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2004-12, 343, 344, Neil A Radford, Recollections


IN THE December 2003 Biblionews (p135) Alan Rickard recounts a possibly psychic experience which led him to exactly the book he had been searching for in a shop he had never before visited. I have had a similar experience.

A couple of years ago I was in Devon (UK) doing some family history research and discovered a reference that a forebear had died in 1855, aged 28, at a place called Scutari. I had never heard of Scutari but I wrote this down and thought I would look it up one of these days. A week or two later I was in a secondhand bookshop in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. When I make a first visit to a strange bookshop I like to do a thorough prowl around just to see where everything is and how things are arranged. In my prowl through this shop I came to a section on military history, a subject of no interest to me. But unaccountably I stopped there and scanned the shelves. Unaccountably I took down a volume which was a history of the Crimean War. I know almost nothing about the Crimean War and I have no interest in it. I would not normally bother to look at a book about it, but for some reason I opened this book at random. It opened at a photograph of Florence Nightingale and her nurses posed outside the British military hospital in Scutari! A paragraph on the opposite page said that the hospital at Scutari was the main British Army hospital in 1854-55 and Florence was in charge of nursing there. Obviously my forebear must have been in the British Army at the Crimean War, was wounded and taken to the military hospital at Scutari. Perhaps he was even nursed by Florence herself, in vain, alas.

I am not a superstitious person and common sense tells me that psychic occurrences must surely be a lot of nonsense, but I can find no other explanation for this extraordinary event.

Neil Radford



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