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The power of belief

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Michael McIntyre’s autobiography ‘Life & Laughing‘ contains an extraordinary episode, one that may have played an essential part in his becoming a world-famous success as an entertainer.

His mother, a teenager who met his future father when the latter was holding auditions, went into a psychic bookshop in Kensington, London, shortly afterwards, to have her fortune told by a Tarot card reader. The reader was shocked at the cards and called in his colleagues:

‘What is it?’ my mother asked.
Her original reader spoke: ‘You are pregnant.’
‘I’m not,’ insisted my mum. In actual fact she was, but didn’t know it yet. [...]
‘You will have a son,’ continued one of the other readers who had been summoned. ‘He will be world-famous, everybody will know his name, he will do wonderful things. He is special.’
The rest of her reading contained equally far-fetched information about her future. ‘You will have many children. You will live in an old house for five years, and then you and your husband will be separated by seas and by death. That will be £6.50, please.’

All came true. Michael, mostly a very poor student (from disinclination) and who failed to apply hmself in his one year at Edinburgh University because his sights were set on other things, suffered years of failure, rejection and semi-success in stand-up comedy before marriage and new fatherhood lit a fire under him so that he worked flat-out and suddenly made it to the very top.

McIntyre says he is not at all superstitious; but would we know of him today if his mother hadn’t always believed in his special-ness? What if she had criticised and castigated him for his many shortcomings and failures, instead?

It reminds me of a young boy – maybe 12 years old – I met when I was teaching at a children’s home. He was intellectually curious, especially about Romans, and showed signs of originality as an artist. After I had left there I was invited back to the home’s Christmas celebration and was introduced to him by a member of staff, to whom I said, ‘I know X, I’m expecting great things of him.’

The boy didn’t speak, but flushed. I am certain he will never forget this passing remark. I hope that such an expression of belief in him will light his way as he grows up.

The power of words, of another’s faith in you.


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