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 Medium, the Buffet and the Hat

One last, grudging, diet coke, one last wilted buffet, one last hundred year long quiz. 

EC and I dragged ourselves to one final club meeting in order to ensure our tickets for the investigation of the theatre.  This was my third club.  No matter how many of these I attended, I knew I would never like them.  This group meets in an unattractive pub with ugly carpets and nasty tables.  I forced EC to come with me, as a punishment for having bright eyes and glossy hair.  She was slightly grumpy about wasting an entire evening and I did not blame her, so we were late on purpose and I agreed we could sneak out half an hour before the end.  Once inside, we buddied up with a retired couple to form the inevitable quiz team.  ‘Name a continent where you might find a vampire bat’ was the question.  ‘Transylvania’, he wrote.  His wife chewed her lip a bit and we changed the subject.

‘Did you find your hat?’ I asked.  EC had lost her hat some days earlier, and, messy thing, she found it hard to accept that she had probably just dropped it behind the sofa while distracted by something bright and shiny.  She glumly shook her head, and I sympathised.  It was a nice hat.
‘Ask the medium’ suggested Mrs Retired. ‘He found my keys for me not long ago.  He said they were underneath something green and I found them under the recycling bin.’
‘If I was going to ask for help finding anything, it would be my Tuareg necklace,’ replied EC.  She had lost this as well.  She really is very untidy.  I knew EC would never go to the medium, so I stopped paying attention.   Club nights can send me into a horrified trance-like state.  That is why I had not noticed that the medium was passing close to our table, no doubt sensing the proximity of a toxic sausage roll.  Suddenly, Mrs Retired jumped up and called him over.  ‘This young lady has lost her necklace’ she told him.  ‘Can you help her find it?’
Without ceremony, he reached past me, grabbed EC’s hand and then stood very still, apparently concentrating.  I felt almost assaulted by strong waves of heat coming from him, and when we later talked about what had happened, I discovered EC had felt this too.  After about half a minute, he spoke.  ‘It’s not in your house,’ he said.  ‘I can see a terrace with stairs up the middle?  I think you have the front bedroom?  Who’s Paul? It’s in a house with a very heavy old wardrobe, with thick legs.’  This was a mixture of almost-facts, all of which could be interpreted as connected to EC in some way. 

He did not have a clear answer.  If we were going to be believers, we might say he had struggled to understand where EC lived.  We might add this was because she has moved house so often that she doesn’t know where she lives anymore, and right now, she is staying at home with us as a stop-gap.

If we wanted to believe, we would be happy to record the truth he spoke: two of her homes were terraces with stairs up the middle.  She had the front bedroom in one of them, but that was before she bought the necklace.  Paul lives in a house with heavy furniture. 

We did not know what to think.  Standing with us, exuding blasts of heat, this man had produced a jumble of images with some relevance to EC’s roving life story.  If we did not want to believe, we would have to admit that some of those images were fairly generic.  Most people in these parts would have some connection with a terraced house.  However … unusual heavy furniture with thick legs?  That was specific.  We could not wait to get home and phone Furniture Paul.  EC was looking forward to being reunited with her necklace, and it sounded like she might have left it there. 

We escaped from the meeting while the club members were watching a DVD of themselves standing around in the dark.  On entering the house, before even taking off her coat, EC turned straight to the small, lightweight cupboard which stands by our front door.  She opened it, reached in, put her hand under a pile of her usual untidy detritus and drew out her necklace.  She had no idea what made her do that.  She was as surprised as I was.

Later, she worked out an explanation.  She decided that the medium had somehow picked images of different places from inside her head, and her engineer’s brain had been so horrified by the invasive experience that it had processed and reviewed all existing information relating to the necklace without telling her.  As soon as she was indoors, her arm received a direct command to retrieve the thing before she did any more weird stuff.

That makes as much sense as anything does in the world of the paranormal.

Can her brain take action without her permission?  Apparently it can.   A brief visit to Biology Land produces an interesting overview of what is lodged inside our skulls and what tricks it can perform.

The sections of the brain have wonderful evocative names.  Some of them sound sci-fi, some of them remind me of mythological creatures and some of them are surely just kitchen ingredients.  ‘Medula, queen of Cerebellum, was complaining that there was not enough thalamus in the stew, when suddenly, an Amygdala attacked and nutted her in the pons.’

The parts of the brain have evolved at different times.  The newest part is the cortex.  This is what makes us think, talk and imagine.  Only the very cleverest animals have one of these, and we human beings have the best.  It is such a shame we just waste it on watching soap operas and brooding over interior décor.
Hiding underneath this is an older part, linked up by a series of pathways called the limbic system.  A lot of animals also have a limbic system.  The limbic system links the parts of the brain concerned with the practicalities of being in a body and living the world.  It is about emotions, sensations, hunger, thirst, sex and then sleepiness.  This part of the brain decides what you will remember and what is not important. 

Right at the back is the very oldest part of the brain, the brain stem.  This controls the vital, automatic tasks a body has to do, such as breathing, heartbeat and the choice of correct footwear to match an outfit. The cerebellum (the wheat of war?) is in this region.  It controls our balance and movement.  Animals need a cerebellum, or they just fall over.  Young people lose these on Saturday nights.

As I have found so often when poking about for the purposes of this project, different sources contradict each other.  This leads me to believe that these facts are not cut and dried.   I started to suspect that, if there are psychic skills anywhere, they might be sited inside that old part of the brain served by the limbic system.  I chose this because the flashes of unexplained information I have experienced and observed by-pass the logic and language found in that sensible, businesslike modern cortex.  If that suspicion is something near the truth, I would add that the psychic skills may have atrophied because they are so much less useful than logic and language.   

That does not mean that they are not interesting.

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