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Friday, 29 January 2010

The 'Belief Gene'

“Your Mound of Venus is soft but very well-formed,” I murmured, tracing my thumb across her skin.

She edged closer, clearly excited. “Will I have children?”

“Three,” I said, holding her palm closer to the light. As chat-up techniques go, it’s hard to beat palmistry.

Just then I sensed movement, a table jerked, the clink of glass. I looked up, too late to relinquish the woman’s hand. A giant of a man was coming towards me, tattoos on either arm. Her boy friend and his eyes were fixed on mine.

I looked round. One friend had gone; the other was staring intently into his drink. I tried a smile, too late to do anything else.

My worst nightmare loomed over the table, his breath a foetid mix of curry, beer and tobacco. His fist hovered inches from my face and then slowly unfurled.

“Can you read mine, mate?”

That was Swansea, a pub in the Mumbles. Then I’d been a student. Now I was in New York, thinking on it as I awaited my turn.

It was a ‘Fortune Telling Party’ – a regular party with food and drink, and a strange old woman sitting in semi darkness. Her name was Madeleine and she read Tarot – about as well as I read palms.

She told me I was disappointed in the US and that I’d be better off at home. I wondered if she worked for Immigration, and examined my cards.

Her finger shot forwards, jabbing several with force. I had all the money cards, which meant financial success, luck with contracts and ‘open doors’. I suppose financial success is relative, but with all those money cards I expected to be working for Goldman Sachs by now.

She did however strike lucky with one prediction. I would marry and have two children, a boy and a girl, but for some strange reason thought my wife would be called Audrey or Jean. Then dark clouds gathered. I was to avoid motor-bikes at all costs. The picture was blurred but death and a motor-bike figured strongly.

Her finger stroked another card. I wouldn’t be in teaching all my life. Great I thought – she ‘foresees’ retirement. Her eyes met mine. “I think you will be a writer,” she said.

She also ‘saw’ someone in my family with mental illness, and another who’d suffered from a stroke. Both were dead but were still looking out for me, one feeling guilty for what he had or hadn’t done.

From then on I couldn’t stop her. She ‘saw’ travel, ‘saw’ me inherit or win money – and then it was over and I was ushered into the light.

Joanne Halpin, an attractive and very intelligent student – one of the many I taught at St Agnes – took my place. She came out confused. She’d be married by twenty-one to a Yugoslav or an Iranian. She would be a therapist and study in a college beginning with the initial P somewhere in Hawaii.

I felt like asking her whether she fancied a second opinion, but my hand-reading days were over, and her ‘future’ seemed interesting at least.

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