The strange and lucrative world of psychics and mediums


I once interviewed a psychic who told me I’d have twins, endure problems with my feet and live by the sea with a green front door.

Twenty years on, the only bit of that which is true is the fact I do live by the water. but that’s not exactly difficult to predict when you stay in Kirkcaldy. The rest was utter cobblers.

But psychics, mediums, and all who inhabit that strange, twilight world, still intrigue, and appall me.

I’ve no time for the cloying terminology they all use.

No-one dies. They ‘pass over’ – and everyone who passes over is happy, and has made peace with their demons. No-one is miserable or harbours a grudge at the ex who took them for every penny, or the family which disappointed them.

They’re selling a Disneyworld view of the afterlife which makes the film Cocoon appear as toxic as Trainspotting.

But in a genre where logic simply doesn’t exist, you can pretty much say anything, and if you are bringing comfort to people at a time of loss or grief, apparently connecting them to lost loved ones, then is that a bad thing?

I know people who have drawn huge comfort and support after receiving a message from a relative who has ‘passed over’ – words that have resonated personally, even if they could also often apply to many others in the same situation.

Friends also have their own personal favourites – the psychic they rate above all others –who they will see whenever they are in town.

The connection is strong. Those messages, generic or specific, form a bond of trust.

But the industry – and a lucrative one too –is riddled with chancers and charlatans who have about as much psychic ability as my golf clubs.

I remember falling off my chair in hysterics at one show where the very famous psychic dipped into a giant fish bowl filled with audience questions, and pulled out one which asked: “Are my parents proud of me?”

On stage, they hammed it up before declaring that yes, indeed, maw and paw beamed with joy as they looked down from their celestial bungalow.

An audience that had shelled out £25 a head applauded wildly at the psychic’s amazing skills.

If that’s the level of nonsense you can get away with then I’m off to skim read the guides on how to fake it before launching into a new and very lucrative career. Cross my palm with silver and I’ll tell you whatever you want to hear.

As industries go, it’s beyond scrutiny, so you go with it and accept the caveat they all flag up before the curtain rises that the show is for entertainment purposes.

But then I recall watching the astonishing psychic sequence on stage from Derren Brown, the mentalist and illusionist.

He gave personal messages to 30-plus volunteers on stage and was on the money every time. It was a tour de force, inexplicable and mesmerising. In terms of ability, he was away above any psychic, and yet he openly said he possesses no such skills.

Maybe the psychic who finally accepts his scrutiny will be the one who changes my mind They’re not exactly forming a queue ...