Twenty years ago today my nanny Elsie Maud Harris passed away peacefully at the age of 89. She was a great character full of life and great stories. I wrote this story a few years after she died and I’d sort of forgotten about it but have been sorting through my old files this week as I have a new PC and came across it again. Aptly I thought that I’d share it in her memory today!
The big exit
By Debbie Harris
A very short story for Elsie, my Grandmother, aka the Duchess of Woodland Road, who loved gossip, celebrity and jumble sales.
Elsie knew that today it was going to be someone big. From her window she could see the Heaven 11 TV Crew busy rigging for the shoot. As usual they had secured prime position at the head of the celestial elevator and she could just make out the figure of Russell Harty, clip board in hand, talking in animated style with Peter, the keeper of the gate. Behind them a swelling crowd of hacks and their photographers jostling for position.
The vibrations had begun in the early hours and they had woken Elsie from one of her deep life dreams. To the others living in Blue Yonder this ability to connect with the Before Life was seen as a gift and she had a regular stream of visitors every day eager for news of their past and their loved ones. Of course there were those who accused her of being a charlatan and a fraud but she put this down to jealousy and frustration. For many the Before Life was little more than a jumble of dimming memories and half felt emotions. They longed for her gift of Recall.
Just as in the Before Life there were those in Blue Yonder who milked this need for a connection with the past. There were now endless day time chat shows where old celebrities trawled through distant memories to spill the beans on the living. Then there was Goodbye Magazine. Not long after his arrival Robert Maxwell had taken over the Celestial Media Corporation and launched this glossy title to great acclaim. Its circulation was booming. Maxwell claimed to have the gift, although Elsie remained sceptical. There were too many inaccuracies and more than a tendency to sensationalise.
Time back Elsie had been approached to work on the title and was still toying with the idea when the Queen Mother Story broke. One of Goodbye’s up and coming cub reporters claimed to have felt vibrations of her immanent arrival sending the celestial media machine into full swing. There were previews, death style articles and countless interviews with every past Royal from Mountbatten to Wallace Simspon. Like today the ravening hoards were camped out at the top of the elevator clamouring for the first glimpse of her arrival. In the end the day had turned out to be a complete let down. Amongst the thousands of souls to arrive there were just a few minor celebrities and a third rate dictator from a South American banana republic. The incident had made Elsie’s mind up for her. She would stick to the thing she did best and continue with her personal consultations.
The decision had certainly paid off. Today like most days her diary was absolutely full although she suspected that if the feeling she got from the vibrations were right she may have to create a window for the new arrival.
It happened during the second consultation of the morning – a particularly difficult second world war re-death session. The vibrations became so strong that Elsie lost connection just as the bomb whistled its way towards a row of life terraced houses. Apologising to her client, Elsie made her way to the window . At the top of the escalator she could see the pack moving in. Shouts went up, and lights flashed as the mass of bodies surged towards a plume of glittering mist.
Elsie knew at once that this arrival had managed to slip the net and evade the clamouring hoards . It happened every now and again especially with those who came suddenly and for whom the powers of Recall were still strong. Elsie was sure she knew who it would be, just as she was sure that any moment now there would be a knock at the door.
When the knock came Elsie’s heart was in her mouth. In the Before Life she would be frantically powdering her nose and putting on her best red lips but here none of that mattered here. There would be no need for tea in bone china and biscuits on doilies – even for a visitor with a past as glamorous and privileged as this one. Her nervousness today caught her unawares. In this place she’d had audiences with the likes of Lawrence Olivier and Dean Martin with out batting a celestial eyelid.
The opening of the door released the knot of butterflies from Elsie’s stomach. Her guest was standing poised at the entrance. The vibrations had been right this arrival was bigger than anything the Blue Yonder had witnessed for years. And she was the first to witness it.
“Do come in Diana ” she said kindly “sit down beside me dear and tell me all about it”.