Fear and Loathing in Academia
Gold Leaf

Why Did You Do It?

I read in The Times that a spiritualist medium has been arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife. David Chenery-Wickens, 51, said he was the last person to see her alive, and she has been missing for a week. Apparently he acts as a minister at several spiritualist churches. Friends described him as someone with a ‘nice manner and a caring attitude’, and said he was often called away to visit hospital patients who are ‘passing over to the other side’.

I don’t know whether there is any actual evidence against him, and it’s pointless to speculate. But the idea of a medium committing murder did set off a train of thought.  We are used to seeing members of the clergy getting into trouble for sexual abuse, so it’s hard to think of them as being any less fallible than the rest of us. You would think that their sense of right and wrong would stop them committing crimes and hurting other people, but apparently in some cases it doesn’t.

For a medium to commit murder would be the same sort of paradox, but vastly magnified. It’s not just that as spiritualists they share Christian ethics; they are  supposed to see and communicate with the dead. For a homicidal medium, then, the victim is as alive after the terrible deed as he or she was before it. As I say, it’s just a thought, and one very much hopes that if something has happened to Mrs Chenery-Wickens, her husband had nothing to do with it. But supposing he did, I can’t help wondering what sort of conversation the two of them are having right now.

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