Talk of the North
The Skeptic, 2.4
An `evening of clairvoyance' was announced at the end of May as part of the fund-raising efforts of the ITV Telethon. Notebooks secreted about our persons, fellow Manchester skeptic Steve Donnelly and I made our pilgrimage to The Talk of the North nightclub, Eccles, to investigate the `Medium wavelengths using the Psychic Channels' of mediums Tabatha, Darran and Geoff. Tabatha was an experienced performer, a Doris lookalike who coped well with the unresponsiveness of the audience, a disappointing 34. More interesting was Paul, who was next on the stage. Looking more like a used-car salesman than someone in tune with the etheric world, we were told it was his first ever public performance, and it showed. Failing to get a reaction with `I see a scroll,' trying birth, death and marriage certificates, he spent far too long on what was obviously a no-hoper. But when the name of `Cook' didn't register, he did have the initiative to try the profession of chef, but this was a dead end too. Some quite obvious clues escaped him asked if she was having trouble with her hearing, a lady replied `I'm not having trouble with my ears...' at which point Paul gave up, but an experienced performer would have immediately guessed that the man next to her was her husband and moved straight onto him. But while Paul was plodding away, Darren was beginning to act rather strangely. He appeared to be going into a trance, rocking gently in his chair at the rear of the stage. As the evening wore on, I felt a bit like that, too. Darren was much more confident, in fact irritatingly so. A nice trick cropped up in his performance: failing to get audience recognition for the spirit of `Jim,' he turned Jim into gym! He tried the same idea on coach, (coach=bus, coach=teach), and for June, failing on the name but (eventually) finding someone who recognised June 7th. He smoked like a chimney and paced across the stage relentlessly, raising his eyes to the ceiling for inspiration. I actually looked to see if he had cue cards sellotaped up there. Perhaps if he did we would have been spared an excruciatingly boring ten minutes while he tried desperately to find a connection with `wood.' When he finally gave up, Tabatha jumped to the rescue and linked to Canada (all those trees!), but there was still no luck there. For me, the evening was an interesting lesson in the art of cold reading. It showed me how not to do it.
1988 is the year of the Rowan Tree, according to the art of Dendron Pneumology. This is not an obscure surgical procedure, but `a reconstruction of Celtic tree foreshadowing.' Apparently, centuries ago, the Celts believed that every species of tree watched over its own particular fifteen day period of the year, and that those born within a period would inherit the attributes of the associated tree. Also, there were seven especially holy species spanning the year, and five of these were also allocated a year in turn. So the nett effect is that for any particular birth-date there are three trees to take into consideration when constructing a character profile. Once the Celtic calendar is reconstructed, so it goes, the ancient art of tree divination can be given again to the world. Or sold - it's £7.50 for a postal consultation.
I'm sad to report that another psychic surgeon has been in action. Stephen Turoff is an Essex man of the aplunging the hand in the body' school. His spirit guide (and you've got to have one if you want to get on) is Dr Kahn, but he also believes he has the deceased (and discredited) Brazilian psychic surgeon Arigo on his side. Eaving had several operations performed on his aetheric body,' S.N. Burley wrote to Psychic News describing a physical operation Turoff performed, and his report is horrifying: first, Turoff warned that the operation would cause some discomfort. Mr Burley says `This was quite true; at times it was almost unbearable, but some of the pain could have been due to fear as I realised what Dr Kahn was doing. After the incision, which was painless, his hand appeared to penetrate through my flesh and muscle. It seemed as though his hand was right in my stomach. He twisted and probed, and then poured plasma into the area, which he said would be cold-and it was. . . when I dismounted from the couch I felt weak and sore. . . several hours later when the anaesthetic had worn off, I really was in pain. The scar was very pronounced, and my flesh was red and bruised.' Mr Turoff continues to ply his trade.
From a wispy cloud, a hand reaches out, holding a telephone - there could be a psychic message from beyond waiting for you. . .' I rang 0898-555167 and heard a recorded message about the personal consultation I could have with a medium if I rang again between 2pm and 7pm. To tempt me there was an excerpt of a recent session, where an unnamed `expert' gave an unbelievably vague rune reading for a man with marital problems. He chose three numbers (3, 15 and 25), and the reader revealed to him the hidden depths of his personality. The reading was advertised as `free,' but at 25p per minute (38p peak) I would beg to differ.