A few evenings ago, a small group of us visited a local venue to dabble with the spirits… and I don’t mean those that come out of a bottle. We ventured forth to see a spiritualist medium ‘perform’ and deliver messages to a paying audience channelled from, what he claimed to be, the dead. Now before you scoff, I like to keep an open mind and was keen to witness this, partly out of curiosity but also because I thought it might prove highly entertaining. I wasn’t wrong!
The man himself brought to mind Peter Kay’s inspired creation, as featured in Phoenix Nights, the magnificent Clinton Baptiste. Disappointingly, ours failed to emerge through a fog of dry ice made more atmospheric by a ceiling of stars, and lacked the X Factoresque introduction. But like Clinton, he was equipped with what appears to be a prerequisite for those wishing to contact persons already ‘passed over’: a camp voice. And his was camper than Christmas at a gay pride rally.
Alongside his effeminate stance was a stiff left arm (I did say arm) that went rigid, apparently, whenever the spirits got in touch. After hitting it several times with his microphone to prove the point, he claimed it was so numb that all feeling was lost to him for the duration. He failed to substantiate this point, and I would wager that should a hot iron be dropped on it from a great height, the spirits would evacuate the offending limb pretty goddamned quick. Just as they did when he regularly regained sensation to take a swig of his wine using his left hand. Having said that it did prove quite handy, as the cleft provided a useful receptacle in which to prop his microphone while he worked the room.
The spirits were, to paraphrase Clinton, ‘very strong that night’ but seemed to have developed amnesia upon initial contact, only addressing themselves as a father, mother, son, daughter, etc. to someone present. Connection made, the clairvoyant began rattling off a long line of ubiquitous names, numbers and months to a befuddled audience member. This relentless barrage continued until they latched on to anything, however tenuous, that might resonate. Apart from the occasional lucky strike, much of the other generalised details could be deemed applicable to many other people in the room. Not to be put off, the psychic laboriously pored over every nuance until the receiver, finally defeated, accepted ownership. Wasn’t it obvious that Fred had come through for them, even though he was the cousin of the sister of the next-door-but-one’s neighbour in the street where the recipient used to live thirty years ago?
Once the message had been relayed and ‘taken and understood 100%’, the intrepid performer signalled to the deceased to move on by using a violent arm gesture that was reminiscent of a cross between Larry Grayson and a traffic officer on point duty.
Accompanying him, but working in the background, was a psychic artist who claimed to have no artistic talent at all until, once possessed, she became your regular Vincent van Gogh. Not only could she knock out a portrait that wouldn’t go amiss on a suburban living room wall to serve as a perpetual reminder of your offspring’s youthful innocence on that cheap package holiday to Benidorm, but she could produce two, simultaneously – with each hand. What a talent, I hear you say. And at £25 a pop for approximately 10-15 minutes work, a lucrative little earner too. Those who were ‘visited’ were given her drawings free of charge, on the evening in question. Unfortunately, the images were supposed to resemble someone close to them, living or dead, in the present or from the past, but the majority struggled to recognise any, and I think the others just felt sorry for the artist, sympathising with what must have felt like increasingly numb fingers.
It wasn’t just the clairvoyants themselves who turned out to be entertaining. We were treated to the less than refined habits of the clientele as well. One woman in particular (I say that in the very loosest sense of the word) spent the night hawking when the spirits were taking a much-deserved rest. (Hawking, for those of you with a more delicate disposition, is the means of loudly clearing one’s nasal passages of mucus for it to then congregate at the back of the throat like a gaggle of disgruntled rail passengers, waiting to take their final journey to the stomach or pavement.) I hasten to add that, as far as I’m aware, despite the creature’s loathsome manners, she appeared to retain the offending substance and didn’t discharge it to the hotel carpet. My group came to the conclusion that she was obviously channelling via the nostrils, as the moment the ‘undead’ sprang to life again, she became silent.
So, in conclusion, a most interesting evening was had by all. Sadly though, I’m still awaiting proof of an afterlife, as it wasn’t to be found within the confines of a conference room in a nearby hotel.
Image credit: lisann / 123RF Stock Photo