Del Hughes: Parting the Veil – Episode 2
I’ve said in earlier articles that though I possess a healthy Scully-esque scepticism for all things abstruse and esoteric, there is a tiny part of me that, like Mulder, truly wants to believe.
And really, we’re just here for a bit of a giggle, but who knows? Maybe Freddy Moon* is the real deal?
His website certainly says so, encouraging us to come on a ‘fascinating, eerie and spiritual journey. . . heart-racing accuracy, hair-raising moments and psychic mediumship second to none.’
Wow! Sounds like we’re in for a wild ride, so buckle up because ‘Psychic Night’ at the Holiday Inn Express, Swansea (East), is about to go down!
So Jen and I are on another paranormal adventure, meeting ‘a well-acclaimed British Psychic Medium, like no other’, and we’re excited, and nervous, in equal measure.
I think it’s because we’ve both suffered quite a lot of loss lately (Good Grief!) and I know Jen would love to hear from her mum.
I’m hoping to get something too: maybe from my mum, who might come through to tell me I need a haircut, or to express displeasure at my idea of selling up and moving to a Park Home in Scotland.
Or from Dad, who came up with a top secret, cryptic phrase for just such an occasion – and which means that, should anyone ever utter those random words, it would prove to me, beyond doubt, that there is an afterlife after all.
The event was taking place in the ‘Gower’ room which seated a max of thirty, was configured in their ‘theatre’ layout – three semicircular rows of ten seats, facing a wall of whiteboards – and which, unbeknownst to us, nicely foreshadowed the fact that the evening’s event was going to be pure (and rather poor) theatrics from start to end.
The chap on the door handed us a flyer which listed all of Freddy’s past events in 2022, though no future ones, before ushering us in with a jolly, ‘Sit anywhere ladies.’
We chose two seats at the front and a quick glance around showed that we were nowhere near capacity – twenty at most. It was a much more intimate scenario than we’d envisioned.
The fire-door was propped open with a rubbish bin, the blackout curtains were battling, in vain, against the blistering sunlight and the tinny portable speakers were doing a fine job of distorting the melancholic muzak – though were no match for the riotous stags who were cheerily checking-in for ‘a weekend on the lash like!’ and who had, plainly, started early.
A purple disco light luridly illuminated the room and I was getting strong ‘Kit Kat Club meets Speed Awareness Course’ vibes; add to that a carpet that wouldn’t be out of place in The Overlook and you had the perfect venue for those boy-racers who, when not performing wheel-shredding doughnuts to a booming Ray Brown bass line, liked to kick back with a hefty Stephen King.
It was all rather jarring.
It was also the bleakest, most soulless space I’d ever had the misfortune to visit, and my hopes for a good night out – which, in fairness, hadn’t been that high anyway – plummeted.
I certainly doubted it provided the necessary ambience to encourage drop-ins from our dear departed, and I knew that Mum, literally, wouldn’t be seen dead in a Holiday Inn after an ill-fated, and enormously rowdy, overnight in Liverpool for the 2003 Grand National.
To give it a bit of pizazz, two roller-banners had been placed either side of the ‘stage’, which displayed images of Freddy looking moodily intense, legs akimbo, white silk shirt unbuttoned to his navel.
They also boldly proclaimed Freddy’s talents, along with his websites and his ‘24-hr Psychic Phone hotline’. Sigh. The signs of chicanery were strong with this one.
One man band
The three chatty ladies behind us had brought a cool-bag bursting with bottles of wine and ‘nibbles’ and were, noisily, settling in for the duration.
They’d been to several of these types of evenings before: ‘Saw that famous Sally something, in Cardiff, but we didn’t get no message or nothing, did we? Waste of good money she was. Pringle? Mind, dunno what this Freddy’s like, never even ‘eard of him.’
Well, we were about to find out exactly what he was like because the music, thankfully, faded, replaced by an upbeat, showbizzy announcer: ‘And here’s the star of the show, celebrity psychic to the stars, from Sky TVs Psychic Today, give a warm welcome to. . . Freeeeeeeeddy Moon!’
To non-deafening applause in trotted the man himself, and immediately I felt sorry for him.
Because as well as celebrity psychic, it transpired that Freddy was also the doorman – those pics of him must have been taken years ago – and, unmistakably, the voiceover MC.
It was clearly a one-man band kinda show.
He was a chirpy fellow and began showering us with compliments.
Apparently, we were a ‘lovely lot’ (fair play) and, though he’d done several ‘very large’ shows already this week (doubtful), this was his favourite because he knew that everyone would be getting a message, ‘with validation’, tonight (hmm).
He’d already meditated – the ‘lovely staff’ at this ‘lovely venue’ gave him a ‘lovely room’ where he could cogitate and prepare himself for the ‘rigours of communing with those lovely loved ones that are now in spirit.’
And then we had to meditate too, as it helps ‘open up the channels’.
This caused raucous hooting from behind us as one woman muttered something about her channels always being open, and I heard the unmistakeable sound of another bottle of wine being unscrewed.
Freddy was unfazed.
‘That’s it, close your eyes and let the physical world drift. . . drift. . . just driiiiiiiiiiift away.’
And we tried, really we did, but ‘driiiiiiiiiifting’ is pretty difficult when you’re a hundred yards from the incessant rumble of the M4 during Friday night rush hour.
But then we were ready to ‘receive the validations’, and the first spirit who came through was ‘possibly a male, holding a blue teddy.’
No response, so he asked, ‘Has anyone here lost a child. . . or had a miscarriage?’
Oof! Not the most sensitive approach to such a topic, but it had stated on the booking form that Freddy’s ‘performances are known to shock, amaze, intrigue and emotionally move even the toughest of skeptics’ so we had been warned.
I was just hoping that the lady who tentatively raised her hand was mentally prepared for the coming interaction.
Thankfully, she was. And she was a good one to start with because there were messages for her, her sister, mother, auntie and two cousins, who made up nearly a third of the audience.
He started with generic clichés: her child is happy, he loves her etc. which caused some half-nods and half-smiles.
But the best bit was when he mentioned the dead grandmother’s clock: ‘I think it needs to be fixed?’ As one, the whole family gasped, before the mum explained it had stopped that morning.
Then he mentioned a ‘pram, or something similar?’ and it transpired that one of the – visibly – heavily pregnant cousins had ordered a pushchair from Boots yesterday.
He was definitely winning them around, but the rest of us needed more persuading.
And for Jen and I, the opportunity to be convinced came almost immediately as he homed in on us because, apparently, Jen’s mum had turned up.
First came the standard guff: ‘I’m seeing cancer, around here. . . ‘, and he motioned to the stomach and chest areas. ‘And her lungs filled with water.’
Correct. But cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide and when you die, your lungs often fill with water so. . . ?
Then he mentioned that Jen was having problems selling a house.
Correct, though I’d wager it’d be true for the majority of people who had lost older relatives, inherited property and were trying to sell during a cost-of-living crisis.
I wasn’t blown away.
But though I had no confidence in him, I’ve got to admit that at this point, I was feeling a tad envious. Where was my message? So far it was all Jen!
Oh, but wait. . . Jen’s mum had her hand on my shoulder now and she told him I was having trouble with my ‘knee. . . and your leg?’
Hmm. Accurate’ish and semi-impressive. . . or it would have been if he hadn’t seen me limping out of the disabled toilet with my walking stick just before the show. Sigh.
Anyway, she also said that everything would be fine, so that was nice to hear, even if I was mentally rolling my eyes.
Good as it was to be included in her visit, I would have preferred one of my parents to pop in but c’est la vie, ou c’est la mort!
Hang on though. . . someone else was coming through, though Freddy couldn’t say if they were male or female. But there was ‘something to do with cremation, and water?’
I threw him a bone. Might it be scattering Mum’s ashes off Mumbles Pier?
‘Yes. . . that’s what she’s saying. She wants to remind you to do it soon.’
Between you and me, I’d already taken a handful of Mum down in a Tupperware box and done the sprinkling, but I didn’t want to knock his confidence so I nodded and said I’d be sure to remember.
His style of mediumship leant towards constant repetition of ‘Ooh, we’re having a good time, aren’t we?’, to which we would duly reply ‘Yes’, and which, I guess, was meant to be a type of subliminal manipulation?
But, unfortunately, it didn’t work.
As the evening advanced, the audience gradually left his cries to action unanswered.
And also, out of a four hour show, I’d estimate a good two were spent in total silence while he ‘communed’, wordlessly, with whoever had entered the ‘mystical arena’.
These silences were much too long to be comfortable and it didn’t take a psychic to sense the increasing irritation in the room.
If you’ve ever watched the episode of ‘The Office’ where David Brent gives a talk to business leaders, you’ll understand exactly how we felt.
To say it was third-rate is a huge compliment, and it was becoming progressively more awkward to watch.
In fact, it was so cringey that people had started leaving.
Just one or two initially, but after the first interval, a few more didn’t reappear.
And you could tell from the sheen of sweat on his brow that he was desperate for us to stay – even the wine ladies, who were becoming more boisterous with every bottle, especially in the sphincter department.
Loud farts kept interrupting proceedings, causing widespread guffaws, but Freddy pressed on regardless.
In terms of his ‘spirit-imparted knowledge’, if he wasn’t garnering a positive response from an individual, he would dodge the negatives by suggesting it was yet to come.
‘Watch out for that’ and ‘You will do’ became his mantra.
Examples: You’ve been on holiday? No. Well you will.
You’ve just split up with your partner? No. Well, watch out for that.
You’re selling your house? No. Well you will soon, so watch out for that.
It was a ridiculous diversionary tactic, and unfortunately for Freddy, we all knew it.
For Jen and I, the zenith of the evening – in terms of entertainment value – came during his conversation with a deceased man named Samuel.
Blank faces all round so Freddy dived into a description of the spirit that was trying to come through.
‘Okay so this man, Samuel I think. . . he’s saying. . . he’s wearing. . . shoes. Yes, they’re very shiny. . . and black. Ring bells with anyone?’ SIGH.
The audience response of stunned silence, followed by gales of laughter, made Freddy, hastily, announce another interval, saying he wanted to try something different and that he’d ‘rearrange the room’ while we were gone.
Intriguing. No, not really.
We returned to a circle of chairs, surrounding a small, square table which had a glass tumbler on it. Then he invited those of us who wanted to ‘get involved’, to place a finger on the base and ‘try to catch a spirit.
Oh c’mon! This was risible because:
1 If Freddy was to be believed, we’d already been visited by eleven spirits so it made no sense that we needed to ‘catch’ one now.
2 The glass didn’t move. . . at all. . . for over nine minutes (I timed it).
3 Freddy realised it needed his special ‘psychical energy to get things moving.’ And he was right because. . .
4 Once his finger touched the tumbler, it was off, jerking around the table in fits and starts. Unbelievable!
Collapsing in cackles
The wine ladies cottoned onto this coincidence because they tutted loudly, packed up the cool-bag and headed off, a strident, ‘Well, he were crap!’, left hanging in the air as the door swung shut behind them.
And that was it for Jen and I too. Sod waiting til the end and good manners be damned.
We said good luck to the, very few, remaining diehards and scuttled out, just as Freddy was shuffling his tarot cards and asking if anyone fancied a go on his ouija board.
We barely got to the car before collapsing in cackles, and I had to keep stopping on the way home as fresh waves of hysterics overtook us.
I’d get myself under control and then Jen would murmur, ‘A man. . . wearing shoes.’
And so it continued. It really was a night to remember.
Poor old Freddy.
Though he was, probably, a charlatan, he was such an abysmal one, Jen and I actually ended up rooting for him, willing him on to come up with ‘validations’ that were actually valid.
But alas. . . it wasn’t to be.
So, if you’re looking for a competent display of psychic mediumship, I’d give Freddy a miss.
But, if you don’t mind paying £20 for an evening with the Alan Partridge of the clairvoyant world, then he’s definitely the man for you.
Just remember, take wine – you’ll need it!
*Not his real name – obvs.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.