April 18th, 2003

Photo - leaves

sodding ghost cams...

no idea why i decided to go and view ghost cams, but it inevitably leads to my getting annoyingly and irrationally paranoid. for something spooky but not ghostly, go here and find the link about helena blundell, and then listen to the recording of her singing 'pie jesu'. it's 87 years old. creepy. (and the little 'burp' towards the end of it scared the hell out of me earlier...)

anyway. yes. i got to remembering things. one of my missions for this summer is to test my theory of whether i can, in fact, sense things - spirits, entities, whatever you want to call them - by going to various notoriously haunted places. i can even do the derby ghost walk at some point, but there's also dudley castle, warwick castle, aston hall, and hopefully alton towers. anyone who's up for a ghost hunt, and who promises to be even slightly open-minded, let me know :) and the reason this mission has come about is because of various experiences i've had over the years that lead me to believe i'm hypersensitive to the various energies that haunted places give off.

1) the peveril castle thing as already described. i'm just glad i solved that mystery. not only was it bugging me, it's now definitive proof, or, at least, more proof...

2) these are in the wrong order, but... okay, alton towers. two things. first of all, there's the haunted house ride. i've never liked that ride. and not just the actual ride (it scared me in the first place) but the introduction to the ride, going through the house part as you queue up. i've always hated that. the entire building gives off horrible vibes. the last action photo taken of me on that ride has me with my eyes clenched shut and both hands over my ears. so, i've never liked it, and i refuse to go inside. there're rumours that while they were building it, there were some reports of tools going missing, things moving by themselves... the usual. so it's safe to say there's something there that doesn't want to be and i wouldn't go in there if you paid me. well. it depends on how much you pay me ;)

not only that, the towers themselves are meant to be haunted. there are also lots of rooms that have yet to be uncovered, so it's hardly surprising - the more rooms you uncover, the more pissed off spirits you're gonna get. but my real experience happened in the gardens. for anyone who's been around them, they'll know there's a conservatory, fairly close to the park grounds (near the lake, i think.) my mother and i were a-wandering in the gardens, through the conservatory. they were fairly empty, just a few people about since most were with kids on the rides and it was off-peak. at the end of the conservatory - which is raised up on a higher level to the rest of the garden and there are little cubbies underneath with benches in - is a little pagoda-esque thing, where the ladies of the manor could sit out and look over the grounds. it's round, made of stone, with a domed ceiling, and has one arched doorway to get inside, and then about four arched windows (i think) around the edge. in my wanderings, i started to head inside it to look at the view from the windows, and fully intending to sit down once i got in there. there was nothing immediately ominous about it while i approached...

out of the corner of my eye, i saw my mother looking upwards, as if at the ceiling of the thing (even though she was outside of it) - although when i asked her later, she said she didn't do any such thing - and so i looked up, out of curiosity. i was greeted not with the anticipated dome, but a flat ceiling (the dome's 'foundations', presumably), and for some reason, i just had to get out of there. i didn't see anything. i just got this feeling, a shiver right up my spine and this sensation of inexplicably not being wanted in there. i legged it, practically leapt from inside, and stood there breathing heavily, wondering what the heck happened.

two years later, i tested it. i couldn't even get within a foot of it without getting the same feeling, and wasn't idiotic enough to go further. still haven't researched properly; i'll put it down to the general Bad Things that inhabit the park...

3) when we lived at reginald road (from when i was about 6 to 16) we had a ghost. not just any ghost. a ghost cat. and whenever i tell this story, people laugh, but there is evidence to prove it. either that or my mother and i are both insane. this was sort of an ongoing saga, but the main things that happened were...

~ one morning, my mother was lying awake, eyes closed, and felt what would ordinarily be paws (the cat we had at the time, misto's predecessor) jumping onto her legs. then she felt something blow in her face - not a breeze or draft, an actual, full-blown blow, like one would extinguish a candle with, right in her face, from up close. she opened her eyes and looked up expecting either me or paws... and there was nothing.

~ now i come to remember it, the rest of these started happening around about the time we were finalising the move. clearly, it didn't want us to go. i hope it hasn't caused any trouble for the new owners... anyway, this one's not as good, but once i was sitting in the lounge and felt paws brush against my legs. turned out he was in the garden.

~ now, this one still freaks me out. i was in the kitchen making lunch, buttering the bread for our sandwiches. we have a glass breadboard, which at the time was new. behind me, on the wall, next to the sink, are some boxed-in pipes; on the box itself are various mugs on hooks. this box cannot be moved easily except by pulling on it very hard. anyway, i go out of the kitchen to call upstairs to ask if my mother wants mayo on her sandwiches. there is a ridiculously loud crash in the kitchen. my mother comes running downstairs while i'm staring shell-shocked into the room - the box that covered the pipes (we're talking like 5 foot of wood here), has worked loose and toppled like a felled tree onto the opposite counter - neatly missing the breadboard, keeping all the mugs intact, but landing right where i would have been standing had i not moved, and most likely would have given me a very heavy concussion. the box is reaffixed to the wall and jiggled. it doesn't work loose. it has never before worked loose. even in earth tremors. needless to say, i was slightly freaked out...

~ because of the nasty neighbouring cats, we'd invested in one of those special cat flaps with the electronic key on the collar so that only your own cat can get in. it worked. when paws didn't lose the key, but anyway. bear this in mind - only paws could get in and out, and he wasn't even very good at that since the sensitivity was getting fritzy as the catflap got older. i was standing in the kitchen doorway,looking down the hall towards the living room door, which was open. (visual floorplan moment.) between me and this door are the stairs, immediately on the right, and the cupboard under the stairs, immediately after that, also on the right. i was standing on the kitchen side of the door - to my right, in the room, was the back door, and the rest of the kitchen behind me. the catflap, obviously, was in the back door. anyway, out of the corner of my eye (once more), i saw the catflap move. i also heard it. very, very clearly, and, although it was only in my peripheral vision, i'm pretty sure it did move. i figured it was paws and didn't think anything of it... and then, paws comes sauntering in from the lounge, towards me, literally about a second after the catflap had opened.

that's the best proof i got, and the closest i've been to seeing anything (which is the most annoying thing about all of these...)

4) random women's evening guild trip with my grandmother to an old house, the name of which i have now forgotten. possibly harvington hall... anyway, it has a bedroom with the equivalent of an ensuite - it's a cupboard in the wall with a hole in the floor that drops to the moat. it only locks from the outside. i got the nastiest, eeriest feeling from that place - and found out, randomly, suddenly remembering years later, that someone had died in there... huh.

5) this is the latest, and i still can't explain it. we were on holiday in devon, staying in ilfracombe on a self-catering caravan/bedsit holiday for easter. one sunday, in the throes of boredom, we went to the office and picked up leaflets to see if there was anything we hadn't visited last time. in one of the smaller vllages near ilfracombe is an old house, chambercombe manor. it dates back, i think, to the 1000s. we were the only people there that day, so the old lady who owned it/ran it gave us a personalised tour, which meant we got chatted to and told more details than normal. the only other person there was another woman who, when we arrived, was just coming out of one room into the one we were in, before leaving again to attend to whatever it was she attended to. anyway, it was a fairly small manor, by most standards, with about 5 or 6 rooms, most of which were pretty much non-descript, history wise.

now, since it's near the sea, most of the timber in the beams came from wrecked ships from the beach. fair enough. she told us this when we'd reached the second upstairs room, and pointed out the overhead beam that was a good example of being from a ship. another mental floor plan for you: imagine a square room. we entered the room from the, oh, let's say top left corner. in the middle of the opposite (right) wall was a large bed, and to the left of the bed was a chair. there was another chair on the 'top' wall facing into the room, and a window opposite that. next to the chair by the bed was another doorway, through which, from that position, i could see some stairs; i assumed these to lead back downstairs.

so. she told us to pick a chair. i picked the one by the bed (with the 'downstairs' door to the left of it), my mother the other one, and the tour lady perched on the windowsill, and began to recount us a story. i never remember the details. basically, the house, obviously, had seen many generations of different families. one such family was a man, his wife, and their daughter, who went off to marry. they hadn't seen her in many years (i'm sure there were circumstances...) times were getting hard; so hard, that they were having to pillage from the shipwrecks, stealing whatever possessions they could find on bodies as well as what was on the ships. on one such occasion when another ship had crashed, they found the body of a young woman. she was still alive, so the man decided to take her to the house and help her recover - but not before taking her belongings. he still needed the money.

the woman eventually died, in the room that used to belong to their daughter. somehow they found out who she was - and it turned out she was their daughter. the man was so distraught over what he'd done - robbing his own daughter - that he sealed up her room and left the body in there, so it wouldn't remind him of it. then, i think they either just died or left.

a few years later, and there was another family living there, a man and his wife and whatever servants they had. one afternoon, the woman was in the garden, looking up at the front element of the house, when she noticed an extra window that didn't correspond with the rooms she knew were inside. she told her husband, and he agreed to investigate. sure enough, knocking on the wall, he discovered there was another room on the other side of it. they managed to break through, and were assaulted (obviously) by the stench of decaying flesh, and uncovered the grisly secret on the other side. after giving the woman a proper burial, they kept the room sealed up again.

so that was the story. while she was telling this, i could hear what i assumed to be the other woman i'd seen that morning, moving about on the staircase through the door - which i thought was about 20 steps long, leading to the ground floor. i didn't think anything of it. she finished the story, pointed to me, and informed me rather too gleefully that the secret room was directly behind me. literally. i realised later on that the footsteps i'd heard weren't on the staircase, they were directly behind me and i'd just assumed they were on the stairs.

the stairs turned out to lead only to the room on the other side of the secret one, comprising about seven in total. if anyone had been moving on them, i would have seen them or they would have come into the room we were in. anyway, on the steps' wall was a window that looked into said secret room - it wasn't exactly light so you couldn't see much, but i didn't stick around long enough to look closely. bad vibes in the extreme just coming off the glass. i just got out of there.

it turned out, in addition, that the other lady had been outside tending to the garden the entire time we were upstairs. so needless to say, several hours later, i was freaking the hell out.

and that, children, is it. enough proof positive to make me believe i'm sensitive to something, and enough to make me want to prove it more...
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    fauré's "pie jesu" in my head, not helping matters...
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