Is there anybody there who isn't being rude? Emma Pinch chats to psychic Shaun Dennis, but struggles to connect fully with the afterlife.
THREE questions for psychics and mediums. First, why aren't you filthily, insanely rich? Second, why do the dear departed bother wading across oceans of ectoplasm solely to tell Edith that the thimble she lost has rolled under the TV? Third? Well you tell me what the third is if you're so good. We know by now that psychics don't have to look like Zandra Rhodes these days, radiating patchouli and kookiness in rainbow eye shadow, clunking jewellery and silk turban. They can be young and cute like the boy from Sixth Sense, or grouchy black ladies a la Whoopie Goldberg. They can even be button nosed, and blonde, and kooky like Rosanna Arquette from Medium.
And they can even be, like stage medium Shaun Dennis, six foot former business studies lecturer from Liverpool College with a Jag outside on the drive and the grey glitter of the Mersey in the distance.
Reassuring touches of kookiness greet the visitor in the form of the gnomes and small stone animals populating the garden, and the angel and butterfly wings that sprout from surfaces of his Mossley Hill home.
His voice and friendly appearance reminds me rather powerfully of a twinkly-eyed Tommy Cooper with his gravelly laugh and large presence, which somehow seem quite promising.
He settles into a leather armchair to expound on his theory, delivering it with the engaging didactic delivery of the college lecturer.
Shaun became a full-time psychic three years ago, having practised for some years at a spiritualist church.
While his students weren't aware of his abilities, he claims he could help them in ways they don't teach at Edge Hill teacher training college.
"If I felt some of them hadn't grasped the content of the topics being taught I would use my intuition to give them extra help in their business subjects," he says.
And the spirit world's help doesn't stop there, according to Shaun.
"I'm not saying this is definite, but it's my opinion that in the spirit world, they know the bigger picture. If there's research going on regarding finding a particular cure, the spirit world puts inspirations into the minds of those individuals when they get those eureka moments.
"I feel there's a reason for us being on this side of life. Our life path is to go through lessons and our overall aim to improve our spiritual soul."
Helping him forge contacts with the other side is his spirit guide - an elderly Oriental man who used to practice medicine 150 years ago.
Preconceptions out of the way, we put them to the test. Shaun squints at me and paces the room trying to open up a link to the other side. The inquiries come thick and fast as he paces.
"I felt as though there was diabetes on one side of your family." I look blank. "No? That's strange," he muses.
"Do you have family over on the "Wirral?" Well, yes (doesn't everyone?) "More than one place?" No. "This diabetes, this guy, his circulation got that bad a concern about gangrene or losing his foot?" More blank looks. "It was going in that direction," he mutters.
"And there seem to be a strong forces link connected to you on this side of life connected to the war, or maybe after World War II. Can you understand that?" Apologetic shakes of the head from both of us. "That's strange. That is strange."
Then he looks towards me and hits a winning streak. "You've worked down in London?" Is this one of those eureka moments? "Yes." Do you have links with BBC, with the radio?"
Regrettably I haven't. "You haven't just worked on The Echo though, you've worked at other places?" I decide against reminding him that I work on The Daily Post.
But Shaun seems to strike oil with our photographer, Jason, who has been busy documenting our experience with his camera. He divines that he has difficulty "switching off" and wouldn't mind living in Canada.
He follows up with another sucker punch. "Was Jason ever living in two homes?" Yes. One off a main road?
Sort of. Aren't most of them, I impatiently think? But he scores with family history of illness, and a curious little fact about someone leaving a car engine running while popping out of the vehicle.
HE ALSO talks about someone who has passed to the other side whose experiences were uncomfortable, and a feeling of the loved ones that they didn't know what to do for the best; a sense that the medical profession didn't have all the answers. I can feel my cynicism tugging at me. Most deaths are in hospital under the care of medics. And the one thing guaranteed to throw the limits of the medical profession into sharp relief, surely, is death.
The spirits are sensing my cynicism and refusing to make a link with me.
I'm feeling a bit left out. The spirits, I can't help feeling, could do worse than learn a few manners.
But when Shaun swivels round to ask if any of us has started a new course of learning, I'm excited.
Actually I've just started one. But no, again they're talking to Jason. I sit back in something approaching a sulk.
Shaun can clearly tell what thoughts are forming in my mind, because he gently explains why the spirits are being so snooty. Jason had lots of pulsating energy round him, whereas I presumably emitted a dimmer glow.
"Maybe it's because you are sceptical, that X Factor is not as strong," he says. Calm, analysing energy is always more difficult to work with because it is more of this world than the next, he says, adding: "This just proves to someone who wants to understand it more that there's a complexity about it, to work with it you must try to understand rather than to force our opinions on something."
Hmmm. If he picks us out a Grand National winner, then we'll call it quits. When Shaun was a nipper his horses were always placed, and once even won. But today it's not to be.
"It's not a perfect science," explains Shaun sadly. "But I feel one day the scientific community will understand and accept it more."
Until then, the spirit world should work on its manners.
SHAUN DENNIS is appearing at The Kirkby Suite on Tuesday April 15 and The Hilton Hotel, St Helens, on Wednesday April 16.
Our life path is to go through lessons and our overall aim to improve our spiritual soul
Shaun Dennis, former business studies lecturer turned full-time psychic Pictures: JASON ROBERTS / jr280208; Shaun looks for Emma's spirit links
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Mar 18, 2008|
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