Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Ghost Stories at Christmas on the BBC

 For all you fans of the Christmas Ghost Stories I have found a few listed on the BBC.
Here's the page http://search.bbc.co.uk/search?go=homepage&Search=Search&tab=tvradio&q=christmas%20ghost%20story&scope=all

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Pretoria Pit

The Pretoria Pit Disaster is the worst coal mining accident to have occurred in Lancashire, and the third worst mining disaster in British history.  The Pretoria Pit was a complex of coal mines owned by the Hulton Colliery Company, and situated on the border of Westhoughton and Atherton. 344 lives were lost in an explosion underground on the morning of the 21st December 1910.
It is reported that dozens of pairs of eyes look out of bushes along Platt lane, the lane that the miners would walk along en route to their work, and that they belong to the spirits of the miners who died in the accident at Pretoria Pit. Prior to this disaster, miners on route to work would sometimes encounter the sound of an invisible horse which ran past them. It is said to still be haunted as reports still come in from time to time. How many of these are accurate or misrepresentations are (of course) open to speculation. It will be the 100th anniversary of the disaster next Christmas. Maybe I will plan a vigil for that day.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Time slips

There have been quite a few stories of people experiencing buildings and surroundings from days gone by and actually interracting with people from the past. I remember seeing one such story of two married couples who were touring France and staying at small hostelries on the way. They stopped at a small village and saw a delightful little place. The prices seemed to me remarkably cheap but they thought they would give it a try. They had excellent meals and first class wine. The beds were clean and comfortable, and the rooms even tastefully decorated in the Art Deco period. They paid their bills and made a mental note of the hotel name and address to stop off again on the way back from their tour, as they had to pass along this route again. Imagine their surprise when they came back some 2 weeks later to find the place a ruined and boarded up old shell. When they quizzed one of the locals about it the name and their description did indeed perfectly match the once small but elegant hotel, but it had been burned out some 20 years earlier.
This is just one such story. I can remember seeing several others. This begs the question to be asked "do we experience occasional holes in time, and are ghosts just visitors from past times who are unaware of our presence?" - Personally, I think it is a theory that has some basis in science, and therefore has to be considered. We do know that time can be affected and that it isn't constant. I wonder if occasionally the needle skips on the record now and then and back we go, only to be flung back again almost seemlessly some time later? - I dunno, but it's an intriguing thought!

Thursday, 10 December 2009


An aura is a supposed field of light that shines around the outline of the body that is invisible to the majority of the public. Apparently certain "sensitive" people can not only see these auras but also read and interpret them, and depending on what colour they are, they can tell you what your mood is, or if any part of the body is injured. It is (loosely) linked to Kirlian photography, which is said to be a method of photographing the human aura. Hmmmm!
This sounds a little loose scientifically. Surely if the body was emitting an aura then this would be a form of energy, and therefore measurable by some scientific instrument or other. We are able to measure all wave forms from microwaves to subsonic wave forms - the lot. Is this a new form of energy?. If so, the eyes of certain people must indeed be very sensitive to be able to see them. I may be entirely wrong about this of course, and maybe some people can just see our magnetic fields - but if they can then life must be absolute hell, because they would see magnetic fields around every electric appliance in their house. Their whole life must be one technicolor dream ride!.
I am putting auras in the same convenient box as orbs. The box marked "Highly Speculative"

Monday, 7 December 2009

The fairest way?

We do seem to be awash with paranormal investigation shows (no bad thing as I like them) but all the programmes who use mediums as part of their investigations always have one fatal flaw - previous knowledge of the location, and hence it's history. I would love to see a firm of well respected and trusted lawyers who are sworn to secrecy actually arranging and then choosing the locations for investigation. Then vans/cars are sent to pick up the entire crew who are waiting in a designated location, unaware of where they are about to be whisked off to. The insurance and all the red tape will have been sorted out in advance and the entire crew will be driven to the location in vehicles with blacked out windows until they arrive at the destination.
OK, there may still be some "contamination" if any of the participants know the said location and building, but it would cut out a great deal of the suspicions about the prior knowledge of the mediums. There would also be an off-site historian who DOES know the history, and who is listening live to the crew as they do the investigation and can report back on the accuracy (or otherwise) of the information the medium is coming out with and report this to the audience. The team on site wouldn't know what was being said.
This may all sound a little brutal, but if mediums are to be used there have to be proper scientific controls. Give me prior knowledge of a location and I reckon I could be quite convincing about my conversations with the afterlife!

Sunday, 6 December 2009


I may have previously mentioned the fact that I live in an old farmhouse. Due to its age and its remote location it could be said to be blessed (or cursed) with the feeling of being just a tad spooky when it's dark and the weather conditions are right. I have long since grown accustomed to living here and the small eccentricities of the building. It can be a draughty old place at the best of times, and yes, occasionally doors do open with a creak that would grace any Hammer film. During the daytime these are barely noticed, but at night time I do notice them a little more, though only for a brief second before common sense reigns once more.
The latest odd anomaly is the kitchen units have started to occasionally eminate taps. They really do sound like someone is rapping on the work surface with a knuckle. As buildings of this age do occasionally get mice I think it may well be that. We get them every year, so it's no surprise.
What I am trying to say in my own clumsy way is that I have become a little desensitised when I am presented with spooky old places. I learn to EXPECT odd creaks and tapping noises as this is no different to my own old place. This doesn't mean that the reactions of other people in the room don't give me a start. There's nothing like someone suddenly shouting an unexpected expletive or screaming to raise the heart rate.
I suppose that's the joy in "ghost hunting" in a group. No matter how serious the intentions may be, there's nothing like shared fright, even though the causes may well be normal and innocent.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Friend of a friend

A new word has been made to describe these stories that we have all heard and are very familiar with. That word is Foaflore - (Friend-Of-A-Friend lore).
There are hundreds of them. Probably one of the most famous being the phantom hitch-hiker. For anyone who has led a very sheltered life and has never heard the story it goes something like this:
It is a wild and rainy night, and a man is driving down a country lane when he comes upon a bedraggled young lady hitch-hiker. Being a gentleman he stops to pick her up and drives on a mile or two and drops her off outside her house. The next morning he discovers she has left her scarf (or purse, or handbag depending on which version you have heard) so he thinks "I know, I will drop it off at her house on the way to work".
He arrives at her house and knocks at the door and the door is answered by an elderly lady. He told her that he had picked up a young lady hitch-hiker and she had left this item in his car. The woman asked where he had picked her up and he described the area on the country lane. The lady then told him that her daughter had been killed in that very spot by a hit and run driver exactly one year ago yesterday, and the item was hers.
Great story - and no doubt is based upon some earlier tale of a stagecoach driver or some such. One wonders where these marvellous tales spring from. They provide endless amusement to me.
I once heard a lesser tale about a local shop - the details I won't divulge because they are totally untrue and libellous. The person who told me the story told me who had told him, so I went off to see if I could track down the originator of the tale. I got back 4 people into the chain before I gave up.
These stories are the obvious next generation of folk tales. Now we are no longer interested in listening to grannies old tales and remedies we seek them elsewhere - within the wonderful world of FOAFLORE.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Christmas ghost stories

Every Christmas there used to be "A Ghost Story for Christmas" on the BBC (I think it was). Usually they were the M.R.James classics. I still have those old black and white TV dramatisations on DVD, and I think it is the fact that they ARE in black and white with primitive special effects that makes them so delightfully creepy. There are no massive Hollywood plastic demons leaping out at you leaving nothing to the imagination - most things are merely implied just by the look of terror on the actors face.

Then of course there is always the adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" - even then I prefer the old version with Alastair Sim. I think I must be pining for my youth!. I don't know why, but the more sophisticated modern films get and the more they try and terrify me or make me jump out of my seat, the more I feel disinclined to watch them. Well, I say I don't know why. In truth I DO know why. I really don't want to be terrified and stressed out all through a film in the sure and certain knowledge that something is going to leap out of a cupboard and make me spill my beer all over my shirt!

Dear BBC - please bring back the M.R.James classics - if only for me. I like my fear in gentle, measured doses!
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