Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Driving Away Demons

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Driving Away Demons

Article excerpt

When Mark Hughes-Morgan got fed up with his bedevilled people carrier, he turned to an Anglican priest for an exorcism WE all know where to go when we need a new tyre, or our exhaust falls off. Most of us have a garage to do our nuts and bolts maintenance. But what about when something rather more mysterious is out of whack? Who, in short, is going to give your car a spiritual makeover?

I have never liked my VW Sharan people carrier, and the feeling is mutual: numerous scrapes and minor collisions, break-ins, more nails in tyres than I have had in four previous cars, many unexplained dents as well as casual vandalism have bedevilled our three-year relationship.

A pigeon smashing into a foglight, which crashed into the road almost causing an accident, was the last straw.

This car is a bad 'un. I decided to have it exorcised.

(Shortly afterwards, my house caught fire but that's another story.) To have an exorcism in the Church of England involves a fair amount of red tape.

You must apply to your diocese, which then reviews it and refers it upwards.

"For a car, it is highly unlikely to be approved," says a church spokesman.

Why should a house be more acceptable than a car?

Luckily, I found a man for the job: Lionel Fanthorpe, non-stipendiary Anglican priest, author, radio and TV presenter (he was the vicar who fronted Channel 4's Fortean Times programme), ghosthunter and veteran of many exorcisms - "I perform two to three a month," he says.

These have included one famously haunted car in Eastbourne with the registration, ARK666Y. It was variously implicated in marriage break-ups, failed businesses, and even a curious incident where the owner, Keith Terrafaglio, was burnt while removing what should have been harmless brake blocks.

On the way to performing the exorcism Fanthorpe's own car broke down. When he finally arrived, he had what he calls "a very odd sensation indeed. The holy water became inexplicably hot in my hands. It is the only time that has happened."

We met halfway between my house and his base in Wales, in the car park of a Little Chef just outside Cirencester. …

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