Great. I've always wanted to try something like this, but was waiting to have something wrong with me. So what was happening at ten past seven? A reiki session, Claire told me. I knew this was some kind of Japanese hocus-pocus, but didn't know what it involved.
I've got good at staying calm and keeping my expectations neutral, and I was doing these as I rang the doorbell on the dot. The therapist appeared, looking relaxed and friendly. She showed me into the sitting room, where some monks were singing ambient music. 'OK, can you strip down to your underwear and lie down on the couch, please?' she said. 'Oh Jesus,' I thought, regretting choosing my old Dukes of Hazard pants and starter bra. 'Only joking,' she said. A wave of relief went over me – was this part of the therapy?
I lay on the sofa and closed my eyes as instructed. 'I'm going to put my hands over your face – they smell of chocolate brownies.' In other circumstances, this would be fighting talk, but I went along with it.
The first effect was an immediate warm feeling on my face, like being under a sun lamp. I do – or, more accurately, did – meditate occasionally, and knew the feeling that you get from it. But the feeling that it takes ages to get when meditating started immediately – a feeling like my eyeballs were moving upwards ... then the colour show:
1. Different-coloured circles appearing one by one then shrinking as the next one appears.
2. Blobs of clotted blood dancing around on a background of fresh blood.
3. Clouds of tiny bubbles darting around in bluish water.
4. Same as 2, but with a different basic colour.
5. A dark blue carpet with fine gold lines in a clover pattern.
In the middle of the show there were two other effects: first some random worry-type thoughts, which I can't remember, like when you remember the feeling a dream gave you but can't quite pin down the details. All I remember is that Pam Ayres featured.
Then, towards the end, I suddenly had no idea what position my body was actually in, but it felt like I was standing up and bent into some awkward shape – back twisted, head turned right round. Not painful at all, but the fact I couldn't feel I was lying down was strange.
After the twisted body interlude, I sank back into the colour show. This was eventually interrupted by the sound of the door of the room opening, followed by various household noises. I gradually remembered that I lived in the real world. I had no memory of the beginning of the session, but had a vague feeling I didn't want to move.
'Have you nodded off?' said the therapist, handing me a glass of water.
'No ... just ... light great ... colours ... Pam Ayres feeling.'
'Have a drink.'
I had a drink of water, and sat up, feeling groggy but great. As I came round, I described the experience to the therapist, who seemed pleased with the result. I asked her to take a photo of me pretending to see colours.
'Thank you and goodbye, Doctor Haining,' I said as I left ... 'Hang on ... haven't I seen you before somewhere?'