I’ve always been sceptical about psychics. But, unsure whether or not I should sell my London house post-divorce and start a new life in the country, I went to see an Irish psychic, recommended to me by a friend. She said she could see me surrounded by trees. That the move would not be a mistake. I still wasn’t convinced. London had been my home since 1977. It was where I found success, friends, cats. And then she said: ‘I see you surrounded by empty bottles of wine.’
Ah. At this point, the spring of 2007, I had started to drink wine in order to cope with the divorce. A chilled glass gave me something to look forward to. Bravery. Company. Thing is, no one knew this. So how on earth did she know? And if she knew that, then she must know moving out of London would be good for me.
It wasn’t. In Somerset, mired in conflict, I hired another psychic. She came to my farm one weekend and asked me to record her as she walked around my house, intuiting. I never allow shoes indoors, so she duly removed hers. We padded from room to room. Nothing was strange, nothing happened.
That evening, we sat at the kitchen table about to listen to the tape and as we did so a door opened. By itself. She pressed play. And there was the sound of shoes on flagstones and floorboards as we walked around, chatting. Most worrying of all was that in the background we could hear growling. At that time, I only had Sam, my ancient collie. And not only was he not growling, he wasn’t with us.
Years later, living in North Yorkshire, losing my house, I consulted another psychic. Only when you’re desperate do you clutch at these straws. This new psychic told me I will be moving to Los Angeles. ‘But what about my animals?’ I asked her.
‘You will have so much money, moving them won’t be a problem.’
I kept thinking of the Irish psychic, who saw me surrounded by wine bottles. I remembered, too, how my mum had a sixth sense. One night, she dreamed one of her sons was in a pool of blood. She went into his room and sure enough there was blood on his pillow from a fight outside a pub. Years later, we didn’t tell her another son had died, as she had dementia and we would have had to break that news afresh each day. A new carer started asking about her children. ‘I hear you have seven babies!’ she said in that patronising, sing-song fashion.
‘No,’ my mum said. ‘I only have six.’
When David came for August Bank Holiday weekend, he actually behaved. I mean, he’s still odd: he doesn’t notice the dogs have finished eating and he should wash their bowls, he just leaves them on the floor. And when I asked him to put up a hook on my bathroom door, he said it wasn’t possible as the wood was too thin. Just get a shorter screw!
I brought up his recent trip to a party in France. His ex had been there but he’d told me he barely saw her. Now he tells me he drove to the party with her – and back!
‘WHAT?’ I said. ‘Why didn’t you tell me? You lied!’
‘I didn’t want to worry you. And we had the radio on, so we didn’t talk much.’
There are so many things wrong with this scenario I don’t know where to start. He gets jealous if I email an old flame, yet he’s driving across Europe with one of his, and she’s lit up with desire! And he didn’t want to worry me! How patronising is that?
I think the reason he told me they travelled together was that he was jealous when he read I’d been to a wedding in Devon and had sat next to a rich man. ‘Did he really cross out my name on the place card?’
‘Yes. It was a joke.’
I told him it had been an emotional trip to the West Country as it was there I fell out with my sister. We’ve not communicated since October 2017, when I invited her to stay in my Airbnb apartment for our niece’s wedding and she declined. On Bank Holiday Monday, David and I were having lunch in Wensleydale, and he ordered a prawn cocktail followed by a knickerbocker glory. All of which reminded me of when my sister and I used to take the No 11 bus to Chelmsford to sit in a Wimpy. I told him I miss her.
‘Call her and say, “Let’s put it behind us.”’
‘OK,’ I said. ‘I will.’ Who’d have predicted that?