I have a peculiar friend, well more than one but this blog is about one in particular. If she lived in the Middle Ages she would have been burned at the stake on a weekly basis. She looks very normal, a slightly plump lady in her early 60s with long grey hair usually wound up on the back of her head and fixed with two small pieces of bamboo.
She’s one of those women that always has her coat hanging open and her large handbag is spilling over with books and papers, water bottles and uneaten exotic fruits. The first time you meet her the first thing that strikes you is that she is Cockney, a real Cockney, born within the sound of Bow Bells in east London. She talks like the accent Dick Van Dyke was aiming for in Mary Poppins. Cockneys do not say ‘hello’ they say things like ‘alright my lovely.’
The other strange thing about my friend is that she talks to dead people. Professionally. I have no idea what it says on her passport under occupation but over the years I have learned not to scoff, taking it with a pinch of cynical salt and certainly not parting with cold hard cash when the person who comes through from the dead might be weird aunty Betty who I spent all my adult life trying to avoid.
Last week she asked me if my dad had anything to do with bunting. I said I doubted it and then she told me that my dad was showing her that the flags were rectangular, not triangular, and that he was waving them about on small sticks. From the top of a cliff. She then told me very matter of factly that he died at ten o’clock. He didn’t, he died at twenty past nine, I corrected her. No, she said after consulting the dead, ‘it’s written in black and white.’ The further facts that he was called David and that he had blue eyes were two things obvious to anyone who had ever met him.
I’m not sure what I find fascinating about her. Is it the demand for her services that keep her working seven days a week for private consultations? She used to work ‘on platform’ (where they walk about the stage saying they have a message for someone in the third row with varicose veins) but she gave that up last year.
You have to go to medium school to learn how to become a medium but that’s not a case of learning how to speak to the dead, it’s a case of organising it in your head. She says that thoughts, words, phrases can just punch their way to the front of her consciousness in a massive jumble and the training is to help her understand it. She has men to the left, women to the right. A voice that sounds distant is someone who was old when they passed and they passed quite happily. A voice very close to her ear, especially if it’s a little panicky, tends to be someone taken too soon and in unpleasant circumstances.
Sometimes she does get caught out. She was on platform once and received a message for three women and the name Bertie and for some reason they always say ‘can you accept that?’ ie does the name ‘Bertie’ mean anything to you? And the three middle aged women frowned slightly. My friend then asked if ‘Bertie’ had ever danced with fans? The three women now looked totally confused. So my friend then went on to say ‘it’s just that I see a lot of green feathers being passed in front of my eyes, and somebody is flicking my cheek with their finger.’
The three women went into hoots of laughter, as Bertie was their green feathered parrot who used to sit on their shoulder and peck at their cheek.
If those women were waiting for a message from, great uncle Ron about where he hid the family gold, they were sorely disappointed.
She stopped doing platform work due to one incident. When she had a murder victim talking to her. The victim's mother was in the audience. My friend got the name, the method of death, and the fact that the victim was blind. This was before the police had found the body.
Never again. You can see why. My friend said it was the most horrible feeling she had ever witnessed, it still makes her shiver to this day.
In a casual chat my friend told Alan about the cups of tea he used to have with his gran when he popped into her house to “warm his hands up”. In those days he did an evening job of delivering frozen food. She also told him that he grew up with a very small dog that was covered in black and white patches, lots of Patches. She kept saying the word Patches. Alan grew up with a Papillon that was black and white. Her name was Patch.
Oh, and I better end this with the fact that my dad was very good at semaphore and got a gold medal in the Boys Brigade for it. When we were on holiday in Cornwall he had a habit of going to the top of cliffs and semaphoring to us on the beach in the style of Monty Python doing Wuthering Heights by semaphore. He did die at twenty past nine. But it said ten o’clock on the death certificate. Black ink on white paper.
I think he's doing H, not Z but anyway!
I wonder if he has access to next week’s lottery numbers?
Caro Ramsay 16 12 2016