wellness

The Twins recap: We went to a John Edward reading and just before it ended, we were converted.

It’s a warm Sunday afternoon in Sydney and yes our hands are full of snacks and we’re waiting for a celebrity psychic medium to pass on messages from our dead loved ones.

From the moment we sit down, we’re restless. A woman comes on stage to introduce John Edward – the bestselling author and star of Crossing Over – and makes some jokes about how to hold a microphone if you get the chance to speak and the fact that men are only in the audience so their wives will sleep with them. The audience laughs politely in a way that says, ‘excuse me, lady, my dead family members are trying to reach me and you’re getting in the… way’.

Minutes later, John Edward – a grown man who has convinced intelligent adults all over the world that he can communicate with the dead – walks on stage to raucous applause. It’s like a stand up show except the content is made up solely of the most painful experiences of the audience’s lives.

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He explains the importance of remaining sceptical (Sir, if we were sceptical we wouldn't be... here) and then throws to the audience for questions which we don't appreciate at all because TIK TOK DUDE WE GOT LIKE TWO HOURS WITH THE DEAD HERE.

A young boy asks if there's such a thing as Heaven and we like it very much. John says "yes, 100 per cent", and we believe him because he has an American accent which makes everything sound more convincing.

Someone else asks about dreams (sometimes they're a normal part of grief, sometimes they're A Visit) and another asks about signs (if you smell the perfume of someone who died it's definitely them coming to say "Hi" and not a passerby who happened to buy the same discounted Calvin Klein fragrance).

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Then a man starts to ask a question and NO SHUT UP SOMEONE IS COMING THROUGH WE REPEAT SOMEONE IS COMING THROUGH.

"Your brother died," John says definitively, and just as definitively the man who just wanted to ask his spooky question responds, "Nope".

Oh. 

For a second we think John is going to yell, "YES HE DID YOU LIAR", but instead he just slightly adjusts his claim.

"A contemporary..." he continues. "A brother figure, a friend, a cousin, I'm seeing a male contemporary of yours."

"Nope," the man repeats and goodness we're only minutes in and John has already accused someone of having a dead brother he does not have. 

That's when he shifts focus to a "chipped bone".

"I'm seeing a chipped bone... an X-ray... a broken bone or a chipped bone, what does that mean for you?" he asks the man who just wanted to ask a goddamn spooky question and now he's caught up in some reading he doesn't understand.

But apparently no one this man has ever known has had a chipped bone or a broken bone or a bone of any kind and mate pls give the audience what they want.

John. Doesn't. Like. It.

"What does July mean to you? Or the 7th? Of a month?"

Well. This man's daughter was BORN IN JULY AND CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE IT?

Apparently it's her then. With the male contemporary. And the chipped bone. But... no. She's in the audience too and has no idea whatsoever what Sir John is talking about.

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At this point, other people start standing up.

Watch: John Edward performs a reading on Studio 10. Post continues after video.

Video by Channel Ten

They once broke their ankle. Their grandmother fractured her hip. Their cousin's paternal grandfather was a doctor and sometimes there were patients with broken bones do you understand? 

But John is having none of this. He will not be made a fool of by an Australian audience who is too laid back to even make up a story about a chipped bone for the purposes of everyone else's entertainment.

"WHO WORKED IN FOOD THEN," John asks increasingly frustrated.

"Umm..." the man responds.

"I'M SEEING THE LETTER 'M'."

Someone's grandfather was named Michael.

"WHO IS ONE OF THREE"

"Errr..." the man repeats.

"REMEMBER THAT MISCARRIAGES COUNT."

None of this is ringing a bell whatsoever for the man who wanted to ask a spooky question and is now being told he is tethered to the spirit energy of a younger male that he is absolutely certain he doesn't know. 

"LEUKAEMIA," John shouts and yeah it looks like we're just abandoning the chipped bone line of questioning at this point.

A woman stands and yells, "My son," through tears, "my son died of leukaemia." And we kid you not John says, "I'M NOT WITH YOU IT'S FURTHER DOWN THE ROW".

Oh my, we're sorry for your loss ma'am but it would appear you interrupted John's favourite spirit with your own grief and he did not appreciate it.

But John's spirit guide is now pulling him somewhere between rows six and 12 and he's pointing to a woman. "A name like An... Anne, Annie, Annabelle..." he says and no, she isn't registering.

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Eugh this game isn't as fun when it's not working.

Listen: Mia Freedman interviews John Edward on No Filter. Post continues after audio.

John asks if she knows someone who had surgery and then died soon after, and she immediately says: no.

"See what you just did?" he says. "Lose that. Hear what I'm saying."

HOLY NO JOHN IS GETTING MAD BECAUSE PEOPLE AREN'T TRUSTING HIS PSYCHIC ABILITIES PROPERLY.

"Did you want to come here today?" he asks. "There are 2000 other people here who want the microphone (true)..."

In John's defence, surely everyone knows someone who died after surgery. FFS.

He gets sick of the woman who has apparently never known anyone who died, and moves on to another woman.

And then things get goddamn freaky.

She recently lost her father, and John asks, "Were you at a Basilica? Like in the Vatican or in Italy?"

"I went to Venice and went to St Mark's Basilica..." she says.

"Your dad says to thank you for the prayer you said for him there."

shock

HOW COULD HE KNOW THAT. HOW.

The woman bursts out crying, but John's not done.

"You got stuck in a bathroom?" he continues.

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Through tears, the woman audibly gasps and says she's claustrophobic, and after visiting the Basilica, she got stuck in a bathroom and started to panic.

"He was with you then," John says.

STOP IT.

STOP.

IT.

IMMEDIATELY.

At this point, we have never trusted anyone like we trust John Edward.

BUT THERE'S MORE.

"Did you find his shoes?" John asks confidently, and just this morning before she came here she found his missing slippers. 

"And he's looking after your dog," he adds, before the woman says through tears, "I asked him to look after my dog who died a few months ago... I knew he would."

What the f*ck is going on.

Having given an audience member complete emotional closure on the death of her father, John moves to the other side of the room and Sir is our Nan coming through she was a great lady.

But alas, Nan is busy and there are other more pushy spirits.

After a few questions, he gets to three women: a mum and her two daughters. They've lost their husband and father.

But SHHHH. Shut up. John. Knows. Everything.

He says that someone was feeding an elephant earlier this year (their brother, there was a family joke about it). And someone has a fear of flying since losing their dad (correct). And that there is a framed photo of his favourite dog in the living room and goodness has John been breaking into people's homes? 

"Well f*ck me now I have goosebumps," we say to each other and it would indeed appear that we are in a room full of a) alive people and b) also dead people.

John refers to a photo that's taken on a new meaning since the father's death, and the family describes that in the months before he died, they all went to Greece. Looking through photos recently, they found a photo of their dad standing in the ocean, waving at them.

They're told to retrieve a wedding ring that's gone to someone outside the family, John guesses a name like Eric or Ernie (never met an Australian named Ernie but we'll allow it) and it turns out that ex-girlfriend Erica is no longer part of the family and is keeping the dead man's wedding ring hostage. As of only a few days ago.

Well shit.

We believe in psychic mediums now and this is not the direction we expected tonight to go in.

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But hush there's more.

There's the woman who he asks about her credit card debts (she just paid them off this week) and another who he casually remarks hadn't spoken to her sister for two years before she died (again... correct).

John points to a row and says somewhere there has lost three people. One was a suicide. Another was cancer. And another was heart failure. One woman stands up and says it's her. HOW DID HE KNOW.

That's when things get even creepier.

"You have a lung problem," he says to a woman who sounds just fine to us.

"Yes," she says, before John interjects and asks: "You blew off one doctor's appointment already, why?"

The. Woman. Audibly. Shrieks. And. This. Is. The. Shit. We. Came. For.

John tells her she needs to go back to the doctor and that she'll likely be prescribed a steroid (?) and who needs doctors or scans when you've got Mr. John.

Towards the end of the reading, John goes back to the man who had earlier tried to ask a question, but instead got stalked by a dead person he didn't know.

Upon returning to him, John insists again that someone is trying to come through.

John describes that he had something wrong with his leg, it was amputated or severely injured. The man explains that his dad had a stroke, but before that, he had a fall and shattered his knee leaving him immobile. 

Sir.

SIR.

DO YOU THINK THAT COULD HAVE BEEN THE CHIPPED BONE OUR GOOD FRIEND JOHN WAS RATTLING ON ABOUT AN HOUR AGO. WHEN HE COULD'VE BEEN TELLING US ABOUT OUR DEAD PEOPLE.

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The audience comes to a logical conclusion: John, you see, is always right. It's just the dumb people who sometimes interpret things wrong.

It's a genius technique. Throughout the show, John insists on certain details. "This is what they're showing me," he maintains. "I don't always know what it means so I can only tell you what I'm seeing."

It means the person he's speaking to doubts themselves far before they doubt him. And there's always a chance the signs will make sense when people leave the theatre and really think about it.

Nonetheless, despite all evidence to the contrary, we believe John.

At the end of the show, he asks the mum and two daughters what their father's name was. Angelo, they say.

OF COURSE. That was the 'An' sound he was getting earlier, when he verbally abused a woman for not knowing what he was talking about.

But we can't blame John. It's just that ghosts have horrifically poor diction, everyone knows that.

We leave the theatre feeling confused - on the one hand, a number of people will exit his event feeling like they've communicated with loved ones, many of whom died in particularly sad circumstances. On the other, he sold tickets to humans at their most vulnerable: people who want answers when every bit of logic tells them there are none.

Interestingly, when the dead do connect... they don't really say much. Just "I'm OK" and "forgive yourself" which was pretty much what we assumed they'd try to tell us anyway.

But for some reason, it does feel more significant when someone, with an American accent no less, says it to a room full of 2000 people. Maybe there are some things we just really need to hear out loud.

Sure we have questions. Like how come spirits never speak that clearly to John? Why do they all seem to have speech impediments? How come they're always so vague and telling him they're in rows six to 12, and their name starts with an 'A' sound... like 'Alice', not: "HEY MY NAME IS ALYSSA, I DIED IN A CAR ACCIDENT, SPEAK TO MY MUM FIONA SHE'S 42 AND IN SEAT J6."

John's number one rule for himself is that he doesn't leave anyone worse than he found them. And - in fairness - he delivers on that. The room leaves feeling better than when they walked in. And who are we, two women not yet 30, who have never known the grief of some people in the room, to question that?

Either way, an afternoon with John Edward is unquestionably entertaining. And yes we'd go again - hoping our dead people can have their turn, too.

For more from Clare and Jessie Stephens, you can follow them on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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