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.


In the twenty-first century, equal opportunities or not, a lone middle-aged woman in a public house is still a social leper. 

To some, the word ‘meeting’ implies a structure.  It suggests something one could drift along to, where one could listen to a discussion, learn how to do something and maybe slowly get to know a few other participants.  Some meetings are not like that. 

I spent the evening with the Cosy Local club.  We had attended their Christmas party, and this week I tried out their regular gathering.   I was expecting seats in rows and a power point presentation.  We got holiday camp.  Once more, we had a quiz and a buffet, and the events were lead by an MC.  This time, though, there was no Long-Suffering Spouse for company.  Why he persists in thinking a night at the football with his friends is more fun than making sure I have someone to sit with, I cannot imagine.

I felt very conspicuous, being obviously alone at an event where everyone was in groups.  At least I won the raffle.  ‘It’s an Irish clock,’ she said. ‘It goes backwards.’  This did not seem the right moment to ask if they had an anti-racism policy in place.  

I spent half an hour as a team of one, completing the pub quiz and wringing the odd friendly word from people sitting nearby.  I looked over a display of Equipment.  This was more like it!  Machines to measure Stuff.  Nothing was labelled, but I figured out they had a kind of electric thermometer, something to measure an electro-magnetic field and red torches.  I cannot wait to have a go.  As a paranormal investigator, I expect to measure lots of things with all kinds of technical equipment.  Oh yes.  I will stride around in a big coat, glance at the walls with a stern expression, and measure everything to bits.

Towards the end of the evening, we had a session with one of the mediums.  We gathered together at one end of the room in a large, rough circle.  He stood in the middle, moving at times more closely to the people he was addressing.  I felt exposed, alone on a hard chair, closer to the action than I had intended to be.  This medium took obvious delight in telling punters simple facts about their backgrounds.  Each time he was told he was correct, he grinned and crowed ‘course it is!’  He had a slightly cheeky persona.  He claimed to be drawn to different people, giving them information he said had come from the spirits.  This was a mixture of the banal (‘Your Grandma had ornaments on her mantelpiece’) and the shockingly accurate (‘You had an aggressive father figure, but he was absent a lot’). 
One person received a direct instruction to assist a family member.  Everyone else was told facts, which proved the medium had information, but they were not told why it was necessary for him to communicate this.  Genuine or not, it felt like a parlour game, without a clear message or purpose. 

Something happened to me while the medium was talking.  The top of my head became freezing cold, as if ice cubes had appeared there.  The feeling lasted less than a minute.  I have no idea what caused it.  Maybe he could read my mind and was punishing me psychically for having uncharitable thoughts.  Maybe, as some punters would suggest, the spirits were taking energy from us to give themselves power to communicate.  If that was so, they could have asked more politely.

Before I left, I picked up the latest edition of the club magazine.  It explained a lot.  The inside front page listed 17 club officers.  Since there were about 30 to 40 people in the pub, roughly half must have been these officers.  Assuming another 17 may have been partners or relatives, then hardly anyone else was a newcomer or a punter.  With Cosy Local, I had attended two events where a core of about thirty chums enjoyed pleasant social evenings while a few extras tagged along.
Once past the list of names, the biggest part of the magazine needed a good proof reader.  Can people who produce irregular grammar be trusted with expensive equipment?  I am disinclined to trust the judgement of anyone who cannot be bothered to learn the difference between ‘its’ and ‘it’s’.  It’s not rocket science, after all.  I am uncomfortable about accepting the leadership of people who cannot construct a sentence, or last three hours without a buffet. 

No matter what I think of Cosy Local’s magazine, they are the people who know more than I do, so I am booked onto what they call ‘an investigation’.  LSS has paid them £25 to take me away for a night.  We will be prowling around a civic building in the dark, with our machines and our mediums: heavily influenced, I feel, by the TV programmes everyone speaks of with such vitriol.  This will not be happening for two months.  The club excursions are always fully booked far in advance.  They must be doing something right.  I will see what it is, eventually.

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