Edited by Peter & Jacqueline
Back in May 2014, I went to see the “psychic to the stars” Sally Morgan performing a show in my hometown of Middlesbrough, and I was thoroughly unimpressed. Although I don’t personally believe that anyone has psychic abilities, I have a rather unusual fascination with pseudoscience and the supernatural, and was genuinely excited to see her performance. Unfortunately, I found myself bored throughout because, unlike she does on her TV show, Sally was failing to get accurate information from beyond the grave. For example, before her show she asks audience members to submit pictures of their deceased loved ones, then during her performance, she picks one out of a box onstage and begins communicating with the person photographed. Unfortunately for Sally that night, a woman in Middlesbrough had gotten the concept completely wrong and submitted a picture of herself at a younger age. This did not stop Sally from ‘making contact’ with the woman pictured who she presumed was dead, but was actually standing 10 metres in front of her – very much alive.
I was also shocked at how distasteful and cruel some parts of her show were. In fact, it seemed to be less about giving closure to grieving family members, and more about convincing them of her psychic abilities by reenacting the deaths of the recently deceased. That night, she reenacted the death of a teenage boy who had recently hung himself – and did so in front of his grieving girlfriend. This is not the only time she had done something this cruel, Michael Marshall of the Good Thinking Society once told me about a time he had been to see her show, in which she had reenacted the death of a toddler who had drowned in a pond to the parents of the deceased child in the audience.
After the show, I wrote a blog post which went somewhat viral. The story was printed in national press, and I was even invited onto my local BBC radio station (Radio Tees) to talk about it. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, however I managed to get a copy of the show which, when I listened to it I realise something strange about our society – that if someone is hearing voices, we usually try to help them with medical attention, but if they claim to be psychic, we actually listen and encourage their delusions. This occurred to me toward the end of the radio show, when a man phoned up claiming to have psychic abilities, however from the content of his discussion he appeared to be suffering from a mental illness.
A year passed by and Sally was once again due to perform in Middlesbrough, and I was there eagerly awaiting her show – not because I was hoping that she might goof up again, but because I do genuinely enjoy watching this kind of thing. The first thing I noticed as I entered the venue was that there was a distinct lack of people in attendance compared to those present at the show the previous year. I chuckled to myself and wondered if this might have had anything to do with the attention my blog post had received the previous year. I took my seat and tweeted a picture of the empty stage with a rather cheeky caption asking if Sally psychically knew I was there.
The lights went down and we were treated to a short video introducing the uninitiated in the audience to Sally, and showing us examples of her psychic abilities in action. This included a montage of various audience members who had attended her show previously, and had been very impressed by her performance and psychic intuition. The lights then went back up and Sally walked onto the stage, receiving a round of applause. As she began to talk about the format of her show and how she feels when she is in contact with the dead, I wondered to myself if she might bring up the goof from the previous year and, to my surprise, she did! When explaining to the audience the process for submitting photos of dead loved ones to be picked out for a reading, she asked people to remember to only submit pictures of the dead – which got quite a laugh. Credit where credit is due – I think it took a lot of guts to do that when she could have simply ignored it and gotten on with the show. She then went on to personally welcome me to her show, saying how she hoped that I would enjoy the evening.
The first half of the show was almost a carbon copy of the show performed the previous year. Sally seemed unable to get any information from the dead, and the majority of the audience were not biting to her probing follow-up questions. The show, as before, was distasteful in parts – as she claimed to be in contact with a child who had drowned (just like when Michael Marshall had seen her show). This time, she was channeling the ghost of an elderly woman’s uncle who had died at a very young age and, once again, she reenacted his death. In this reenactment, the child was caught in roots or weeds in a local stream and was unable to to get free of them to swim to the surface.
At the end of the first half of the show, I was (once again) thoroughly unimpressed with Sally’s abilities, and decided to go and grab a beer for myself and my friend (who came kicking and screaming) in an attempt to make the second half more enjoyable. When I returned, my friend pointed out two men walking through the aisles of the stalls below who seemed to be scanning the audience as though they were looking for somebody. He turned to me and jokingly said that they were probably looking for me. I laughed it off and called him paranoid, but agreed that they did seem to be looking for someone. A few minutes later and one of these men tapped me on the shoulder, asked my name and if I had tweeted a picture of the stage. I told him my name and said that I had tweeted a picture of the empty stage. He then looked me straight in the eyes and told me I had to leave. I asked him what grounds he had for kicking me out, as I had not violated any of the rules of the night. At this point, the man (who I think must have been one of Sally’s own staff, as he was not wearing a Middlesbrough town hall uniform) became irate and said “are we going to have to do this the hard way?”. At the end of the day, I thought it was not worth the hassle to kick up a fuss and, in all honesty, I was a little relieved.
One thing really stood out to me that night for sure, but it was not how fearful Sally and her entourage must be of a nobody like me on the internet, feeling the need to kick me out. It was not that Sally had, once again, failed to demonstrate her psychic abilities in front of the fine people of Middlesbrough. It was how proficient Sally and her team are on social media. My tweet was not tagged with a location; nor did I use any hashtags… yet they still were able to find it. And if they found my tweet, what’s to stop them from pulling information from other such messages on social media?
One last thing. Anyone who thinks they were justified in kicking me out because I took a picture can you explain why the audience members who tweeted the following items were not kicked out?