Susan Morrison: Doris and I are kindred spirits

Doris Stokes, the medium who claims to be able to contact those who have died.   (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)
Doris Stokes, the medium who claims to be able to contact those who have died. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)
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There used to be this woman called Doris Stokes. She wore a nightie on stage and claimed to be able to talk to the spirit world. Doris would tour about the country in her brushed cotton getup holding slightly weird huge séance evenings.

I know this, because my friend dragged me to one such performance at the Playhouse. It was back in the Eighties, before Doris died. Well, obviously before she died. If she was still touring after she died then not only is that seriously impressive, but Michael Jackson’s management would like a word.

She came out, and told an audience of about 2000 people that she had been joined by someone who had passed. The name began with B, did that sound like someone known to anyone in the audience?

There were, as I have said, 2000 people there. The chances of even a lift full of people having a friend/relative/meeting with someone whose name begins with B are pretty high, I would have thought.

The mischievous little spirit from The Great Beyond clearly loved a parlour game and whizzed about the blue-rinsed head of Mrs Stokes just babbling a bit of name. Oh, she said, ‘Is it Bert? Could it be Bobby? Bill? Barney?’ Eventually a woman in the stalls put her hand up and said it might be her Great Uncle Ben.

Doris did it again later, only this time it was a woman trying to speak to her who had a surname that began with an M, perhaps Mc-something? This is in front of a Scottish audience, remember. I swear I heard haunting laughter, just above the sound of the tills being cashed up.

However, I find I have to borrow the techniques of the late Ms Stokes. It’s in my diary. I think it starts with a B. I am fairly sure it does. It’s a just a blue squiggle. It’s on Saturday. Now, I mostly work on Saturday evenings, so this could be somewhere I’m supposed to be. It’s definitely a B, I think, but the rest of the word is looks like a dying spider crawled through some ink then staggered across the lines. This means that my entire Saturday is going to be spent in fug of terror as I wait for my phone to ring and a perplexed voice to say, “What time can we expect you?” Expect me where? Oh, right, Bolton. Look, does anyone here expect me on Saturday night? Starts with a B? Anyone?

People like Doris and co do bring comfort to some folks I am sure, but it never seems to occur to anyone that the afterlife just doesn’t want to speak to us. I mean, it doesn’t look as if they do. It’s as hard to contact it as getting through to customer complaints.

It’s a busy old afterlife with people to meet

All I’m saying is, maybe we should take it as a hint when they don’t run and answer the phone the minute the Ouija board rings. I’m no expert on the beyond, but if there is something there, it’s probably a heck of a lot more fun than popping along to have dreary conversation with a bunch of folk sitting around a table waiting for Aunty Mable to knock the glass off the board.

I’m fairly certain that there will be enough in the afterlife to keep me busy for an entire millennium. It must be like a giant cocktail party, mingling away. ‘Oh, look, Captain Smith of the Titanic. Must have a word. Is that Liz Taylor?’

All at sea when it comes to a real challenge

IT’S like those people who go swimming with dolphins. No-one asks the dolphins.

Anyway, it’s a bit of a liberty, really. Dolphins are the all-round sunny-natured Aussies of the animal kingdom, so it’s no real challenge to get them to play. Now sharks, that’s a challenge.

Seeing red over European elections

THERE is a poster in Leith. It is high above the street. It’s for the European elections. It’s got a picture of Salmond, Cameron, Miliband, and Mr Farage. The first three gentlemen have a gag over their mouths, fashioned from the EU flag. Only Farage, right, is free to flap his gums for the UK – well, the bit of the UK that votes for him and doesn’t chase him into a pub, then out of the pub. I am sure he and his strange assortment of sub-Blimp bores for Britain would be delighted to know that it has raised earnest discussion on the streets in Leith.

There are two main points of fevered talk. The first one being, ‘How can we get up there to express our opinion of Ukip in an open, engaged and creative manner, using this pot of red paint left over from revamping the garden shed?’ and the second one being ‘Nigel Farage. A face you can skelp for hours, or days?’