For once the seed of this rant was not planted whilst watching TV, instead, to show what a polymath I am, it is taken from an article I read about communicating with the dead via machines and devices of varying kind.
People have been trying to commune with the dead for ages, way before the beginning of last week, and employing various means to do so. Spirit mediums, psychics, out and out nutters; whatever you call these conduits to the other side, many people have employed their services for better or worse throughout history but nearly always at a financial loss for the seeker of contact.
I’m not here to pass judgement on whether you can, or cannot, talk with those who have crossed beyond the veil or if ectoplasm is a real substance and not just regurgitated wallpaper paste cleverly moulded into the shape of the plaster duck that hung above late Aunty Mable’s chair for seven decades. It would be unscientific of me to dismiss this massive industry as complete and utter bollocks, in addition to being quite possibly insensitive to those who believe in the to and fro between here and the hereafter.
To the machines. I suppose the simplest of devices would be the old Ouija board, a name that means ‘yes yes’ using the French and German tongues. Once mass produced and sold as a toy, this Victorian parlour game requires a glass and a gathering of open-minded participants that some might call gullible and malleable nob-ends in a very unopen-minded way. Others saw their way to make more complex devices to commune with the dead; and these others included the likes of John Logie Baird (the man who created more living dead than anyone else, including George A Romero) and Edison. Yeah that, Edison; the one who had Tesla killed…allegedly. These are people of technical note, not delusional numbskulls with overactive imaginations. People who in other, more material, fields had been responsible for the great advances of their age. Some of them did also talk to fairies too but who’s to say the fay don’t exist…Dawkins for one, I suspect.
And the names of these devices are utterly cool too. The Spirit Trumpet, The Ether Box, The Psychic Telephone, The Psychomotor; The Reflectograph, The Spiricom, The Ghost Box. The article I read even had a plan for the building of a Psychic Telephone which included headphones, dry cell batteries, a transmitter, a tension spring and a balloon filled with the breath of a spiritual medium. No examples of this device exist today so maybe if you knocked one up you could capture the market of, what some might cruelly label, simpletons with no grip on reality or their cash. If you didn’t want to knock up your own communication device back in the day, you could buy a Psychomotor for the reasonable price of £1. That was back in the 1920s, so that’s approximately £44 in today’s money. Think of it, for the price of a night out you could have regular chats with late greats like Lord Nelson or Emperor Napoleon or even Laurel & Hardy (real, if now dead, people, Chase) if you fancy getting into another fine mess. An absolute bargain.
The idea behind these machines was to enhance the weak psychic vibe that most people possess to enable all and sundry to communicate between this world and the spirit one. Do they work? I suppose that depends on your standpoint on these matters. Some would say, ‘Yes they do.’ Other might say, ‘Yes they do…but only if you live in a rubber room and the sleeves of your blazer fasten together at the back’. Whatever the truth behind these machines, are they what we really need and should we bugger about with them at all?
I was once warned if I even looked at a Quija board Satan would clock me doing it and take possession of my soul for all of eternity. If that’s true, I suppose sacrificing a goat on the school playing field one dinner time has pretty much marked me for a roasting of Biblical proportions but on the other hand, I wouldn’t be this good looking, rich or own two Ferraris had I not. But is demonic interference with our life the worst that could happen if we crank up the good old Reflectograph and dabble with ‘Dark Arts’ we should not mess with at all? I think not.
An assumption is always made that metaphorically high-fiving the deceased will be an incredible experience, be it one of utter terror from then on in as we are persecuted by evil forces we have unwittingly unleashed upon ourselves; or one in which winning lottery numbers are handed over and our lives are made just smashing by those who have gone before.
I can’t help thinking getting in touch with the dead would be more tedious than that. Less finding out where Great Uncle Ranulph buried the ancestral treasure horde and more listening to the dead moan about their lot and why death is so unfair.
We’ve all got, or had, a relative to whom we are/were a waste of air. One who is/was never pleased with anything we do/did and thinks/thought we never reached our potential through sheer laziness and lack of gumption. Imagine getting in touch with, let’s call him Uncle Peter, from beyond the grave…
“Is there anybody there?”
“Is that you, young Sif?”
“Oh shit, not again.”
“What was that?”
“Nothing. Hi, Uncle Peter.”
“Have you got a better job yet?”
“I’m working on it but-”
“I see you still need a haircut; you look like a girl. I told your Mum she should have had you adopted. A blight on the family nam-”
It’s at this point most sensible would be ‘astralnauts’ would deflate the balloon letting the lungful of Doris Stokes escape the balloon to mingle with the general air supply.
Most religions (I’m guessing here) have a state of being that outlives the physical and I would imagine most promise a good time in one form or another for those who have behaved themselves during their jog about the earth. It must be an unbelievably dull place for all concerned and who the hell would want to talk about that to anyone? Even with the most exciting next existence I can think of off the top of my head, Valhalla, it would be like listening to some bragging (read lying) young prick in the alehouse. It’s akin to only being able to take so much Hollywood sex and violence before you eventually find yourself watching Father Brown to cleanse your taste buds.
“Hey, Olaf Bloodaxe, what you been up to?”
“Fighting, fornicating, feasting.”
“Hmmm, what a surprise.”
“There was this one time after I’d beheaded twenty-seven of my mates and drunk seven barrels of mead that I went over to these three blondes and stuck my tongue-”
“What’s that? Tea’s ready? Sorry, Mr Bloodaxe, got to go.”
“But I haven’t got to the best bit…did you just pop a balloon? Hello? Hello?”
We might have the machines to contact the spirit world but we have got to ask ourselves, ‘Do we feel lucky? Well do we, punk?’ Couldn’t help writing that, maybe there was a spirit channelling through my two typing fingers…is Dirty Harry Callaghan dead? No, what we have got to ask ourselves is, are we ready to be bored rigid by the mundanity of those who have kicked the bucket? Surely any afterlife, however good it is, will be eternally repetitive to the point of terminal boredom, won’t it? It’s bad enough having to listen to the woes of those who share the same plane of vibration as us now, imagine letting everyone who has ever died into your life to offload on you as well.
On the other hand, if you got lucky enough to get through to Beethoven for example (assuming his deafness is cured and you’re not just listening to him shouting ‘What?!’ for an hour) and were given his latest masterpiece to cash in on, that would be sweet. Or Shakespeare dictating his latest play, which upon research you discover is a word for word rip-off of ‘The Expendables 2’. That would still be pretty cool too.
The trouble is, how do we filter out all the ‘normal deadies’ from the ‘great deadies’? Well, it’s your lucky day because I have been working on a modern day psychic machine, an app that can be used to contact the spirit world at the speed of the internet. It’s going to be called ‘Wooooochat’ or ‘Instagrave’, I haven’t decided which yet but all you need to do is send me fifty quid (via The Bickering Press Head Office) and you will receive instructions on how to download the app from the other side by using the unbridled power of your mind, a balloon filled with a unicorn’s fart and a strip of industrial strength sticky tape. Then you will be the proud new owner of a fully working ‘Bellend-o-graph’ and you can chat with, send photos to and text all the cloud jockeys you want to (*).
As for myself, I think I’ll stick to interacting with the living. Yes, we can be a pain in the arse to each other and tiresome and a load of other irksome and trying things but we can be utterly brilliant too and isn’t that what makes us ‘lifers’ so interesting in the first place?
*Calls are charged at 10p per celestial mile. Citizens of the afterlife have the right to refuse to answer any calls and don’t ask expecting Elvis, everyone in their right mind knows he’s not dead. Refunds are not going to happen in this lifetime but feel free to visit our office beyond the curtain with any concerns you have once you no longer suffer this mortal coil.