Chip off the old block!
But this reader didn’t inherit her dad’s psychic ability
Growing up, it wasn’t unusual to find a severed hand on the kitchen table or a crushed torso in the living room.
My dad brought them home, but the stray body parts were made of bronze, which he restored.
The squashed torso was an Rodin sculpture someone had tried to steal. Only the thief had dropped it as they fled, and it went under a car.
Dad was tasked with putting it back together again.
His work had always fascinated me, and in my 20s I followed in his footsteps. Now, I restore historic statues. But that’s not the only way my remarkable dad John has influenced me. His life story is like something from a movie, and inspired my second career as a writer. Growing up in Dagenham, Dad’s French mother Lucy whom I was named after, was said to be a witch. ‘I once walked with her past a garden she’d cursed,’ Dad told me when I was a girl. ‘All the flowers and plants in it had died.’ I’ve no idea where her esoteric side came from, but it rubbed off on Dad. Severely dyslexic, he struggled at school and as a young lad accepted an apprenticeship with the circus. While on the road, he learnt to read playing cards and gave advice based on what the numbers said.
When he left the circus, Dad was posted to Egypt to do his National Service. His troop did target practice in the desert, aiming at ancient pyramids and sphinxes! ‘I didn’t know the significance of these structures, but I knew they were powerful,’ Dad told me. ‘It felt wrong to fire at them.’ When he returned to the UK, Dad wanted to spend the rest of his life repairing and
Dad’s life story is like something from a movie
restoring statues. He trained at the Central St Martins, where he met Mum. Dad didn’t let his psychic side slide. He carried on card reading, and his reputation meant people travelled from all over the world to see him. One client paid him with a bag of rubies! His gift could have been inherited – Dad always felt psychic protection surrounding him at various times in his life.
I shuddered as he recounted when he was working on a memorial in Leicester.
Teetering on a ladder, Dad suddenly felt the structure move, rendering his ladder completely unstable.
Witnesses were shouting from the ground, but there was nothing Dad could do.
Then, out of the blue, he felt a kind of force pushing him and the memorial into place. To the people on the ground, it must’ve looked like magic!
It sort of was...
I miss him
I’m proud that Dad and I worked on the same restoration projects. After WWII, he was paid £100 to go up Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square to check if it was wobbly. Years later, in 2006, I worked on it, too. I was grateful how much times had changed though, as I was provided with scaffolding, whereas Dad used ropes! My dad also influenced my second career as an author.
My first novel, A Rarer Gift Than Gold, features a central character who can read cards.
The plot surrounds the myth of alchemy, and is a conspiracy theory about whether parts of history have been tweaked.
My main character is a patineur, a specialist in restoring bronze and colours statues. I link this little known profession with alchemy as, although two patineurs can have the same palette or set of skills, the finish of the statue will be different. There’s a little bit of mystery involved. Sadly, my dad died last December, aged 86. I miss him terribly. But, while I haven’t inherited his psychic ability, I know in my heart he is watching over me. It’s in the cards!
He always felt psychic protection around him in his life
For info about Lucy’s books, see her website www.lucybranch.com For more on bronze conservation see www. antiquebronze.co.uk