Behind the scenes with... Tony. In this exclusive interview he takes editor Sue Farrow from Psychic News behind the scenes, talking about his work and home life, and going public with a very happy announcement...
How old were you when you had your first paranormal experience?
I was eight. A lot things kicked off at that age, in as much as I became aware of things that other people weren't aware of. I was a very ordinary kid, but my grandma was around a lot and I think I made a flyaway comment about the man I’d often felt in the corner of our house. She looked horrified. Of course she couldn't see him and she quizzed me a bit about what he looked like, what was he doing, and why was he there. Of course I didn't know those things, I just knew he was in the corner. It was quite a memorable twenty minutes of my life, and I remember thinking: ‘My God! Why can’t she see him? Why doesn’t she know that he’s there?’ It was just the general presence of someone, it wasn't like a huge thing where he came with a message.
Did your unusual ability cause you any problems in childhood?
Not really. Just a sense of strangeness that other people couldn't see what I saw. I wrote about a particular experience in one of my books. I was eight, and I played with other kids in a place called the ‘gunny They were old World War II gun emplacements that were dotted around the south coast of England, and we had lots of them on Canvey Island, where I grew Lip. When we played in them we would run around, and there was one particular building where you could run from one doorway through to another, and You knew it would be absolutely pitch black in the middle. So you’d just keep on running — that was the game. One day, when it was my turn to run, I ran as fast as I could, and a big bright orange glow appeared in the darkness. I kept on running towards it, not knowing what was doing. I can see it as clearly today as I did then. It was a man sitting at a desk, head down, writing with a pen in some kind of ledger. It was the strangest thing, because it was almost like he didn't know I was there. I ran through that vision and out the other end. My heart was pumping and I shouted to the others, ‘I think I've seen a ghost!’ but no one believed me. I felt a little bit aggrieved. I’m 44 now, and I can still remember that feeling clearly.
Did you have a particular teacher who mentored you?
Yes, a lady called Joan Barham, and also Marcia Ford. Sadly, both of them have now passed. They were wonderful, and I was very lucky. It all happened because I went along to the Spiritualist church out of curiosity after my Nan died. I was sixteen, and she had died a few weeks earlier. My sister’s friend, Mandy, told us that she’d been to see a medium and I thought, ‘My God!’ I’d only seen the film Blithe Spirit, with Margaret Rutherford playing the medium Madame Arcati! Mandy asked if I’d like to , come along to a Spiritualist meeting and I said I would. So six or seven of us went on a Sunday evening and that was the first day I met Joan and Marcia. I remember sitting in the audience, thinking ‘Please don’t anyone speak to me: Anyway, the medium was good and left an impression on me, but I didn't get a message.
What do you believe is the most important purpose of mediumship?
I think its quite simply to rescue people. It’s to take away the fear of death in the living. You see that all the time. You see people out of touch, giving up hope, then suddenly the light switches on and they get to live the rest of their physical life knowing that they’ll be reunited with those they've loved who have gone before them. You see goodness in other people, too, because you recognise that as difficult as someone’s behaviour might be on the outside, their soul is desperately trying to manifest. All that separates them from living a full life is the ego, the mental imbalance, the chemical imbalance. Those are the only things that stand in the way. Everyone’s soul is beautiful, and so you give people more of an opportunity to shine.
Do you recall a piece of evidence you've given to somebody that’s actually stunned you?
Can I say ‘all the time’? That sounds so egotistical doesn't it? Last night I was going through old emails from weeks back, as I’d been travelling. A lady had written to thank me for the one-to-one reading I did for her. I remembered it well, because she sat there and I told her about a lady in the spirit world who was 37. She didn't say yes or no. When I read for someone, I’m often in an altered state. My eyes are open and I’m talking, but I very rarely look at my client. I carried on for this lady, and I saw very tall windows in a space that felt like a hospital, but wasn't. I knew the spirit woman had been heavily depressed. I knew she’d hung herself from the window, but I was still getting no response from my client. But I was so convinced I needed to follow this through, so I looked at her and asked if she knew this lady. She said it was her sister-in-law. So I went through all the information again, and what the client gave me in her energy was not just ‘yes but ‘Oh my God’. And that relief lifts your mediumship higher. Then I saw the word ‘Michelle I said this, and the client was so surprised that she was quite colourful with her language, saying ‘Oh my that’s her name! And I thought to myself — ‘My God, how brilliant is that!’
It must be a wonderful thing to do that for people.
I love it, especially the private readings. There’s no pressure, it’s just you and the client. I've got a very comfortable space where I read and my studio space is beautiful. I've got candles alight, and I sit there with my shoes off and work an hour at a time. I can’t read in less than an hour. It’s so special, because I constantly have my own belief reaffirmed. I don’t know these people when they come in, and I love that feeling of being in the presence of the spirit world.
What, in your opinion, is the most important quality in a medium?
I think it’s probably selflessness. Although I’m a working medium, it’s not about us mediums, it’s about the people we’re reading for. I may talk with my peers, saying how fab it is when you get everything bang on, or how terrible it is when it goes badly and you feel awful for people, but that’s making it about ourselves, which it isn't. I think YOU just need to surrender yourself to the experience, to whatever that experience is going to be. Sometimes I’ll work with a client and feel I've got nowhere, and almost invariably they’ll come back and say it was life-changing. On the other hand, if I feel it’s gone swimmingly well I, they’ll always want more from me. You really have to take yourself out of the equation.
And finally, what do you like to do in your free time?
Well, Stuart and I have our daughter, Marnie, and we've got another child on the way — a little boy. God willing, he’s doing very well at the moment, very healthy in the womb, and he’s due at the end of November. Everything’s ready for him. We’re going to call him Finn Alexander, and we’re very excited. I also love walking and these days I do it with a buggy in front of me and the dogs at my sides, rather than on my own. A few years ago we bought a very small, modest bungalow in Gran Canaria and we go out there four or five times a year. It’s our private time with the family. We walk by the ocean — that kind of thing. There’s also a gorgeous mountain view, If people had said to me prior to our becoming parents that having a child changes you, I might not have understood. But it does change you a lot — it’s certainly changed me. I find myself getting emotional a lot of the time — I’m all over the show, You start to really understand and empathise a lot. So, if I can reconnect people with someone they thought they’d lost forever, there’s nothing better I can do.