Chapter One: Can objects be haunted?
In this Chapter I explore the gift of Psychometry, the ability to discover facts about a person or an event, by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Joseph R. Buchanan, an American professor of physiology, coined the term “Psychometry” in 1842 (with its origins from the Greek words psyche, meaning “soul,” and metron, meaning “measure”). This is a really fascinating aspect of being a Medium and is something I am asked about all the time.
The 1970’s in London were a time of huge change. Far enough from the war, so that people were no longer proud to be ‘making do and re-using’, yet right next to the swinging sixties where music, fashion and attitudes of the young had changed forever, the seventies young couples wanted everything new and modern. This led to a lot of inherited antiques and treasured belongings that had been passed down for generations being discarded for the new minimalist and modern looks. Sleek PVC sofa’s, plastic chairs and brightly coloured prints replaced the classic Chesterfields, Chippendales and paintings in many homes. It was a new, shiny generation who wanted new and shiny things.
Daddy no.2, Jack, was an amazingly gifted entrepreneur; he could sniff out an opportunity at fifty yards. All of these changes people desired, for him, turned out to be a windfall. Like a Middle Eastern Del Boy, he started a house clearance and removal business with a large truck and advertised offering to ‘help’ take some of these offending, old fashioned items off people’s hands. He very often did so at really low prices, and the customers were usually just pleased to get rid of what they considered ‘junk.’ He, of course, had a far better idea of the items true worth, and in conjunction with the removal business, he opened a warehouse type shop in West Hampstead, called ‘Junk Palace.’
Junk Palace was a huge place, absolutely cavernous, especially to me as a little child. I remember in particular one whole summer when I was released from child-minding and cleaning duties, and became his very willing and enthralled assistant. My ‘duties’ mainly entailed just minding the shop while he was out on deliveries and collections. Ridiculous as it seems to leave a child under ten years old in charge, that’s exactly what he did. I learned to ask clients “May I help you,” to take their money – as everything was marked with a little sticker, or to get the contact details if they wanted to negotiate further, and understandably with an adult. Very often, the grownups were quite surprised that I was left ‘in charge’ so to speak, but they had no idea that it could be all day until Jack returned. I was however absolutely in love with Junk Palace. It was my very own Narnia; it represented freedom from the drudgery at home and independence.
Often only seeing two or three people all day, once my lunchtime sandwich and Tizer had been consumed, I would explore and delight among the many treasures that it held. Left to my own devises often all day long, the shop packed with ornaments, globes, glass wear, paintings, furniture and all sorts of brick-a-brack was like my very own enormous toy box. I was very careful with everything, running my hands gently over mahogany writing desks and discovering hidden and secret drawers. I turned the pages of dusty, leather bound first editions and tried to read the handwritten inscriptions, with no idea of their worth. This was my kingdom, and I ruled it with care. Perhaps it was here my love of books and writing was born.
People would also bring items into the shop for resale, some on a sale or return basis. One day, as I sat in the window watching the hop on and hop off double decker buses going towards Golders Green, an old half-timbered Morris Minor car pulled up right outside. An elderly lady got out and made her way round to the back seat, and removed a large, and from her struggle, what appeared to be a quite heavy box. She was obviously making her way into the shop, so I hopped down off the window ledge and rushed to open the door for her. Once inside the shop she shuffled along and made her way towards the main desk, thanking me with a smile for opening the door as she passed. Then, she waited, adjusted her coat and looked around for minute. I went around behind the desk, stood on my little box and faced her, asking the customary ‘May I help you’ with a smile.
As I looked at her, she seemed a little surprised and amused, and asked if the manager was there? I explained, as I had been taught to do, that my father was on a delivery but would be back shortly. Would she like to leave a message I asked, as I got my little pad and pen out for her? She explained that she wanted to sell the Gramophone player she had brought in, and would rather not have to take it back again. I told her that Jack would contact her on his return if she would like to leave it with me? She agreed, and although looking again slightly amused at this transaction with a child, she left the gramophone player on the counter with her contact details written down. These were much simpler times, more trusting and easier, so believing that someone would get back to you when they said they would was common practice. I think that sadly people would not be so trusting now.
My curiosity got the better of me, and as soon as she left the shop, I gingerly opened the top of the box and looked inside. On tippy toes as I peered in, I could see the enticing gleam of brass shining back at me. It was all too much and I had to get it out of the box. Checking that Dad hadn’t pulled up outside, I had to turn the box on its side to be able to pull this mysterious object out onto the counter. I straightened it up and it stood proud and elegant in front of me. At the bottom of the box were several discs that I recognised as records. The gramophone had a huge, brass trumpet, shaped a bit like a petunia flower, which tapered to a tiny funnel where a needle was attached. The turntable was housed in a mahogany box and there was a winding handle on the side. Inscribed on the front it read ‘His Master’s Voice’ and there was a picture of a dog looking down inside the trumpet.
Something about this item drew my attention in an unusual way. I was used to the many antiques, but this had a special quality and, as often happens in my strange world, it gave me a strange feeling. As I stroked the mahogany box, I started to hear music. As soon as I stopped touching it, the music stopped. Puzzled, I touched it again, this time with a hand on each side, and as I did so the music got louder and stronger and I could now see the inside of a room. As I listened and took part in this vision, I could clearly make out a mantelpiece, a fireplace with two comfy chairs, a piano in the corner and a large grandfather clock. Once I let go of the object, both the pictures and the music faded.
Now, as you already are aware, I was used to the unusual, having seen ‘Spirit’ all my life, but this was a completely new departure, this was not ‘see through people’ this was just like watching a movie. It was on this day, when this seemingly ordinary object was before me that a whole new chapter opened for me with regard to my blossoming psychic gifts. I somehow understood in my clear yet childlike view, that the gramophone itself held a memory. A little like the records themselves, and that simply by touching it, I was accessing that memory, that event or place. What I didn’t understand until much later on in life, was that all objects have the potential to hold onto the vibrations of their owner, and that it was I, and not the gramophone, that triggered the vision. This is a really important distinction.
That summer suddenly became even more wonderful and using the records provided, I would wind up the gramophone and constantly listen to Dame Nellie Melba and Enrico Caruso playing on the Berliner records. Blasting out Aria’s from Aida, La Bohem and Carmen, my lifelong love affair with opera began – at the foot of the greats on original, if somewhat scratchy, recordings.
I would wander about Junk Palace when I was bored, and try holding precious objects and seeing if they had a story to tell me? Some would yield wonderful visions; some evoked smells of flowers or tobacco and occasionally very strong emotions such as love, fear or sadness could be held in the vibration of the object. It was fascinating and wonderful and yet again, another thing that I felt I had to keep secret so as not to be any more ‘weird’ then I already was to my peers. In a strange way though it was comforting and reassuring, a chance to tap into another world and share the love and respect with which these now discarded objects had been treated by their original owners.
Sometime later, Jack was invited to the house of the lady who owned the Gramophone player, as she wanted to sell him some other items. On this day I went along with him as we had Greg and Georgia, my younger siblings, with us and they couldn’t be trusted to behave in Junk Palace. Initially we sat outside in the cab of the van, but she had seen us outside and told him to bring us in. Ushered through to her kitchen we passed through her front parlour, and with the smaller ones holding a hand each, I walked into a room that I immediately recognised. There right in front of me was the mantle, the fireplace, the two easy chairs and I looked to the left and yes, and there was the grandfather clock and the piano, all from my earlier visions. Another first in my list of unusual things, I felt immediately and strangely at home in these very familiar surroundings.
Years later, as an adult I researched and learned the correct term for what started way back then as a child. This particular psychic gift is called psychometry, and the theory is that every object has a memory, a kind of soul, so to speak. There have been many scientific studies into this subject and one of the best reference points, should you wish to learn more, are books such as ‘Journal of a Man’ by Joseph R Buchanan (1842).
One fascinating study that I read about later was an experiment that took place in 1854. A lady called Anne Denton Criege, the sister of Professor William Denton, took part in a controlled and supervised experiment. In this experiment objects were wrapped in cloth and presented to her. She held these objects to her forehead and was able to clearly identify those objects, by picking up on their experiences and vibrations.
There are many theories that come from this but the basic foundation is that many objects, especially things like rings and watches, hold the energies of the past owners and people who are sensitive to these energies, can tap into those memories that have been imprinted. This gift is not something that you can force or try to control, and I have found its best to just sit back, relax and let the images form as you hold onto the object and describe what they have to share.
As with most topics in this book, this chapter could easily turn into a book all on its own, but I really wanted to share my insight and give you my view on another fascinating subject that I am often asked about.
So, my message in this chapter is pay particular attention to objects because they are, in fact, more than inanimate things of yesteryear. They have rich and deep stories to tell – if we choose to listen carefully.