Edinburgh Fringe: Mind Reading and Olympics Predictions

26/07/2012 15:12 BST | Updated 24/09/2012 10:12 BST

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe can make a man commit to doing strange and terrifying things...

I've committed myself to predicting the results of the Olympics in front of a live audience on the BBC - No pressure then.

Why, you ask yourself, would I undertake such a pant-soilingly difficult task? It's like this....

Just under a year ago I'd finished my first run at the Fringe - incredibly I'd sold out, had up a ton of four and five star reviews and even been picked up by one of the biggest promoters in the business.

Happy days you'd think, but I do a comedy mind reading act in which I teach the audience how to read minds and a large part of what I do is trying to think ahead, plan for and predict the future. OK, I'd had a great first year but that was partly because expectations were low for me, next year it'd be much harder to impress everyone.

As I sat there gently chewing on a traditional Scottish deep fried object of indeterminate origin I worried not only about the fact that I had a "difficult second album" to deliver, but, along with everyone else going to Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2012, I also had to contend with the London Olympics taking place during the first 10 days of the Fringe.

If only I could come up with a great idea for a publicity stunt to promote my 2012 show.

If only I could see into the future.

And then it hit me! I'd work out a way to predict the results of the Olympics - If an octopus can do the World Cup surely I can do this?

So having told the world I could do it I then spent six months researching predictions and coincidences through the ages and I have learnt this: They hardly ever work.

I grant you this might not appear to be the most reassuring of conclusions but I think I've found a near fool proof scientific method that I'll share with you in another blog.

For now I'd like to share with you one of the stranger things I read about in my research an - accidental literary prediction that will blow your mind.

In 1838 Edgar Allen Poe wrote a novel: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket which involves four men castaway on a life raft who, to avoid starvation draw straws to see which of them they should kill and eat. The poor unfortunate who ends up as dinner was called Richard Parker.

Now it's highly likely that Poe might have been inspired by two recent real life events as in 1820 the whaling ship Essex of Nantucket was sunk forcing the men adrift in the life rafts to resort to Coq Au Vin with real cock and again just three years before he wrote his novel a ship by the name of Francis Spaight sank and on this occasion the dish of the day was a Patrick O'Brian.

Why all this eating each other was easier than fishing when they were floating on an ocean I don't know but as these were trained sailors we have to assume they had at least thought of that.

So far so gruesome but logical: Edgar Allen reads about these events and fictionalises them.

But here's where things get strange.....

Eight years after Poe's book another ship also called Francis Spaight foundered at sea. Among the twenty one victims drowned was a young apprentice Richard Parker.

Pretty odd?

Well here's where the coincidence wheels really fall off and Poe starts looking like a spooky quill pen wielding prophet.

In 1884, a full thirty five years after Poe died the yacht Mignonette sank. Exactly the same as in Poe's book exactly four people survived and drifted in a life boat before drawing straws to decide who to eat - The victim's name? Richard Parker

At least if I get my prediction wrong I just look stupid and no one get's eaten. Though, if they do we'll be in Scotland so at least we can dip them in batter and deep fry them.