Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


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: Feeling peckish, may get 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. On second thoughts, 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. I bite my tongue. John reckons the cold dry weather we’re experiencing at the moment is at least preferable to cold wet weather we had been experiencing prior to this. On that we can agree. After about 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 old.

No such luck. After another twenty minutes or so I’m joined by a seemingly nice old lady who turns out to be a totally sneaky bitch. She sets down her assorted old lady bric-a-brac with a maximum of fuss.Then she stands up again, telling me, “I’ll only be a minute now, I’ll only be a minute.” I assume wants 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 the hell she means by that, John has emerged from behind the curtain and the sneaky old bitch has hotfooted it inside past him. There goes another twenty minutes.

By the time I’m finally admitted into the inner sanctum, my enthusiasm for the project has waned somewhat. 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 threatens to drown our conversation out completely.

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. “Yeah. It was a kind of a boating accident,” I mumble.

“What was his name?”


“There was never that much between the two of you, was there?” I look at her blankly. 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 I ordered one of my henchmen to 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. But I suppose his dying has been pretty long term, I yes.”

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. Sorted.

“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 are very vague on this one.

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, it obviously wasn’t her day.

September 23rd, 2010.

2 Responses to “Elvis… is it yourself?”

  1. Noel Says:

    Saw that article coming…

  2. Kirsten Says:

    Went to a (famous) psychic years ago. Needed to know whether to be a stand-up comic or a tv news photographer. Love your style. Caustic and thoughtful. Nice combination.

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