A little known part of my life is that period after college when I set myself up as a psychic adviser. Yes, it’s true. Did I want to work in a factory? No, I don’t have the temperament. The noise in particular wouldn’t suit me. You think I’m lying? You should see me in a night club; I’m the dude sitting down wishing the din was done. With no prospects apart from the qualifications gained at college (all completely impractical in the real world), I did the only thing I could do: I advertised my services as a psychic consultant. However, in a twist not even my freaky psychic powers could have predicted, I was offered a job at The Forge Market in Glasgow. My friend’s parents owned a chain of salons and fancy dress shops. They asked me to help out at their smoking kit shop – and I don’t mean cigarettes. Me, who doesn’t smoke or drink or do drugs except the sort that chase away hayfever. Yes, I sold bongs and leaf growing equipment! Weirdly, I thought the bongs were fancy vases. Despite my brother being a heavy drug fiend at this point, he never used bongs to take his drugs. And so I went through a period of wondering why all these people visiting the shop wanted bright plastic vases. I’ve always been a mixture of savvy and ridiculous naivety. I blame my upbringing. It was while working in this shop that I put the word out that I was ready for appointments for anyone wanting to know their future. At last, my HND in Communication and Media was finally proving itself useful. Armed with a deck of tarot cards and a deep understanding of both Minor and Major Arcana learned via dozens of books, I immediately found myself hired for parties. I’d spent my years at school avoiding parties and now I was going to be the showpiece of fabulous gatherings.
How could it go wrong?
Ah, how indeed?
My second eldest sister decided it wasn’t safe for her fur coat wearing brother to be at parties all alone, so she accompanied me as security. You wouldn’t fuck with her, of course. She was Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde, so completely suited to helping me out in case no-one wanted to pay me the fee I deserved for tapping into my immense psychic abilities. Actually, I just told people what I thought they wanted to hear.
“Yes, your daughter’s wedding won’t cost you too much.”
“The promotion is coming. The letter is in the post. The Page of Wands and the Ten of Pentacles lets me know it’ll be soon.”
“I see a tall, dark, handsome stranger in black coming into your life soon.”
*Actually, that prediction came true because my sister told me a few days later that The C.I.D. or The Criminal Investigation Department raided that house for drugs. Basically, the tall, dark, handsome stranger in black from my vision was the law.*
This continued for a while, my reputation through word of mouth helping keep me rich while I tried my best to launch myself as a writer. Goodness, it feels like a long time ago.
Of course it quickly went steeply downhill. One group of people hired me and I immediately felt something wasn’t right. It was purely instinctual on my part, but I sensed it as soon as I walked into their flat in The Gorbals. I’d already passed a burned out car on my way there. One member of the party seemed intense, like my prediction could bring life or death. I asked her not to take it too seriously, but for nothing. She was in tears, terrified about a dark presence in her life. Worse, my randomly shuffled cards all landed on red, always a bad sign. Suddenly I questioned myself and my actions. Not that I did anything wrong, in fact I stressed over and over that she shouldn’t take this seriously, that I didn’t have actual visions. I don’t know what happened to this woman, but she said something that severely rattled me and I knew my career as a psychic adviser wasn’t for me. I still use the tarot deck for myself. It really is a good tool for guidance. It can enlighten and reveal paths you might not usually take, but at least I use them on my own terms, rather than making a career out of the Minor and the Major.
Eventually, I got another job and then my first publishing deal. Sometimes I still get people asking for their cards to be read, a request I sometimes grant, but mostly I keep them for myself, because I can’t disappoint or give myself false hope, and if I do…well, it’s me rather than someone else.