Friday, March 14, 2014

Grandpa George and Little Jennifer Say Hello

The woman lives up or down to the stereotype of “mediums” as large women. She makes no effort to look slimmer as she moves about the stage in bright, shiny colours. Her silver-blonde hair picks up the light, and her welcoming smile seems intended to attract the dead as well as the living.

“Mummy!” The voice of a little girl comes out of the ghost-whisperer’s mouth. “I see you! I sing to you, but you don’t answer! Don’t cry, mummy!”

Tears pour down the face of a young woman in the audience, while a man who seems to be her husband keeps an arm firmly around her shoulders. He contorts his face to hold back his own tears.

The scene is both intimate and public. A huge audience is witness to the grief of the couple whose five-year-old daughter was killed by a horse while she was learning to ride. This event occurred several months before, and the parents have still not adjusted to being childless.

Now the psychic, Sally Morgan, is bringing them a message from their daughter. Sally claims that the little girl is on stage with her, telling her what to say. “I’m here!” squeals Sally. “Mummy and Daddy, why don’t you play with me any more?”

If I were a child ghost, I would want to talk to Sally. She seems like the world’s best babysitter.

There is something both comforting and obscene about British psychic Sally Morgan’s sold-out shows, televised and beamed into the home of anyone who turns to the right channel. Auditoriums (and living-rooms, if truth be told) full of grieving survivors watch the smiling psychic for a sign, a message, some indication that the beloved dead are at peace – yet not exactly asleep.

Death is such a rude interruption to relationships among the living. We all want to know whether our departed friends, relatives, lovers, or even acquaintances have forgiven us for whatever we did to them, and we want to lay our own resentment to rest. We want to know where the treasure is hidden. In some cases, we want to know whodunit, since murder doesn’t only happen in the fictional world of mystery novels and crime shows. We want resolution.

Like the “Long Island Medium,” Theresa Caputo (with her hilarious—at least to me--New York accent), Sally Morgan seems approachable, a trustworthy go-between who can facilitate a discussion between the living and the dead. She can give comfort to the living while she presumably gives a voice to frustrated people on the Other Side, who wonder why we have stopped speaking to them.

I don’t claim to know which psychics are frauds and which ones really hear and see things that are not accessible to the psychically-challenged. I know that Sally Morgan recently won a lawsuit againstc a major British newspaper over their reckless claim that she was receiving messages from living accomplices, not dead loved ones. For what it’s worth, I don’t believe that Sally does anything as obvious as researching her audiences (they’re huge, so this would require a large staff of assistants) so that she can tell individuals what they want to hear. I suspect that Sally honestly wants to do good in the world.

Can Sally (or any other psychic) really summon the dead to communicate with audience members through her? I really don’t know.

What I do know is that psychics provide comfort for those who flock to see and hear them. A guilt-ridden audience member can say: “Tell Uncle Bob I’m really sorry I borrowed his wrench without asking.”

The psychic is likely to laugh and say: “Uncle Bob says he knew you needed the wrench, and he was going to help you fix the lawn-mower, but since you didn’t ask, he let you do it yourself. Airhead.”

So the conversation continues, if only in the mind of the living. For that reason, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief when watching a psychic pass messages from the dead. It’s like reading a work of fiction that temporarily pulls me out of my everyday life.

Here are links to the official websites of Sally Morgan and Theresa Caputo. You may have to retype them:


  1. Now this is an interesting twist on the topic!

    When it comes to paranormal phenomena such as this, and life after death, I'm completely agnostic. Could be true. Might be a total scam.

    I suppose, though, that if the individuals in the audience really do get some sense of closure, it doesn't matter.

  2. Momma took extensive training with the likes of Helen Palmer and Susan Viera and others back in the seventies. Psychic ability doesn't depend on tricks and exhibitions, rather in interpreting what's actually out there, beyond the five senses that can be defined.

  3. Years a go I had a friend who totally believed in psychic stuff. She took me to the Spiritualists Assoc of Great Britain - a rather posh house in Belgravia in London. We saw this lady - I think her name was something like Kubla Khan and she told me I was going to make a long journey over the ocean and land to a city in the desert where I would work in a huge building and be surrounded by flashing lights and ringing bells. Right, I thought what a load of old cobblers.
    Two years later I came to the States, and worked in the slot machine department of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. I didn't get it until one night we had about ten jackpots go off all at the same time, and there I was - across the sea and the land, in the desert, in a huge casino, surrounded by flashing lights and ringing bells. Coincidence?

  4. Thanks for commenting, Lisabet, Daddy X, and JP. I think there are methods of percetion beyond the five senses.

  5. And big congrats on your acceptance to this year's Mammoth Book! You rock, grrrrl.

  6. I'm not much for psychics, but when you put it this way, it seems similar to the function of praying to/for the dead. Also comforting, also provides a chance to resolve old, unfinished business.


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