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.