Monday, 23 July 2012
Small Medium at Large
Observant viewers of the Conversations with Spirits pitch video will have noticed me lisping my way through a discourse with Jack Lenox and mentioning a “very silly website I was writing about a psychic” – so I thought I should probably explain.
Sometime in the middle of last year, it occurred to me that, whilst I was writing a book about a psychic, I had actually encountered very few real-life spiritualist mediums. And those I had met, I had done only in the capacity of a ‘sitter’…
Put simply, this meant that upon occasion I had entered a hut - or tepee - and handed over some money to a middle-aged woman in a headscarf, who would then glare at me for a moment before explaining that there was the spirit of a grey-haired old man standing behind me, wishing me well. (To which, I would usually respond with an impassioned: “Mother…?”)
I decided that, for research purposes, I needed an ‘in’ to the psychic community, and figured the best way to do this was to target the king of British mediumship himself – Derek Acorah.
I knew that Derek had produced several books, in which he had openly discussed his ‘gift’, and so I went directly to my local library, where - without sparing my blushes - I checked out as many of these as I could find.
Of course, I was looking for some way of approaching him (I wanted to get to know the real Derek Acorah) but, unfortunately, his books just seemed to be filled up with lengthy descriptions of ‘the celestial ladders’ and speculations about the ‘stairway to the eighth parallel’. Which, as well as not being very unhelpful, seemed like terrible nonsense...
However, I carried on undaunted. A Google search of Acorah’s name revealed that, shockingly, the mystical middleman had his own website – a platform that seemed to exist mainly to sell his ‘Tour DVD’s’ (sic).
But amidst all the unsubstantiated quotes about his preternatural brilliance and photographs of him looking powerful in a pink singlet, I suddenly found what I was looking for. On the bottom right-hand side corner of his website’s landing page were the familiar symbols of all the social networks that Acorah was a part of.
It now seemed so simple. All I had to do was befriend Derek Acorah through these social mediums – and, then, win his trust.
First though, I figured I would have to create a convincing cover-story.
I felt instinctively that there was no way a psychic of Derek’s stature was going to be interested in some guy called ‘Edward Higgins’.
I needed a name that would fire the imagination; yet convey a deep understanding of mysticism and the occult; a name that would echo down the ages imbuing all who heard it with a powerful sense of dread-filled wonder…
After some thought, the name ‘Laars Head’ naturally presented itself.
And so, with the help of my old school friend, Simon (now a Guardian photographer), and with my brother roped in to help with the copy, it was not long before the three of us had created Laars’ website.
Fairly quickly, Laars Head’s reputation began to grow on social media and within a few weeks, he had started to build up a sizable Twitter following of - mainly American - psychics.
However, it seemed like British psychics were more cagey creatures than their American counterparts - and far less accepting of their fellow practitioners.
Despite all of Laars’ best efforts to ingratiate himself with his brother mediums, the UK-based contingent remained distant. And Derek Acorah, ‘the best medium in the world’,* the most distant of all.
In an effort to address this, it became clear that Laars’ output needed to become more radical - so that he should, rightly, stand out from amongst the common herd.
And so, over the next few weeks, Laars provided healing remedies for 'bruised chakras', theorised that farts were a kind of spiritual energy, and even offered Acorah a remote palm reading (not easy, considering the sheer density of lines on his hands).
Yet, Acorah still refused to play ball.
After a while, the reason for this became clear. Evidently, Acorah’s Ethiopian spirit guide ‘Sam’ must have warned him that Laars was not all he purported to be. Nothing else could explain the snubbing. It was even possible that Sam’s spirit had taken control of Acorah’s Twitter account – which had, in fairness, always seemed ghost-written…
Whatever the case may be, Derek Acorah remains a remote and shadowy figure, perpetually shunning his adoring public and the outside world in general. For most of us, his spiritual circle continues to be a closed one.
* Acorah’s official website says this of him: “It is now 2012 and Derek is continuing with his current True Vision Tour of the UK and Ireland where he astounds people with his level of mediumship accuracy. Labelled by some as “the best in the world”, Derek proves this to all every time he steps on to a theatre stage.” (Considering Acorah proves he is the best medium in the world to all at his live shows – it appears only some of them realise. Evidently, some of his audience are guileless simpletons.)