Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why two is the number for Ghosthunting


I have now spoken to my fellow ghosthunter Jim about my lead for the haunted bingo hall and we are deciding how best to approach them to organise an investigation. Jim is a great person to go ghosthunting with. He has a very calming manner about him and at 6ft is just the sort of solid presence you need around if a monster appears. Two is the really the minimum you need for setting up an investigation and I would argue for ghosthunting – too many and no one can hear the ghosts – go on your own and if a ghost appears you will need some good hard evidence without any other witnesses.

A second person to scout out locations is invaluable and several occasions it has been useful. I always think if you are going into private homes then it’s good to have a mixture of both sexes for safety and so that no one can accuse you of any inappropriate behaviour. Often people who have a ghost are in an emotional state so calming presences help to allay any fears.

Having a second person around can also help you to remember all the different angles to check out at the location, eg is it interesting enough to sustain 5 hours plus of sitting around? Will it be safe for investigators etc? A second person can also provide a bit of moral support. I remember being absolutely terrified of the property manager of Ham House when I first met her to set up a vigil (luckily she was sussing us out and her real persona is lovely!) Having a fellow ghost hunter with me meant that he was un-phased and managed to negotiate a yearlong investigation which was a great result.

A fellow ghosthunter is also a great motivator if properties reject you(or start asking for a fortune to investigate). Every Scully needs a Mulder and it means my own perspective stay fresh.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Old Operating Theatre, London Bridge


It has been just over a month since my last ghost investigation at the Old Operating Theatre and I haven't written it up. Although I took notes on the day, these were handed in to the organiser and so now I have to rely on memory - not something to be recommended, but better than nothing. (Incidentally my planned live tweets on Twitter appeared to post at the time, but were nowhere to been seen after the event…)

The date – the day before Halloween: perfect season for ghost hunting. I enjoyed the vigils a lot more as they took place in a smaller venue and I knew more of the people attending so I could relax. However In the bar before the event, I did meet one new lady, a medium who told me she had been forbidden to go in trance during the investigation. Of course I was disappointed but then I subsequently found out that during such a trance, the lady had no awareness of what was happening. This lack of awareness had once led to an attempt to strangle her daughter, although she claimed to have no memory of the attack. I then understood the reason for the ban!

Ghost hunters tend to align themselves into three broad groups the ‘psychic as a brick’ but still interested; the scientists (NB it helps if you have a van to carry all that equipment) and the psychics - people who seem to get names and dates, see ghosts and generally liven up the proceedings. I fall into the mildly psychic category although annoyingly this seems to have decreased rather than increased over the years. This investigation had a good mix of all three groups and was more enjoyable for it.

The operating theatre itself was smaller than I expected. The viewing area held about 100 standing on raised platforms tiered in a semi circle, so students could look down upon the operating table on the floor in the centre. The table itself was a rather short, simple design. It was made of wood and had some unappealing stains on it although apparently these had appeared only recently after it had been loaned for a historical drama. For more information on the museum visit www.thegarret.org.uk/

As you can imagine of the three areas available, the operating theatre was the one area we all wanted to investigate. The apothecary room was too crowded with cabinets and models and the staircase to the theatre was - well just a staircase. At the bottom of the stairs it was difficult to concentrate due to noise and light pollution (with Halloween celebrations going on outside it was probably fair to say we heard more noisy spirits outside than in). In contrast, the theatre was satisfyingly silent and as the lights went out we wondered if anyone would make contact. All seemed quiet until we tried a planchette experiment on the operating theatre table using the board, a pencil and a white piece of paper. Very soon after the session began something strange began to happen. The planchette board tipped right up on its end and appeared to move around without any of the five participants (including myself) appearing to consciously move it. It appeared to be guided by the spirit of a Victorian teenage girl who had been a patient and who had died as a result of her operation. Her story emerged both through the testimony of the psychics present and the movement of the planchette. Unfortunately the girl appeared to be illiterate so gave only Yes or No responses to questions by moving the board. However when prompted she ‘drew’ circles, squares and triangles. After 45 minutes our vigil time was up – was it a spirit or the investigators causing these effects? Certainly something interesting was occurring.

Whether or not subsequent research will show a girl died in the hospital who matches our findings remains to be seen. But certainly the evening restored my slightly lapsed faith in investigations and I look forward to reading the write up in the Ghost Club Journal to find what everyone else thought of it.
My plan now is to find some more venues in London and to sort out some new cases for the Ghost Club.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Return of the Ghosthunter


Now the madness that was the MSc in Marketing is finally over I can now return to my real passion - folklore and ghosts. Since my last entry I have been on only one investigation namely Coalhouse Fort in Essex which to be honest was disappointing. Although one group had a spooky encounter with a ghost who made a loud moan in san investigator's ear, the only moaning was done by me (albeit inwardly) at how rubbish the investigation was. Admittedly, I was not in the best of ghosthunting moods. A horrendous journey on the M25 and the problem of being accompanied by a member of the Coalhouse Fort who talked incessantly thoughout, had left me tetchy and miserable. In fact had a member of the undead appeared, I think I would have been tempted to tell it to bugger off.

This made me wonder - do we have to be in a receptive mood to see a ghost? Can our bad moods affect the energy of a place or could my eagerness to see a ghost actually be putting 'them' off? Is this why most ghost appear when we least expect it? The other problem of being a ghost hunter is that of late I feel I had become a bit jaded. In the old days a knock would have sent me into freefall - nowadays nothing less than a grey lady walking through a wall would impress me. It's obviously time to go back to my ghosthunting roots and see where all this will lead me. After all I'd only ever need one 'Enfield Poltergeist' and the I would be satisfied forever.