The Shared Diary of a Novice Paranormal Investigator, aged 52 and Three Quar

When you believe in things you don’t understand, then you suffer.

(Stevie Wonder)

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamed of in your philosophy.


Ri fol ri fol tol de riddle dee.


Another Night Out for the Pink Pashmina

Have we all had a good time?
Are we all coming back again soon?

Cosy Local had moved their holiday camp into a large public building for an overnight investigation and I went along with them.  When engaged in an investigation (as opposed to being busy with a buffet) Cosy Local knew their stuff and we were well looked after.  They put me with the one other lone novice, who proved to be one of the most personable young people I have ever met.  I was also pleased to see Mrs Other Couple there.  I was starting to recognise some of the players in our local scene! 

The team was careful to ensure that all punters felt involved.  While team members and mediums (should that be media?) lead groups in a number of activities in different locations around the building, we were all encouraged to join in fully.  It was not long before I observed the disadvantages of this.  As with the A Team, most of the night was taken up with hanging around in dark rooms trying to sense things, or sitting with fingers on a glass and inviting any passing spirits to chew the fat with us.  Members of our little group put heart and soul into it all, and one busy woman felt taken over by a chimney sweep, a sleepy entity and the Lord of the Manor, all in quick succession.  This last was startling, it being a Victorian building. 

So enthusiastic were my fellow investigators that I felt sorry for any spirits trying to join in.  If they had been trying to respond to our efforts to communicate, then it must have been a struggle.  Each punter ignored all the others, and called out a rapid, baffling stream of invitations and questions:

Busy Woman: Are you a man?
Personable Young Lady: Are you a woman?
Tall Punter: Did you live here?
Cheeky Punter:  Do you fancy me?
Busy Woman: Did you die here?
Personable Young Lady: Do you know you’re dead?
Tall Punter: Did you live here?
Cheeky Punter:  Do you fancy her?
Busy Woman:  Are there any spirits here?

This could not be described as an investigation.  No thought had gone into this procedure.  Suppose some kind of intelligence had been able to communicate by moving that glass.  Suppose one really could have questions answered.  My guess is that most people would try to collect information, note it down and then later try to verify it, by doing a little research into local history.  Or a person could find out more about whatever mysterious after-life spirits may be experiencing in the ether.  That would be a kind of investigation, and to do it properly would require thought and organisation. 

At about half past two, some of us were invited to a ladies only session.  We were told that the spirit in one particular room was disfigured and very shy, but responded well to women, and liked to party once he felt comfortable with the company.  The glass remained stubbornly still for several minutes, but started to move when we asked it about parties.

Me:  Do you like brandy?
(Glass moves slowly towards YES.)
Personable Young Lady: Does brandy make you randy?
(Glass moves strongly to YES.)
(All punters shriek and laugh.)
Me: Do you play parlour games?
PYL: Do you play hide the sausage?
(Glass moves to YES.)
(Raucous laughter.)
Cheeky Punter:  Do you fancy anybody here?
(Glass moves to YES.)
(Hysterical fits.)
Cheeky punter: Is it her?
(Glass moves to YES.)
(Really, this was good enough for Blackpool.)
Cheeky Punter:  Do you fancy me as well?

I joined in the laughter.  It was outrageously funny, for a little while.

Unfortunately, we never moved on from here.  PYL gleefully told everyone in the building she had become engaged to the spirit and that he was sweet.  Patronising is one word that springs to mind.  Callous is another.  I do not pretend to know whether or not there really was the spirit of a shy, deformed young man hiding in that room, but PYL was behaving as if she believed it.  In which case, treating him with a little consideration and respect would have been a good start.  Throughout the event, I found myself worrying about what kind of responsibilities we might be incurring, if any of these spirits were real, and how shallow our communication with them seemed to be.

It was Mrs Other Couple who helped me to understand their perspective.  During a tea break, I told her about an experience I had just had in one of the rooms.  Sitting slightly bored with my finger on yet another glass, I had copied the other punters as they called out encouragement to any spirits floating nearby.  ‘Come and try to move this glass!’ they kept saying, ‘You can do it!’  Numbed by all the repetition, I started to ramble, ‘Come on, you can do it.  You can do it if you B&Q it.’ I had said.  Immediately I felt a sharp dig in the back of my neck, as if someone was letting me know that they did not intend to tolerate any levity.  Completely astonished, I had apologised to the thin air, for causing offence. 

‘I’m glad you had that,’ she said, ’You got the contact.’  That is how I came to understand the nature and the purpose of the ‘investigation’.  It was nothing more or less than a search for contact.  Punters and team alike, we were all extending our hands into the darkness, to see if there was anyone in there who might put their hand out to us.  That is why the there seemed to be so little invested in gaining an understanding of whatever had been contacted; a sensation of presence was the true goal, and it is not my place to call it ignoble.

One late, but hugely significant episode during the night’s long saga gave the procedure more credence.  In one location, PYL claimed to sense a frightened child hiding behind her.  We had a spot thermometer with us.  You can direct a spot thermometer to display the temperature in a specific part of a room, and some paranormal buffs believe that changes in temperature indicate spirit activity.  The leader working with our group confirmed that there were stories about a child associated with that room, and he used the spot thermometer to show that the temperature behind PYL was indeed dropping, although the rest of the room was not changing.  In that room, convergence of story, perception and technology showed us that there is more going on in this world than meets the eye.  If punters are regularly experiencing moments like this, it is understandable why so many of them return time after time.

I limped through to morning, coping with exhaustion, boredom, frustration, irritation and the odd moment of dazzling shock.  I waited for the same feeling of discomfort I remembered from the investigation of the pub.  When something akin to that crept up on me, I tried to relax into it, only to find that I really needed to go to sleep.  Perhaps some of us are just born prosaic.  Other punters claimed various experiences, most of them, I am sure, as tangible to them as that poke in the neck had been to me.  We had no way of knowing, of course, who was making it up, who was deluded and who was for real.  Courtesy demanded that we accept everything at face value. I failed to do this, since I was convinced of the pottiness of some punters, but at least I kept my peace.

By far the best comedy happened during the séance.  We assembled in one of the larger rooms to sit in a circle in the dark, inviting the spirits to join us.  It must have been after 3 a.m.  Next to me was Cheeky Punter, and next to her a frail-looking elderly chap.  Once settled, we started to hear sighs and heavy breathing.  Several commented on this.  As tactfully as possible, I suggested that someone may have dozed off.  One of the mediums told us we could expect to feel gossamer touches on face and hair as a signal spirits were close.  Once the first person claimed to feel this, the next, the next and the one after felt it too.  Of course, it was by now well past bath time.  We sat with old sweat and dirt clinging to our faces, surprised that we felt our skin prickle.  Soon after this, some commented on hearing the wheezy sound again, and Cheeky Punter stifled honest laughter as Elderly Chap’s gentle snore drifted eerily through the séance circle.  Perhaps to change the subject, the medium said that itching was another sign of spirit presence.  Almost straight away, several people claimed they itched, then a few more said they itched too.  Sitting in the dark with nothing to do or think about would, I suspect, make anyone prone to general itchiness and twitchiness of the body.  A punter claimed to feel poorly.  Another said she had been feeling ill for a few minutes.  Another said he felt really ill.  Several more agreed.  I lost the will to live.

I arrived home an hour before the milkman, with mixed feelings.  Had this one been worth it?  I had had my contact, and I had observed the temperature drop behind PYL.  I had had another go with the dowsing rods.  These were important developments for me.  I was not, however, convinced they represented an adequate payback for the eight sleepless hours and large helpings of pottiness I had endured.  I was growing fond of Cosy Local, but I thought our association might not last much longer

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