Wednesday, 23 December 2015
ERNEST PAGE, A MOST SIGNIFICANT SOOTHSAYER
Ernest Britten Page was an extraordinary man and looked exactly the way I have always imagined John The Baptist would look. I think I must have met him in the early 1960s in one of those all night coffee bars that flourished uneasily in the grubby streets of Soho and Covent Garden at the time. He was intentionally homeless and during the day slept in the reading room at the British Museum or on the Circle Line, which then did what Circle Lines are supposed to do, hour upon hour encircling central London. By eight each evening he emerged refreshed and ready for another night’s work casting horoscopes and interpreting astrological charts which in 1964 cost five shillings apiece. Ernest was no mere forecaster but rather a mystic of immense depth and intuition. His sensitivity to the human condition was unsurpassed and he was unique among the many misfits who frequented the night streets of the city claiming either to have found or to be searching for `answers’. He is said to have been a post office worker for the first twenty years of his working life, one of those who weighed parcels and issued postage stamps to orderly queues. One day whilst eating a cheese and pickle sandwich at lunchtime in Hammersmith he decided to give up his mundane job and from that moment the local postmaster never laid eyes on him again. Ernest walked into central London, grew his hair and a long white beard and did what he had always wanted to do, cast horoscopes. He was particularly adept at Horary Readings where the concerned client asked a question to which the possible answer was of enormous concern to them and Ernest constructed a chart by noting the exact time at which the question was asked. A number of young women like myself, suffering varying degrees of unrequited love, lined up on Friday and Saturday evenings to ask our strikingly similar questions. Ernest was consistent in his predictions for me – the man I adored did not adore me; he advised me to leave him but knew that I would not do so. He then told me precisely when I would leave, down to the very month – February 1968. My closest friend in those years had recently had a baby, a child who was to have significant health problems in years to come. Ernest accurately predicted a number of events that would occur in the child’s future, including some unexpectedly tempestuous and turbulent incidents. At the time we treated the matter light heartedly and I had almost forgotten it until reminded recently by the child herself, now a middle aged woman who still has the original reading that Ernest charted that night. Later in the sixties her mother and I came across Ernest again and were shocked when he said with no hint of trepidation that he would not be available for future astrological work as he expected that his life was soon to end. Within a week or so he was found dead in a deck chair in St. James Park, the sunny day enticing him away from the Reading Room and the depths of the London Underground system. It was an enormous shock to all who knew him. For one thing, despite the fact that his general appearance led his friends and acquaintances to assume that he was an elderly man, Ernest Page was in fact only in his early fifties. It has been both pleasing and satisfying to be once more reminded of him and more than thought provoking to attest to the precision of his predictions.