Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The (not so) Uncanny

Many years ago now a couple of colleagues from work decided to go see a clairvoyant. I’m not sure why exactly, just a whim really, a lark. But they invited me along and I couldn’t resist it.

I wasn’t sure I believed in any of that stuff. Actually, I was pretty certain I didn’t. But I’m a curious soul and this was something new and harmless enough. I was in.

So, the three of us booked a soothsaying session and rocked up on the appointed evening at the semi-detached house, a perfect little slice of middle class British suburbia. The clairvoyant, an innocuous little man of around 40 or so, let us in and invited two of us to wait in his sitting room while the other accompanied him into his ‘office’.

The consulting room was vaguely shrine-like, dark curtains, subdued lighting, lots of rocks and crystals arranged around the place as ornaments. The furniture was comfortable but somewhat minimalist – a coffee table with two armchairs facing each other across it. Beside one of the chairs was a low table. Another straight-backed, armless chair stood just inside the door.

I went last, so spent most of the evening drinking tea in the sitting room. When it was my turn I followed our host into his domain where the clairvoyant – Charles – invited me to sit in the chair with the table next to it. I did so. He asked me if I believed in life after death. I shifted a bit in my seat and muttered something about not really being religious. I’m an out and out atheist, but that didn’t seem to be what he wanted to hear so I softened my approach and told him that I felt sure there was more to life than just the here and now. Well, I’d paid up front and I wanted my money’s worth.

It worked. Charles decided he could do something with me after all. He asked me to remove an item of jewellery and place it on the table in front of us. This was in the days when I could still get my wedding ring off, so I placed it next to a blue and purple lump of rock - an amethyst I think - and I sat back ready to be amazed.

Charles pointed out a notepad and pen on the table next to me – somehow I had failed to notice them when I came in. I was to take notes if I wanted to. I did. I took copious notes which I still have to this day.

He started by asking me who Carole is. Carole is the name of my sister, so I told him that. He told me that Carole wanted me to do something for her, but he didn’t know what. I must ask her. I made a note to do just that. On reflection, I bet most people know someone called Carole so this was a reasonably safe place to start on his part.

He asked if I had children. At the time I didn’t, and had no wish to. I was blissfully child-free. He said I would remain so, and that was for the best. Now, a quarter of a century later, I find myself the proud parent of an 18 year old daughter, who I consider to be without doubt my finest work in progress.

He told me I was the life and soul of any party (debateable, I’d say) and that I would one day open a pub and run it very successfully. This has yet to happen. He made no mention of me ever becoming a writer.

There was other stuff too, lots of it. I would one day see a UFO (still waiting) and win a photography competition. I will live in a house with cart wheels on the outside walls. And so it went on. As far as I can recall none of his ‘predictions’ have come to pass.

So, was it all a waste of time and money? Maybe. Probably. But it was a memorable experience, more because of the atmosphere Charles managed to create and the sense of theatre. Throughout our session, which took about an hour, he repeatedly glanced at a point somewhere over my shoulder. Naturally, I asked.

“Your spirit guide is sitting in that chair, by the door.” He answered as though it was the most normal thing in the world. “She’s telling me all about you.”

”She?” I didn’t dare turn my head to look.

“Alice. She’s a Victorian lady, rather matronly, and stern. An ancestor, perhaps?”

I really had no idea, though my mother did used to mention an Aunt Alice. Sadly, this particular spirit guide seemed to have mixed me up with someone else.

At the end of our allotted time Charles reminded me to pick up my ring. It was freezing cold, so cold it hurt to put it back on. That struck me as odd, but I expect there would be some sort of scientific explanation if I were to look for it.

The chair by the door was blessedly empty.


  1. Charles sounds hit or miss indeed! The skeptic in me wonders if he had a mechanism that chilled the table to create the effect with your ring...

    The times I've gotten readings have definitely all been for entertainment value. I really just want the person to tell me a good story.

  2. Hmmm... Sounds like a rather incompetent clairvoyant. Most would land more nails. But, as you mentioned, it was the show that you remember. Well described!

  3. Great tale, Ashe. Still, your life is far from over...!

    When I was a teenager, a couple of times I dressed up as a gypsy and read palms at various event--charity fairs and such. Apparently I was quite good at it. I'd look at someone's palm and find all sorts of ideas welling up, which I'd duly report, to the amazement of my subject.

    Was I in touch with the ether? Or just a convincing show woman?

    Is there ever any way to know the difference?

  4. I can't help wondering, Ashe, whether Charles spelled out Carole's name to you. I think"Carol" is the most usual spelling, although I could easily be wrong. If he got the spelling of your sister's name right, that would be somewhat creepy.

  5. This is hilarious. I've had my fortune told several times at "psychic fairs," and usually the fortune-tellers limit themselves to saying flattering things (I'm a born teacher with a gift for different languages -- possible but hard to prove, since I'm still only fluent in one). Also that I will live into my 90s. (And if I don't, will I come back to sue them??)