Parting the Veil: the further (psychic) adventures of Jen and Del
My Kangoo (a.k.a. Geoff) is fuelled up, his engine is purring beneath the turquoise bonnet and the besom key ring, bought in honour of this occasion, is swaying erratically from the rear-view mirror. Jen and I are off on an abstruse adventure, barrelling along the A484 which leads to the local epicentre of all things esoteric – Llanelli.
It’s a town I’ve rarely visited, mostly skirting its environs en route west. But now we’re heading into the beating heart of the mini-metropolis and to the suburban street where renowned mistress of the veil, S**** dwells in relative anonymity.
We’re here for two reasons. Firstly, Jen and I have decided that we need to get out more and start living a little. Today’s activity is my choice, and we’re giddy with anticipation. Secondly, it’s because of my father.
He was a paradox of a man; a level-headed, straightforward sort of chap with his feet planted firmly on the ground, but he was also open to debating the mysteries of life, and death, and was intrigued by all things uncanny.
From Lord of the Rings to Welsh folklore, we’d spend many a day tramping around parts of The Mabinogion or visiting those paranormal places mentioned in, what became, our ‘bible’ – Haunted Britain (1975), the book that inspired my lifelong love of the weird.
As a child, I’d spend hours poring over it, fascinated by the little symbols that denoted ghosts or legends or buried treasure, and its maps which made the U.K. as mysterious as Middle Earth.
So, I’ve always been well up for anything eerie – ghost hunts, seances, tarot cards… you name it, I’ve dabbled. So, rapping smartly on the green front door of S****’s pebble-dashed detached, Jen and I were very excited.
I have actually met S**** before. Twenty-three years ago, after glowing reports from a friend, Mum and I visited her. At the time, Dad was dying, so I think Mum was looking for… guidance or something? Me, I was just up for the experience. And she was good.
She gave us a few exact, pieces of information, plus she said I’d end up with a fella whose name began with T – and four years later, when that prophecy was a forgotten memory, enter Tim. I know, she had a 1 in 26 shot, but still… it makes you think.
And yes, I’ve watched all Derren Brown’s shows on psychic fakery, cold reading and suchlike and I’ve read books that debunk the spiritual aspects of the arcane. But, though I’m a 99% sceptical Scully and know it’s, probably, all nonsense, I’m 1% Mulder and I want to believe.
Anyway, as we waited on the doorstep, we were startled by agonised, feminine wailing, accompanied by the zealous barking of many small dogs which presaged our entry into S****’s divinatory domain.
The door opened, very slowly, and we saw S**** doubled over, clearly in pain and crying about her foot! It wasn’t the most auspicious start and Jen and I exchanged round-eyed glances as we followed her inside.
We made slow progress, but by the time we reached the conservatory, we had the full story. Short version – she’d slipped walking the dogs and needed ibuprofen. Ibuprofen? From the look of her lower leg, what she needed were X-rays and a plaster cast but she wouldn’t hear of it.
As I hunted for a footstool, thinking, rather uncharitably, that she should have ‘seen’ it coming, Jen sourced a bag of frozen peas and soon S**** was relatively comfortable and ready to proceed. Obviously, we suggested coming back another day but she wouldn’t hear of that either. “This’ll take my mind off it.” She was clearly a show must go on kinda gal!
When I’d rung up to book, she’d said she had a spare slot for us as she’d decided to go to her caravan another day. Romantic, clichéd images immediately sprang to mind – a Romani vardo, painted in vivid colours and golden curlicues, with a cosy, intriguing interior… not forgetting the obligatory piebald, cropping lazily at the grass on some perfect village green.
So, I had to ask. “Nah,” she said, as she unwrapped the red velvet scarves that contained the tools of her trade, “It’s a static two-bed in Tenby.” Sigh.
As she shuffled, I studied her face and marvelled that, after almost a quarter of a century, she had barely aged a day. Psychic stuff aside, I was not leaving that house without a detailed, written record of her skin care regime.
Jen went first. For thirty minutes S**** imparted an overwhelming amount of other-worldly information, interspersed with ongoing commentary about her foot, family and friends. Add in yowls of pain, her inexhaustible supply of personal anecdotes and her confusing capacity to flit from one subject to another with nary a breath… yeah, following the thread of her readings was no mean feat. Thank goodness I was recording our sessions.
It was a mixed bag; some details she gave were entirely erroneous, some were a bit of a stretch but some were surprisingly, and rather scarily, spot on. I’m not going to share Jen’s reading, but S**** did come up with three names, several current life events and a couple of possible predictions which seemed plausible.
At one memorable point, S**** decided to ask Jen’s dead grandmother, Hilda Margaret (yep, she conjured up that correct name with no prompting), for some healthcare advice. Hilda concluded that no, the foot wasn’t broken and yes, it would heal itself which cheered S**** up no end.
I wondered if maybe Hilda had been a nurse in life, but Jen told me later that she’d actually worked for BT. Maybe that’s why she was able to open up the lines of communication so easily?
Thrumming with nerves
Then it was my turn. But before I dive in, there’s a minor detail I need to mention. See, back in 1999, when Dad learned he didn’t have long, we’d come up with a plan. We chose a phrase, a code of sorts, that I’ve never, ever, told to a soul – not even Mum.
Now, if any spiritualist, medium, aura reader or whatever relays it, I will be 100% certain that it really is Dad. Over the intervening years, I’ve been to psychic shows, seen clairvoyants and even used a ouija board a few times, but all to no avail. So much as this was just a bit of a giggle, I was thrumming with nerves. Would today be the day?
S*** kicked off with a rather woolly conjecture, that I’d receive “very good news, very soon in an email that you’ve been waiting for.” Okay, so when? Hours, days, weeks? Could she define soon? “Yeah, hours.”
Hmm. I was waiting for exam results which my tutor had promised to send at some point. But would an email from an African prince with a golden business opportunity count too? Next came my family, siblings and children. After several uncomfortable minutes, I had to stop her – nope, I don’t have sisters, brothers or kids and I suggested that whoever was floating in the ether was steering her down a dead end.
Another card and she hit upon my dogs. “Ah, yes, they’re the children I was seeing, ‘cause they’re your babies.” Sigh. She knew that one had recently crossed the rainbow bridge but didn’t manage to divine their names, which I supplied. Apparently, when Barney passes, Tom will be waiting to meet him in dog heaven.
Hmm. It’s a comforting image but I know that, for Tommy, a major upside of being dead would be that he didn’t need to tolerate Barney’s tedious fretting anymore, so I couldn’t really envisage him eagerly greeting his ‘brother’ at the pearly gates. So far, I wasn’t hugely impressed.
But then things got interesting. Apparently, Tim and I were going to tour Scotland in a motor home. Now this was strange, and accurate; she’d got Tim’s name right, no hesitation or guesswork, and it was true that, last Autumn, we had discussed the idea of hiring a camper van and heading for the Highlands. Spooky!
Then it got even spookier when Mum turned up. S**** was delighted, waxing lyrical about how shocked my mother was when she found out S**** had just got divorced. Apparently, even in death, my mother has her finger on the pulse of local gossip!
What Mum had to say to me though was annoyingly unspecific and didn’t ring true. I’d started writing a novel last year which Mum had been desperate for me to complete. We’d joke that she couldn’t die before it was finished, but, unfortunately, due to Covid, she did.
So, her message, to “Take a year off and make time for yourself” was irritatingly generic and I knew that if Mum really was around, she’d have actually said “Stop wasting time on your iPad and finish the bloody book!” So, no, I wasn’t convinced.
But the good news kept on coming. I’m going to be a famous author, I’m going to make pots of money, I’m going to move to a smallholding and keep animals, just like her sister who apparently has “hundreds of oompa-loompas” on her farm in Pembrokeshire!
As the puzzling image of mini, orange-skinned men, gambolling gleefully beneath the shadows of the Presceli Mountains came to mind, Jen uncovered the truth. “Ah, alpacas!” Anyway, I’ll be delighted to let you know if these predictions ever come to pass, but she was correct in one respect – it really is my dream to have a rural idyll which I’d fill with mini-goats, owls and beehives.
So far, so formulaic but then, when I’d almost given up hope, Dad was in the room. She described him, semi-accurately, and said he had a message for me. OMG! It was happening! Four minutes later, he was gone, replaced by Sarah who is, apparently, my great-grandmother and muse. If I ever get writer’s block, I just need to ask aloud for help and Sarah will descend with a hammer and chisel to chip away at whatever is obstructing my creativity. Sigh.
Finally, S**** told me that I’m an “astral walker” travelling the cosmos each night as I sleep. I nodded along as Jen swallowed a snort, before chiming in with “That’s probably why you’re so tired all the time.”
In the midst of this, a friend of S****’s arrived and busied herself in the kitchen. Thus, the remainder of my reading was punctuated with shouts of “Where to are the cups?” and “I can’t see no spoons.” It was time to go. We left the cash on the table and exited in a flurry of thank yous and kisses, with a final admonishment to “Get to A&E asap.”
Back in Geoff, we let out the pent-up laughter that we’d been stifling from the start and chortled all the way home, re-examining the accurate nuggets that had come through from the ‘other side’. In fairness, she got quite a bit right, especially for Jen but, listening to the recording as we stopped off for a restorative Costa, it was probably 10% at most.
But it achieved what we’d wanted – we’d had a fun, chaotic and crazy couple of hours. And, while we guzzled cake, I just happened to check my emails and… lo and behold, there it was – sent just seventeen minutes after S****’s prediction, the confirmation that I’d passed my exams! Ooh! Coincidence or clairvoyance? Who knows. But we’ll definitely be visiting S**** again soon, even if only for the comedy value.
Oh, and you’re probably itching to know if I received that message from Dad, aren’t you? Well… sorry folks, but I’m keeping that between me and my psychic.
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