An Article by Founder of Strange Phenomena Investigations Malcolm Robinson
Ghosts and hauntings, these words convey to some individuals an in-depth fear of the paranormal. The chilling thought that deceased persons which in some cases have been presumed to have returned from the grave to once again appear, if only in shadowy forms and to fill us with fear with their grimly presences, is a fact that few seriously minded persons cannot now dismiss. Strange tales of ghosts and hauntings can be found from all corners of the Earth and records clearly show that ghostly presences go well back into antiquity. As a researcher dealing with the paranormal, I take from my files some interesting tales of ghostly visitors of which the persons who relayed the information to me, can find no rational explanation to account for them. A further point should be stated that in no way did these individuals feel that they were hallucinating, rather, they were adamant that they were in full awareness of their senses, and that this to them was something totally unexplainable and something which they will never forget.
Some Chilling Tales
The Lingwood Norwich Case (Case One)
Our first account comes from Mrs Fox from Lingwood in Norwich, England who told me that she has always had a deep interest in the paranormal. This was partly due to some events which occurred to her during the early part of her life. One of the first incidents which although Mrs Fox found baffling, did not in fact frighten her. It was the apparition of a young man who appeared at the foot of her bed one evening. This young man was known to Mrs Fox, in fact, she used to look after him as he was slightly backward but she had never seen him for over four years. The apparition smiled at Mrs Fox, then in a matter of seconds faded and nothing was to be seen. The following day Mrs Fox was surprised to meet (after four years) this young man’s mother. She came into the office where Mrs Fox worked and informed her that her son who Mrs Fox had cared for some years before, had passed away in the night. At that moment Mrs Fox knew that this young man had made his last appearance to her, no doubt as a token of his respect and love for the care and attention that Mrs Fox had so kindly given him. Mrs Fox has also witnessed other apparitions during her life of which none she tells me has frightened her. She accepts the ‘hereafter’ and that the people she has seen are by their very presence, making known to ‘her’, that there is a life after death.
But His Mother Was Still Alive (!) (Case Two)
Our next case is slightly more different in that the person witnessed an apparition of his mother but the strange thing was, at the time he saw her she wasn’t dead She in fact died the year after this sighting. Mr. Young of Invergowrie, Scotland takes up this unusual story. This is what he had to say:
“I live in a village and when my son was just over two years old he was with his granny who lived in a small house just down the road. So I went down to collect him. As I was reaching the house, I saw my mother and son go up the path and into her house. But when I went in, there was nobody there! I knew it was her because she was wearing a red coat. I then came back out the house and started to walk back up the path. I was then startled to see my mother and son approaching me coming ‘back up the road.’ I soon learned that they were just back from visiting the shops and were just ‘now’ arriving home. This was in 1961 and unfortunately mum passed away a year later in 1962. To this day I still can’t explain it, but I definitely saw them. I’ll always remember it.”
Now this is certainly an interesting and unusual case. Especially when we consider the fact that Mr Young’s mother was still alive when he witnessed her and that his young son was also to be seen accompanying her ‘into’ the house. If one tries to seek to rationalise and seek a solution to this unusual case, it may well come from the phenomenon know as the ‘Doppelganger Effect’. What happens here is that some individuals have witnessed their ‘own doubles’ (complete copies of their physical bodies approaching them only to disappear in front of their eyes). Moreover and quite disturbingly, in all cases of reported ‘Doppelganger Effects’ in which to my knowledge, the people who have witnessed their own doubles soon died, either in mysterious circumstances or in just natural causes. But as we have learned from above, it was the son who witnessed his mother and son’s doubles, not the mother herself. We may also ask about the young boy, why was ‘he’ in this ‘vision’? Whatever the answer is to this particular incident be it due to Mr Young’s imagination, or true visual interpretation of a psychic phenomenon, it is nonetheless intriguing.
The Attic Room (Case Three)
We move from Scotland to Ireland now for our next case. During 1979, Mrs Eileen Pearson of Edinburgh Scotland decided to take a short holiday to Ireland with her two young children aged four and seven. They planned to visit her sister in Killarney. Whilst waiting on the plane at Edinburgh Airport, she learned that it would be delayed for two hours owing to engine trouble (which is a set back few of us enjoy). When finally arriving in Dublin Airport, she hailed a waiting taxi which took her to the railway station where she then enquired of the station master about a train which would take her and her two children to Killarney. Unfortunately they had just missed this particular train and the next one was not scheduled until 9:40am the following morning. Slightly downhearted, what with the flight being delayed and now missing the last train, she felt that her best bet would be to take bed and breakfast accommodation nearby and then meet her train the following morning. With some difficulty she eventually found accommodation in the form of The Kerry Arms Hotel. After making arrangements with the landlady of the hotel, she was ushered to an attic room at the top of the hotel. Mrs Pearson explained that the room was not over elaborately furnished; only having two beds, a dressing table and a chair. However, that she felt was comfort enough and both her and her two children were exhausted from the day’s travelling. As it was getting late, Mrs Pearson set about putting the children to bed. The oldest child slept in one bed himself, whilst she and her younger son slept together in the other bed. It was roughly around 11:30pm that she put out the light and settled down for what she hoped would be a good night’s sleep. However, she never envisaged the events which were to follow.
It was a little while later that the events of which this case is based began to make themselves known. The first thing that Mrs. Pearson was aware of was a constant tugging at her bed covers. Her first thought was that her oldest son was playing a practical joke and she looked over at his bed expecting to see an empty space, but much to her surprise, she saw instead that her eldest son was fast asleep. Mrs. Pearson was by now becoming ever so alarmed and more so because she now heard a scratching or clawing noise on the headboard of her bed. She likened this noise to that of a dog clawing on wood. As the minutes ticked by she became increasingly petrified. She found that she was unable to move, unable to scream. She lay there for what seemed an eternity wondering what on earth was going on, what could be responsible for all this ? Eventually she decided to get out of bed and put on the light and do a quick check of the room. As she did so, she soon observed that everything was in its usual place. Still slightly shaken, she left the light on and tried to get back to sleep. Thankfully, she did in fact manage to sleep and nothing else disturbed her the rest of that night. At breakfast, the landlady kept staring at Mrs. Pearson, and Mrs. Pearson had the distinct feeling that the landlady knew all about that room and its secrets. Even the landlady’s face looked as if it was just waiting for Mrs. Pearson to ask about that room. But Mrs. Pearson was in no mood to talk about it. After breakfast was over she quickly gathered her children, said goodbye to the landlady, and was out of the hotel as quick as you like. Now there is a footnote to this particular story. Some months later Mrs. Pearson did a bit of checking up on that hotel and found out that the hotel and the street it was situated in, was the scene of many murders. In fact, it was mainly servants whom were murdered in that street. This may or may not have anything to do with what Mrs. Pearson experienced, but wherever the answer lies, Mrs. Pearson won’t be going back to The Kerry Arms in a hurry to find out.
Granny’s Ghost (Case Four)
It’s been stated that some people are more prone to witness ghosts than others; possibly because some people are more acutely aware of psychic phenomenon than others. Indeed, these people may have some inherent psychic ability that enables them to see into (for want of a better word) another dimension than others. Well this next case probably has the hallmarks of this possibility. It was related to me from a Mrs. Graham from Glasgow, Scotland and tells the tale of an interesting situation.?
During 1959 Mrs. Graham’s grandmother was suffering from a terminal illness. The grandmother lived in a house which was still lit by gas mantle as she did not like electricity. After a period of time the grandmother passed away and the house lay empty for a short while. During the time that the property lay empty, Mrs. Graham and her husband decided to sell off their own property and move into her grandmother’s house. It was roughly around 16 months after the death of her gran that Mrs. Graham walked into her bedroom and was shocked to see her ‘dead’ grandmother standing before her. Amazed at the spectacle before her and trying to gather her senses, she noticed that she could see ‘straight through’ her to the furniture beyond. She was so frightened by this apparition that she immediately turned and ran out of the room screaming at the top of her voice for her husband. Over a period of time Mrs. Graham repeatedly was aware of her grandmother’s presence in her home, but she soon lost her original fear towards her. As I have already mentioned in this article, it’s been stated that some people may have more psychic ability to perceive these ghostly visions than the rest of us. And it so happens that Mrs Graham is herself psychic to an extent, especially as she told me in regards to premonitions in which time after time she has proved to the amazement of her friends about things which have later come to pass. So it may well be that the theory of one’s psychic ability may have a bearing to this effect.
The Auctertool Ghost (Case Five)
My next case delving into the world of the supernatural, concerns the sighting of a strange ghostly form witnessed by three young girls aged between 18 and 20 who were driving back home from a late night disco. This is what happened. It was back in May 1981 when long time friends Heather and Gillian who live in Dunfermline Fife, Central Scotland were travelling in a car with another friend Hilary Guthrie who lived in Rosyth back from their favourite nite-spot in Kirkcaldy Fife called Bentley’s. They were driving along the B925 Auctertool road at roughly 01:30am after what Ms Guthrie explained to me, was a ‘very good night’s entertainment’. They were in no way intoxicated and drink fairly moderately as a rule. At that time of the morning the road was deserted. In fact, they hadn’t passed or been passed by any cars whatsoever. It was whilst they were driving along this road that all three of them shared a particularly unpleasant experience, as Ms Guthrie now explains:
“We were sitting chatting away about how we had enjoyed ourselves when all of a sudden Heather and Gillian started screaming. I still don’t know how Heather managed to keep control of the car. I turned around and all I managed to see was something small and pure white disappearing behind a brick wall which was running along side the road. After my friends had stopped screaming, I asked them what it was that I had caught a glimpse of. Both their stories were the same. It was something pure white, with a white face and ‘no features’. It had thin arms and fingers, very small fingers and arms, like a child’s and they were also pure white. It was trying to climb over the wall, but when it saw the headlights of our car, it must have went behind the wall again. At work on Monday we were telling everyone about the ‘ghost’ we had seen. I don’t think that anyone believed us except one girl; whose aunt lives in Auctertool. She related that her aunt saw a ghost once and it was the exact same description as we had given her.”
The unusual feature about this case is the fact that if this ‘was’ an apparition as these three young girls seem to think that it was, why did it appear to be climbing over a wall? Most of us envisage these ghostly forms as being able to pass through walls and closed doors with ease, so surely a stone wall would be no problem for a wandering ghost? Although it is fair to point out, that not all ghosts are the same, there are reports of solid ghosts, ghosts you could easily pass in the street without really knowing that it was so, so we have to bear this in mind as well. But could it have been a practical joker? While we should look at all possibilities before we come to any firm conclusion (if that is possible) I do think that the practical joker theory to explain this incident wears a bit thin. Firstly, as I have stated, it was roughly 1:30am and these girls were driving along a stretch of road, which although to some it would appear feasible for someone to be trying to scare oncoming motorists by jumping out from behind a wall on this not so heavily used road, I think it highly unlikely. I cannot see the possible reason why someone should partake in this ridiculous behaviour. It seems to me totally futile. One thing we should bear in mind regarding the observation by these young women is the fact that this apparition, or whatever it was, was not keen to be seen. Apparently when the lights from their oncoming car reached the spot where it was, it quickly disappeared from sight. Also, what about the lack of features on this apparition (or whatever’s) face? There ‘may’ have been some features there, but I would imagine that when the headlights of the car struck this ‘thing’ maybe they were ‘flattened out?' Another point to remember in the girls’ favour is the admission by an aunt that she too observed what might have been the same thing on that same stretch of road. Of course one other possibility that one should consider in regards to this incident is this: Could this not just have been some drunken reveller who also was coming back from the disco and decided to relieve himself by the side of the road, and if so, perhaps this chap (if it was a bloke) didn’t want to expose himself to the oncoming traffic? It bears thinking about. However, what if it was a ghost? Ghosts don’t climb walls, ‘or do they?'
A Plethora Of Psychic Disturbances (Case Six)
My next case comes from a lady from Falkirk Central Scotland who has longed to relate all her unusual psychic experiences, but has never done so till now for fear of ridicule (something which a lot of people have to bear with). She was so glad to relate these experiences to me knowing that I had a deep interest in these subjects. I shall not set about interpreting her incidents from her letter, rather I shall quote her letter in it’s entirety, I sue the pseudonym of Mrs. Margaret Baxter:
“The first incident that happened to me was when I was a 12 year old girl. I told my mother that she was going to have a baby girl. My mother was waiting for confirmation on her pregnancy and had never mentioned it to me. It turned out that I was right. When I was 17 my grandmother was dying of cancer. My mother at the time worked as an office cleaner in the evenings, so that she could remain at my gran’s side without losing her pay. I went from my own work to clean offices for her. While dusting one office, I distinctly heard the sound of wings flapping, but distant. They seemed to come closer until they sounded right above my head, ‘huge flapping wings’. They sounded that real that I actually ducked, then the sound receded. I looked at the wall clock; it was almost 20 minutes to 7pm. I finished cleaning the office and then went home. When I reached home, I was informed that my grandmother had died. I was surprised though to learn that she had died at the exact same time that I was hearing those strange flapping noises in that office.
When my twins were born three years later, I was staying in my parent’s house. My husband being a soldier, was abroad at the time. I awoke early one morning; I knew that no sound had awoken me. I then seemed to sit up without using my hands to aid me and turned my head towards the cot against the opposite wall. Leaning over the cot was a grey foggy shape. As it straightened, I recognised it as my gran. It then glided along to the end of the next cot and again leaned over. As it straightened a second time, it seemed to disintegrate. I felt no fear, in fact, I promptly lay down and went back to sleep. Two years later (1973) I joined my husband in Benhauser, a small but expanding village near Paderborn in West Germany. Although we lived in a modern and attractive flat, I felt very uneasy on entering it. To begin with, silly things happened more annoying or amusing than frightening, and indeed although I felt uneasy I didn’t feel any fear. My lipsticks and perfumes (and even my contraceptives) at one time went missing, they would turn up after a few days in the strangest of places ( i.e., the oven, toilet pan, vegetable rack, and even would you believe, in the Budgie cage?). I presumed the mischief maker to be female since it seemed to be ‘my’ belongings it held so much interest in and I nick-named it ‘Flossie,’ much to my then sceptical husband’s amusement. One night the bottle opener went missing. Before going to bed that night I said, 'Goodnight, Flossie, and please give the opener back as it’s no use to you. On entering the sitting room the next morning, there was the opener in the centre of the coffee table. Gradually things got more exasperating and I began to think that Flossie wasn’t alone.
“I’d come home from shopping to find all the lights blazing, all the cooker rings were on, and the hot air heaters were blowing away. Ornaments would be re-arranged and dresses were laid out on the bed. Then we began to hear a baby crying. Each time the hall door was opened the crying stopped. This was also heard by friends visiting us. One of my twins (the girl) then almost three years old began talking about the ‘man.’ She would giggle and squirm and talk of the ‘man’ tickling her. My husband was in bed one time with the flu and came through to the sitting room very shaken. Someone (or thing?) had entered the room, stroked his forehead and tucked his blankets in around him. Things began to get worse and I began to be afraid. My daughter stopped giggling and began screaming and crying, instead complaining of the ‘man’ pulling her hair and knocking her down. We would lie in bed at night and listen to the air heaters and other electrical gadgets being plugged in and it sounded as though all Hell had broke loose. We would then have to steal ourselves to go around the flat switching everything off again.
“At one time a friend stayed with me while our husbands were away. I left her sitting on the settee feeding her baby while I made some supper. She came into the kitchen a few minutes later looking strange and very jumpy. Finally she said that she thought she had seen a strange woman through there. She went on to tell me that as she sat feeding her baby (she was sitting turned slightly on the edge of the settee), she thought someone was looking over her shoulder. As she turned her head, she thought she saw a tall woman directly behind her. She jumped from the settee and turned fully round, but there was no one there. Needless to say my friend left early next morning. Yet another friend called one afternoon and as we lived a good distance from the official Army Headquarters and had a very poor bus service, well, our friends nearly always ended up staying over. This friend decided to wash her hair in the evening. She came out of the bathroom looking very frightened and near to panic. After some time, she had calmed herself down enough to say she felt someone’s hand on the back of her head pushing her head down into the water as she rinsed her hair. Often while taking a shower, either my husband or I would get the shock of our lives when the temperature gauge suddenly changed. It was bad enough when it went cold, but very unnerving if it went too hot (we left that flat after ten months). I know the house was only built in 1971, but know very little of the village except that it was a Gestapo stronghold at one time. Soldiers in my husband’s squadron told us that the couple who were in the house before us only managed to stay there for five weeks and in fact the woman ended up on nerve tablets. The couple who moved in after us had no trouble at all and lived there very happily. I also felt very depressed and short tempered and often very violent at times during my stay there. All very out of character. These feelings all left me once I had left that flat. I certainly won’t forget my stay in Benhauser in a hurry.
“My next out of the ordinary encounter, and my last to date, was back in 1979. While in my kitchen making tea before going on the evening nursing shift, I thought I heard my life long friend (who had emigrated) shout my name. Most people call me Maggie but Anne always called me Margaret, and it was Margaret that she shouted. But the shout seemed to come from inside my head. It made me think of her and ponder over this voice for a minute, then I dismissed it. My husband came to meet me at the hospital that night with the news of Anne’s death. Her husband’s four seater plane had hit a mountain over the borders of Australia. Much later that evening, after hours of crying, I was preparing for bed when again Anne’s voice (within my head) was saying, “And my baby too Margaret”. So it came as no surprise to me when I received a letter from Anne’s in-laws in Australia telling me that Anne had been pregnant but had only just found out about it before her death."
Well strange experiences indeed. I don’t think any of us would relish having the experiences that Margaret had to contend with. Unless of course you’re a psychic researcher, then each and every one of those experiences would be like all one’s Christmases coming together.
The Balnakeil Photograph (Case Seven)
My final incident concerning ghosts and paranormal experiences has the added bonus in that a photograph was taken, admittedly the witness saw nothing untoward at the time and it was only later when the photograph was developed that things were noticed. I now give the strange story of the Balnakeil photograph.
It was sometime in August 1980 (Mrs. McEwan can’t remember the exact date), that she visited her family who lived in the small village of Balnakeil which is situated at the North-Westerly tip of Scotland (and it's around one mile away from the nearest town - that of Durness). Mrs. McEwan from Clackmannan in Central Scotland loves visiting her family at this remote location and it gets her out of her usual built up town. She told me that although the countryside is very barren the scenery makes up for it as it is quite breathtaking. Moreover, this part of Scotland is not overrun by the many tourists that visit Scotland every year. Anyway, a couple of days before the McEwan family set out on their long journey North, she purchased a Polaroid 2000 Instamatic camera. The camera itself is an update model on previous models whereby the photograph develops in minutes. With the previous models, one had to place the photograph between two aluminium plates then place those plates underneath your armpit (our older readers will no doubt remember this - I know I certainly do). Anyway, Mrs. McEwan and family made the long trip up North and after meeting up with her family, she decided to go down to Balnakeil beach to take some pictures with her new camera. The sky was a lovely shade of bluey-pink and she felt that this would make a nice picture. Not being a great photographer, she decided to try and composite the picture as best she could whereby having a piece of the beach in the foreground and the sky in the distance. This she did, however, once she looked at the developed photograph she was startled to see what looked like the gable end of a house with what appears to be another building to the right of the photograph. To say she was surprised at what she was looking at would be an understatement. The main reason why she was so surprised, shocked and stunned, was due to the fact that there were no buildings of any description in her direct line of vision whilst taking the photograph. The nearest buildings were around 20 to 30 yards away. But not only did the photo show (quite clearly as well) the gable end of a house, but it also showed what appeared to be two ghostly figures of an adult and child!
Ghostly buildings? Ghostly figures? While the general public will debate whether or not apparitions exist, they may find it hard to accept the phenomenon of ghostly buildings. But this I hasten to add, is very much part and parcel of ghostly phenomenon. There are many photographs of ghostly buildings and the like spread throughout the history of ghostly phenomena. Could the camera have penetrated into time past? There may have been buildings there at one time, but as yet I have been unable to verify this. The camera has proved to be a very valuable tool in the aspect of showing paranormal phenomena (or at least what appears to be paranormal phenomena. While it is accepted that photographs can be tampered with and today’s technology is such that any clued up school kid who has a Microsoft Photoshop package could easily fake a ghost photo, this was back in 1980 and was one of those (as I’ve stated) Polaroid jobs. Could the lady had misinterpreted where she was standing and inadvertently moved position very slightly and took a photo of the nearby buildings thinking that she had set up a composite shot of the beach and the sky, for that’s what she tried to do? Who knows? All I can do is take the witness' word for this story. I knew the lady and it is my belief that she was not out to pull the wool over my eyes. She really genuinely believed that she had photographed something unusual. In June 1966, Gordon Carroll, a young photographer, took some photographs inside a Norman Church, that of St Mary’s of Woodford, England, to record it’s fine architecture. When he developed these photographs he was astonished to see a figure kneeling at the altar (he had not noticed this figure when he took the photo). Also back in 1940, a local solicitor from the town of Arundel, Sussex, England took a photograph of St Nicholas’ Church Arundel. When the photographs were developed, he was amazed to see a figure standing at an altar in the church. Again this person saw nothing out of the ordinary when he took his photo. These are but two of the hundreds of examples that I could give in which the camera has caught something in which the photographer hasn’t! But let us go back for a minute to the Balnakeil photograph.
Mrs. McEwan knows a little of the local history concerning the village of Balnakeil and the surrounding countryside and has heard that the beach at Balnakeil is supposed to be haunted. Whilst not entirely disbelieving in ghosts, she prefers to keep an open mind on the subject. When Mrs. McEwan let me see the photograph in 1983, she said that it had faded a little since she took it in 1980. One may notice from the photograph that above the rooftops there is a double image which may be due to slight camera shake. If the images on this photograph were due to developing flaws as the process from developing to photo were taking place on the plate, then fair enough. But surely any developing flaw wouldn’t conform to sharply defined buildings? Mrs Molly McEwan related the facts of this photograph to me as carefully and as honestly as she could. She was very puzzled by it and couldn’t believe that she would capture something that wasn’t there?
I firmly believe that Molly McEwan has been one of the fortunate people who have taken a photograph of what at first was (to the naked eye) just a normal scene and was astonished to see unseen images appear on the developed picture. I would also like to point out here that quite a number of other photographs were obtained by this camera on her holiday, some of which taken on the beach, and none of them showed anything out of the ordinary. Regarding what appears to be two figures in the foreground of the shot in front of the gable end of what appears to be a house, well I’ve studied the photograph under a strong light with the aid of a magnifying glass. The photo does indeed appear to show two forms, one slightly smaller form standing in the front, and a slightly taller form standing lop sided at the back. To recap then, images which were not visible present to the photographer have turned up on a finished photographic plate by means as yet unknown.
The Last Word
These are but a few incidents from the early files of SPI concerning ghosts and the paranormal sent to me by numerous people. Every letter I received I believe to be genuine, certainly in as much as those that sent them wanted explanations. These people have had common experiences, they do not stand alone. Experiences which thousands have had from all walks of life and from all parts of the world. Much has been written about the phenomenon of ghosts and many speculations have been put forward as to what ghosts exactly are. There are so many different categories of ghosts. The wealth of data to substantiate the claims of the many witnesses is, to put it mildly, overwhelming. At the end of the day, the few cases mentioned above illustrate the diversity of ghostly phenomenon, and the likelihood is, events such as depicted above are ongoing in a house or building near you at this very moment. But wait, what’s that behind you dear reader, is it a shadow? Or is it a ghostly entity trying to make its presence felt to you? Whatever you do, keep an open mind for you never know what could be lurking around you at this very minute.
© Malcolm Robinson Strange Phenomena Investigations. (UK) SPI Web Site: www.spiuk.net