I love spookiness. I live with it. I am living in a house with a deer skull buried in a holly tree. No idea why, but I’m leaving it alone. There was an extension added in 1835 that used a broken-up gallows stone in the walls. Lately I have learned that the water supply comes from an ancient holy well. This place has been here since at least the early 1700s, probably much longer, and I love it. I find more weirdness every year.
There aren’t many ghosts here. There’s a shy woman and a dog. The flat I lived in before coming here had some really nasty bastards in it. CStM experienced them and would not have moved in with me if I had stayed there. I have been told that previous residents here heard a ghost piper but the only pipes we’ve heard making sounds are the plumbing.
About now there are eyes rolling. ‘Oh dear oh dear, the old daft bugger believes in ghosts’.
I believe nothing. I am old school scientist. I believe only what I see and experience for myself. I do not believe in God because while I have seen plenty of evidence for what is called ‘supernatural’ I have seen no evidence to suggest anyone is in charge of it all. No evidence that there are any rules.
When I was Romulus Crowe (a previous online incarnation) I once had a fight of sorts with an Australian who said (I paraphrase) ‘if you’re real, why don’t you get James Randi’s million dollars?’
Well, I don’t claim telekinesis or cutlery destruction or anything that can be tested. I cannot call up ghosts to order. However, I agree with Randi on one important point. Every stage psychic is a fake.
The Australian set me a challenge. ‘One of these three statements is true. Which one?’
Easy. He had told me the answer several days earlier and had forgotten. So I gave him a quick lesson in cold reading. It worked on him, an absolute sceptic. It works so very much more easily on those who want to beleive.
I know how to fake it. It’s depressingly easy to dupe people.
But I cannot prove it. Unlike the stage ‘psychics’ I cannot call up just enough ghosts for the show and never miss. I cannot guarantee that every ‘ghost’ links to someone in the audience, because I am not just making shit up. I am not going to claim your dead relative has a message for you. They don’t. Most are confused, they think they are dreaming. Some know what’s happened and are having a good time.
Some aren’t even really ghosts, they are a repeating recording of a past event. Those are the most interesting – somehow, an event gets recorded on the surroundings and replays either at set times or in response to some kind of trigger. You can’t interact with these, you’re just watching a movie. Imagine though, if you could figure out how it happened and replicate it to order. You want bluebirds to follow you every time you walk up to your house? How much would you pay for that?
Anyway, I can’t produce proof yet and really don’t care enough to try so I can never go for James Randi’s million dollars. I don’t need that much money anyway.
Okay, I know, you ‘rational people’ think I am nuts and I’m okay with that. Meeting me in person is unlikely to change that opinion. I have nothing to prove and nothing to gain (unless I do figure out how to produce ambient environment recordings, then I’ll be paying high rate tax for evermore). You want to live fully in one solid world. good luck. I wish you were right. It’s a little strange here sometimes.
But have another look at James Randi, the King of Debunking. I really think he genuinely wants to find that proof. He’s not setting out to debunk. He is offering a million dollars to someone who can prove what, I think, he really would love to see.
He is no fake, no charlatan. He does not ‘believe’ in things. Okay, sometimes he’s an arse and sometimes his methods are silly but on the whole he means well. He is right in his debunkings. So much can be faked, and faked easily. That does not prove the real thing doesn’t exist, it just proves that someone has learned how to fake it effectively.
As I said, cold reading is not a difficult skill to acquire. There are other ‘psychic’ tricks that are easy too. What makes them easy is that if you are a stage psychic, everyone who comes to your show already believes in you, and already wants to be chosen and duped. Even when Randi outed a fake psychic in one video, the dupe refused to accept that what he had been fed was fake.
You can have your assistants mingle with the mumblers before the show. Chat about what they hope to hear. Pass that info – along with the seat number – to the stage guy and it’s game on. How to get the seat number? ‘Oh, I’m right in the back row, where are you?’ ‘I’m in D13’. ‘Right near the front, lucky you.’ Gotcha. It is almost depressingly easy. Now of course you can have a nearly invisible earpiece in the performer and prompts while he’s onstage.
Faced with an audience who wants to believe you cannot fail. They will overlook the wrong guesses, they will not connect the chat they had before the show with the absence of that person from the audience. They will dismiss from memory all the hints of trickery because they really want to believe that Grandma has a message for them. If she does, and it’s not ‘What the blistering fuck are you doing?’ then it’s fake.
You know, if I was utterly unscrupulous, I could take up stage psychicry now. I won’t because I’d be too embarrassed to giive people that false hope. Their dead relatives are dead. Maybe they went to some Heaven or Hell but if those exist, nobody comes back from either of them. Hell, you can’t, and Heaven, why would you?
I don’t call myself psychic. I don’t often see ghosts of people, although I have seen a few ghost dogs including the one here. I hear them, I can touch them, but I see no more than a shadow if I see them at all. CStM and her mother have seen our ghost woman, CStM saw some of the ones at the flat I had before. That place had a lot of short-term tenants, and so did most of the other flats in the block. Wasn’t hard to work out why. Even if you refuse to believe in ghosts, a permanent uncomfortable feeling is not a good reason to stay.
One thing about that flat that initially baffled me… no spiders. None. Not even in the attic. I had an entirely spider-free attic. This house is riddled with spiders…. except for one room. Unlike the story, it’s not the room with the gallows stone in the wall. It’s much older than that part of the house. It’s the master bedroom which we don’t use because it’s upstairs and the heating system doesn’t go upstairs.
We used to be plagued with mice and regaled with exhibitions of rabbits from the kitchen window before the pine marten arrived. Also before the dog worked out that catching mice was like finding bacon money. Seems the combination of pine marten outside, bacon-loving dog inside, has pretty much eradicated the mice and also most of the rabbits. A digression…
I don’t know how old our female ghost is. I suspect she lived here when the master bedroom really was the master bedroom. Might be hundreds of years or tens of years. Now we live almost exclusively downstairs because we really don’t need the top half of the house other than for storing crap.
Basically, I am at the point where I can easily convince those who want to believe in an aftelife using outright fakery. I cannot convince those same people of the same thing with what I know to be true.
There is an upside. I am way past caring whether anyone believes anything I say now. I am not a lecturer any more. You don’t need to pass an exam based on my ramblings. You can trust or not trust what I say and care about it no more than I do.
But when I die, well then I am really off the leash.