Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


Published: Mongrel Magazine, December 2003

Elvis… Is it yourself?

Mission: Trick a Psychic into Contacting Someone Who Never Existed
Purpose: My own amusement
Venue: Georges Street Arcade
Time: 13.57, 13/11/2003
Tools: Concealed microphone
Miscellaneous: Peckish, may need a sandwich later. There are already two people waiting when I arrive. However, one of them, Alice (mid-twenties), is only waiting on a friend. The other, John (late forties), meanwhile, at least has the decency to look embarrassed at being here. This is his second visit, he says. He wants to find out if he’s going to win the Lotto. John may be the biggest moron I’ve ever met. I should ask him to join my pyramid scheme.

We engage in some polite small talk. Alice has visited psychics in the past and reckons they’re as good a way as any to find out what’s going to happen to you. John reckons the cold dry weather we’re experiencing at the moment is preferable to cold wet weather we had been experiencing prior to this. On that we can agree. After twenty minutes, the curtains part and Alice’s friend emerges. John takes her place. I’m hoping this psychic lady can give him a straight yes/no answer on the lottery thing. Because this waiting around thing is getting pretty boring.

No such luck. After another twenty minutes I’m joined by a seemingly nice old lady who turns out to be a total sneaky bitch. She sets down her assorted old lady bric-a-brac.Then she stands up again, telling me, “I’ll only be a minute now, I’ll only be a minute.” I assume she’s telling me to keep an eye on her stuff. No problem, I tell her. No problem. “Thanks loveen,” she smiles. “I’ll only be in there a minute or two, no more.”

Before I’ve figured out what she’s talking about, John has emerged from behind the curtain and the sneaky old bitch has nipped inside. There goes another twenty minutes.

By the time I’m finally admitted into the inner sanctum, my enthusiasm for the project has totally faded. Everything back there is pretty much as you’d expect. The psychic is old and wrinkly. The furnishings are cheap and tacky. The only element I hadn’t really foreseen is the extremely loud hip hop blaring out of clothes shop Conn3cted. I’m surreptitiously recording this on a Dictaphone concealed in my pocket. But this noise drowns out our conversation out completely so I’ve had to recreate it from memory.

The psychic lady tells me to put my hands on the pound shop crystal ball and make a wish. She kicks off by making a couple of self evident observations. You’re a young guy, you’re healthy, you’re from the country… My impatience is obvious.

“There’s something you’re worried about, isn’t there?”

I’ve decided to use the plot of the Godfather films as the basis of my supposed predicament: My name is Michael, I’m tormented with guilt over the death of my brother Freddy and I’ve come to make my peace with him in this surprisingly noisy corner of the flea market. I cut straight to the chase.

“My brother died a few years ago and it was kind of my fault. I want to know if he can forgive me.” She smiles sympathetically. “It was…” she points to her head and nods knowingly. Not much of a gamble – that could mean just about anything.

“It was a boating accident,” I mumble.

“What was his name?”


“There was never that much between the two of you, was there?” That could mean anything. Her next statement is less ambiguous. “Fred wants you to know that he doesn’t blame you for his death. He wants you to get on with your life.” She’s very definite about this.

This is pretty generous of old Fredo, considering one of my henchmen put a bullet in his head. But I say nothing.

“There’s someone else though isn’t there? Someone else you’ve lost…”

“My older brother… Sonny.”

“Seanie, is it?”

“Yeah, Seanie.”

“He died of… Well, it was long term, wasn’t it?”

“Erm, it was a car accident. He died.”

She nods knowingly, yet again.

“Well,” she says, “Fred and Seanie are together in heaven and they want you to know that any prayer you say to them will be ten times as powerful as a prayer you make to any saint of God because they have the holy power of intervention on your behalf.”

Nice one.

“Family is important to you”, she ventures.

Lady, you don’t know the fucking half of it.

She begins to waffle again. There’s a girl out there I like, she reckons. However, she’s not entirely sure whether I’m interested in her, I’m going out with her or I used to go out with her. One thing is for sure though, this is the girl I’m going to marry. Or maybe not. The spirits aren’t entirely sure.

The one thing she’s certain about is that I’m college educated because she keeps going back to that whenever she hits a dead end elsewhere.

“Don’t be hung up about the past” she says. “You’re still a young guy, you’ve got qualifications, your whole life is in front of you and you’re strong and fit and healthy and you have the qualifications to achieve all of you goals…”

She also pretty adamant that I’m going to live near water which, I suppose, until Lawrence of fucking Arabia comes riding in here on a camel, is always going to be another pretty safe bet.

Finally, finally, finally the ordeal is over.

“How much do I owe you?”, I ask.

“Ten euros will be fine now, love”, she replies.

I had expected to pay twenty. But, hey, this obviously wasn’t her day.

June 26th, 2012.

8 Responses to “Elvis… Is it yourself?”

  1. Chris Says:

    Do you think she tweaked that you were pulling her leg?

  2. Eoin Says:

    No, but she probably twigged I was skeptical/unimpressed and hence only charged me a tenner – she’d charged the girl twenty.

  3. huss Says:

    You should have gone with a more complicated film plot like the Matrix just to get your moneys worth.

  4. Eoin Says:

    I haven’t seen that film Huss. Most complicated film plot I can think of off the top of my head is the Big Lebowski. Next time I’ll say dude’s pissd on my carpet.

  5. Conal Says:

    Donno – if she charged him less for being sceptical…

    Lady: I’d ask you to sit down, but, you’re not going to anyway. And don’t worry about the vase.
    Eoin: What vase?
    [Eoin turns to look for a vase, and as he does, he knocks over a vase of flowers, which shatters on the floor.]
    Lady: That vase.
    Eoin: I’m sorry–
    Lady: I said don’t worry about it. I’ll get one of my kids to fix it.
    Eoin: How did you know?
    Lady: Ohh, what’s really going to bake your noodle later on is, would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything? That’ll be 50 euro please.

  6. albinicus Says:

    the confessions sessions film on this site did something similar but with priests


  7. Eoin Says:

    Jesus, I feel guilty even listening to that!

  8. mairead murphy Says:

    Eoin-this was the only way i could find to contact you.Just to say congratulations on the heartbreaking piece you wrote in today’s I.T magazine.No smaltzy sentimentality..just people and facts. I’d love to send a card to that bus driver.Can I forward one to you or have you his address?
    Also…while I have you!!..years and years ago I read a piece by yourself -it was in the very back page of the I.T mag…something about a comment at a dinner party…it was THE funniest thing I have ever read .I have no idea when it was ..but maybe in the past 8 years or so.I’ve had 4 kids in the past 17 years so my memory is somewhat sandblasted..i just remember thinking i was going to die laughing.Anychance you remember the piece and could point me in it’s direction again.Many thanks..Mairead Murphy

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