Here is a last series of excerpts from A Venture in Immortality, by David Kennedy. See the previous two posts for other excerpts.
In trance [the medium] Albert Best spoke to me. "Ann is here again, she is saying something about Sauchie. (This is a village in Clackmannanshire.) I replied that yesterday I had officiated at a wedding where the bride came from Sauchie. He continued, "The groom was another Kennedy, not you, Iain." I agreed that the name of the groom was Iain Kennedy. Next followed, "What did you do to the best man? … Ann says that you did something discourteous but not intentional to the best man!" This was absolutely true. I absent-mindedly closed the official reception without giving the best man the customary opportunity of replying to the toast to the bridesmaid.…
"Ann says you must attend to your socks and buy a few more pairs. You had a hole in one that you wore at the wedding." Again true. To my horror I discovered at the function that a hole was showing above the heel of my shoe. "There is something wrong with your shoe which you are wearing. Take it off." I took off my shoe and discovered that the sole was separating from the upper part on one shoe. This was totally invisible and could only be seen by probing at the joint of upper and sole with a pencil. Still more remarkable facts were to come. Albert, in trance, continued: "Ann is saying that there is something wrong with a light". Now as it happened the bulb in my study burned out the previous night when I was about to finish work and go to bed. I had made a mental note to buy a new 250 watt bulb but had not yet done so. I told Albert Best that my study lamp had gone out. Now this coincidence was a perfectly good explanation of what he claimed Ann had said, "Something wrong with a light". There was a pause and silence for almost half a minute. "No. This is not the light she is talking about. She says that the light could be dangerous." Another pause, then, "Would you please," she says, "check the lights on your car when you leave here. There is something wrong with one of them and that could be dangerous." Immediately after the session I went outside to where my car was parked and tested the lights. I found that my near-side side lamp was out. I also found that the wire behind the side light assembly was hot after the lights had been on for a few minutes.
Here was a source of danger, both of fire and the obvious danger of driving at night without a front side-light. There was no conceivable way in which Albert Best could have been aware of this defect in my car. He had not even seen my car for weeks and in any case it was mid-summer and I would not have my lights on. In addition, there was the heating of the wire behind the light assembly. I am particularly impressed by this piece of evidence from Ann. It could not be known to any human agency, of this I am convinced. This is an example of something which is quite outside any kind of telepathic explanation. It is simple and yet it fulfills all the requirements of a non-telepathic condition....
It appears to be possible for helpers and loved ones on the other side to be aware of sources of potential danger and to try to give warning. This kind of evidence is very difficult to explain except on the survival hypothesis. [pp. 124-126]
In a first-time meeting with another medium, Mrs. Constable, some very good evidence was obtained.
She began, "You are working on a book just now but I feel that you have got stuck. Leave it aside for the moment and tonight just try to relax and scribble down any ideas that come to you, for half an hour or so." Suddenly she stopped, as though interrupted by someone whom she could hear, but who was not audible to me. "What's that you say? It's a lady speaking, she says, 'Tell him not tonight because he has to go out tonight'." I replied that I had an afternoon appointment but that I was free this evening and intended to be at home. "Oh no!" was the reply. "She says you are going to get a telephone call which will change your arrangements in the next few hours."
Mrs. Constable continued, "There is a lady here comes – the lady who spoke just now – a lovely lady – very beautiful – especially her hair. She says, 'Tell him it was my teeth.' She had trouble with her teeth. She is very quiet – shy. She does this to her mouth (here Mrs. Constable put her hand over her mouth) as though she used to hide her mouth or her teeth with her hand."
I must emphasize how completely accurate this description is of my wife. She had a shallow palate and gums. For years of her life, until she died, she was plagued by the problem of finding dentures which were comfortable and even wearable. All together she had four sets of dentures at the time of her death. We used to have a private joke between us. She would say to me, "If I ever come back to you after I die, I'll just put my hand over my mouth and say, "Remember my teeth'."…
At 12 noon, a few minutes after I arrived home, I received a telephone call from the [people I had an afternoon appointment with]. The call was to ask me if I would mind coming out in the evening instead of the afternoon....
This knowledge on Anna's part of the course of the next few hours and the fact that I would be involved all evening might be brushed off as coincidence; a guess on the part of the medium. Yet if it were so, it was a detailed guess because it also mentioned a telephone call changing my plans. The chances of my plans for an entire evening being changed by something of this nature are very, very slender. It has happened to me once in the last two years. I regard this as a significant type of evidence of a non-telepathic nature. [pp. 141-142]
From a session with Albert Best:
Finally, Albert Best continued, "Ann is very light-hearted and as she goes off she says again to you, 'Enjoy yourself, you need relaxation' and smiling broadly she says, 'Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.' You'll hear about that later she says.…"
On the veridical nature of the statements, my first comment is that as I write this twenty-four hours later, I have just been handed a present of a bottle of Jamaica Rum by a member of my congregation who has returned from holiday. [p. 152]
Refreshingly, Kennedy acknowledges his own biases; and he includes some trenchant remarks about belief and disbelief:
This is a tendentious book. It begins with a theoretical belief in survival and communication and proceeds to show what happened in one particular instance when one's theories become existential problems. I believe that to acquire this amount of evidence of survival in so short a time would probably not be possible for most people. I was fortunate in so far as my wife and I shared a knowledge of psychical research over twenty-five years and latterly came to accept that evidence as strong enough to say that we both believed in survival. We were therefore agreed that when death parted us we would, whichever of us went first, and it seemed likely to be Ann, try to produce for the other one on this side the best evidence possible.
My part in this was to make this possible by having fairly frequent sittings with mediums of known quality. The fortuitous part which figures so largely is the fact that I knew Albert Best, one of Britain's finest mediums.…
At the same time it is fair to warn the reader that I have been pleading a case. I believed in survival and I hoped strongly that after Ann died I would receive evidence. I am not objective in this; but because I am aware of my desire to find myself in contact with Ann I have tried to guard against hearing what I desire to hear. All my sittings with mediums which were prearranged were tape-recorded and I am satisfied that I did not convey information.
I have experienced sittings with mediums which were unsatisfactory in the sense that the messages were vague and could have applied to anyone. This happened on three or four occasions during the six months since Ann died… One becomes able to recognize easily the medium who is simply filling in. Sometimes I have been convinced the filling in was conscious and fraudulent. At other times I felt that the hotch-potch of unrecognized names and allusions was not consciously fraudulent. Nevertheless, sterile and abortive sittings of this nature do take place and while I have not written down the details, it is fair to warn the reader that looking for evidence of survival has its setbacks too....
I do not claim that any one incident described in this book should stand on its own. I do claim that at least in the view of any fair-minded person a strong "prima facie" case for Ann's survival is established by the totality of the evidence presented. Human beings cannot leave existential questions in the vacuum of suspended judgment. They either make the leap from probability to belief or withdraw into disbelief. This may well depend on emotional factors in each of us. [pp. 156-159, 165]