I met a spiritualist tonight. We were in a busy pub, camping a table, and he sat down as we did: of course, at the time he was just a person we didn’t know. Later, though, we got talking, and it turned out he’d come down from Ayrshire, via the Wirral, to join around 500 people, in a place I’ve been impolite enough to forget, in order to watch a noted mediun — “you’ve not heard of him?”: no, nor remembered his name a few hours later — and, hopefully, hear from his mother, dead these past eight years; he and his mother were close, he said, holding up his crossed fingers. When there’s someone ready to speak from the other side, there’s a kind of light bulb appears above their head: the people speaking don’t get older or change their views because time doesn’t really mean the same thing on the other side.. On his wrist he wore a copper bracelet with a Greek repeating design, to help his arthritis.
He impressed me, this man who believed things I’m used to hearing mocked, and although I didn’t feel impelled to join him, nor alter my belief that harking after people who have left isn’t healthy, for them or you, I still couldn’t articulate my own beliefs with a confidence equal to his: when asked if I believe in eternity, I could only muster a mealy-mouthed sophistry to the effect that I believed in infinity. I was impressed not by his ontological views but by his lack of evangelical zeal, and his quiet but firm belief in the importance of being master of your own mind and subject to no group’s insistence on a particular way of thinking. “I believe in freedom of mind”, he said, and so, I thought, do I, but only one of us has the courage to test it.
Of course, freedom of mind is a flag under which a motley crew might fly, and I excused myself once he began to explain that Darwin was wrong, not wanting to hear anything which might temper my fine opinion of his polite and cogent way of talking. But he lacked the shine and sparkle of the zealot: his grey hair was neat but not strict, his manner assured, his whole demeanour lacking the excessive normality of someone trying to convert. I don’t know what he’ll experience tomorrow, but if he hears that his mum’s doing ok, then I don’t see how that can be censured, and I hope he hears she’s well.
Earlier today I met a man who has venture capital for colonising the moon. My references may be a little adrift.