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.


The Shelter of a Pink Pashmina

The final installment of Rifol's first investigation.  We join her group as it enters the first location.

 Along with four other punters, I squashed into the smallest room on the top floor.   I would have been disappointed if I had booked bed and breakfast here.  It was a horrible room: tatty, cold and musty.  Someone had left a large set of ladders propped up against the wall.  Our pleasant and perky leader, possibly from Hertfordshire, warned us that some found the room too much to take.  It did not need anything paranormal to be nasty.  There was enough physical discomfort in there to stock a whole row of haunted houses.  I positioned myself at the head of the bed, against the far wall, so that I could see everything.  This proved a mistake, as only one Measuring Machine was handed out, and the young man nearest to the door got that.  It was an envirometer.  It measured temperature and humidity.  We were told that the temperature in the room was 20.  This was surely a wicked lie.  I asked if he meant 2.0.  We may have stayed in there for fifteen minutes.  During that time the temperature slowly sank and the humidity slowly rose.  Possibly Hertfordshire told us this was most unnatural.  Right now, I have to take his word for this.  I do not know how much temperature and humidity might normally change in a closed room, and I do not suppose anyone else did, either.  National Rational advise taking such readings regularly, over some days, to establish an impression of what normal fluctuations might be expected for each setting.  We were only doing this for a very short time.

The light was switched out. 
‘Do any of you notice anything?’ asked PH.  I thought I caught a flash of light over to my right as he switched off the light and my right ear became very cold.  I did feel very uncomfortable, and, I cannot tell a lie, I felt a creeping dread.  Resisting, I squared my shoulders and covered my frozen ear with my favourite pink pashmina.  I did not intend to fall at the first hurdle.  After a few deep breaths, I regained my composure.  Having kept Agnes to myself, I thought I should share this latest.  ‘I thought I saw a flash over there and my ear has gone cold.’  I reported.
‘Over where?’ asked PH.
‘Over there.’  I pointed.
‘I can’t see you,’ he explained. 

Now, as I have already mentioned, I can remember poems from 40 years ago.  I can recite long tracts of Shakespeare, and I know the lyrics to almost every song I have ever liked.  This makes me the kind of person who does not know her own phone number and I struggle to distinguish right from left in a hurry, especially near bedtime, under stress.  I flailed one arm around, trying to find the words ‘right hand corner’.
‘Near me.’ I tried again.
‘Do you mean from the television?’ asked a helpful punter.
Ah.  Reflections.
‘I hadn’t noticed the television.’ I admitted, feeling sheepish.

Now, considering those events in my safe and cosy home, I return to that frozen ear, to that sudden wave of discomfort.  I thought I was screwing up my courage to the sticking-place when I took those deep breaths and steeled myself against the fear.  Suppose, though, that I was, in effect, doing something else?  Suppose I was closing something down?  Rebuffing something?  Denying access?  I promise myself that should I encounter those sensations another time, I will relax into them and follow wherever they may lead.

The A team used ‘trigger objects’.  These are small, like coins or nails, and they are placed so that it will be obvious if they have been moved, and everyone promises not to move them.  Their purpose is to show signs that a spirit has been moving them.  This does not explain why a spirit might get the urge to roll someone’s pocket debris around.  It must be bad enough being condemned to walk the night in a rundown B&B.  Being asked to do party tricks must only add to the burden.

‘I feel uncomfortable on this chair,’ a Helpful Punter complained.  ‘I feel like I should not be here.’  We later realised she had been sitting on the trigger object; in this case, a coin on a sheet of paper covered in talcum powder.  By the time she discovered her mistake, she had transferred the talc to most of her clothes and to a few other locations on the top floor.  She was right about it not being a good place for her to sit.

After nothing had happened for a little longer, the group next door invited us in to share their experience.  We were told that the distressed spirit of Sara was crouched in one corner.’ Can you feel her?’ asked official Sensitive.  I had to admit that I could not, and nor could the other punters, although Impressionable Punter was feeling things by the bucketful, and reacting to the corner as publicly as a person could. 

There was a small table in the middle of the room, and on it was a glass.  We were invited to sit and each put one finger on the glass.  Sensitive called out to Sara and asked her to move the glass, using our energy to accomplish this. 
We complied.  It was very uncomfortable.  I wondered, a few times, if I had felt the glass twitch a little, as if it were trying to move.  Sensitive discounted this.  ‘When they move, they really race around,’ she told me. I gave up after a few boring minutes of watching the glass gathering dust.  It felt slightly silly.   Looking for entertainment, I took a few random pictures, in case anything should show up.  In the snap below, we lesser mortals might only see an old fan in an unpleasant room, but I was assured that the unseen Sara sobbed away her after-life there in the darkness. 

Suppose she really was there, and suppose we could be aware of her.  Would that not make easing her distress somehow our responsibility?  Surely that needs to be considered.  In the next snap, there is what may be a lens flare, or it may be evidence of an unknown energy.  Don’t ask me, because I do not know.

Shortly after this, there was a tea break and a welcome chance to warm up in the downstairs bar.  The young man had left the envirometer lying on a table so I switched it on.  I was going to measure something.  I pressed some buttons until I saw a number, then I felt happy.  I was an investigator!  One of the organisers picked it up, gave me a hard stare and took it away.  I did not blame him, really, I would not trust me, either.

While the other group of seven explored the top floor, our group returned to the large guest room on the first floor.  Once again, I happily secured the good chair.  I was interested to see that the medium had two pairs of dowsing rods, and I volunteered to have a turn.  I was hooked straight away.  They felt good in my hands.  They were L-shaped metal rods with long arms, which moved about.  My pair had handles like sleeves, so the rods moved freely inside, and they had luminous tips, for use in the dark.  Why do paranormal investigations happen in the dark?  There could be all kinds of ghosties doing a tap-dance and nobody would see them.  The rods spun crazily in response to my slightest movement.  I had a good wriggle so that I would be able to sit as still as possible for as long as a compulsive wriggler ever can sit still.  Medium asked the rods to cross if there was a spirit in the room.  I watched with fascination as both pairs crossed.  Medium asked the rods to point to the spirit.  One of my rods moved slowly and steadily towards the left, pointing at the wall close to Possibly Hertfordshire.

It sat like that for some time until I decided I should share nicely, and offered the rods to Impressionable Punter.  For the next half hour, we tried to sense things.  The evening turned into a communal story-making venture.  I was able to observe how the Medium, by speaking of whatever she had sensed or imagined, led us into shared story-telling, in which we were invited to add what we had sensed, building the story of this room.  Together, we created a story about a businessman who had connections to textiles and transport.  Medium said that the spirit had suffered from Parkinson’s. Impressionable Punter shook like a jelly for the next twenty minutes.  No doubt the next group to visit will be told how we sensed all this, and then they will continue to build on it.

We finished by holding hands in a circle.  That was scary.  Nobody had warned me I would have to endure physical contact with strangers.  I sat between Medium and Possibly Hertfordshire.  His hand was icy, but hers was warm.  She claimed the spirit was standing behind us (in roughly the same spot indicated by the rod) and asked me if my back felt cold.  I said it did.  Every part of me felt cold, and I was so tired I would not have noticed or cared if Elvis and Buddy Holly had cycled past together dressed in clown suits.  I do not think I was concentrating as well as I should have been.  People said they could hear taps.  I defy anyone sitting quietly in the dark not to hear taps and creaks all night.  I wanted to go home.

I did not go home for another half hour.  We were offered a final activity; standing around in the haunted toilet.  Given a choice between sipping a nightcap in front of the fire and standing in a dark toilet, obviously the toilet won.  About ten of us crowded inside, jammed against the stalls and sinks.  It felt vaguely embarrassing as well as uncomfortable.  Nothing came into my mind except an image of Moaning Myrtle.

Someone suggested fingers on the glass again.  Four of us had a turn, including Waif’s Boyfriend.  The glass sped all over the table in big circles.  This was because he was pushing it.  Good manners are important.  Is it rude for punters to expose or accuse fellow punters?  Should this be the province of team leaders?  Should we just allow the criminal to blunder on until everyone else has noticed?  If he has already broken the rules by cheating, should we also break the rules by exclaiming, ‘Leave it out, sunshine’?

Possibly Hertfordshire had a clever way of solving this dilemma.   Hiding in one of the cubicles, he told the spirit that he was tracing shapes on the wall and asked it to copy the same shape with the glass.  The glass did not get one shape right.  However, one of the sensitive types explained that the spirit must be small child, unable to cope with this task.  Whatever happened, there was going to be an explanation.

Ending on a sour note did not distress me too much.  I stumbled up to bed at about three and dragged myself to work the next day.  It had been worth it

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