Guest writer SUZANNE LINSEY-MITELLAS, author of Seeing Things, reveals the amazing life of her spiritual medium grandmother, Alice Whitfield, from Hornsey in North London…
The tradesman arrived at the ground floor maisonette, ready to start work on some damp that the tenant had reported to the local council. He rang the doorbell to be greeted by a tall, elderly, smartly dressed lady.
“Mrs Whitfield? I’m here to take a look at the damp problems you’ve been experiencing.”
Smiling, the lady nodded, and let him in. Ushering the man through a long, darkened passage, she gestured to the patch on her hallway wall. “Help yourself to tea and coffee in the kitchen if you like,” she said as her visitor began to rummage in a large, old, leather tool bag he had brought with him.
“Oh yes, and one other thing,” continued the lady, “see that cupboard?” she pointed to a closed door with a sliding bolt on the outside, in the locked position. “On no account whatsoever are you to open it, do you understand?”
“Why not?” asked the intrigued tradesman.
“There is just something in there that you really, really do not want to see. Just trust me.” Gathering her shopping basket and coat, she then advised her visitor that she was popping out for a while.
Returning later, the woman was greeted by a neighbour who said that she heard screaming, banging and yelling coming from her maisonette. The front door had been left wide open, and a man had been seen running hell-for-leather up the road.
When she walked in, she immediately saw that the locked cupboard door was now ajar, and expensive tools had been abandoned in the hallway.
“Oh dear, I did tell him not to open my cupboard.”
“What was in there?” asked her neighbour, mystified.
Picking up a spilt mug of tea from the floor, she replied, “Oh, something evil I had managed to contain. Probably demonic. Now I will have to go looking for it again. Bloody nuisance, really.”
It was October 1983, and the elderly lady was my maternal grandmother, Alice Whitfield.
From a very early age we had an extremely close bond, and when I started school she became the only living grandparent that I had. My parents both worked, so my Nan (as I called her) would often step in to look after me, take me out, and talk to me about the world. However, I noticed quite early on that she wasn’t quite like other people’s grandmothers.
For a start, Nan was a spiritualist medium, although never officially. She would often visit people troubled by spirits, or other energies, and advise them on how to either cope with the unwelcome spiritual tenant, or how it might be removed. Although from Jewish ancestry, she was never constrained by religious dogma, preferring to highlight similarities across beliefs, rather than differences.
We made a pact that when she passed on, if there was any possible way that she could contact me from beyond the grave, then she would. Nan was adamant that death was not the end, but a new beginning. The very moment that she died, in July 1987, I felt her pass through me, and in the days that followed, she made her presence known with scent particular to her (Lavender and, interestingly, the smell of antiseptic). Nan loved Lavender, and died in hospital, hence, I assumed, the medical smell!
Although a work of fiction, my new novel, ‘Seeing Things’, was inspired by my Nan’s notes and recollections, passed and told to me, about what happens when we die, what exactly ghosts and spirits are, and why some of us can see them. Some of her knowledge and experiences covered darker energies which bore evil intent, and how we should guard against them. I remember being struck by how differently she described these forces, when compared to how they have been portrayed by popular fiction and alleged fact to date.
I inherited some of my Nan’s abilities, and when, as a child, I spoke openly about being able to observe dead people, I was often told I was ‘seeing things’, hence the book’s title. I have since discovered that many people with clairvoyant tendencies are dismissed with the same comment.
If readers enjoy this book, I will write a series. I have only used a small portion of the knowledge gathered by my Nan in this debut novel, and so, if people find it interesting, I would dearly love to reveal more of her unique and wondrous information in future stories.
‘Seeing Things’ by SUZANNE LINSEY-MITELLAS can be purchased from Amazon, (in paperback and Kindle formats), at Waterstones and other bookstores.