Crazy wives and shaggy dog stories – my night with the TV psychics
Paul Melia spent €80 in 30 minutes on the phone to the TV3 show – and says he's never wasted money like it
I've just made a complete eejit out of myself. I've spent more than half an hour on the phone listening to three strangers attempt to predict my future, spending more than €80 in the process.
At least I have an excuse. I had to do it for work. But hundreds of people choose to call into TV3's Psychic Readings Live at a cost of €2.44 a minute, despite mounting concerns about the advice being offered.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, tune into TV3 after Tonight with Vincent Browne to see the most ridiculous and stupid show on Irish telly today. Between midnight and 2am, seven days a week, insomniacs and those with an interest in the paranormal can tune into a show which promises to predict their future.
It's been on the air since June. Members of the public call a premium-rate number and go live on air where one of the show's many 'experts' tell them what their future holds.
Those unwilling to go on TV can also avail of a 'private' reading. Satisfaction is guaranteed, as all the psychics "have many years of experience to help people just like you".
But the programme has been the subject of some controversy, with at least eight complaints lodged with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).
Four have been upheld. In one case because, despite being an "entertainment" show, the presenter advised someone they would conceive, a breach of the broadcasting code which does not allow discussions about health.
Given the fuss, the Irish Independent decided to give the psychics a go, asking the great, unanswered question – what would happen to me over the coming months?
Interest in the paranormal and predicting the future is nothing new. The ancient Irish had their seers, the Greeks the Oracle at Delphi, and now – thanks to TV3 – anyone with a phone can tap into this gift.
Not everyone takes it seriously. Some call and shout abuse, while one pretended to be Will Smith's character from '80s TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
The seers include Flathan, Psychic Wayne, Angel Lady Carole and Countess Nadia Starella, who all work from a studio somewhere in the paranormal world which is designed to look like a wooden cabin.
Production values are cheap, and the best-known of the presenters is Flathan, real name Rene Flathan Hürter, a flamboyant character who wears lip gloss and eye make-up which seems to distract from his great powers.
The Irish Independent called three psychics – two privately, and one on air – all of which said much the same thing: I'm getting a new job.
I was told I was "clever and astute", that there was a lot of "respect and devotion" for me in work (completely untrue) and, chillingly, that a small dog's days were numbered.
The first was Marticia, a pleasant Scottish woman. We had a private reading which lasted 12 minutes and cost €30.
"I see there are changes to the environment. Are you thinking about moving?" No, I replied. "Are you painting and decorating?" I wasn't, but my wife was, lured by a cheap paint offer, heavily advertised on TV. I would get a job offer soon, Marticia said.
The next reading came from Luminous. Her picture on the telly was of a young, attractive black woman. The picture didn't tell me she's got a filthy cough.
She rambles on that I "obviously" don't make my wife crazy, and that Pisces women – of which my wife is one – are "usually crazy".
Seems there's a job offer coming in November. Then she changes her mind, saying it's probably after the beginning of the year, "but after they've made the decision in October". I've yet to get the offer.
Then, ominously, she starts telling me about the dog.
'It's a small, shaggy-haired dog, not the kind you would see or hear," she says. She cannot confirm if it is an invisible, mute dog.
"I'd hate to see someone hit it, coming from out of a driveway or turning into a street. It's in the wrong place at the wrong time; I don't want to see it get hit.
"It's going to be a peaceful year, people going to school but I don't know how far away. How old are your kids? Has someone offered them a scholarship?"
Hardly. Gifted and all as they are, my four-year old, who cut off all her hair last week to "make a bird's nest", is not Harvard material just yet.
Thoroughly disillusioned that my future seems to consist of an unspecified job offer at some point in the future, I decide to call Flathan and go on the telly.
In his flamboyant Zsa Zsa Gabor-style, he shuffles a pack of tarot cards and says he sees a "difficult situation".
"I see a dispute with a woman. This is very important because you have to be more sensitive. You have to engineer a better feeling for the situation, I think she is a very sensitive force of life."
Mindful that Luminous said Pisces women were crazy, I listen intently.
"Retire with your work and feelings and she will be more open-minded with you and you can solve the problem over the next couple of months."
And then it comes again. The job.
"I see a very new good job offer, it's an offer to increase your income. This will be very good and positive for you . . . thank you," he adds, seeming to sign off.
That's not good enough for €2.44 a minute. I want more detail. What's the problem, I ask? Is it me?
"Don't make your own words out of my messages," he says, looking exasperated. "I have told you the message, take care of your wife and your family situation. You have asked and I have told you. Be a little bit more sensitive. Thank you. Bye bye."
He could do with being a bit more sensitive himself. Eight minutes after I started, it was all over.
So what have I learned after spending 33 minutes on the phone, having spent almost €80? I'm getting a new job, one to help pay the hefty phone bill, and hopefully it won't be the Irish Independent's paranormal correspondent.
My wife isn't crazy, but could easily be, and a dog will die.
There is another lesson: stay off the phone. Predict that your living room will transform in the near future. Spend €80 on paint and wine. Redecorate, sip and enjoy your work.