Ivor the Tarot Man, and a marathon

The Brighton Marathon was just out of the front window of the cat palace as I woke up this morning. I wandered over and watched them from the balcony. All these people slogging their poor bodies so the CEO of a charity can have a nicer car. The sun was shining, with a cool breeze. Lou and I encouraged the runners over breakfast.

Then we went into the throng down on the beach. There they all were with their families. Wrapped in tinfoil, shoes off, walking gingerly or sitting looking spent or getting massages. Finishers. It’s a big feat. And yes I know not every charity is a miasma of corruption. They had collectively raised a lot of money for so many different good causes. I was surrounded by dedicated, brave and ambitious people. Watching them run was definitely a great deal more relaxing than running myself though. I might continue to find other ways of donating to charities. I like my knees too much.

We ended up on Brighton Pier. It was relatively quiet there.

There’s a man called Ivor who works on the pier, doing something very similar to something I did for a while. Reading fortunes.

Here’s a blog from my tarot. You might have noticed I’m doing linky things suddenly. Why not?! Time to bring my hits up. So, Ivor… He’s in an old Gypsy Caravan on the way into the pier. Well located. And likely with better cushions than the one I sat in on Carnaby Street etc.

“Did you build this?” “Nah. It was here already. They just let me use it.” He has a gentle sense of humour, our Ivor. And he’s got a lovely way with his medium. I’m in my sunglasses (they’re lensed so it was that or blind tarot). He probably thinks I reckon I’m a rockstar. I’m not deliberately making it difficult for poor Ivor. I look at him, let him look at me.

To his left he has all his old retired public decks, worn down by so many shuffles over many years of working with them. He’s been in Brighton for thirteen years. Before then he was in Covent Garden and he thought that was forever until some arsehole council guy moved his pitch out of the thoroughfare and the footfall dried up.

It’s always a concern when you pass the deck to somebody. My heart always sinks when they riffle the damn cards.

He passed his well worn third deck to me. I pile shuffled them. It’s efficient, breaks the patterns, and it doesn’t damage them. I’m not going to hasten the end of a well worked in deck.

He had made me sanitise my hands first. He also had a little wooden screen that he was expertly manipulating the whole time to try and make sure he wasn’t going to get closed down by the old cove.

As ever with a good reader, he has arrived at his own ways through trial and error, and there are things that were unique to me about his style. I’m constantly wittering on about tarot as you know. As often as not there’s a deck in my pocket. But I don’t often go and pay real money to somebody else. Good to do it occasionally though even just to contemplate adaptations and interpretations, and to break my own patterns. He offers a corporate service, which is a familiar angle. Sometimes it’s great to have something a little quiet and honest at your messed up celebrity party. It can get out of hand from time to time – “Uhh do you mind if I do some cocaine here while you’re reading, mate?” And I haven’t got the caravan or the time to do it as anything other than a festival shift these days.

He got me to count out ten cards and he marked my pile with a stone. He chose the stone – maybe a black agate? I had bundled in to his caravan in full gobshite intellectual mode, wearing my sunglasses. He likely wanted to amplify instinct. I’d have been worried if I had seen myself come in like that. Intellectuals are so blocked they forget how many ways there are to be clever.

He got me to count another ten cards. Full double Celtic cross here. I’ve never seen it before, never done it before. I’m immediately sucked in to his words and his quick hands and his soft voice.

And he was good. No bullshit. No ego. I’m not gonna meet a tall dark stranger. He’s not trying to force meaning. He’s connecting cards, working fast and eloquently, letting me make my own connections too. Twenty cards makes for a lot of information and it also allows him to downplay the arsehole cards. I love a few fuckercards in a reading. Life is messy. I had 3 of swords in unconscious. He didn’t want to focus on that one – you never want to focus on the negative. I knew exactly why it was there though and even though I welcomed it I was glad to see it crossed with The Chariot which sneaks into every single reading I ever get and I know why that was in unconscious too. It was a very very clear spread and clear message, with an excellent kind man at the fount of it. He drew extra cards to clarify a vague outcome and they kept on aligning with each other. Vague opportunity, vague opportunity vague opportunity. All subject to the old spinning wheel. Around we go. I’m an actor for crying out loud. Life is chance and grabbing hold of the sticks of vague opportunity.

I love it. Symbols. There’s so much you can do with symbols. We assign meaning to everything if we can. We choose in the moment of assignation whether to make that meaning bad or good. Black cat crosses your path? Loads of people think it’s good luck, loads of people think it’s bad. You make the choice.

Ivor is seeking the good and he reminded me to do the same. He pulls Wheel of Fortune and even before it’s on the table he’s saying ‘luck, you’re gonna have good luck.” You could just as easily say “Oh God and it’s all up to random chance!”

At the end he left me remembering that we make the world we are about to step into. We create or destroy the opportunities. It’s easy for a brain to go to an overthought or cynical pathway. Witness my comment about where the charity money for the marathon goes. Ivor told me a story about myself by interpreting symbols, and the story reminded me not to overthink things. He then shared a bit of his wisdom and a bit of his insight, based on his pretty good assessment of me through my treble camouflage of beard, sunglasses and words. I left with an angle, positive things to think about, insights into my patterns and warnings I’d given myself. Not bad for £25, really.

I’m sure if you were to say the magic words “Al Barclay Sent Me,” he would still charge you £25 and say “Who’s Al Barclay?” Nevertheless you’d then get a really insightful tarot reading in the liminal space between sea and shore. If there’s magic didn’t much of it sink with Atlantis? I dunno. Nor do you. He’s not selling magic but if he was and if magic worked he’d be in a good place for it. My thought not his. He’s not pretending to be mister mysterious magic man by any means. He’s extremely adept at interweaving symbols and observing people. I’m a keen amateur and I complicate my hooey by all sorts of random unquantifiable beliefs. Maybe he does too. Doesn’t matter. Ivor’s a pro. Thirteen years in Brighton, probably a good decade or more in London before that.

Better than me coming at you at a festival in a ringmaster coat and a bowler hat with eyes like dinner plates.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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