So, as the saying goes, there's a book in us all. My book has been a work in process for what feels like a lifetime, but in real terms, is probably only a couple of years. I start to write, move away from it, go back, edit, rewrite...and so the cycle continues.
My sister is a published author, with real books with a proper grown up publisher and agent, not a self published or "vanity" product, or ebook written for Amazon, (her kids books are fantastic, I will name-check them at the end of this blog) She, and by transference, her books, are funny, perceptive, and beautifully observed, which kinda puts me immediately on the back foot when it comes to my own paltry offering.
You see, my book wants to tell my story of my spiritual work - from my earliest memory of seeing spirit people in my grandma's house, aged about 4 years old, to meeting my first "real" medium shortly after the same adored grandma died, incontrovertible proof that there was life after life, but sadly the medium was unable to resist the urge to put her spin on it, by telling me that I was "holding grandma back by my grief" - now of course recognised as a no-no, but at the time making me feel really bad.
Through my teenage years I was seen at school as being a bit "strange" which I welcomed - if they thought I was odd, they were leaving me alone, and if all that took was a weekly session with some black nail varnish, it was worth it. Spiritually, I was wandering - looking to find my home. Coming from a family where my Dad told me that the Bible was simply a book written to explain perfectly natural phenomena and so to keep the proletariat down (the apple never falls far from the tree, huh ?) I had no real mast to nail my spiritual colours to.
I flirted with the Jesus Christs Church of Latter Day Saints aka the Mormons, and joined my then hero, Donny Osmond, in rejecting tea, coffee, coke, and sex before marriage. I'm prettty sure there was something in there about milk too, but as even the sight of the stuff makes me feel queasy, it wasn't as impactive.
I lasted as a Mormon for about a month, going to church with a girl from school, whom I tried to avoid as much as possible AT school, as she was rather odd, and, if my memory serves me right, had six fingers.
The Scientologists nearly got me, offering me a personality profiling at the Oxford Street school. We all like to know what people think of us, so I did the test, but got out sharpish when they started talking about donating a percentage of my salary. In my first job, my money was already allocated to such essentials as music, and yet more black nail polish.
For some years, I was spiritually free, although the dead still followed me around, chatting to me on trains, and sitting on my bed when my sister was asleep. I just assumed it was normal, it was something I'd always known, and therefore quite unremarkable. I remember my mum asking me why I had never told her about the people in grandma's house, and me telling her that I just assumed that she knew they were there, so it wasn't a talking point. I think I did at one point wonder why they were never offered a drink, but being so young, rationality was not a strong point.
And so it was that I happened upon Hounslow Spiritualist Church, a traditional SNU church with its own beautiful purpose built home. Sitting at the back week in and week out, I was fascinated by the "dead" who populated the pews alongside their loved ones, and came back time and time again to hear the mediums work, passing on messages of love and sometimes apology, and watching the reaction of the dead to the messages, some smiling and nodding, others becoming quite frustrated and annoyed when their messages weren't passed over correctly, and they would huff off, presumably with the knowledge that the money was in the freezer, back to the spirit world.
The more I watched the mediums work, the more I thought "I can do that" - but at every turn I was sent away - circles were full, one medium who offered to teach me on a private basis fell ill with her heart, and couldn't commit after all. It seemed as if I was never meant to move beyond seeing the dead, unless I could get one break.
End of part 1.
As promised, my sister writes under the name of Sue Munroe, and her real and proper books can be found in bookshops as well as Amazon,