Barry Haynes, a 53-year-old chartered surveyor from Bromsgrove, has undergone a hideous ordeal in which his heart stopped on the operating table and he was greeted in the world to come by all the appalling older relatives he thought he was shot of for eternity. Having hitherto not greatly feared the end of his mundane life, Haynes is now desperate to keep it going as long as possible.
‘I had read a bit about the phenomenon a few years ago and it was just like they said,’ said Haynes, who suffered a cardiac arrest during a routine hernia operation. ‘My astral body sprang free and I was floating above the operating theatre. I was transported down a long tunnel surrounded by indescribably beautiful colours. Then I saw my late father, who asked me if I’d come on the M42 or cut across country and if the roadworks were still bad around Redditch.’
Haynes settled into a sunlit meadow surrounded by butterflies, only to be accosted by his grandmother, who told him heaven was ‘quite nice in some ways, but you can’t get a proper cup of tea for love nor money and there’s an awful lot of darkies’. Worse still, because old age and pain afflict us no more in the hereafter, she had morphed back into the pretty 22-year-old redhead who used to turn tricks for American GIs outside RAF Farnborough in return for nylon stockings in 1944, leaving Haynes doubly conflicted.
‘As ever more ghastly 19th century ancestors crowded around me talking about the cost of wheat, I started screaming inside, felt my astral cord tugging at me and suddenly I was hurtling back through the tunnel to the physical plane,’ he said. ‘I woke up in a ward at the hospital with my wife and son at my bedside.’
Haynes tried to tell his wife about his experience and warn her to make the most of this life before the horrors of the world to come but she had a yoga class to go to. As his teenage son sat flicking through images on Tinder and grunting, he lapsed into a persistently vegetative state, which he hopes to spin out for another 30 years or so.