“According to this, you’re already dead”

“According to this, you’re already dead”

Our birthdays, James’s and mine, are 4 days apart though he’s a lot older than I am (obvs). Both being Geminis we’re torn between a world of wanting to show off and shying away from the limelight in equal measure. We have a number of sides to our characters, some say Geminis are 2 faced, we’re not (yes we are) though I can change my mood with the moon. Our personalities have nothing perhaps to do with astrology, I haven’t gone in for all that shit since Grange Hill went downhill (post Ro-Land and Danny Kendall). However, for 300฿/ GBP 7.00 I decided to have my palm read by a palmist come astrologist. It was my mum’s idea, as she cast aside her Christian ideology, to dabble with the occult. I thought I was just along for the ride.

We’d been to The Grand Palace, my mum and I. My first tourist trip in the 3 months I’ve lived here. We’d tried to go en masse, but it was hot, like hot hot (at some point I’ll stop going on about how hot it is, my sweaty top lip and fringe issues will fade away). The kids and the men made it as far as the entrance to the palace, which involved a walk, 2 trains and a boat. The kids were red faced and tired, and having failed to heed my warning the previous night the men wore shorts.

Me: “It says no shorts”
Dad: “Just women or men?”
Me: “Doesn’t stipulate, just says ‘no shorts’.”
Dad: “Well if a monk’s gonna get excited about seeing MY legs, I’d rather not go!”

It was an option to join a queue to hire some elephant print sarongs, but the spoil-sports rejected the chance to be ridiculed by me, and took the kids home. The Grand Palace, where the Kings have lived for yonks, was pretty spectacular – lots of bright coloured jewels stuck to the sides of fancy buildings (sorry I didn’t hire the earphones and take the tour, and I rarely read the schpeil about historical places, ‘Philistine!’). There wasn’t a great deal of shade and we didn’t hang about long, not after we nearly blistered our soles legging it into the temple for a nosey with no shoes on. We took a few selfies, which completely missed the buildings in the background, so we could’ve been anywhere – Parkgate, Prestwich, Paris. We had an ice-cream then skid-addled.

On the way to the palace, through the market, I’d spotted a palm with lines drawn on outside a little shop tucked between other shops and near the harbour. So we headed there, commenting on the amazing street food smells and fabrics, the chatter, the vibrancy, the colours. I felt like a tourist, I just needed a sarong, a fanny pack <snigger> and a woven triangular hat like the local farmers wear. The shop was no bigger than an outdoor loo (this woman’s obsessed with the privy). A Thai lady in her mid 50s sat chatting on her mobile phone at the far end of the room, a desk separating us, and lots of clutter. She had plenty of pictures on the walls – photos of cheery ochre-gowned monks on one wall, and a picture of the king with his dogs on the other, a bit 80s and vulnerable looking, like when you see Prince Charles dancing with an African tribe and it kind of makes you feel a bit sad for him, all vulnerable, self-conscious and uncoordinated (just me that one?).

There were a few bunches of bananas lying around (perhaps for energy, or maybe she suffers with cramp) an array of padlocks (kinky?), newspapers, documents, it needed a sort out and I imagine my mum was dying to get stuck in and tidy the place.

Mum went first, writing down her date of birth and presenting her palms. I pretended to write a postcard so I could jot down her future. Our woman looked stuff up in her book, muttered in Thai, counted a lot, bilingually, and used a magnifying glass and an ink jet pen to draw dot to dot on Mum’s hand. Then she revealed details like “You will live a long life”, “When you were young you had an allergy?” – “Yes” mum offers. Really? It’s the first I’ve heard. Then she became quite specific “When you were 49 you had a great boss – supports you” and other little snippets perhaps from mum’s past, perhaps not. Midway through our woman takes a call on her mobile. This is all very matter of fact and relaxed, no spiritual references are made, no jangling bangles and sequined scarves in sight. The future is bright for Mum, “You have great asset to sell this year. A property? You have?” My parents have been talking about ‘downsizing’, though my mum wants to retain the same amount of bedrooms and a garden so technically it’s ‘moving’ – we both “ooh’d”. Afterwards my Mum says “Well great, I’m going to die of cancer”. “No” I correct, “she said you also have to be careful of cysts and heart disease”. Take from the reading what you will.

 

My turn. I’ve only done this once before, in Australia more than 10 years ago. My Aussie psychic immediately causing me to doubt her abilities by referring to my hands as “beautiful”. My school mates still joke about the shape of my “curly digit fries” destined for arthritis, all crooked-like. Then she told me in a “You’re terrible Muriel!” accent, that “I can see you like to travel”, while whistfully chatting to the voices above her shoulder, her eyes closed. Well no shit lady, I’m in Australia which requires a certain amount of love for travel. I can’t remember the rest, and the tape she sold me chewed up so it sounded like she’d had a gram of speed and 10 helium balloons during the reading, which if she had may have made it more memorable.

This palmist starts off well, shows me her ID and she’s buzzing that we’re both born in June. Then she tells me I’m “independent” <throw your hands up at meeee> and “sincere”. She says I have had my heart broken in the past – which I can’t deny if Groove is in the palm, and its true. Though I suspect there’ll be a break in my heart line the day I saw my last epsiode of Coronation Street. Next she tells me I must be careful of 2 affairs, “foreign people love me” she says, and I am to reject the first advance, but she seems game for me dabbling with the second. I feel Mum’s eyes burning into the back of my skull and on the boat ride home she tells me she’ll be keeping an eye on me. I tell James and he asks “Who is he?” in his Dev off Coronation Street voice, feigns a Patti/Abe style tantrum, and says he’s not talking to me anymore. I guffaw. Not that I’m being flippant, its just you can’t be cross over a palmists predicted love affair, anymore than for a love affair that happened before we met.
So, it is written in my palm that I am to have great success in “Mass communication – very good!” (are you listening Random House Cooper/Penguin/Faber and Faber?). While my thoughts drift to a writing career my mum gets fixated with the time I worked for a tele-communications company, Cable and Wireless then NTL in the mid 90s. I’m trying to emancipate myself from the 9-5, Mum.
If all else fails, I’ll make a fortune with the “import/export of beautiful things” (I typo’d ‘thongs’ then instead of ‘things’, is this an omen? ‘Beautiful thongs’ <reaches for sketch pad>). At 63 I’ll be living in a mansion as a millionaire, my Mum comments, “I’ll be dead by then”.
I shall skirt over the doom predicted for my mid 50s: an accident, hospitalisation, hypertension, spending too much money, ‘The Dark Years’. This lady doesn’t hold back, there’s no spoonful of sugar with this reading – aren’t they meant to keep the fear at bay? At one point I think she may laugh and tell me, like the Tim Robbin’s character in Jacob’s Ladder, “according to this (life-line) you’re already dead”. I notice she doesn’t tell me I’ll live a long life.
I’m neither a cynic nor a believer of psychic readings. That may seem a bit flaky but I can’t dismiss it totally and turn my back on my predicted millions, and its part of my Bangkok soul search. Why I dabble abroad and not in the UK is a mystery. Escaping my real world? Being told my future’s bright will be more believable perhaps without a British regional accent. Hearing my future may clear the path a bit, give me some direction, like if someone said, “look Kenno, you know that dream about dancing on 3-2-1, well its time to move on now, mate, the programme finished in the 80s.”
If I take all the good points, won’t it make me strive? Be more ambitious? Surely a good thing, yeah? And as for the negative points, I’ll deal with them if and when they arrive. Whenever I embark on something new I put pressure on myself to make it count, have all these ideas, like I’ll move to Thailand and become amazing at yoga, or be fluent in Thai straight away, but without new ventures I’d probably live in the now and not reach for a goal. My Dad says by looking at your palm all you can see is your past, the manual labour you’ve just done digging the garden, the segs in your hands (he does love a good seg), but he’s a pure cynic. Perhaps each time I met with a reader, a psychic, I was feeling a bit vulnerable and needed someone to say “Hey Kenno, stop worrying it’ll cause hypertension, you’ll be right.” Has it stopped me worrying? Has it fuck!
The 14th Century Christian Psychic, Meister Eckhart, is quoted as saying (get me and my 14th Century mystics! I think it’s relevant but who cares, I just like the quote):
“The only thing that burns in Hell is the part of you that won’t let go of life, your memories, your attachments. They burn them all away. But they’re not punishing you…They’re freeing you from your soul. So if you’re frightened of dying and you’re holding on, you’ll see devils tearing your life away. But if you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the earth.”