A huckster once read some tarot cards and predicted Alf would become Elizabeth Taylor’s umpteenth husband. This was a very grim prediction, because Elizabeth Taylor by then was well past her best-by date.
Joy, oh joy, it never happened, although this may be a consequence of Alf giving Elizabeth Taylor a very wide berth – just in case – and of Mrs Grumble making damned sure Alf gave the fading star a wide berth.
None of the huckster’s other predictions came to anything either, Alf established by checking among those whose futures similarly had been foretold at the time.
This experience prompted Alf to look real hard into the predicting and prophesying business, from horoscopes and tealeaf readings to economic forecasters.
He became highly disillusioned and joined the Sceptics Society, although he is unable to join fellow members at lunch today when they mock the earthquake predictions of Ken Ring.
Moreover Alf became wary of buggers with white beards. The tarot card reader had one. So does Ken Ring, Pete Hodgson, Merlin and Father Christmas.
Mind you, Ring isn’t exactly backing himself because the Herald on Sunday says he is retreating from his prediction that Christchurch will be whacked by a huge earthquake today.
His back-pedalling comes as the Herald on Sunday reveals his background as a magician and fortune-teller – with expertise understanding a cat’s “psychic” influences by studying its paws.
Ring yesterday skipped his untidy West Auckland home to hole up in the $1 million Herne Bay house of daughter Miriam.
He refused to defend claims that have terrified Cantabrians and led to people fleeing Christchurch.
We could accuse the HoS of fear-mongering by publishing Ring’s flight to Herne Bay.
Maybe he knows something he is keeping to himself, and West Auckland is not the place to be today. Its residents would be safer in Herne Bay – or, even better, at lunch with the sceptics in Christchurch.
But how persuasive was Ring’s first online seismic predictions on his predictweather.com website back on 7 September. According to the HoS:
He wrote “the morning of 20 March 2011 sees the South Island again in a big earthquake risk”.
Ring said at 9.44am the moon would be at its closest point to earth for 2011.
“All factors should come together for a moon-shot straight through the centre of the earth and targeting NZ. The time will be just before noon. It could be another for the history books.”
It could be. And then again, it could not.
Ring – by the way – is described as former president of the now-defunct New Zealand Society of Magicians and is described on indexnz.com as a lecturer, speech therapist, author, actor, clown and magician known as Mathman.
He is co-author of Pawmistry: How to Read Your Cat’s Paws, which teaches ways to read a cat’s mood and “explores the psychic influences that numerology and the zodiac have on your cat”.
Did people pay for that book?
Alf is tempted to think Ring is more clown than any of the other things listed on his CV.
Accordingly we should be laughing at him – or with him – if we can’t ignore him.
But ACC Minister Nick Smith reckons Ring is “reckless and “irresponsible” and that he ought to be held to account for his predictions of a further earthquake in Christchurch.
The minister will be joining the the Sceptics Society at lunch at the Sign of the Kiwi, one of the tallest and oldest buildings in Christchurch, at noon today.
The minister has a background in earthquake engineering and a PhD in geotechnical engineering.
He told NBR he had been taken aback by the number of people taking Mr Ring seriously.
“I find it offensive when people make the claim that they can predict the timing of earthquakes particularly given the level of anxiety in Canterbury.”
He said he wished to make a stand and say Mr Ring’s predictions are “mumbo-jumbo nonsense.”
His real grouch, of course, is that more people believe Ring than believe him and other politicians (alas, including Alf).