“Dora Hannides, PHd, Clairvoyant from California,” said the sign on the window of Mysteries, a new-age shop in Covent Garden I sometimes went into. It was dark and crammed to the gills with crystals and self-help books and tarot cards and incense and amulets and shop assistants who looked like dried out ghosts, as if they had been pressed between the pages of a book of spells. I’m surprised I saw the sign, there were so many others – so many people available to tell me the secrets of my ascendant, the answers to my prayers, the meaning of my life – this life – or if I preferred, the meaning of my past lives; I could meet with the dead, I could find out who my spirit guides were – I had three, apparently, a Japanese woman, a Zulu warrior and a Native American (it seemed to me that dead native americans were very busy with this spirit guide business); I could find out the name of my soul-mate. John, a woman in Dublin had breathed into my ear. You’ll meet a John. He is your soulmate. She grasped my wrist with twig-like fingers until I gave her a coin. To this day I’ve never had a lover, or a good friend, called John. Perhaps he’s still waiting for me, just around the corner, all honey-eyes and muscle. Dora held my wrist too. But lightly, her fingers cool and feathery. She stared over my shoulder as she talked, as if the real me were there, a few inches outside of my skin. Dora told me a story. A story I knew already, for it was the story of my life: with one difference: in her mouth this life was a beautiful thing. A meaningful thing. Every twist and turn and collapse necessary and valuable. Not one single event, not one single action, not one single thought, was wrong. I was not wrong. When Dora finished her tale, she turned her head and looked me in the eyes, as if I had entered my skin.