A family loved one gives me a DVD copy of David Lean's movie of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit as a Christmas present. It is in this that Madame Arcati (pronounced ar-car-tee) makes her prominent appearance.
Many reviews of the original play over the decades describe Arcati as a "fake medium" - wishful thinking plainly. In fact (theatrically) it is only because of Arcati's clairvoyance that the spirit of Elvira (Charles' first wife) is able to appear to mortals (or at least to Charles). Arcati is also sharp to sceptics' irony (Dr George Bradman's in particular). Coward shrewdly played up the "fake mediumship" aspect, through comic mannerisms, so as not to alienate Christian sensibility, while nonetheless depicting her as entirely authentic as a Spiritualist medium.
In Lean's movie (produced by Coward) the preamble speaks of the "Fantastic Things" that kids believe in but about which adults know better. In a voiceover Coward adds "But they [the adults] are quite, quite wrong." Blithe Spirit is a marvellous piece of mischief on dull materialists and mere hymn-singers.
And Margaret Rutherford, in this production, is perfect as the crazy Arcati (as she was the perfect Miss Marple): an innocent invert, all but in name, playing the timeless part of witch. A better Christmas present to Madame Arcati no one could have imagined.
So a Merry Christmas from me to you. And a curse on the bitches and bastards who will tremble at my name in 2007.