Thursday, July 23, 2009

What do I need for a ghosthunt - apart from the obvious?

I was bemoaning my lack of recent ghosthunts on Twitter and a fellow twitter pal Ghost_Chaser pointed out that all you needed for a ghosthunt was a camera and a recorder. That's true but you also need evidence of paranormal activity - at least in the last five years - and an open mind. Recent activity is a must, otherwise you find yourself camera in hand but nothing to record. You may find a few orbs, hear a few creaks but that's about it - which all adds up to a Saturday night that could have been spent more productively watching "All Star Mr and Mrs" or such like (or maybe not). The latest investigation from the Ghost Club is on the 1st of August and typically I have other plans. However the Club will be investigating a building for the very first time - now is that a good thing or a bad thing? Certainly you have the element of the unknown and this reduces the chances of investigation fatigue which I experienced after the 8th investigation at Ham House. When a haunted place becomes very familiar you can develop an unholy desire for more and more exciting activity - "I don't want that coin to move, I want a shower of coins to descend from the sky!" "I don't want a ghost dog - I want an army of Roundheads to march down the stairs!"etc etc. Which is not only unrealistic but also clouds your judgement. I guess the conclusion is - it doesn't matter how often a building has been investigated as long as its new to you and if there is something active to investigate then go ahead. Note to self - must do better on the investigation arranging....if you want to go somewhere decent then you have put in the time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ghost stories and pictures

Found a link on Youtube/facebook to one of my favourite ghoststories 'the Signalman' by Charles Dickens where a man is haunted by a figure who proves to be a herald of impending doom. Harbingers of death rank among the most terrifying ghosts you could ever wish not to meet. There is the banshees whose scream precedes the death of a family member and numerous other ghosts, who legend has it, should you seen them, will lead to your certain death. These include the grey lady of Bury St Edmunds and the black shuck a dog with eyes of fire who roams the fens of Norfolk. My favourite story is of a churchyard where once a year the ghosts of all those who will die in the next year pass though at midnight. Should you see yourself amongst the start choosing those hymns. It seems rather an unfortunate hazard of ghost hunting to think that one may be risking ones life and sometimes one's sanity in pursuit of the paranormal. However, to date the most dangerous ghost hunts Ive attended seem to involve the old bruise or scratch from a restless spirit. One girl I know did have her chair pulled away from under her but a sore bum seemed a minor price to pay for such an interesting development that certainly livened up the evening.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Variations on a ghostly theme

Giving recommendations to tweeters on Twitter on haunted places in London reminded me of some of the alternative ways ghosts make their appearance. Seeing a ghostly figure walking through a wall is not the only way you can experience a ghost!

Ham House was known for the smell of Roses - specifically Attar of Roses which was a rare flower. The smell was experienced by the Ghost Club on several occasions but unlike normal scents that gradually fade in intensity this seemed to almost 'switch off' one minute it was there next minute gone! What always surprised me most at Ham, were the objects that would appear and disappear as if by magic. One night we searched everywhere for a coin that was placed flat as a trigger object. Suddenly it reappeared sticking upright from between the floor boards. A dowsing rod also played the same trick. The largest object that moved around was a wheelchair (see picture above) that journeyed around a locked room late at night - very strange.

Sound is another way that an echo of the past can make itself evident. During my years of investigating I have heard an assortment of knocks and raps but most spectacular was the sound of footsteps thumping on the landing above in a haunted council house. I also heard a voice say "Do you want me?" in the Waterstone's bookshop in Guildford but was a trick of my hearing? I was impressed at the time. However as with a lot of ghostly phenomena trying to get this recorded can sometimes be problematic. Usually at the time of the ghostly noise the tape recorder will malfunction or the batteries will drain even if they were new at the start of the investigation. More evidence of ghostly sounds will hopefully be coming to light very shortly as the Society for Psychical Research has recently completed a study that shows that ghostly knocks and noises have a different soundwave pattern to those created by normal means. This may be some of the most exciting research to emerge on the paranormal for a very long time. Certainly ghostly noises are being taken seriously. I know a man who did his PHD on the phenomena of ghostly music earning himself the title of Para-musicologist. Sounds impressive to me!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Can ghosts follow you home?

Had a strange experience walking through the park today - a couple of times I felt as if i was being followed but when I turned around no-one was there. In my time as a ghost hunter I have experienced this sense of being on several occasions including when walking through the tube after visiting the Legal and General Building by the London Wall. What I have sensed more strongly however is the feeling of being watched. The first time was when I was 17 and staying in my friend's house at Fornham St Martin. I was in the living room and had a strong feeling I was being watched and thought that her little brother or sister must be hiding behind the sofa playing a trick but no one was there. My friend said that the previous owner had committed suicide by jumping out of the top window and that her and her sisters had seen something in the landing. She has now moved away but certainly ghostly activity does seem to follow her. The second time was in a haunted council house where a young mother was terrorised by the figure of a man who late at night would appear in the corner of her bedroom and watch her. Although I saw no-one I felt that on the landing someone or something was watching my every movement.

Luckily there have been only two occasions where I felt something was in my house and when I told he or she to go away the feeling quickly past. Was this just my imagination? People say that ghosts can follow you home and can attach themselves to people or objects - hopefully I will never have to test this theory too closely.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Looking for Ghosts - the filming continues

With the horrors of swine flu now behind me (although still getting worried looks from colleagues back at work) I returned today in the midst of a heatwave of volcanic like proportions in the office. At least last night I could officially set foot outside of the house and while not allowed in the hospital until today I felt the open air would be pretty safe and I had certainly missed my freedom. The camera came out again and it was off to Seven Island ponds to record the story of the Phantom Cyclist which I detailed in an earlier blog. Certainly walking to Mitcham Common gave me a reminder of how lonely and mysterious the countryside could be and when I reached the spot, I felt the same strange mix of fear, excitement, and anticipation I feel when I visit a haunted house for an investigation. It was the middle of the evening and a group of teenagers were larking about in at the other end of the lake, so I made my way to other, more quieter end where a large group of canada geese were tending their young at the waters edge. On a warm balmy night it felt strange contemplating that in June exactly 40 years ago a small boy lost his life and drowned here and since then he has never rested in peace. To read a ghost story may produce a feeling of fear but to visit the spot where the ghost story took place brings with it more deeper emotions. With filming finished I walked back across the common and out again onto the bustling main road - time, as it must carries on.

To view my film visit YouTube