At the end of last week I had a meeting with Dez Richards, a spiritual medium based in Trispen, just outside of Truro. After taking part in one of his ‘sittings’ (an interesting experience to say the least) I made clear the fact that I was a student of journalism and asked him whether he would be up for an interview.
Being a psychic I liked to think that he already had some notion of my ulterior motives, and he gladly accepted the interview invitation.
I visited again a few days later to sit down with Dez and talk about his work and how he came to discover his spirituality. Below is the opening paragraphs of my feature so far:
The inside of Dez Richards’ car is not tidy. The silver BMW 3 Series is filled with items which seem to have no right filling the back seats of a car; a sleeping bag, an empty four pint milk carton, a supermarket carrier bag brimming with miscellaneous trinkets, empty food containers, cigarette lighters, paper folders, envelopes, one hat and one scarf. An under-achieving air freshener in the shape of a strawberry dangles lazily from the passenger door grab-handle.
“Sorry,” he says, “this car is kind of like my mobile office when getting from A to B.”
Dez is middle-aged and unshaven with long, slightly greying hair tied back into a loose pony tail. Bold features lend an air of the Native American – rounded forehead, flat nose and wide chin – fitting for someone who makes a living as a spiritual Medium. This is not, however, native America; it is Truro, England, and Dez is wearing faded blue jeans and skate shoes with a turquoise hoody and dark blue body-warmer completing the least esoteric outfit imaginable.
The radio plays sugar-coated pop songs as the car, suffering from a bout of malfunctioning rear differential, blows and rattles its way through a pot-holed country lane laced with patches of minor flooding and wayward chickens. Pengelly Farm comes into view, a 500-achre Cornish dairy farm a few miles outside the city of Truro which plays host to a conglomeration of stone farm houses, B&Bs and holiday cottages. This is where Dez lives and works; a static caravan adjacent to a field of particularly vocal cows and surrounded by trees, presumably as not to offend those spending in excess of £1,000 a week to rent a cottage in the height of summer. Mediumship, it might come as no surprise, is not a lucrative business in the 21st Century.
“I’ve been down to my last 20 quid in the world, and I still wouldn’t turn my back on what I do,” he explains, flicking a switch on the kettle. “Tea, coffee? I’m a part-time bus driver too, and if I went and did that full-time I could earn 500 quid a week. But that’s not me. I’ve chosen this way of life and my way of proving what I preach is by doing it.”
‘It’ is providing emotional and spiritual help to those that need it, and although Dez has been providing it for 15 years, he first made contact with the spirit world when he was just a child.
“I was hit by a car when I was five, went into shock and didn’t speak for nearly two weeks. I would love to go in to hypnotherapy and find out where I went for those two weeks because I have vivid memories of being inside the hospital, but that’s about it. But my belief now is that during that time I was protected and spent more time in the spirit world than this side.”