Jennifer Burns is a freelance writer from Cardiff. "I’m almost too embarrassed to type this: Last week I visited a psychic. Or a medium, clairvoyant. Whatever...
I’d been talking about it for ages, so when a friend recommended this ‘seer’, I thought, why the hell not? I’m a sceptic, but admittedly mystical in my beliefs. In any case, I thought it’d be an experience.
Everyone tried to prevent me from going. They used arguments I’d employ if someone I knew were considering it: psychics exploit the grieving; if anyone wanted to get in touch, the phantom would frequent your dreams; basically, I’d be better off pissing on the £45 after setting the bills on fire.
And I agree. After all, if ‘Sophia’* (no surname, just the one-word, enigmatic moniker) really could speak to the dead, why is she unleashing torrents of sorcery from her home on an ordinary street in Cheltenham*?
But, as usual, my curiosity got the better of me, and my friends and I made the trek, hoping for some crumb of comfort from beyond. I didn’t go without some sort of protection, of course: I slipped my rosary, given to me for my Holy Communion, into my handbag. Couldn’t hurt, I reckoned.
Our hostess greeted us at the door, a smiley lady with a slightly nervous countenance. Her home was like any other; I expected cobwebs dripping from the ceilings, hoards of mewing black cats and a crystal ball the size of a rice cooker. Instead, I found shabby décor enlivened by a middle-aged man reading a newspaper in the kitchen. Bummer.
When my turn came, I sat down, my nails digging into my thigh for stability. My heart pounded. She clicked on her cassette recorder (all sessions are taped for posterity, which I thought was a testament to her psychic skills) and began telling me fairly accurate details about my personality.
"I expected cobwebs dripping from the ceilings, hoards of mewing black cats and a crystal ball the size of a rice cooker"
Then, Sophia told me, ‘Your mother is still alive’.
‘Oh. Right. Your mum’s in spirit?’
And that’s when she lost me. Although, I entertained the idea that my pragmatic mother would’ve made a point not to appear, as wasting nearly 50 quid on what is essentially witchcraft was grounds for disownment. Or if she did, her bewilderment would’ve been one of the first things she relayed to my messenger (i.e. ‘Jennifer, this is a bunch of hooey. You know I’m here with you, always. A fool and her money are soon parted’.)
At any rate, Sophia continued milking the mother angle, missing blaring aspects of her appearance (‘Quite tan and had fair hair?’ ‘No’), although she did pick up on one element surrounding her death, but it wasn’t enough to convince. In fact, if my mum was present, she’d have a lot more to say than “shame about the garden”, while “handing me a daisy”.
Most of her statements were posed as questions, which she would build upon, unless my answers were negative: ‘You have a degree in psychology’ (Nope), ‘You have a winter birthday’ (wrong again), and ‘You are Jewish’ (as Catholic as you can get, I’m afraid).
Sophia did get a few things right: pinpointing my strained relationship with a family member and aspects of my boyfriend’s character (‘worrier’, ‘lovely chap’ with ‘loads of books’), as well as the fact that I wrote about my mother’s death before I told her my career.
Nevertheless, it smacked of fabrication; a half-assed therapy session dressed up as a poignant conversation with the dead. I wonder if the comfort psychics provide outweighs the deceit of an outsider telling you what you want to hear. Who knows, but all I can say is, I hate the feeling I’ve been had.
Truth is, I should’ve heeded my mother’s words, which, if you think about it, is more than enough proof her spirit lives on. She didn’t need to play charades with a bumbling, partially-sentient, stranger for me to know that.
- Name and location have been changed.