Paranormal Investigator Damon Simms has explored many of Staffordshire's spookiest locations. This week, he tells the story of a local fortune teller.
THE paranormal is a fascinating because it raises questions, divides opinions and allows us to consider subjects that do not fit into society's norms.
The very definition of the word paranormal, taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, is "Denoting events or phenomena such as telekinesis or clairvoyance that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding".
If we consider that definition for a moment we see that it describes the paranormal as something that cannot be explained scientifically.
What we are saying is that if we cannot understand something rationally then, by definition, it could be classed as 'paranormal'.
I often talk to people who contact me about how some stories are inexplicable on a personal level.
For example, we don't have to have a full scale UFO invasion for a person to be convinced of the existence of aliens - so long as what they have experienced is convincing enough for them.
A man called Alan spoke to me in the week about his life and he told me how he was raised by his auntie and uncle.
When they passed away, Alan returned back home after the funerals and decided to speak out to see if he could communicate with his loved ones.
As soon as he had finished talking, Alan says the living room door opened against the usual resistance of the thick carpet.
This was proof enough, for him, that the paranormal exists - and that's fine because experiences are about our own personal perceptions.
This week I'd like to tell you of an incident I was told about a number of years ago.
The story revolves around a local fortune teller. We'll call her Iris.
Iris was a very busy clairvoyant whose diary was always full weeks in advance.
On this particular day back in 2006 she was visited by Liz, who was a middle-aged mum of two small boys.
Liz walked up the path to Iris's home and knocked on the door.
After a few moments it opened and there stood an elderly lady who had a very friendly, calming face.
Iris took Liz through to her living room where she conducted a card reading and other spiritual practices to give advice and messages from loved ones.
Liz told me that she felt 'like she was in a void that gave off the calmest of feelings to her - almost like a sanctuary'.
Iris asked Liz to pick from a selection of tarot cards which she did.
Iris put the other packs to one side and took the selected pack from inside the purple silk cloth that covered them.
She handed the cards to Liz and asked her to keep cutting the pack until she felt compelled to hand them back to Iris (this would indicate that her spirit guide was ready to talk to her).
Liz eventually handed the tarot cards over and sat looking at the medium.
'She seemed to go into some kind of state', said Liz. 'Her head lowered and eventually she started to talk slowly and gently.'
'You have two children,' Iris said, turning over the first card. 'Both boys.'
'Yes', confirmed Liz.
Iris turned the second card and said Liz had a happy life and that her job involved caring for others.
'Yes. I'm a care nurse,' said Liz - surprised at all the information Iris seemed to know about her.
Again and again Iris turned the cards and each time she calmly provided Liz with detailed and specific information that she didn't believe Iris could have known or guessed.
Finally, the session was finished and Liz thanked Iris for a most memorable and fascinating sitting.
Then, just as Liz was about to get up to leave, Iris grabbed her hand across the table and said: 'Your eldest son, I can't see him after his next birthday!'
Liz yanked her hand free in shock and almost disgust at what Iris had just said.
She stormed out of the house and returned home, shaken but not willing to let 'made up rubbish' play on her mind.
Liz said she put the experience down to clever manipulation and using leading questions to play tricks on her mind.
Eventually her eldest son's birthday arrived and, although the fortune teller's words did come to mind, she laughed it off and set about giving him the best birthday ever.
He was finally a teenager. Thirteen.
One of the presents he had received from his mum and dad was a skateboard.
Liz's son took the board out into the street and, with a friend, took it in turns to try to jump the curb.
After about an hour the door burst open to the house and Liz's son's friend was in a state of panic.
He eventually got his words out: 'Danny's been knocked over.'
Liz said it felt like she was 'watching a movie' as she rushed outside to her son.
Had the fortune teller been right all along?
As she neared Danny she could see that thankfully it wasn't as bad as she had feared.
He had been hit by a vehicle but not at great speed and he was left with bumps and bruises.
Other than that he was perfectly fine. She found it amusing yet frustrating that she had allowed Iris to 'get in to her head so much'.
A week went by and she was sat downstairs watching TV while her husband was reading the newspaper.
'What was the name of that fortune teller you went to see,' asked her husband.
'Iris,' she answered. 'Why are you asking?' Liz replied.
'Because she's in the paper,' said her husband.
'She's in the obituaries. She died last week - on our Danny's birthday.'
Liz suddenly went cold with the realisation that when Iris claimed she could not see her son after his birthday it was actually a premonition of the fortune teller's own death.
In this amazing world of ours some things aren't always what they seem at first.
It's worth saying that Liz still attends regular tarot readings. Nowadays she takes them much more seriously, however.