……Two days later a letter arrived from the council’s director of amenities. ‘After consultation with the committee members, your application for hire of the theatre is not granted.’
That afternoon I received an interesting phone call from the local press who had heard of my rejection and no doubt smelled the potential of an article slightly more interesting than the local bake sale. They embraced the story for the fiasco it was and honoured it with such headlines as, ‘Clairvoyant Told There is no Future for his Show’ and ‘Spiritualist Barred from Council Theatre.’ I chose to take the attitude that any publicity had to be good. I had moved to an area where I was relatively unknown. At least now people would know I was here.
Fuelled by frustration and the power of stubborn determination I resumed my search. The Aberconwy Centre on Llandudno’s promenade was my next choice, and thankfully the management were more receptive than the council had been. I booked a date a couple of months ahead, placed some adverts in the local paper, had some tickets printed and I was up and running!
I was confident until three days before the big night when my nerves began to jangle. I called into the theatre, only to find they had sold a paltry sixteen tickets! The manager made re-assuring noises, explaining that often people didn’t book in advance but tended to turn up on the night. I hoped and prayed he was right. The theatre seated nine hundred people and sixteen occupied chairs would look rather silly.
My brother Tim travelled down from the West Midlands in a show of support and offered to introduce me onto the stage. I also needed someone to take appointments on the night in case anyone wanted to book a reading. I had met a pretty young lady called Diane on my travels. She agreed to do the job in exchange for free admission. Everything was in place. All we needed now were bums on seats.
I arrived early on the night, walking to the dressing room past the empty rows with my heart in my mouth. This had the potential to be the most embarrassing event of my life! Soft music was piped into the hall, and Tim went to fetch a pint of mild for me from the bar for Dutch courage.
Twenty minutes passed. I could hear murmuring and shuffling, so I took a peep into the auditorium. Thankfully people were arriving in a respectable quantity. As the time for curtain up crept ever closer I suddenly realised that I had not seen Diane to give her my diary.
“Get out there Tim, and find Diane!”
He pointed out that he had no idea what this girl looked like or where to find her.
I was unsympathetic. “Just find her and give her this!”
I thrust the diary into his hands, and shoved him through the curtains. The room began to hush as the crowd noticed a presence on stage. Tim clumsily took the microphone from its stand, causing thumps and whistles to bounce off the walls.
“Good Evening. Um, is there a Diane in the room?”
A young lady with dark hair raised her hand and the audience began to applaud, slowly at first then more enthusiastically. I realised what was happening and put my head in my hands.
“No, no! I’m not David”, the horror told in Tim’s voice. “It hasn’t started yet!”
I held my breath then burst out laughing as he scuttled red faced back into the dressing room. It was probably the best cure for my nerves I could have wished for. When I walked onto the stage a few minutes later to see an expectant five hundred people all staring at me, I was calm, focused and ready to give this my best shot.
At the back of the theatre, a smart middle aged woman was arriving late, shaking her umbrella and settling into her seat.
“The lady on the back row – in the raincoat.” I began. She looked left and right then nervously back in my direction. “Yes, that’s right” I continued. “I have a red haired lady called Hilda with you, and a man whose name was John but people knew him as Jackie.” No response. “With the lady is a large black Labrador. She is holding a brooch that she left for you, and she says her mother was Ivy.” Nothing. Just a puzzled expression. This was going down well! “Don’t you know any of these people?”
“Oh yes my Love,” she spoke at last, “but they’re all dead!”
Taken from ‘The Other Side: A Psychic’s Story’ by David Drew (available from amazon).