Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Ghost Hunt!

Hey look, it’s another sporadic blog entry!

Sorry, no discipline. It’s just so much easier to post a 140 character Tweet. Maybe that thing about the internet destroying attention spans wasn't a myth...oh look, a poodle...sorry what was I doing here?

Oh yes, one of my infrequent blogs. I suppose it keeps it special though, eh? Like spotting a yeti or a ghost.

And speaking of...

A couple of weeks ago, I went to 30 East Drive. A property billed as being home to Europe's most violent poltergeist.

As you can tell, I'm still alive. That's one spoiler alert that I can't help, sorry.

I answered an invitation from a friend who I met when I was doing comedy. He goes on lots of ghost hunts and has all of the equipment; emf meters, temperature gauges, night vision cameras.

I figured at the very least it would make for a more interesting than usual response to the dreaded “What did you do at the weekend?” question you get at the work tea point every Monday morning. A refreshing change to: “Not much, you?” - “No, not much”

Providing I survived. Which we have already established I did. More spoilers!

As we turned off the motorway on to the a-road leading to Pontefract we were greeted by a huge sign in a field which said ‘Prepare to Meet Your God’. A fantastic omen.

I should probably stop here for a moment and just state my position.

I was going along as an open minded sceptic. I like to think I am logical, rational and all those synoyms – see my previous blog entry on ghosts and how we frame everything backwards according to experience and preconception – however when I was little a few things happened which are hard to explain.

My dad was pushing me on a swing in our back garden. My mum was in hospital having just had my brother. I started waving and saying goodbye to, apparently nobody. Dad asked who I was waving to. I named the person and said they were saying goodbye and going away. When we got to the hospital we bumped into my nan who said that her neighbour, of that name, had just died.

I don't remember this as I was too young, so I can't conclude anything. The only explanation I have is that I may have overheard the grown-ups talking about her. Maybe they were mentioning she was ill or something and my imagination went with it. I didn't know her and hadn't interacted with her. My nan lived on the Old Kent Road and I lived in West Wickham. At that age, I only went there for a couple of hours at Christmas.

The house in West Wickham was weird too. My mum didn't like to be there on her own. When she put the TV on heavy footsteps started going up and down the stairs. Then when she muted it, they abruptly stopped. I used to claim there was an old man in the house, coming up the stairs. I used to run to bed and clean my teeth under the duvet. Again, I can’t conclude anything. I was too young to remember seeing him. I have no memory of any of it. But I have been told all of the stories. Here’s one which is really rather creepy.

Mum says I had a toy bunny, like the ones in the Duracell adverts, which I used to play with to excess. It was taken off me one day to give my parents some peace. The batteries were taken out and the bunny was placed on the top of a wardrobe out of my reach. In the middle of the night what do my parents hear? The bunny. Batteries back in, marching around my bedroom floor whilst I watched on from my crib. If I'd have been on the ball I would have said “They're heeeeere” in a squeaky voice. Ah, l'esprit d'escalier.

I can't think of an explanation for that one. But the absence of an explanation still doesn't mean ghosts. So yeah, open minded sceptic. More things in heaven and earth, only know I know nothing etc etc.

Whatever, back to the ghost hunt!

30 East Drive is an ordinary looking, fairly modern council property. A strange place for a black monk to haunt you might think. He should be in an abbey or a castle. But apparently there was a gallows on the site of the house and he was hanged for a crime he didn't commit, hence the restless spirit roaming the earth story. There is also supposed to be a little girl in there, and according to the neighbour, an evil elemental in the bathroom. Quite off-putting when you're on the loo I expect.

First impressions on entering were: it's freezing, it smells funny, the atmosphere is tangibly 'orrible. The former two were down to the property being uninhabited, the latter because of the story behind the house. It was odd though, being that struck by the unpleasantness of a place, despite the rational explanation.

(The d├ęcor didn't help. The guy who bought the house – the producer of the movie about it, which we watched in the house that night, woooooo! – has done his best to recreate the look of the place at the time of the poltergeist activity. Old furniture, old carpet, bare beds, creepy china dolls. He has bloody well succeeded)

The cold was weird though it has to be said. I've been in a house that hasn't had the heating on for a long while. This was a different cold. Extra cold. It clung to you. Literally. There was a point in the night where I thought someone was squeezing my legs (actually there was a point where someone really did this – hid under a bed and grabbed my ankles in the dark – I didn't flinch and am therefore, in the words of Alan Partridge, braver than ten firemen and a dozen policemen) The time I am talking about though, I was standing alone in the main bedroom. It felt like something tightening around my legs. I stood there for ages, trying to be objective about this weird feeling. Then I looked down and it turned out the cold and damp had caused my jeans to cling to my legs really tightly. I see now why people on Most Haunted keep insisting that someone is touching their leg (apart from the need to fabricate activity for their TV show that is) There were also sudden drops in temperature in certain isolated spots now and then.

“But were there any weird occurrences?” I don’t hear you say because how could I? Well, one or two.

When we were setting up for the baseline tests my friend found that all of his fully charged batteries had drained to zero power. Apparently this is something commonly reported at 30 East Drive. He put them in the wall charger and we went off to do some of the tests as a group. When we all came back, the wall charger had been switched off. Nobody admitted to doing it. We were all upstairs and the front door was locked. That was interesting. Not beyond explanation but interesting.

During the early hours light orbs were seen on film and on still camera – some say this is supposed to be ghosts trying to manifest, some say it's reflection and dust. So debatable and explainable. There was however an unexplained light which flashed brightly when we were asking for activity. We were in the sitting room and it flashed past the glass door connecting to the kitchen. It was like a car headlight but much more focused and very bright. Our resident die hard sceptic was in the kitchen at the time and my mate said that it had pained the guy to report that there were no cars going past when it happened. That too was interesting and we can't find an explanation for the source of the light. All of the lights and torches were off and the biggest sceptic among us was in the room where the light came from.

The best bit of the night was when we all went off to sit in different parts of the house in the dark. My friend went into the coal shed, where the dad who lived there at the time of the poltergeist activity got locked in by unseen hands, apparently. A friend of his who was standing outside in the kitchen asked “Where are you in the house? Are you in the coal shed?” At which point the motion sensor outside the coal shed went off. My friend leaped out of there and ran at his mate, who kicked the kitchen door shut behind them. My friend decided to put that down to setting up the motion sensor carelessly and it falling over by itself. Amazing timing though eh? Only time in the night it went off.

In the absence of actually seeing a ghost, shaking its hand and having a chat, I remain an open minded sceptic. It was a fun night though and I would recommend a ghost hunt whatever your perspective on the matter.

Here are some photos

The group at the start of the night


Sign on the kitchen door


Creepy decor


Using the emf meter in the coal shed


Stairs where the black monk is supposed to walk


Watching the film about the house, in the house


Waiting for something to happen in the dark


Lights out selfie