Is there anybody there?

PUBLISHED: 18:09 30 September 2009 | UPDATED: 17:16 16 August 2010

CLAIRVOYANTS: James Van Praagh and Tony Stockwell.

CLAIRVOYANTS: James Van Praagh and Tony Stockwell.

I VE always had a healthy suspicion of so-called psychics and clairvoyants, writes Kate Mead. As much as I love the idea of being able to get in touch with

I'VE always had a healthy suspicion of so-called psychics and clairvoyants, writes Kate Mead.

As much as I love the idea of being able to get in touch with your long-dead loved ones, I have always been conscious of the odd charlatan, whose only powers are that of deduction, making money out of vulnerable and grieving people.

So when I was offered the chance to have my own reading with Tony Stockwell - of The 6ixth Sense and Most Haunted Live fame - I jumped at the chance.

On first impression, Stockwell immediately came across as someone who couldn't possibly be a con artist - he was too damn decent - and seemed to genuinely enjoy "getting it right" for people.

"I don't get there every time," he admitted "But I have had some triumphs, when I get it right it is great but I am always the first to say if it is not going well. I just keep trying to get it right.

"You have to be in the zone - it can sometimes be like struggling to get a signal on your mobile phone."

And his undoubting knowledge of 'the other side' seems positively unwavering, and not at all unsettling.

"Some people seem proud of themselves, saying 'when you're dead, you're dead' and that always makes me grin," he said.

"Of course there is an after life, and we are all going there."

He even claims that he has had the odd celebrity, such as Princess Diana and his idol John Lennon, 'come through' in readings.

He said: "I did a reading for the girlfriend of (former Rolling Stone) Brian Jones and Lennon came through, they used to be friends."

It is claims like this that could make the sceptics among us chortle with cynicism, but Stockwell is unfazed by criticism.

"When you say you are a medium it can be a sensitive issue to some people. But with others it is almost as though it gives them absolute permission to be disrespectful.

"I did a late night radio chat show and it was horrific, they had a comedian to interview me and they just ripped into me.

"It's funny as I would automatically get respect if I was a priest and we both believe in an afterlife. They might not get what I do but they should recognise that I am a person with something that I never asked for and never set out to do."

Soon it was my turn to test out his mediumship.

I waited with anticipation for his thoughts about my friend - let's call him "Dave" - whose picture I had with some trepidation sent to Stockwell, to see what came up.

I had to stave off some feelings of guilt of opening up the memory of this late, great, close friend of mine, but Stockwell's gentle nature put me at ease. But the experience left me feeling confused. On one hand, there were references to Dave that were correct - certain lifestyle habits, personality traits and the cause of his death.

But the logical person in me reckoned that this could have been gleaned by his appearance in the picture and cold, hard, facts like the location of his death, his name and his age were either missing or wrong.

That said, Stockwell predicted scaringly accurately a conversation I had had just days before with a family member, and one that would be nigh on impossible to predict.

"It's difficult on the phone," Stockwell conceded "it would be easier for him to come through if we were in the same room.

"But I hope that this has been of interest and shown you that I am not some nutter," he joked.

So, despite the accuracy of my own reading being mixed, Stockwell charmed me - but whether he has 'the gift' or not is perhaps only something that can be proved on the 'other side'.

* Tony Stockwell is appearing with US medium James Van Praagh next Thursday at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. Box office: 020 8688 9291.

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