So, here goes. In the 1990's at some year whose exact date I am too lazy to extract from the Himalayan Range of paper files, folders and 'phemera directly behind me, I met this lady at a party, let's call her 'Heidi'. We shared a delightful hunger in metaphysics or rather she was hungry for it and I loved cooking it. Chef and patron. A perfect combination. One night she had a dream in which she was in a house, seated at a desk writing thanks notes for condolences on the death of her husband. She was conscious within the dream of the house layout, her dress color, the cuffs and as if by addition of an internal soundtrack she knew it to be 1917 and that this same internal off-stage (but in mind) voice bid her to remember the date as it was important. Being 1917 she naturally assumed that her husband had died in World War One, as one does.
Sometime later a gay-friend and also ex-boyfriend (pre-armoire) told of his attendance at a house which he knew Heidi would have loved as Heidi does possess good taste but not the pockets to demonstrate it. In the course of the relating of this house Heidi started to finish off his sentences and descriptions. It was the same house as in the dream. Having now had the address delivered straight to her (she's a Libran and they don't do private detecting) she went and examined the National Trust file.
When she opened the file she read that the house belonged to R.S.Smythe, impresario and that his wife was Amelia Bailey, old time opera singer of Melbourne. (Old time indeed). As soon as she read that she started to cry (in a very dignified and aesthetic Libran manner) and continued to do so as she had also trained for sometime in her childhood as a singer with Allan's music, the self same company which had discovered and trained Amelia. Furthermore, she knew that I was Robert Sparrow Smythe, her husband who had indeed died in 1917 at his home.
Of course, I would have none of this. The reincarnation business, yes. I could eat that up like gallon drums of gnocchi livornese (delicious) but having been Mr. Heidi? No. I was then in mid struggle (I tend to like my struggles long and protracted like some night at some hideous theatrical agony disguised as an entertainment) with homosexuality and the fact that Heidi did not know.
The gay part of the story aside, Heidi did then manage to do quite a substantial bit of research and found a photo of R.S.Smythe almost immediately and found his grave without recourse to a map of any kind (upon which we have already, quite literally, danced. A small jig I recall. Anything more gymnastic would have been disrespectful to the neighboring bones). All during this time she kept up the insistence that I was R.S.Smythe which made me generate a useable amount of red emotional hectopascals. I took to my bed and put myself into meditation to obtain some clue as to who I actually was so that I might use it as evidence in a refutation. After twenty minutes of relaxation nothing came so I began the stretching and breathing changes to bring me back to normal state and as I did so a loud voice said "You were Robert Sparrow Smythe". Now this voice was not imaginary. It was loud and it was so audible that I jumped off the bed, opened the door thinking it was a trick. No-one was there. My parents were out shopping, and unless Tuppence, the family poodle (now deceased and doing leavening duty in the canine life-stream) had recently discovered by some faustian bargain the power of speech, then there was no vocal chords with earshot that could have produced that sentence.
So, I admitted defeat. When a loud disembodied voice pops into your bedroom and delivers in perfect diction (and with a fair whack of authority) it's hard to argue...assuming you could find the entity belonging to the statement. So I took over the research from Heidi and have been at it ever since. Thereafter followed waterfall upon waterfall of fact, recollection, reaction and revelation which have all acted as engine to this tale.
It's a tale hard to believe but never the less, the reality of both Heidi and myself. Sorry "Heidi" but I just had to give you a Bavarian pseudonym. If you would a different name I am open to suggestions. Just don't send the disembodied voice around. A phone call or email would be fine.
Oh, and the marriage? There is an official certificate in the 1880's but that was four children and several affairs later (both of us strayed). Was I even married to Amelia when I was a Robert? Who knows? I can't find any certificate in Nagasaki or Shanghai. Then again, I have never tried. I think it was Nagasaki. Well, I'm as gay as a Dozen Dancing Dumbledores this time around so there's no marriage in Shanghai, Nagasaki or any other place. Except in my imagination.