Rita, high priestess (special rates for Royals)

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The Independent Online
On Monday, as sweltering afternoon turned to warm evening in the small Derbyshire village of Lower Pilsey, local woman Tina Cave noticed a thrumming sound in the sky overhead. Looking up, she spotted a helicopter circling above the trees. For 10 minutes, she said later, it flew low over the village, as though trying to locate the right house. Finally the helicopter landed in a field, normally a paddock grazed by several horses.

The arrival of the green and cream chopper occasioned great interest among local children. Especially when word got around that its occupants were none other than Dodi Fayed and Didi Wales. Young Emma Radford, 11, told the Daily Mirror that, "When we spotted the helicopter we ran off as quickly as we could to get a camera." Described as a "Mirror reader", Emma showed her fitness for the description by taking a photograph of incredible fuzziness - although she stopped short of doctoring it. Mind you she is only 11, and there is still time.

The loving couple had dropped out of the sky to spend 90 minutes in the company of Rita Rogers, an unremarkable-looking woman in her mid-fifties. Ms Rogers is a discreet psychic whose card reads: "Rita Rogers, Medium. Private sittings and phone readings". We must suppose that she can put you in touch with the dear departed either in the flesh, so to speak, or via a BT connection. Conceivably, she manages some ectoplasmic video- conferencing. Anyway, Ms Rogers' charges are reasonable: ordinary folk pay pounds 35 per hour, and the Princess of Wales has seances for free.

Rita, who is writing a book entitled From One World To Another, emphatically denies that she is other than the real thing. "I am not a fake," she protests. "My job is like being a priestess." Those who study world religions and their history might wonder what is meant by this last claim. Priestesses could be considered a mixed bunch, from the live baby-burners of Baal, to the temple whores of Tanit. We must wait for the book to discover which Ms Rogers has in mind, for she is not speaking at the moment.

The Princess was put on to Rita by none other than the Duchess of York, who - we are told - "turned to the psychic for advice after separating from Prince Andrew".

Fergie was consoled by the prediction that she was not destined to remain alone, but that she would marry a US president. How the dead know these things is beyond me, but I suppose it is one of the few perks that the poor wretches enjoy. Certainly Fergie and Bill would make an interesting couple, what with all that wonking.

Since this introduction, Diana has, apparently, used Rita Rogers to try and contact her deceased father. But why did she visit Lower Pilsey yesterday, taking poor old Dodi with her? Was it, as one newspaper speculated, because she is "keen to know what the future holds for their romance"? I would lay odds that - if this were the case - old Rita didn't tell the pair that they were poison together. Or perhaps Diana generously wished to help her lover get in touch with his own grandmother, a woman who died in her early fifties, according to the Daily Mail, following "a facelift which went tragically wrong". Presumably the face was lifted much too far, leaving the restless ghost to wander howling round Harley Street surgeries, with the modern-day equivalent of holding her head under her arm.

Should we worry? Royalty historically has a penchant for such figures. The Tsarina Alexandra had Rasputin, and if Prince Yousupoff had not poisoned, shot, stabbed and drowned old Rassers, maybe Grigori junior would have been available for our modern female royals. Harrods helicopters would have swooped down on his hovel-cum-bordello just outside Orel, so that much chastising, mortification and other necessary treatments could have been applied.

Instead, today's princesses and duchesses have had to make do with Madame Vasso and the blue pyramid, with Simone Simmons, who saw a "vast black whirlwind of energy" on the side of Diana's bed where a partner might sleep (a description that does not quite fit the essentially docile Dodi), with astrologers galore, therapists of all hues and - of course - fortnightly colonic irrigation. It's a bum deal.

But then, we all get what we deserve, don't we? True of Di, true of us. If we sit open-gobbed in front of the Paranormal World of Paul McKenna, think crop circles are not made by idiots with tractors, mistake night choppers for UFOs and bother to learn precisely nothing about the world around us, then how can we complain about princesses who like to talk to the dead?

Miles Kington is on holiday