaints. “One was a chiropractor,” he says. “He couldn’t touch his toes. After Miracles – perfect. I found some dead air inside his spine and I used my finger to force it out, to get rid of the dead air. I don’t expect professional doctors to understand this – they do not research dead air.”
I ask him about the removals business. Wouldn’t he better off phasing it out and focusing on his healing work?
“Moving business is OK,” he says. “I can support myself, support my family. I don’t want to retire. What are you doing with your life, retired? Playing mahjong? From time to time I hurt my back, but providing I can reach, I can fix myself. Miracles is word-of-mouth – any treatment is HK$300. But it’s no use for business, because my patients only come once. To me, it’s against my conscience anyway – human beings should help one another.”
My stop is up ahead, but Miracles pulls the van over at a 7/11, jumps out and returns moments later with a can of Blue Girl. “For you,” he says. “My VIP customer, ah! Tell your friends about Magic Miracles.” I find myself quite disheartened at having no medical infirmities to be cured.