Monday, January 17, 2011

Mystic Us

My sister Pam went to see her first psychic when she was 21.  Mum went first, then she took us then we took some friends.  One of my dearest friends Sue, an unlikely candidate for this kind of thing, came running out of her session with "Ivor" and burst out, "You should have heard what he said about you Jane!  Oops he told me not to tell you!"  And she slapped her hand over her mouth dramatically as if to say, not telling.  I said, "You better bloody tell me!"  He had said that I wouldn't meet the right man until I was much older.  Great!  Actually it turned out to be true.  He told Pam she would live in America, he also told her she was psychic.  She went to see various psychics over the years, all of them told her she was psychic.  She never thought she was but she had a kind of knowing was how I described it.  She just knew.  One time she had an out-of-body experience after reading a book on the subject which scared her.  Pam was always into metaphysical stuff, well she was a Scorpio.  I on the other hand got into it later on.

When I was 39 I was having some sort of midlife crisis.  I resigned from my job selling apartments in Covent Garden, London due to clinical depression.  I did this work in between acting jobs but ended up doing it full time hence the clinical depression.  I got involved with The Landmark Forum a personal development course that used to be called EST but left because they maintained that 'life is empty and meaningless' which kept giving me a severe migraine.  I then got involved with a female new age guru type (it's not sounding good is it?) which is where I met Nikki, a tarot card reader. "Do you teach tarot?"  I asked her one day.  Well of course she did for a little matter of 100 pounds. And so, since clothes shopping wasn't having the same hit anymore, I began a spending frenzy focussed on healers, astrologers you name it. I started going to Nikki's flat in Swiss Cottage to learn how to read the tarot.  I liked her flat she had new age paraphernalia all over the place.  Buddhas, angels, crystals, altars, candles, incense the lot.  Mmm mystical and goddessy and all that jazz.... much like the picture below.

 Nikki used the Rider Waite deck to teach me, the cards that she worked with.  I was certainly enjoying learning about these cards, their ancient symbolism intended to assist the hero on his journey. I didn't feel like a hero but I could have used some help on my journey! At the end of my training Nikki got me to try what she called psychometry.  You hold an object and try to get some psychic information from it.  She started me off with photos.  She put a photo face down so I couldn't see the picture and told me to put my hand on top of it and 'tune in'.  She kept saying not to judge what came into my mind, to trust what I saw.  I remember the first photo very well because what happened surprised me.  I lay my hand on it and closed my eyes.  Shaking my head and shrugging unconfidently I said, "Well I'm kind of getting a woman in a long white robe and she's hugging everyone."  I looked at her and smiled doubtfully.  She smiled back and turned over the card giggling.  It was an Indian woman dressed in a long white robe!  "She is Amachi,"  she said.   I didn't know her.  "Is she famous?"  I asked.  "Well she is quite famous for what she does... she hugs people."  "You what?  Hugs people?  Honestly?"  I got it right, I was amazed.  "Let's do another!"  I said excitedly.  I went on in varying degrees to describe something of what was in the rest of the photos.  Another photo that stands out was when I got an image of the circus.  Nikki kept saying no and finally turned the photo over.  I looked carefully at the picture of a man standing by a wall.  "There!  I said, "In the background.  Look he's standing in front of a poster of a circus!"  Nikki missed it as her mind was focussed on me figuring out who the man was.

"Right,"  she said, "I want you to do a reading for me now."  I became nervous saying, "Oh no I don't think I'm ready, I'll probably get it wrong."  "Don't be so hard on yourself Jane, it's just practice."  She handed me a photo of her mother who had died and I tuned in.  Straight way I got a very strong image of bunnies, rabbits. "She's holding a baby, she's nursing it happily from side to side and smiling like she's giving the thumbs up."  Then Nikki gave me a photo of her grandma.  "Again," I said "I'm getting a child, something about a child but I see sticks, like sticks knocking against something, like there's some trouble....  I don't know Nikki, I feel like asking're not pregnant are you?"  I laughed amateurishly.  "Actually Jane I am."  "Get lost!"  I blurted out totally stunned.  "You're bloody joking!"  "No Jane, I did a pregnancy test this morning and it was positive."  "Honestly? This morning?  Really?  You didn't."  "You see Jane I told you you're good at this."  And it was true, she was having a baby. "I am going to have an abortion," she said.  "But your mum is all for it!"  I protested loudly, surprising myself a little.  "Yes but Jane the sticks are right, it is a troubled situation." So Nikki had an abortion and I felt strangely disappointed.

Of course my sister Pam was getting a blow by blow account of these sessions over the phone in America where she now lived (I wonder why!  Psychic reading by any chance?)  When I arrived in Newport RI a couple of months later to spend the summer with her, Pam had me holding people's watches, doing tarot readings galore!  I was mortified, sitting there holding some bloke's watch as not a thing came into my head.  But Pam, not bothered about being 'cool', pushed me into it with unabashed awe and wonder.  Still it didn't seem to work the same and I was dead uncomfortable and embarrassed as hell doing readings for people so I put my foot down and told Pam she could copy all my notes from my tarot lessons, let her read the damn cards! Anyway she was the one who was supposed to be psychic, not me! One spooky thing sticks in my mind from that summer.  Pam kept getting me to do tarot readings about her relationship with Keith.  He was her boyfriend at the time and they were having plenty of difficulties.  They split up for three years before they got back together and got married.  Anyway I would do little five card spreads over and over for her. We would constantly get the Death Card and the Tower card.  It was weird. Nikki taught me that the Death card is hardly ever negative, that it means the ending of something, transformation, major change, a snake shedding it's skin.  The Tower is sudden, bolt out of the blue change.  Life falling apart, a shock that feels like something has been taken away from you. Pam and I would end up shrugging unable to figure out what it meant. Pretty bloody obvious now what it bloody well meant. In this case death meant exactly that, death. I sometimes think back to us doing those spreads together like little girls playing.  If only I had been a real psychic, I could have warned her.

A few years later Pam went into a little new age shop in Long Island where she was living and the owner said to her, "Why don't you work here and do psychic readings?"  "Me?  I'm not psychic."  Pam said.  "Oh yes you are.  You can do it."  And the owner marched Pam into it (as Pam did with me that summer in Newport) and set her up in a corner of the shop like Gypsy Rosalee.  "Thing is Jane," Pam told me on the phone, "I'm getting it all right!  This lady came in with her husband and I started describing an old woman in red-framed glasses in a red gown, next thing the lady burst out crying and said, "That's my Grandmother!"

Over the years that we 'dabbled' Pam and I visited Glastonbury a few times.  A supposed spiritual hot spot.  Pam visited this place on her own one time. Below is her word for word account of breakfast at The Barn.

Breakfast Scene

Woman: (female, mid-fifties, sick of not getting enough attention)  Do you want to know what I do?

Pam:  Yeah, what do you do?

(Interruptions from other guests)

Woman:  So do you want to know what I do?  I'm a Shaman and I work with stones and do lots of exorcisms.

Pam:  Do you?  Do you do exorcisms?!!

Woman:  Oh yes.  That's an interesting stone, what is it? (pointing to Pam's ring)

Pam:  I'm not sure.  That's a lovely ring. (pointing to shaman's ring)  What's that stone?

Woman:  Actually there's a funny story about this.  It was interesting what my friend picked up when she held it. Here, hold this. (she gives it to Pam)

Pam:  Oh, er, I won't get anything from it.  I feel daft.

Woman:  Go on!  See what comes.

Reluctantly and embarrassed Pam holds the ring with closed eyes sighing while the others chat.

Pam:  Well the thing that comes up for me is meridians, blood flow and the heart.  Is that right?

Woman: (shrugging irritably)  I don't know.

Pam: (feeling a fool) Oh.  Hold my ring and see what comes. (She hands her ring to the woman)

Woman:  Oh this needs cleaning!! (thrusts it back patronizingly)

Pam:  Oh does it?!  How do you do that?

Woman:  (irritably)  I don't know.

Pam: (feeling a fool) Oh.  It's a shame we haven't got one of those crystal books.

Adrian (B&B Owner)  I've got (He gives it to Pam)

While they are all chatting Pam looks up the woman's stone.

Pam:  Eh!  I got it right!  It's about meridians and the flow of blood through the veins and the heart!

Woman (coldly)  Could you pass the muesli?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hey look Droopy and Browns!

Found these today looking through Pam's things.. she must have kept them because she liked D&B so much. Looking at these images really evokes Pam for me. They are so her.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Pam's Perfume..seeking forgetfulness everywhere..

When I was in my early thirties Pam and I went shopping to York (she loved her little shopping trips to York where we'd always visit the glorious Droopy and Browns)  OK stop!  This story has now veered down a different road.  It's one of those moments again.  Droopy and Browns just this second came into my head and was not where I intended this story to go but look at the link above!  Look at the synchronicities!  Firstly the designer died at 50, something I didn't know. Secondly the article begins by talking about her shopping for perfume and wearing copious amounts of perfume when I'm just about to write a piece about perfume! Then it tells us she was a singer, like us. Then that she was into singing Brecht songs (I've just bought 5 books on Brecht and am reading about him)  And to cap it all off she was born July 10th and died November 3rd, Pam was born November 10th and died July 3rd.  Actually there is one more little coincidink.  The description of Angela Holmes turning heads as she walked her dogs in York all done up like a dogs dinner.  Our other sister Angie?  Just the same as a young woman.  One time Pam was shopping with a friend in the big Boots the Chemist in Manchester when her friend exclaimed, "look at that girl coming down the elevator!"  The young woman in question was dressed from head to foot in gold.  Gold suit, gold hat, gold shoes, gold handbag and gold make-up.  "Oh,"  said Pam, "That's my sister Angie."  And that's another thing they were both called Angela!  Twilight Zone theme tune going on in my head right now.  

OK so let me wander down this path for a bit and then I'll get back to the original story.  We found Droopy and Browns in York in the early eighties and immediately fell in love.  My then boyfriend Gabriel liked a navy blue polka dot dress he spotted there and made me buy it.  Pam and I bought various blouses and skirts there over the next ten years.  They were expensive but original and extremely well made.  Pam even bought her wedding dress there.  I still have it here.  It suited her down to the ground.  I can still picture her juicy, cudgily (my made up word for her... and I don't mean cudgel) arms in it.  You can just make out the name Droopy and Browns on the label.

Here's a funny story about that dress.  It was very expensive as you can probably gather from the photo, more than our dad really wanted to pay but she looked so stunning in it.  Anyway Pam used this same dress when she got married a second time and then I ended up getting married in it (second marriage and a long story) in 2006.  Dad said for the price he paid we should keep getting divorced and re-married just to get the value out of it!  Dear, dear..

The thing I find remarkable about the above link is this.  There I was today looking for a cure for my depression when I stumbled on the word Vetiver.  This led me to thinking about Pam's perfume, that led me to Angela Holmes of Droopy and Browns obituary which gave me the perfect advice on how to cure my depression!  If you read the obituary you will see what I mean.  Instead of getting distraught by watching the news, do as Angela did, "exclude drab reality" from my world.  Fill it with flowers and beauty, dress up and wear lots of perfume.  Live in a pink fluff world!  As my other sister Angie would say.  A notion that Angela Holmes no doubt would have saluted.   Don't join in!  Be an individual and to hell with the "culture of collective thought."  The other thing is that Pam too had a flair for glamour and beauty.  Like Angela she loved all things beautiful but went her own way never following the dictates of fashion and always turned her nose up at "trendies."  You'll see what I mean when I do a post on Pam's B&B. She liked what she liked. Viva la Difference!  So back to my original story which came to mind when I saw the word Vetiver this morning.

When I was in my early thirties around 1990 I found a perfume that I loved whilst shopping in York with Pam. The most sensual, odorous scent.  "This is going to be my signature perfume!"  I cried.  "At last I've found you!"  I don't know where I got the idea of a signature perfume from. Was it magazines? Other women?  My mother?  No it can't have been my mother because as soon as she got her nostrils on it she announced that it was going to be her new signature perfume.  "What?"  I said, "We can't both have it as our signature perfume." "Why not?"  She said, "It doesn't belong to you.  Don't be silly!"  And she continues to wear my signature perfume to this day.  In fact her grandson, my nephew Billy associates this perfume with his grandmother which makes it crystal clear who's signature perfume it is.  In fact I dabbed some on last night and thought of my mother. Dear, dear...

About a year before Pam was killed (sigh) she went with her husband Keith to San Francisco.  There she found her signature perfume.  "This is it!  I've found it at last Jane!  It's called Vetiver by Elizabeth W I'm only going to wear this from now on.  I love it!"  I wonder if on some level she knew it would be good for her (many) depressions?  It sits in my bathroom now and I wear it from time to time in her honour.  I'm going to squirt some on now and hope that it cures my depression.

Here's to you Pam and to Angela Holmes...Ute Lemper singing Youkali by Kurt Weill, the lyrics say it all.

It was almost to the end of the world
That my wandering boat
Straying at the will of the waves
Led me one day
The isle is very small
But the kind fairy that lives there
Invites us
To take a look around

Is the land of our desires
Is happiness, pleasure
Is the land where we forget all our worries
It is in our night, like a bright rift
The star we follow
It is Youkali

Is the respect of all vows exchanged
Is the land of love returned
It is the hope
That is in every human heart
The deliverance
We await for tomorrow

Is the land of our desires
Is happiness, pleasure
But it is a dream, a folly
There is no Youkali

And life carries us along
Tediously, day by day
But the poor human soul
Seeking forgetfulness everywhere
Has, in order to escape the world
Managed to find the mystery
In which our dreams burrow themselves
In some Youkali

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Birds fell down from the sky

Why did 1,000 red-winged blackbirds die in the sky?  It takes me back to a time when I would go to a pond here in Santa Fe and watch them balancing on the reeds.  Bouncing to and fro and wobbling like plates on sticks.  Chirping merrily away to each other as I sat silently watching.  Their unmistakable song. I feel so sad today for the birds.  My friend said it's the damage done to the Gulf Stream by the spill... I hate it when animals get hurt.. my sister was a BIG animal person..

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bjork and Nirvana

Pam really liked Bjork.  I remember when MTV first came out in it's early days we would watch this video together along with Nirvana.  We would fling ourselves around the room and make moan like Kurt Cobain when he does that odd moan (yay) in this video and giggle our heads off, we bloody loved it.

One time we watched Bjork in Dancer in the Dark.  I don't think we ever cried so much at a film.  When it was over we were both sobbing and sobbing and sobbing.  I have never wanted to watch that film ever again.

Crazy Jane Talks With The Bishop

I met the Bishop on the road
And much said he and I.
'Those breasts are flat and fallen now,
Those veins must soon be dry;
Live in a heavenly mansion,
Not in some foul sty.'

'Fair and foul are near of kin,
And fair needs foul,' I cried.
'My friends are gone, but that's a truth
Nor grave nor bed denied,
Learned in bodily lowliness
And in the heart's pride.

A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.'

William Butler Yeats.