Hilary Fannin: I’d forgotten I had a guardian angel

They used to come free with a convent-school education

Photograph: Thinkstock

Photograph: Thinkstock


All the lonely peopleI didn’t use my real name when I filled in the very short online form. I decided instead to hide behind my middle name, Maria.

It was one of those slow days when it was a toss-up between tweezering all the little hairs out of my shins that the waxing had missed, cleaning the fridge (hazardous) or actually doing some work. Applying a tweezers to one’s own milk-white shins is actually even more mind-numbingly boring than it sounds. My options were limiting themselves.

I was just about to engage in some gainful employment (honestly) when I spotted, sitting snugly in my junk box, a much more entertaining diversion: an invitation to be introduced, at no initial expense, to my very own guardian angel.

Holy cow. I’d forgotten I had a guardian angel. That winged old mate had been mouldering away for decades in the bottom of a Tupperware lunchbox since circa 1969, discarded in the memory bin like a softening Marietta biscuit, along with the flesh-coloured kneesocks and the string of rosary beads that lurked in my pencil case.

Guardian angels: we all had them. They came free with a convent-school education. They were de rigueur; like orthodontists, you couldn’t possibly be expected to operate without one. How could you cross the main road without your guardian angel, or dare to take the stabilisers off your Raleigh bike, or have the courage to let go of the pebble-dashed wall when you were teetering on your expandable rollerskates?

Guardian angels were our invisible paramedics, shooing the wasps away from our Wibbly Wobbly Wonders just as we opened our holy little mouths to lick them, or whipping us back to the kerb when we were about to step out under the puttering dry-cleaning van.

God’s forbidden name?

According to the website, my guardian angel is called Nelchael, one of the “schemhamphorae” angels. (And no, having spent all of 30 seconds researching the meaning of “schemhamphorae”, I still don’t know what it means. Something to do with a forbidden name for God? Answers on the back of a postage stamp, please.)

Or – it wasn’t clear – maybe my angel was called Nuriel (possibly a brother of Muriel?), an angel of “spellbinding power and hailstorms” apparently, which might go a long way towards explaining the lousy summer I’ve had so far. No wonder my shins are milk-white and hirsute.

My online “angel conjuror”, a beneficent bearded chap, didn’t stop at providing me with my angel’s name. Soon, my inbox was flooded with both dire warnings and gracious tidings, awash with threats of vengeance and promises of joyful news and even the occasional “astonishing vibratory phenomenon”, all of which could be revealed by greasing my keyboard with a credit card.

This one-way correspondence lasted for quite a while, despite my miserly indifference to my fate.

My magical radiance

I was offered insights into the supreme will of the angelical world; I was told my spirit guide had detected a magical radiance that confirmed my ability to attract sunshine into my life; and I was informed that there was an astounding secret, known only to the angels, which might bring great good fortune and turn my grubby, paltry, trivial little life into something worth living.

I forgot about my angel in waiting, did a bit of work, went for a walk, made spaghetti Bolognese. When I got back to the keyboard, things were looking grim.

“Let’s face it, Maria, nobody with the remotest grip on their marbles would say that your life so far has been a success,” I was told, more or less. “I mean, things aren’t what you’d call peachy, are they, what with the persistent cellulite and the unpaid Easter dues?

“Luckily, however, Maria, I’m here with my very intelligent beard and my fast-track delivery of spiritual guidance to tell you that there could be changes in your immediate future. Maybe a tincture of happiness might seep into your current life sky. Imagine, Maria, your desires becoming commands to the occult strength of the heavenly world . . .”

I unsubscribed. If I’m so desperate for amusement courtesy of my junk mail, I can always go back to the before-and-after Viagra stories.

Do people believe this nonsense? Do they empty their piggy banks and cash in their pensions to subscribe to this baloney? If so, I’m going to start a website called Gullible Angels, where the occult advice is to pirouette around the garden in your wellingtons with your Y-fronts on your noggin.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection


Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.