A life-changing session with a “psychic love coach”

This is a rather sweet piece I wrote for The Times in 2005. I came across it online the other day and thought it would be fun to reprint it here.

Describing yourself as a “psychic love coach” can be a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it makes you sound like a superior kind of love coach, with a phone line directly to the Divine; on the other, in a field which is seen by many as, well, a bit flaky, you could appear to be the farthest crumb clinging to the edge of the pastry crust. 

I rather inclined to the second view when I first met Alison Chan Lung, a fortysomething psychic love coach, in a West London flat. 

I had explained on the phone that I was a 39-year-old single journalist who wanted to meet a nice girl, fall in love, marry and live happily ever after. And Alison had agreed to give me a face-to-face psychic session and to coach me over the phone for four weekly half-hour sessions to help me achieve my goal.

At her office, Alison, a tall, slim woman of Chinese and Irish descent, said that she had been psychic since the age of 6 when her dead grandmother, who had also been psychic, contacted her to tell her that she had special powers. 

After a brief period of meditation, Alison shuffled an ordinary pack of cards and asked me to pick 14 of them at random. Spreading them out face up in two rows of seven, she began the reading. In the top rank of cards was the queen of spades, directly above the two of hearts. In the near future, Alison said, I would meet a strong, dark, independent woman and have an intimate loving relationship with her. Excellent. But, Alison cautioned that a business woman (the queen of clubs, a couple of cards along), would also be in my life. 

I agreed to talk to her for half an hour every Friday for the next four weeks. She said she would send me a “love crystal”, a smooth pink rock the size of a pound coin that would draw love towards me — a sort of mystic girl-magnet. 

The weekly sessions were surprisingly harrowing. I discovered that, psychic mumbo-jumbo aside, Alison was an excellent psychologist. Her intelligent insights into my inadequacies as a man were profound and painful to confront. She told me that I hid behind jokes and flattery because I didn’t believe the real me was worthy of love. After each session I felt wrung-out but optimistic. And I began to take her seriously. 

She set me homework: listing six negative beliefs about relationships and women; repeating mantras such as: “I love and accept myself as I am”; and listing 50 qualities that I was looking for in a woman. In the final week, with this last list reduced to the most important qualities, I had to draw up a manifesto on a sheet of red paper. Every night, after lighting a candle and clutching my love crystal, 

I’d chant from the manifesto: “I now attract a wonderful, loving, attractive, soulmate into my life without delay.” 

Unfortunately, my flatmates overheard me one night and made my life hell for weeks. I’d be queuing at the bar in the local pub and behind me they would intone: “I now attract two pints of lager and a large gin and tonic into my life without delay.” 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Alison told me to go speed dating. I was twitching with nerves when I stepped into a Knightsbridge bar to meet about 40 single women in their thirties and forties. After chanting under my breath “I love and accept myself as I am . . .” (and attracting a large gin and tonic into my life without delay), I began to feel more confident and actually enjoyed myself. 

I did meet two women I liked. After a couple of dates, one, a tough businesswoman (the queen of clubs?), dumped me, I suspect because during the week I dated her I grew a purple boil the size of a planet on my left cheek. 

The other woman, Mary, well, she’s wonderful. We’ve had many dates (she didn’t even seem to notice the boil) and we have fallen in love. A couple of months ago we went on holiday, I proposed and, guess what, in June we’re going to be married. 

(Note from December 2019: nearly 15 years later, Mary and I are still married and have two lovely children, a boy, 7, and a girl, 10. I don’t work for The Times any more, I now write historical novels full time from home.)

My latest novel Blood’s Campaign is available in hardback from Amazon.

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