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OK I have to ‘fess up at the start, this isn’t a proper book review.  A proper book review should review the entire book, and I’m only going to be writing about the section that so many people seem to be talking about at the moment.  Originally published in 2008, The End Of Days by medium and author, Sylvia Browne, is currently getting a lot of attention because it contains a prediction that a severe illness would hit us all in 2020.  This virus would attack the lungs and bronchial tubes, and would end as suddenly as it began, to resurface 10 years later for a brief period, and then to vanish again forever (we can only hope).

Naturally this prediction has got a few people very excited, so I thought I’d download the book and see what else she had to say.  I confess I skipped the first half of the book which just seems to be rehashing old prophecies, including Nostradamus, from throughout history.   And then I came to the segment where Sylvia made predictions for the following decade, i.e the one we have just lived through.  I was very interested to read what she had to say.

Now I would just like to say that, although I do try to be very open-minded, I admit I don’t have much patience for these soothsayers who claim to be able to see the future.  At the end of every year they crop up in magazines and tabloid newspapers to tell us what the year ahead is going to bring.  Many of these predictions are usually pretty safe ones to be honest.  I’m often reminded of Jasper Carrott’s old joke about British medium Doris Stokes, “is there anybody here called John?”  These soothsayers usually tell us there will be earthquake and volcanic activity in the world (well there often is), that a member of the Royal Family will have a baby (ditto), or that the Queen is going to abdicate (I first read a psychic predicting the Queen was going to abdicate nearly 40 years ago, the last time I looked Her Maj is till there).

For 2020 they said things like “Donald Trump will get re-elected” or “Donald Trump will lose”.  Well I guess it’s likely to be one or the other.  Now I admit I didn’t pay that much close attention to what psychics were predicting at the end of 2019, but as far as I know NOT ONE OF THEM* picked up on a global pandemic which was going to radically alter our entire way of life for months on end.  You’d think they would really.  I mean, you’d think it would sort of stand out!!   Instead the one I saw was wittering on drearily about Trump’s impeachment, conflict in the Middle East (another safe one), possible war somewhere, all the usual old guff to be honest.  No mention whatsoever of a deadly pandemic.

*Actually I did find a piece on the AskAstrology site which predicted a new strain of bird flu which will hit China hard.  But it went on breezily “on the bright side, it will be mostly limited to poultry … luckily this strain of bird flu will remain limited to just birds and won’t affect humans”.  Bat soup anybody?  When it came to mainland Europe, they wittered on about immigration and the EU, but absolutely no mention of poor old Italy and Spain getting absolutely hammered with this damn virus, [added on 20/6/2020: or over 40,000 people dying from it here in the UK].  They say the Tokyo Olympics “will be an interesting one”.  Well yes, it’s been postponed until next year.  And with the Euro 2020 football “there will be no clear winners on top”. Ditto, it’s been postponed until next year.  Fortunately they didn’t mention the Eurovision Song Contest, because that would also be a case of Ditto Postponed Until Next Year.

Anyway, back to Sylvia.  So, Sylvia made a number of predictions about medical advances that were going to happen over the Teenies (the last 10 years).

.  the Common Cold will be eradicated in 2010 (nope, our old friend the Common Cold is still very much with us, although getting somewhat overshadowed at the moment by the new upstart on the block)

.   Parkinson’s Disease would be eradicated (nope)

.  Multiple sclerosis would be eradicated (nope)

.  Blindness will be eradicated by 2020 (nope)

Sadly, none of these have come true.  On the non-medical front she gave us:

.  A very substantial drop in the crime rate in the next 50 years (well I guess we still have 40 years left on that one to be fair, but it hasn’t been looking promising lately).

.  Pope Benedict will be the last elected Pope (nope).

.  A rash of volcanic activity in 2018 will create enough pollution to cause disastrous crop failures in the early 2020s (I guess we have other things to worry about at the moment).

.  By 2015 there will be highly functional robots, and these will be available to the general public in 2019.  These robots will be able to do anything around the home, including cooking and cleaning, to reading bedtime stories.  Well OK there is Amazon’s Alexa.  I haven’t heard that she can do the cooking and cleaning (possibly bedtime stories, I refuse to have one, so I have no idea).

.  Mysterious debris will be discovered in the California/Nevada desert in 2012.  This will happen at the same time as a series of untraceable signals will disrupt satellite transmissions and global wireless communications.  As a result of all this, by the beginning of 2013 organised groups of explorers, researchers and government agencies will go off on formal worldwide expeditions in search of aliens. (I must’ve missed that exciting news).

.  In about 2018 extraterrestrials will begin outing themselves to us in public, to such organisations as the United Nations, Scotland Yard, NASA, and a Camp David summit. They will step forward by the THOUSANDS, and willingly submit themselves to our scrutiny.  (sigh, nope).

.  By 2020 the institution of marriage will be over (get stuffed, some of us actually LIKE being married!)

Now it wouldn’t be fair to mention the predictions she gave us post-2020, as we haven’t got there yet, but this one, which covers “before 2050”, has her strongly asserting that major volcanic activity in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans will cause “both Atlantis and Lemuria … rise magnificently from their underwater graves”.  Well it’s a nice idea.

Now, believe it or not, I am not here to slate Sylvia (who passed away in 2013).  I know very little about her, other than, like a lot of mediums, she attracted her fair share of controversy.  All I will say is that she seemed to be sincere in what she wrote a decade ago, and it is a great shame that so many of her more positive predictions never came true.  I did a bit more digging around, and it transpired that, back in 2004, Sylvia had predicted that “by 2020 we will see more people wearing surgical masks and rubber gloves in public”, as a consequence of said pneumonia-like disease.  Sylvia also said that this disease would cause “a Winter of absolute panic”.  Well, to be fair, that must have certainly been the case in China, where the Coronavirus/Covid-19 hit hard in January 2020, and lingered through until the time of writing, late March.  But in Europe and the United States the virus didn’t really begin to cause grave concern until March.  Much of mainland Europe went into lockdown in early-to-mid March.  Here in Britain, it was just after the Spring Equinox.

The reason I wanted to write this review was after reading another blog where somebody cited Sylvia’s prediction about Covid-19 as absolute gospel.  No doubt there will be much more of this kind of thing in the months and years ahead.  All I will say now is be very careful who you believe, although, having said that, I do hope she was right in her assertion that the damned Virus will vanish very quickly …




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There have been countless tales throughout history of people who have risen to great heights, only to be cruelly cast down again.  Few come more extreme than the story of Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor.   In her time she was a legend, and her story has inspired operas, movies, and even a chain of restaurants.

Elizabeth would have probably been described by her fellow Victorians as “an adventuress”, a woman who relied on her looks and her intelligence to get what she wanted, and who brazenly crashed through societal conventions.   She was born in 1854, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the daughter of an Irish immigrant, Peter McCourt, who owned a clothing store supplying garments to local lumbermen.  Elizabeth was the fourth of 11 children.

Although Elizabeth’s background was respectably middle-class, her mother noted her little girl’s beauty from an early age, and encouraged her to set her sights on marrying a wealthy husband, or even becoming a celebrated actress.  She said Elizabeth should take care to preserve her looks, and excused her from domestic chores for this reason, although it is said that she occasionally helped out in her father’s store.  At the age of 22 Elizabeth entered a skating competition, and caused a stir by wearing a costume which showed off her legs.  This understandably caught the eye of Harvey Doe, who came from a family of wealthy mine-owners.  They married and the couple moved to Central City, Colorado.

I think it’s safe to say that no one in Central City knew what had hit them.  Elizabeth’s striking looks earned her the nickname Baby Doe, although there doesn’t seem to have been anything effete about this gal.  Although she was a great party-girl, she also showed a hands-on interest in her husband’s mining activities, and was even known to put on men’s clothes and  work alongside the miners.  Elizabeth’s couldn’t-give-a-stuff attitude to conventional late 19th century must have been her an endless source of gossip.  This was exacerbated in 1880 when she and Harvey divorced, due to Harvey’s drinking, gambling and habit of visiting brothels.  It was Elizabeth seeing him with a prostitute which put the death-knell on their marriage.

Elizabeth dusted her hands of him and moved to Leadville, where she duly married Horace Tabor, a silver magnate twice her age, who was one of the USA’s wealthiest men. He was said to mine $2000 worth of silver on a daily basis.  They married in secret in 1882, but there was a problem in that Horace was still married to his devoted wife Augusta, who had stuck by him for 25 years.  The record was set straight the following year when Horace and Elizabeth had a more public wedding, and this time they did it in style.  It was attended by the President himself, Chester Arthur, and Elizabeth wore a wedding gown said to be valued at over $7000 (probably about £70,000 in modern money), and a $90,000 necklace (probably about a cool million now, sort of reminiscent of Elizabeth Taylor’s diamond ring) which had once belonged to Isabella, Queen of Spain.

The couple moved to Denver, Colorado, but found themselves completely ostracised by polite company.  Elizabeth gave birth to two daughters, Elizabeth Bonduel Lily, and Rose Mary Echo Silver Dollar, and occupied herself in such Victorian ladies pursuits as scrapbooking, giving generously to charity, having her hair done, and the burgeoning women’s suffrage movement.  Elizabeth was as lavish with her children as she was towards herself.  Their Christening robes were priceless, and they even had diamond-encrusted nappy pins (diapers, if you’re American).  The Tabors were able to live in great luxury and comfort for several years, when suddenly calamity struck.

What became known as the Panic of 1893 was triggered by the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.  Its repeal caused silver to become drastically demonetized, and plunged many mine-owners into debt, virtually overnight.  This is where we see the best of Elizabeth.  She was a staunch supporter to her family, handling her husband’s business affairs in Denver, and trying to turn the whole thing into an adventure for her little daughters, especially when the power was cut off at their mansion.  Horace was reduced to literally raking muck in a Cripple Creek mine.  It wrecked his health and he died in 1899, leaving Elizabeth as a widow in her forties, with two young daughters to support.

Elizabeth returned with her daughters to Leadville.  It is thought she took simple low-paid domestic work to get by.  Eventually her daughters set out on lives of their own.  The eldest, Elizabeth, moved to Wisconsin, and the younger, Rose Mary Echo Silver Dollar, became a reporter for The Denver Post, and would send  part of her wages back to her mother.  Silver Dollar had aspirations to become a novelist, but was hindered by a growing drink problem.

At this point Elizabeth Baby Doe’s life took a turn for the downright gothic, and it is still not known why she made the decision she did.  Some have argued that Horace, on his death-bed, urged her to hang onto the Matchless Mine, as “it will make millions again”, but this has been disputed.  Whatever her reasons, Baby Doe moved into an old decrepit tool-shed near the Matchless Mine, which was disused and flooded.  She was to live there for the rest of her life, the next 35 years, earning herself a reputation in the neighbourhood as a mad woman.  Like Baby Doe, Leadville had also lost its former prosperity, and had become a desolate place of empty streets.  Sometimes Elizabeth would be seen walking through this ghost-town, wearing a crucifix and with rags on her feet.

She returned to the Catholic beliefs of her Irish ancestry, and inflicted daily penances on herself, to atone for her former decadent lifestyle.  She lived off scraps of bread, and, when not inflicting punishments on herself, would record all her thoughts and dreams in her journal.  She was sighted in 1927 wearing men’s corduroy trousers, and a bandana tied round her head.  Her eyes were described as still beautiful.

During the bitterly cold Winter of 1935, neighbours became concerned when they hadn’t seen any smoke rising from the chimney of Elizabeth’s cabin.  She was found dead, lying frozen on the floor.  She was 81 years old.

It was a tragic and lonely end for a woman whose sins weren’t exactly huge on the great scale of things, and who certainly added colour to things.  She is often held as an example of the boom-and-bust lifestyle of late 19th century America, when fortunes could be made overnight, and lost just as easily.

Her youngest daughter, Rose Mary Echo Silver Dollar, who sounds a right chip off the old block, also went on to have a dramatic, and ultimately tragic life.  She moved to Chicago, where she became a dancer, and a gangster’s moll.  In 1925 she was found scalded to death in a boarding-house.  Because she had been living there under the name of “Ruth Norman”, Elizabeth refused to believe that it was her, saying “I did not see the body they said was my little girl”.

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Boleskine House, which now sits in charred ruins overlooking Loch Ness, has to be one of the most mysterious houses in Britain. It is mainly famous, or perhaps infamous, for being the home of Aleister Crowley, self-styled Wickedest Man In The World, during the Edwardian era. Crowley specifically wanted Boleskine as somewhere isolated and private whereby he could carry out the lengthy Abramelin Ritual, an exhausting process which would take several months and involve much physical and mental hardship, such as fasting and sleeplessness.

As with all these kind of rituals, the Abramelin came complete with tedious little details which had to be strictly adhered to, such as the necessity of having a door which opened north. Boleskine fitted the bill. The house itself had been originally built at the end of the 18th century as a shooting lodge for an aristocrat (as so many of these country houses were). It was unusual in that it had just one storey. Some like to pinpoint all the dark legends surrounding Boleskine as coming from Crowley’s tenure, but the house already had a sinister reputation before he took up residence. Local legend had it that it had been built on the site of an old church, which had burnt down, engulfing an entire congregation in the flames. There was reputed to be an underground tunnel connecting the house to the graveyard across the road.

The rumours surrounding Crowley and the Abramelin Ritual at Boleskine have been repeated so many times that I don’t feel much inclination to repeat them here. Many seemed to have been put about by Crowley himself, to show what a wild old thing he was. After a while Crowley became disenchanted with working on the Ritual and closed up the house to go off on his world travels. Some argue he simply became bored with the whole thing. The Ritual was long and involved a huge level of commitment. Others argue that even Crowley himself became spooked by what he was unleashing, and he recklessly abandoned the house to its own devices. Whatever the truth of the matter, Crowley had very little to do with the house from then on.

But Crowley’s antics were to live on, thoroughly saturating the atmosphere concerning Boleskine. Odd happenings were reported at the house. Such as darkness in the rooms on bright, sunny days, shadowy figures seen, and objects and rugs being moved. From 1945 onwards it becomes a nightmare trying to sort out who owned the house when, and what went on there. Things become extremely muddled. For instance Wikipedia, completely erroneously, states that the house was bought by American actor George Raft after World War 1. Raft was famous for his hard-boiled gangster roles, and was reputed to have underworld connections in real life. Wiki states “Raft was involved in a scandal involving selling shares for a pig farm on the grounds of Boleskine – except the farm didn’t exist”.

It wasn’t George Raft though (I’m trying imagine Raft in the Highlands of Scotland), but another actor called George entirely. George Sanders. Sanders was the kind of actor who seemed born to play suave rogues. The upper-class Englishman who was not to be trusted at all costs. He even named his autobiography Memoirs of A Professional Cad as a nod to his screen persona. Sanders wasn’t English though. He was actually Russian by birth, born in St Petersburg in 1906. His family fled to England at the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917.

Sanders turned to acting in the 1930s and had a long, respectable career. He is probably most famous now for playing the sarky sociopath Addison deWitt in the Bette Davis hit All About Eve. He also became one of Zsa Zsa Gabor’s numerous husbands. He would later go on to marry Magda Gabor, Zsa Zsa’s big sister. Keeping it in the family.

In 1962 Boleskine House was bought by a real-life rogue called Dennis Lorraine, who was the sort of character that Sanders would have probably played on film. Either that or Dennis Price or Terry-Thomas. It was Dennis Lorraine who got Sanders involved in a scam which would become known as The Great Sausage Scandal. Trying to unravel the details of this has been a complete nightmare in itself. Dates are all over the place for one thing. Ignoring Wikipedia placing it after World War 1, we have others claiming it happened in the 1950s, and others saying it took place in the Profumo era of the early 1960s. Whatever the timing, the scam was that Dennis would set up a company called Loch Ness Foods, and claim he was rearing pigs on the site. Except that no pig farm existed. And this is how he managed to dupe George Sanders into getting involved. I’ve also read that the firm was called Cadno, in honour of Mr Sanders. The whole thing became a monumental embarrassment, and Noel Coward joked at that he wanted to write about The Great Sausage Scandal.

Dennis Lorraine reputedly bought Boleskine after his wife Molly had seen a portrait of a woman called Mary Lorraine in an Inverness art gallery. Mary Lorraine had been the wife of the previous owner of Boleskine (are you still with me?), a Major Edward Grant, who had fatally shot himself in the head in his study at the house in 1960 (Wikipedia has this as happening in 1965. You decide). Why on earth that should be an incentive to buy a particular house is beyond me, but I guess there’s nowt so queer as folk. According to an article on a blog site called English Heretic Molly had a circular bed, complete with black sheets, installed in what had once been Crowley’s oratory.

Boleskine would weave its own dark magic on this couple, as it seems to do to everybody. The Lorraines both descended into alcoholism, and the pig farm venture was a complete debacle. The story goes that the unfortunate pigs, who were all housed in a field next to the house, starved to death. The Lorraines must have moved out, but I have no idea what happened to Molly. Dennis Lorraine spent his final years destitute in London. He was said to constantly sleep with a revolver under his pillow.

Wikipedia, after saying that Edward Grant shot himself in 1965, writes that “a newly married couple moved into the house. The wife was blind, and after a month the man walked out, leaving the woman wandering around unable to see”. I have no idea what the truth is behind this upsetting story, or who the couple were.

And so we come to Jimmy Page, of Led Zeppelin, buying the house in 1970. Page had a lifelong interest in Crowley, so it’s perfectly understandable that he would be interested in the house, although how much time he actually spent there is open to question. Shortly afterwards Page invited cult film-maker, and author of the notorious Hollywood Babylon books, Kenneth Anger, to stay at Boleskine. Anger was making a short film called Lucifer Rising, with Page to provide the soundtrack. This all feels very late 60s/early 70s, an odd time in human history, to be sure. People get very nostalgic about that era. I do too, simply because that was my childhood, and we all get nostalgic about the era in which we had our childhood, but there is no denying that it was a very odd time. A look at some of the smaller, low-budget films from that era bears this out.

I’m not going to go deeply into the whole Jimmy Page/Boleskine thing, as there is already plenty of information out there about his long tenure of the house. If you are interested I can recommend the book The Led Zeppelin Curse: Jimmy Page and the Haunted Boleskine House by Lance Gilbert. I started this piece mainly to write about George Sanders’ connection with the house, but, as is probably not surprising with anything to do with Boleskine, it all got terribly complicated.

Mr Sanders himself was a sad figure in his final years. As a true professional, he kept working right to the end, and even tried to hide his fragility, as he didn’t want to cause problems for the other actors he was working with, but he suffered from loss of balance and dementia, causing depression. His final film was Psychomania (1973), which was about a bunch of psychopathic bikers who make a deal with the Devil to achieve immortality. Sanders was popular with the younger actors, who liked the way he enjoyed a good laugh on the set. The Black Magic subject matter of the film though has not been lost on some Boleskine/Crowley enthusiasts, with one even tying it in with Ted Holiday – a Nessie expert – having a possible Men In Black sighting at the Loch around this time. The entity was reputedly dressed all in black, with a black helmet, like a Satanic biker.

In his memoirs, David Niven recalled that Sanders had told him back in 1937 that he would kill himself from a barbiturate overdose when he reached the age of 65. On 23 April 1972 he checked into a hotel near Barcelona, and swallowed 3 bottles of Nembutal. He left behind a suicide note which read: “Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck”. He was indeed 65.

A couple of years ago we were stuck in a traffic jam in the village of Storrington, West Sussex. I glanced over at the house near the side of the road and saw a blue plaque on it, citing that George Sanders had lived there. I don’t know why, but it made my day.

On 23 December 2015 fire swept through Boleskine House. Fortunately the occupants, a Dutch family, were out shopping at the time. The fire was believed to have started in the kitchen. Reduced to ruins, the building was put on the market in April 2019, with hopes to turn it into some kind of New Age spiritual centre. But another fire swept through the site in July 2019, and this time police believed the fire was started deliberately.

In July 2018 the Daily Express had carried a rare interview with Boleskine’s owner, reclusive millionaire Trudy Piekaar-Bakker. She said that she was dismayed by looters who constantly raided the ruins, and said no good could possibly come of it. She also mentioned a weird stranger, going by the colourful name of Mordechai Moshe, who had been squatting in the ruins. He had tried to claim that the owner had invited him there, but she refuted this, saying she had no idea who he was. The police managed to evict the squatter, who, since then, seems to have completely disappeared without trace.

What happens to Boleskine House now? I don’t know, but I can’t help thinking of the last line of the 1963 version of The Haunting, when Russ Tamblyn says every trace of the house should be destroyed, and the ground sewn with salt.

PS: I read today 5/1/2020 that the new owners of Boleskine are selling bags of its charred remains at £49 a pop on eBay. This is apparently to raise funds to build a new spiritual centre on the site. I can’t help feeling that being sold as bags of burnt rubble on eBay is the end that house deserves.

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Recently I was compiling a Halloween playlist on my YouTube channel, and finding a whole horde of paranormal documentaries from years ago.  In the Comments sections were some fascinating stories and inputs from viewers.  Now I haven’t a clue what the Copyright laws are regarding YouTube Comments section (if there are any), but I did want to put people’s words here verbatim, and not just have me regurgitating them in my own words.  If anyone at YouTube does a Prince Harry and violently objects, then I will simply mothball this piece, so read it whilst you can.  I have deliberately NOT included people’s usernames, as I don’t want any innocent person being trolled or hassled because of something I’ve written.  I have also left out the ubiquitous comments you often get on YouTube of “dude put down the crackpipe”, “look at my privates”, “this is the End Times, make Jesus your friend”.  Any comments I’ve made are in square brackets.


Borley Rectory, which burnt down in 1939, was described in its time as The Most Haunted House In The World.  Even though the house is long gone, and has since been built over by a small housing-estate, it still acts as a magnet for ghost-hunters and thrill-seekers.

.  “I live locally to Sudbury and been many times, never seen nothing at the Borley Church itself but have seen a figure in a white cloak in about 1998, that came out of a field crossed in front of the car to a field opposite about 1/4 of a mile away.  Me and two of my mates turned the car around and shone lights in the field and couldn’t see a thing.  Totally vanished … For sure it sent shivers up our spines and goose pimples”.

.  “I am the mother of 3 children whose great grandmother was Marianne, she said it was not true” [Marianne Foyster was the wife of the Revd. Lionel Foyster, who lived at the Rectory in the early 1930s.  Marianne is a very controversial figure in Borley folklore.  Legendary ghost-hunter Harry Price, who extensively investigated the haunting, was sceptical of her involvement.  Many years later Marianne, by then an old lady, was tracked down in the United States.  She admitted that she had made up much of the story of the haunting to make her life in a quiet English village more exciting].

Dakota Building, New York 

The Dakota Building fascinates me.  There is something wholly mysterious about it.  Whenever I hear about it I always think it sounds like one of those creepy buildings which is really a doorway to another dimension!  Anyway, it has had many famous residents over the years, including Lauren Bacall, Judy Holliday, and John Lennon.  Tragically, it was outside the Dakota where Lennon was gunned down in December 1980.  His widow, Yoko Ono, still lives there.  The exterior of the building was also used in the cult horror film Rosemary’s Baby, a movie which has many cursed and strange tales about it.  Very recently, Top 5s did a fascinating piece about the many haunted stories about the Dakota.  Sadly, the Comments section didn’t yield very much in the way of personal anecdotes, & seemed to have an above-average amount of attention-seeking dickweeds in it, but one tried to pull all the connections together:

.  “Rosemary’s Baby was filmed at the Dakota. The director was Roman Polanski.  Charles Manson was obsessed with Rosemary’s Baby and that’s why he killed Sharon Tate, Polanski’s wife [I’m not sure about that one, I always thought Manson was simply after somebody famous to kill, and sadly Sharon was there].  He was also obsessed by and inspired by The White Album and the song Helter Skelter, made by John Lennon and The Beatles”.  [Interesting, but I remember watching an interview with Manson years ago, & he disowned the Helter Skelter connection, saying he was not from The Beatles generation, and they weren’t relevant to him, although in truth he was actually only 6 years older than Lennon].

Ghosts On The Underground

This was an excellent British documentary, made (I think) in the mid-Noughties, and put onto YouTube by The Hampshire Ghost Club.  Absolutely crammed with spooky tales of the London Underground.  Paranormal film-making at its best, focusing on credible witnesses, and not full of annoying, smug hipsters loaded to the teeth with technology and infra-red cameras, bursting into buildings like the SAS and screaming at anything spectral that might be there.

Part of the programme focused on Bethnal Green Station.  During WW2 it was the site of a horrific tragedy, with strong shades of Hillsborough, when 173 people were crushed to death.  It was the biggest civilian fatality incident of the War.  One comment said: “The scientist [in the programme] talks about feeling breathless in the station office.  If Bethnal Green Station IS haunted by people who were crushed in a stampede during WW2, then they might have been projecting that feeling of not being able to breathe as they were crushed onto him, that’s creepy and incredibly sad”.

.  “A friend of mine worked on the Underground back in the 70s.  His first night on duty was at South Kensington and his co-workers set him to be at one end of eastbound platform on the District Line at 12:15 AM.  The staff supposedly heard footsteps coming towards them from the tunnel at this time every night.  He was scared stiff by his encounter and swore that was so”.

.  “My father worked on the Underground in the early 90s at Temple Station and he quit after just 3 days because he saw a girl screaming at the end of one of the long tunnels and then she started walking towards him, he has never gone back”.

.  “I wonder why they chose to leave out the story of the crying woman at King’s Cross?  A man saw a woman in jeans and a t-shirt and reaching out in distress, he went to offer her some assistance but as he did so he saw another commuter walk through her.  This was in 1996”.

.  “Even walking through the Underground with hundreds of people around, it has an eerie presence” [agreed, I can think of few places more genuinely eerie and atmospheric than the London Underground.  When I came to do the cover for my book Strange Tales 4, I wanted to use an Underground station for the illustration.  I was recommended to try Regents Park station, as it’s often quiet there during the day.  Something about peering down into those cold dark tunnels can be quite spooky, that old 1970s horror film Death Line has got a lot to answer for!  “Mind the doors!”]

.  “Green Park Station … that station is eerie big time”.

Guitar Shop Haunting 

Very recently – the end of October 2019 – Top5s did a video about ghostly images caught on CCTV camera.  One of the places featured was GAK Guitar Shop in Brighton, where a strange misty shape had been caught on camera, as well as mild poltergeist activity occurring out-of-hours.

.  “I’ve lived in Brighton all my life and spent many a day in GAK playing guitars and synths.  The upper shop that sells guitars has always had a creepy vibe about it, especially upstairs.  Not surprised strange activity has been caught on CCTV”.

.  “I hear a lot of stories about Brighton, UK, a lot of dark secrets.  Max Spiers [an arch conspiracy theorist who died suddenly in 2016] spoke of it too in his claims”.

.  “I was in that GAK on 3rd May this year [2019] buying a guitar … I was there about 3 PM-ish.  I felt two taps on my left shoulder, turned around expecting to see a member of staff or another customer but as I turned around I felt a cold gust of air across my face and nothing was there!  It was a very strange experience.  Never felt anything before or since this”.

Hotel Cecil

The Hotel Cecil in Los Angeles has an extremely lurid history.  It has been the haunt of serial-killers, Elizabeth Short (aka the Black Dahlia) was supposed to have stayed there before her unsolved murder in 1947, and in more recent years it became the site of the equally unsolved death of Elisa Lam, a young Canadian girl who disappeared at the hotel in 2013, and whose body was subsequently found in the hotel’s water tank.  There is unsettling footage of Elisa in the hotel’s elevator, in which she acts in a quirky, disturbed fashion, and which has fuelled many theories as to why she was acting the way she was.  I’ll return to this after the following comments, which were underneath a video the popular channel MostAmazingTop10* did about scary hotels in October 2018.  [*although by god, they do have some spectacularly annoying and me-me-me shouty presenters, I’d much rather listen to the soft-voiced guy who narrates the Top 5s videos, the presenters on Beyond Creepy and SecureTeam10 also have pleasingly low-key voices].

.  “I once experienced a haunting at the Hotel Cecil.  Woke up one night, feeling afraid and sweating profusely.  Someone banged on the door, shouting ‘housekeeping’.  It was freaking 2 in the morning.  The banging persisted for about 3 minutes.  The next day, I got to know that a housekeeper had died there, of fright, when he discovered a man who had hanged himself in one of the rooms.  The Cecil truly is a freaky place”.

.  “My husband and I stayed at the Cecil Hotel back in 2008.  I remember the weird feeling we got as we entered the lobby, even questioning if we were in the right hotel.  When we went up to our room, the oppressive air that hit us as the lift doors opened made us think we had been transported into another hotel entirely!  We had an absolute blast though and only stayed there because we needed a cheap room for a few nights whilst driving the Californian coast”.

Now one of the theories about Elisa’s strange behaviour in the elevator was that she was playing something called The Elevator Game.  I Googled this, and it looks horrendously complicated.  The game originated in Japan and South Korea, and it seems to revolve around pressing different buttons, and things like if someone gets in, then you go back to square one, or some such nonsense.  It’s like a complicated board game but involving elevators, and I doubt there is any way I would be able to remember it all!  All you need to play it is a public building with at least 10 floors, and an elevator which isn’t in constant use by a lot of people, because otherwise you will have to keep restarting the game.  I think part of the appeal of the game (and there seem to be YouTube videos where people have played it) is that it has some very spooky elements to it, such as if a woman enters the elevator on the 5th floor, you must not look at her face or speak to her, or she will claim your soul for her own.  Good grief, Monopoly was never like this.

What is the point of The Elevator Game, you may well ask?  Do you get a prize at the end, do you get £200 if you pass Go?  Well apparently if you follow all the rules correctly, it will transport you into another world.  How will you know you are in this other world?  According to a fansite I found it said that the other world is identical to ours.  Uh-huh.  But electronics will not work there, all the lights will be off, and the only thing you will be able to see from the windows is a red cross in the distance.

Now I am adopting a jokey tone, because … well I like to do that, but there are many who take this game very very seriously.   I found some comments on Reddit which seemed to be very sincere in how dangerous this game is.   The reason people think Elisa Lam may have been playing the game are because of her odd behaviour in the elevator.  She is constantly pressing the buttons, and stepping out to look up and down the corridor outside.  She also seems to be talking out loud, as if speaking to someone invisible, and making strange gestures.   Whatever the truth of the matter is, I hope she is at peace now.

The Hotel Cecil has recently had a name change, but somehow I doubt that will be enough to bury its shady history.  Out of curiosity I found some old online reviews from people who had stayed here a few years ago.  Although some gallantly tried to defend the Cecil, there is no doubt that staying here was a mentally scarring experience.  Hordes of 1* reviews speak of communal shower rooms, no air-con, doors with four locks on, one door looking as if someone had attempted to kick it in, people screaming in the corridors or out on the streets, homeless and druggies in the lobby, a sink falling off the wall when someone put their hand on it, and – the absolute piece de resistance – crap (literally) in the foyer area.  One woman said she lived here for a while because it was only $85 a week.  She said her neighbour across the hallway was a drug dealer, but he seemed “a nice guy”.  With all that going on, any ghostly happenings would probably be pretty unnoticeable!  But one reviewer, who said he was a skeptic, reported his bathroom door opening and closing by itself.

The Mannequin People

This is a truly bizarre phenomenon, in which witnesses see people who appear to have no faces at all, like shop-window mannequins, particularly the ones we get these days, which have no features at all.  This phenomenon was featured in a Beyond Creepy video.

.  “I was driving off the road in the desert south-west when I had a similar encounter.  I noticed a car with 2 people standing outside the car.  As I approached, I decided to slow down and ask if they were ok.   I got about 20 feet to them and noticed they were turned with their back to me and neither of the two moved at all.  Then as I got right next to their car I stopped and yelled out the window “are you guys ok?” The closest one to me turned his head only toward me and I almost passed out when I saw his white featureless face, just like a mannequin, its head moved fast and jerky and it nodded no at me, just kept nodding faster and faster.  I punched the accelerator, drive right past them and kept looking back.  They remained motionless except the one kept nodding his head real fast”.

There were several cases like this, and curiously, as one Commenter pointed out, they all seemed to involve cars.  Many had theories, ranging from crash helmets, to people (for whatever reason) wearing stockings over their heads, to severe burn victims, to experimental Artificial Intelligence.  I’m not out to disparage anybody’s experiences here, but I had a similar experience once many years ago.  It was a bright July day, and I was walking down a street in a nearby town.  A girl was sitting on the side of the pavement.  She turned to look at me as I approached, and I was freaked out because she didn’t appear to have a face at all.  As I got closer I realised that the sun was at an awkward angle, and gradually her features appeared.   So sometimes I guess it can just be a simple trick of the light.  Even so, that experience has always stayed with me.  It was a very odd moment all round.  At the same time as this was happening, a man (whom I didn’t know at all) ran past me, carrying two funeral wreaths and cheerily yelling “hello! hello!” at me.  Sometimes life can be very dreamlike and surreal.

Men In Black

The Men In Black are one of the weirdest aspects of the whole UFO phenomenon.  A couple of years ago Beyond Creepy did a video about this subject.

.  “About 3 days ago, I was at my house for lunch.  About 3 minutes after I got home there was a knock at the door.  There was a woman who I got a strange feeling from.  She claimed she needed to do some measurements around the house for an allstate inspection [I have no idea what this is, I’m assuming it’s an American thing].  For some reason I said Okay go ahead.  I don’t know why.  But I called allstate and they said they had no one in my area that day.   I have the creeps about what she was doing.  I have a cold chill thinking about it.  I can’t remember her face.  It was almost dreamlike.  Like I was an autopilot or under her control.  Fuck I wish I’d gotten her plate number”.  [Some YouTubers sensibly replied that the woman may well have been a burglar casing the joint (to use some old slang there), and that you should ALWAYS ask for a person’s ID before letting them in.  Agreed.  An elderly woman once told me of a strange thing that had happened to a friend of hers.  Her friend – another elderly lady – got a knock on the door, and a woman asked if she could urgently use her bathroom.  The old lady let her in, and the woman went upstairs.  After a short while, she reappeared, walking back down the stairs … dressed as a man!  The visitor promptly walked out of the house without another word].

Moon Madness

This was a documentary about the idea that people begin acting even more crazy around the time of the Full Moon.  (Although these days we seem to be permanently in Full Moon mode).  The theory that the Moon affects people has been around for centuries, and the words “lunatic” and “lunacy” of course come from Lunar.  Many of the comments under this video came from people who worked in professions where they had to deal with members of the public, and are very interesting.  I should add one guy did say he’d worked on a mental health ward for years and hadn’t noticed anything special about Full Moon times, but there were numerous ones who had a different view.

.  “I worked as a mental health nurse for 35 years and in one place the manager kept a diary of the Moon and behaviour for years and it definitely seemed to effect some people.  It draws the ocean so the brain being made up of fluids seems it could be effected.  I definitely feel there is a connection”.

.  “Anybody that has interacted with the public over extended periods of time knows it’s a fact people are weird, agitated, if not criminal during Full Moons.  They don’t always involve 911 [the US emergency number, equivalent of the UK’s 999], so much of it is undocumented.  Try working at an airport or Disney sometime”.

.  “I used to bartend and we always hated Full Moons it does bring out the crazy”.

.  “I’m a nurse, I don’t know if it’s truly worse or if we are just more aware of the stuff that comes in, but I hate working on Full Moons”.

.  “My father worked in a hospital and he used to dread the Full Moon night shifts”.  Someone replied to this that his mother worked in a hospital and she dreaded it too, “she calls it the Hell Moon”.

.  “I worked with folks with behavioural disabilities.  Full Moons certainly raise stress levels”.

.  “I worked as a vet assistant and the moon madness is very real, more dogs and cats run away, get hit by cars … and just generally get ill or agitated.  And if it does this to animals, people must also be affected in some ways”.

.  “Working as a dentist for 30 years I have noticed that patients are about 40% more active requiring emergency treatment that they had put off for months.  Most make a big deal about their issues, wanting extractions asap”.

.  “Try being a cop, or work in a hospital, it is true, domestic violence, killing, accidents, all increase”.

. “Horses go a bit more bonkers during Full Moons and police always say that people are more volatile and weird.  I’m a skeptic but there’s something to this theory”.

.  “I have never worked in a hospital or an emergency services, but I have worked in several hotels as a general manager and desk clerk and we used to dread a Full Moon.  It was especially bad if it fell on a weekend or God forbid Friday the 13th.  I think the Friday the 13th was more of a subconscious association with the day, but it made for some freaky coincidences”.

.  “After working for 22 years with dementia patients I can tell you the Moon DOES affect people.  A couple of days/nights before a Full Moon, a good portion of them would start acting, the only way I can explain it, would act squirrely [this word was new to me, I had to look it up in Google’s Urban Dictionary!  It means to act eccentric, or to rush around like a squirrel].  Not normal.  If you can call dementia normal anytime.  So yes I am a firm believer”.


Pluckley in Kent is often cited as the most haunted village in England.  These comments were under a segment from Strange But True Encounters filmed in 1995.

.  “I visited once, it seemed like a nice village, but there were a couple of spots where it was weirdly cold, and this was a day in the middle of August”.

.  “I live in Pluckley, the rumours are true.  I’ve witnessed various encounters some still haunt my dreams 5 years on”.

.  “A village with two faces, the day face is picturesque and a postcard of England but at sundown heck that place is dark and oppressive”.

.  “I live literally 10 minutes from Pluckley, I have never seen or experienced anything paranormal, but I did crash my car right in the middle of the woods for a completely unknown reason … I braked and slid across something in the road but it was completely dry.  Had I died, I would be on that ghost map”.

.  “I did witness someone entering the Gents in the pub, just ahead of me.  When I went in there I discovered I was alone in there.  I cannot explain that at all”.

Pontefract Poltergeist 

This is quite a famous case in the annals of poltergeist phenomena.  From what I recall it erupted in the 1970s, and was extensively investigated by Colin Wilson, amongst others.  I thought it had long since vanished into history, but apparently this unassuming semi-detached house in West Yorkshire can now be rented out by ghost-hunters.  I must admit this did send my bullshit detector into overload.  I’m always dubious about this kind of thing.  The channel Unexplained Mysteries did a short 3-minute video about the house.  Several people commented that they, or someone they knew, had stayed in the house and experienced nothing.  Someone else said they grew up in the area and thought the whole thing was “bullshit”.

.  “A friend of mine did an overnight there 2 weeks ago [in the Summer of 2019] with her paranormal group.  They have a vicar in the group and said protective prayers before they entered, my friend still got scratched”.  Someone replied that it sounded like a jinn had taken up residence.

.  “The neighbours next door have been caught banging and playing recordings and running through the attic.  It’s £120 to spend 18 hours there”.  This comment was queried by someone who wrote “The neighbours don’t get the money though.  I worked there for 2 years [at the house?] and while something we could tell was noise from next door, we witnessed so much activity and captured so much evidence that certainly wasn’t”.

The Stickman Phenomenon 

The development and rise of the Internet over the past 3 decades has to be one of the most extraordinary inventions in our entire human history.  It has transformed everything about the world and how it functions.  Even in the paranormal world it has had a marked effect.  One of which is a rise of stories that seemed to begin with the popularity of the World Wide Web taking off in the mid-1990s.   We have had urban legends such as the Shadow People, Slenderman, the Black-Eyed Children, and this one, the Stickman.  Whenever I hear about the Stickman, I keep thinking of the opening credits to the old TV series The Saint.  Now much as I loved Sir Roger Moore, those opening credits used to freak me out a bit when I was a small child!  In recent months BeyondCreepy loaded a video about the Stickman onto YouTube.  The jokesters were out in force with the comments on this one, but I repeat below some of the more serious ones I read:

.  “I think it possible, from the supposed air displacement or disturbance, they may be dimensional and only appear to be stick figures because they are being squeezed by our atmosphere and gravity and the density of our dimension … They could always be there, but we cannot sense them …” [this was an interesting theory from one viewer, someone else pointed out that Stickman images can be found way back in cave paintings and aboriginal drawings].

.  “I saw a black figure at the end of the hallway when I was about 4.  It had no facial features and it was just black but the shape was like someone wearing a cape or robe.  It terrified me, it permeated evil.  Someone I grew up with saw a shadow figure crossing the road, he said it just seemed to stretch across the road, merging with the dark shadows and disappeared.  It had a perfectly round head and was jet black but it didn’t have a cape/robe, it was like a stick figure.  I didn’t tell him what I saw”.

.  “These kind of creatures reminds me of what we call a ‘mantiw’, in the Visagan folklore (central Philippines)”.  [I Googled some artistic images of this creature, and it certainly does resemble descriptions of the Stickman].

.  “I remember when I was smaller maybe 5 my Mom was inside and told me to go play in the back yard.  The back yard is backed by forest and I think there was a stick person in the forest … it walked weird and it left and I never saw it again”.

.  “Three years ago a friend and I were driving to my cottage, rounding a turn … both my passenger and myself shouted out in shock as there appeared to be a thin black figure standing on the edge of the road.  Matches the description perfectly.  It was a weird one.  But I’m glad I had someone with me!  That’s the only time I’ve ever seen such a thing”.

Unexplained Mysteries covered the same subject in August 2019:

.  “I’ve seen one back in like 2014 standing next to a tree above the hillside it look like it was around 9 feet tall had no detail no face nothing and just recently like 4 months ago me and my son seen one around the same spot again here in Albuquerque New Mexico”.

.  “Holy crap!!  This is what I saw!!  So glad I’m not the only one.  Thought I was crazy.  It was completely silent, over 6 feet tall and solid black.  I’ve always described it as completely dark, solid, tall … saw it during an investigation of an old slave cemetery in Charlotte, NC”.

The Stocksbridge ByPass 

The Stocksbridge ByPass in South Yorkshire is often regarded as one of Britain’s most haunted roads.  Numerous tales abound about it, including ghostly monks and little children dancing around an electricity pylon singing ‘Ring O Ring O Roses’.  I’ve seen a few videos on YouTube about it, including a truly creepy segment from Michael Aspel’s Strange But True series in the early 1990s.  Much more recently the MostAmazingTop10 did a video about Cursed Roads, and Stocksbridge featured in the No.1 position.

.  “I went with my boyfriend and we parked up.  I remember him telling me the whole monk and little children story, and I just immediately felt weird – honestly it’s one hell of a creepy road.  DON’T GO THERE”.

.  “The weirdest my husband and I witnessed but is apparently common is balls of light.  At first I thought there was a motorcycle behind us … but it got closer and closer.  I was driving and told my husband to take a look behind.  The stretch we were on had no lights at that time (there are lights now) he said he couldn’t see a biker, or hear one.  But it got closer and closer until it passed right through the centre of the car!  I was now following it … so I slowed, wondering whether it was a ghostly warning?  But as suddenly as it appeared, it shot up into the air and out over the hills, we then saw a super bright light, it just lit up all of the sky behind the hills for a second and was gone”.  [she then went off onto a rant about speed-cameras on the road].

Strange Trumpet Noises/Bournemouth

In recent years, since about 2012, there has been a spate of weird noises heard from the sky worldwide.  These have been described as ranging from industrial machinery type noises to heavenly trumpets.  There are numerous videos on YouTube about this phenomenon, but one of the eeriest I’ve ever seen was a short 2-minute vid loaded by a guy in Bournemouth in January 2017.  The uploader said it came from the direction of the sea. These are some of the Comments underneath.

.  “Medstead Hampshire – walking the dog the other day in woods – this was the same noise we heard for about 20 minutes.  It is not the first time nor in just one location!  Really loud and weird!”

.  “OK 1:20 AM (12.06.18) in Somerton, Somerset.  Me and my partner was woken up by a loud sound that sounded like a huge road sweeper coming from the sky.  Along with it was an organ sound from a church which was in a high note sound, this was extremely prominent”.  [this one was particularly interesting for me personally, because I once heard the “huge road sweeper” sound myself a few years ago, here in Oxfordshire.  It must have been a Summer night because we had the window open, and it was getting light early.  The noise was extremely loud, but I couldn’t see anything out of place, or what could have been causing it.  At the time it sounded like somebody sluicing the roads with a big hose, but I couldn’t see anything, and I can’t imagine why they would be doing that in the middle of the night! This must have been towards the end of the Noughties, there wasn’t much publicity about strange noises from the sky then, and I only had a crappy old BlackBerry  phone at the time, so not much good for filming.  I would put the time it happened at around 4 in the morning.  A random thought’s just come in my head that it might have been some insomniac watering their garden, but it sounded way too loud, and almost industrial, for that].

.  “I’ve heard this twice before in Norfolk”.

.  “Bournemouth again, 2 years later at 5:46 AM I’m here, Googling the noise I’ve just heard and it’s the same thing as in your video.  Went on for like 15-20 minutes and couldn’t find anything else.  My cat was going mental while it was on, as it stopped she is fine”.

.  “I keep hearing this exact same thing in West Yorkshire.  Usually around 3 AM”.

.  “Heard similar this Summer and reported it to local press but had a more beed Bass sound to it … and a friend 2 miles away heard the same thing at 2 AM.  I live in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire”.

.  “I’ve heard this noise tonight or something similar in Elgin, Scotland … I can’t explain what I heard apart from a weird humming and screeching sound also dogs barking and car horns and stuff extremely strange”.

Vampires In Seattle

Beyond Creepy posted a fascinating video about the so-called real-life Lost Boys of Seattle, regarding a bunch of friends who were menaced by some peculiar black-eyed youths whilst out one evening.  It’s a relatively long video for this sort of thing (about 25 mins), but well worth a watch.  The Black-Eyed Kids phenomenon, like the Stick Men, seems to have grown with the Internet over the past 20+ years.  I’ve blogged about them on here a couple of times myself.  There was some debate in the Comments as to whether the Black-Eyed Children are vampires or not.  All I can say is there are strong similarities to both legends, most particularly them having to ask to be let in when they knock on your door.

.  “Could be one of the reasons for the missing 411 cases … Technically Seattle is one of the darkest cities in the country with the least amount of total sunshine over the year” [this comment set me off thinking about the quiet sun of the past few years.  What I mean about that is the fact that the Sun seems to have unnaturally inactive for quite some time now.  At the beginning of 2018 it was reported in the British press that right across Europe, including parts of Russia, there had been remarkably little sunlight, even by the usual standards of January in the northern hemisphere.  One French newspaper had even headlined it “mort de la soleil”, death of the Sun.  I’m not quite sure what all this has to do with the vampires of Seattle, but the comment about the city being dark reminded me of it].

.  “I live in Seattle and have had one very strange incident. This was in the mid-1980s. I was driving east on NE 55th St … I was right by the cemetery between 30th & 35th … there was a man, straggly long hair, wearing a trench coat, walking towards me on the sidewalk.  I was looking right at him, then he looked right back at me & proceeded to disappear right in front of my eyes”.

.  “My adult children lived in Seattle for a while.  It’s beautiful, and we felt a creepy supernatural element there”.  [I am definitely getting a whole new view of Seattle, thanks to this story, I thought it was all about Bill Gates, high tech, Facebook, & 50 Shades of Grey!].


I enjoyed doing these, and re-visiting some old favourite stories.  If I find anymore I’ll add to it.  One comment was particularly thought-provoking:  “It does seem that paranormal activity and events have greatly increased over the past few decades, as if there is something happening that breaks down the natural borders between the worlds or universes?  The thing is when will this development be reversed, or what might happen if it keeps on occurring even more often, in even more places than before?” 

This is an interesting comment.  The mainstream media occasionally runs stories that fewer ghostly happenings or UFO sightings are happening these days, but this is blatantly cobblers.  It really doesn’t help that when they occasionally venture into the paranormal world, such as in the run-up to Halloween every year, they constantly rehash the same old stories that have been doing the rounds for aeons.  The big question is, are there actually more paranormal events happening than ever before, or, because of the Internet, are we simply hearing about them more?  These days people can get their stories out to a much bigger audience.  In pre-Internet days it was probably limited to telling family members, or the local newspaper who were desperate to fill up their pages.  If you were really unlucky rags like the Sunday Sport might be interested.   But otherwise it would be a case of “my gran saw a ghost in her house once”, that sort of thing.

I would like to believe that people are generally more open-minded these days, and although you always run the risk of being jeered at, whether it’s on the Internet or In Real Life, you are less likely to be dismissed by society at large as a total nutter.  There is more awareness of undercurrents.  In previous decades there would have been more an attitude of “I don’t want to know about such things, I just want to keep my head down and avoid any trouble”.   Reformed drug addicts are more prepared to be open about what they have seen.  I read a comment by a an ex-meths addict, who said he saw the Stickmen when he was still using it.  This isn’t terribly surprising.  Over the centuries artists, musicians and poets often took to drugs to force open the doors of their subconscious, and delve into what lay below the surface of things.   The decade from 1962-1972 is often called the Creative Revolution, when suddenly all limits were lifted, and an avalanche of creativity and new perspectives came tumbling out.  I read an interview several years ago with one actor who talked about his battles with alcohol.  He said he didn’t regret his drinking days, as it gave him special insights into life which he wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not remotely advocating that everybody goes out and becomes an alcoholic or a drug addict.  Far from it.  Forcing open the doors of the subconscious carries untold dangers, and you can make yourself vulnerable to God knows what.  Aleister Crowley once raged at people who dabbled in dark forces “for fun”, saying that they had no idea what they were opening themselves up to.  These aren’t things to be trifled with at all.  To be honest, you can open up your awareness simply by researching the subject, being open-minded, and being prepared to push creative boundaries.  Powerful music and imagery can do wonders for visualisation, for instance.

I do actually think there has been some kind of spiritual shift in recent years, and it is obvious that Something is going on.  We can only hope that ultimately it is for the good of the human race.

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Previously on this blog, I have covered some years notable for their strange phenomena.  For instance, 1947 is often regarded as the year when modern High Strangeness, as we know it, began.  It was the year of Roswell, the Kenneth Arnold sighting, the beginning of the Cold War, the CIA being founded, and Aleister Crowley popping his clogs.  Then there was 1963, when the Swinging Sixties truly began, and in Britain there was an explosion of Satanic activity, along with the Profumo Scandal, and the Moors Murderers beginning their vile crimes.

Very recently I was looking on YouTube for documentaries about the July 1977 New York Blackout.  I was reading the Comments section underneath one, and someone had posted “everything happened in 1977.  It’s getting really strange.  If it didn’t actually happen, its genesis was then”.  I found this interesting because 1977 too is often regarded as a bit of a landmark year in the realms of the Unexplained.  For many people it was simply a time of disco music, the rise of Punk, and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.  Ask anyone over 50 about the mid-1970s and we will probably get all annoyingly misty-eyed about the great music, the great TV, and what a lark it all was.  But some truly dark stuff was happening around this time.  For instance, in the USA the Son Of Sam killings were happening in New York, and here in Britain, Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, was continuing his reign of terror.

In the style of my 1947 and 1963 pieces, I thought I’d do something similar for 1977, but largely – although not exclusively – concentrating on the Summer months.

4 February – the strange events in a small Welsh town, which were to become known as the Broad Haven Triangle, began on this date, when pupils at Broadhaven Primary School saw a yellow cigar-shaped spacecraft land in the field next to their playground.  Over the course of the next few months many mysteries would abound about this atmospheric corner of Pembrokeshire.  Journalist Clive Harold would compile a book on the case, The Uninvited, which documented strange phenomena, in particular targeting the Coombs family at Ripperston Farm.  ADDENDUM: now here’s another curiosity.  In his book Haunted Liverpool 6 Tom Slemen relates the extremely strange tale of the Huyton Spaceman.  On 22 February 1977 witnesses, including a couple of police officers, saw an odd 9ft tall metallic figure floating over the Huyton area of Liverpool.  Several people connected it with a UFO which they had seen hovering low in the sky over a local primary school.

17-25 May – veteran Ufologist Jenny Randles claimed, in her book The Unexplained: Great Mysteries of the 20th Century, that this week saw an unprecedented level of High Strangeness in Britain.  She said there was a sharp spike in UFO sightings, and poltergeist activity.  There were also phantom big cat sightings, and crop circles seen in fields, although the crop circle phenomenon wouldn’t really take off until the early 1990s.

21 May – Anthony ‘Doc’ Shiels, a notorious self-publicist, claimed that he and his wife, and another couple, had sighted 3 black humps gliding through the mirror-like waters of Loch Ness at Borlum Bay at 8 o’clock that morning.  A few hours later, at 4:00 PM, he claimed he saw a sleek black head break the surface near Urquhart Castle.  His claims were largely met with howls of derision, and photographic evidence was nicknamed the Loch Ness Muppet.

25 May – Star Wars had its world premiere.  It was to become the highest-grossing film of all time.

6 – 9 June – celebrations for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee took place all around the UK.  Punk legends the Sex Pistols released their anti-monarchy rant God Save The Queen to coincide with it.  I’ve seen 1977 described as the year Punk exploded, it was everywhere.  Lead singer of the Pistols, Johnny Rotten, would eventually wind up advertising butter on TV.

8 June – giant ball lightning seen at Fishguard, Dyfed, in Wales.

9 June – a couple were approached on a road near Winchester, UK, during the afternoon by aliens, who informed them that they were concerned about War and wanted to help mankind!  The female witness to this extraordinary event, Joyce Bowler, said she wanted nothing to do with any of it, and it made her feel like a marked person.

20 June – Anglia Television in the UK broadcast a docudrama called Alternative 3, which allegedly exposed a top secret government plan to move members of the elite from Earth to Mars, as our planet is in its death throes.  It was originally intended to be broadcast as an April Fools Joke, but had had to be put back because of a technicians strike.  The programme caused a huge amount of alarm, with people jamming the station’s switchboards demanding to know what was going on.  Alternative 3 has since then achieved a prophetic status, as some of the issues they touch upon in the programme, such as Climate Change, have since been proven to be true.   It’s still an absorbing bit of television, and well worth a watch.

26 June – Jayne MacDonald, aged only 16, becomes the latest victim of the Yorkshire Ripper in Leeds.

26 June – Sal Lupo and Judy Plaido became the latest victims of the Son of Sam shooter, who had taken to targeting courting couples in parked cars in parts of New York.  The couple had just left a disco in Queens at 3 AM, when they were fired at through their car window.  Both victims survived the attack.

1 July – Several military personnel at Aviano NATO base at Pordenone, Italy, claimed to see a bright light hovering overhead at an altitude of 100 meters, at 3 AM.  Whilst this occurred there was a power blackout.  The object was said to have hovered for over an hour.

10 July – a temperature of 48degsC is recorded in Greece, setting a temperature record for mainland Europe.

10 July – Maureen Long, aged 42, was injured in an attack in Bradford, thought to have been carried out by the Yorkshire Ripper.

13 July – the New York Blackout occurred, when a major power failure hit large areas of the city, which was without power for 25 hours.  Widespread criminal activity occurred, including arson and looting.  Many observers often cite this as an example of the thin line between civilised behaviour and people reverting to a primitive state.  And yet similar blackouts in 1965 and 2003 did not see the same level of criminal activity.  It was a combination of factors, of Austerity, of New York enduring a long period of bankruptcy and decay, plus the hot weather, plus having a serial-killer on the loose, which all led to a perfect storm situation.  The power outage was the tipping-point where society went over the edge.  UPDATE: another power outage occurred on 13 July 2019, exactly 42 years to the day after this one, when a transformer exploded.  Fortunately this time there was no violence.  In fact, people reported feel-good stories of New Yorkers helping to direct traffic, and Broadway performers going outside to rehearse on the street.

28 July – An 8 foot white-robed figure was seen beside Clowbridge Reservoir, in Lancashire.

31 July – Stacy Moskowitz and Robert Violante, both aged 20, were kissing in a parked car at Bath Beach, New York, when shots were fired through the car window.  Violante lost an eye in the attack, and Stacy Moskowitz died.

10 August – David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam serial-killer was finally captured in Yonkers, New York.  The case has many alleged Satanic elements to it, and still causes controversy to this day.

15 August – The Big Ear, a radio telescope, part of the SETI project at Ohio State University, received a radio signal from deep in space.  It became famously known as the Wow! signal.

16 August – the King of Rock N Roll, Elvis Presley, died at his Graceland mansion.  Not only did his death provoke huge levels of public mourning, but also a myriad of conspiracy theories.

20 August – the Voyager 2 spacecraft was launched.

31 August – the Enfield Poltergeist outbreak began in the UK.  It was to continue for the next 2 years, and still causes much interest and debate now.  It is thought to have been the inspiration behind the BBC’s notorious Halloween hoax Ghostwatch in 1992.

September – popular singing duo The Carpenters released their hit single, Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft, about alien contact.

16 September – Glam rock star Marc Bolan was killed in a car crash in south-west London.

Sometime in the Autumn – Prince Charles met Lady Diana Spencer for the very first time.  It was in a ploughed field.  He was 29, she was 16.

16 November – Close Encounters Of The Third Kind premiered in New York City.  Its impact has been huge, and UFO fever went through the global roof.

26 November – one of the most famous broadcast interruptions in history occurred at teatime, when a strange voice interrupted a Southern TV (in the UK) news report to warn viewers of Mankind’s ultimate doom if it carried on down the path it was on.  Largely seen as a clever hoax, but it remains unsolved to this day, and no one has ever come forward (to date) to claim responsibility for it.  I can’t help wondering though, that if the Aliens were genuinely concerned for us, why did they broadcast on a small local TV station?!

As well as all these the Warminster UFO activity was still continuing, and actually inspired a bizarre plot on a daytime BBC radio soap called Waggoners Walk (which I have fond memories of), which had the local residents heading up to Hampstead Heath for a UFO skywatch!  I think its fair to say that UFO fever was gripping everybody in the late 1970s.


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  • Comments Off on The Berwyn Mountains cuttings (see blog post below)

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Very recently I was handed a pile of old newspaper cuttings from the Welsh edition of the Liverpool Daily Post concerning the Berwyn Mountains UFO incident.  This case is sometimes referred to as the Welsh Roswell.  On 23 January 1974 an earth tremor hit the area, and strange lights were seen.  Since then mysterious rumours about the incident have abounded.  The most dramatic of which was that alien bodies were recovered from the mountain, stuffed into the back of an army truck, and driven down to the highly secretive Ministry of Defence scientific research centre Porton Down, near Salisbury in Wiltshire, southern England.

Anyway I thought I would transcribe one of the cuttings, published in late January 1974, for anyone out there who is interested in the subject.  Here goes:

Scientists were still arguing last night over whether it was an earth tremor or a meteorite that shook most of North Wales 24 hours earlier.  Teams of experts had joined police and an RAF mountain rescue group searching for evidence of any kind in the rugged Berwyn Mountains in Merionethshire.  It was there, near the village of Llandrillo, that ‘an explosion’ was reported on Wednesday night.  In the village itself furniture was moved by the tremor, and pictures fell off walls.  Shock waves were felt as far away as Birkenhead. 

Reports of lights in the sky also came from a wide area, although many sightings happened after the tremor itself.  Police and coastguards now believe that many people, especially in the Isle of Man, actually saw an RAF photo-flash night bombing exercise.  Astronomer Dr Ron Maddison of Keele University, who spent all day scouring the area, said that he was convinced that a meteorite was responsible.  “I’ve never heard of that part of Wales being prone to any kind of earth tremors, and I don’t think there’s any other way of explaining the lights that people have seen”, he said. 

“Today’s search was pretty fruitless, but that’s a pretty bleak part of the world in mid-January”, he went on “We’ll be back tomorrow”.  But at the Global Seismology Unit in Edinburgh, opinions were more in favour of the earth tremor theory.  “The tremor was recorded as magnitude 4”, said a spokesman “A meteorite big enough to have caused that kind of temor would have lit up the sky like daytime, and as far as we know, the lights seen weren’t that bright”. 

The exact location of the centre of the tremor, as judged by instruments, is proving hard to pin down.  Cross-readings vary between 15 and 20 miles from its position first suggested near Llandrillo, on the slopes of 2,500 foot Cader Bronwen.  “I tend to think the centre was nearer the coast, towards Colwyn Bay.  But it will be the beginning of next week before we can say definitely, after we have run the findings through a computer”, said the Edinburgh spokesman.  One theory definitely exploded is that a buried wartime German bomb was somehow set off”. 

Now, also in the pile I was given, was a report, again from the Liverpool Daily Post, headed Mystery Object Baffles Experts.  This was published on 4 February 1974, just a few days after the above incident.  This one reads as follows:

‘The nine-foot long plane-shaped object washed ashore at the base of the Abraham’s Bosom cliffs near South Stack, Anglesey, remains unidentified even after several experts have examined it.  After taking photographs and drawings of the object, members of an RAF team announced that whatever it was it could not fly.  Earlier a bomb disposal squad had said it was not dangerous.  The casing made out of black aluminium has no writing on it except some numbers, but it does contain several plug holes and discs which is evidence that it is full of instruments.  A coastguard spokesman revealed yesterday that it had been found far too heavy to haul up the 150-foot high cliff.  “It has obviously been in the sea a fair time but our main concern was that it was not dangerous.  We believe that it could be some sort of equipment usually towed by a ship.  Several people have been to have a look at it but no one has come up with an answer.  The RAF say that it cannot fly but the wings and tail on it gives it power to climb and dive in water”‘.

The second story is completely new to me, but it reminds me irresistibly of like something out of an old Quatermass film!  You can read more about the Berwyn Mountains incident on the Mysterious Universe website.

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There is an opening scene to one of the old Pink Panther movies in which somebody commits the perfect robbery, when they steal the valuable jewel from a museum.  I was reminded of it when I read about the theft of a Cezanne painting – reputedly worth about £3,000,000 ($4.8 million dollars) –  from Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum on Millennium night, New Year’s Eve 1999.

If you’re going to commit the perfect robbery I guess picking a time when everybody is going to be distracted elsewhere is a good start, and on 31 December 1999 the entire world was preoccupied by the once-in-a-thousand-years Millennial celebrations.

The thief gained access to the Museum by climbing the scaffolding  on a nearby building, and hopping across the rooftops.  At the stroke of midnight fireworks erupted everywhere, and they took advantage of the racket to cut a hole in the roof of the Ashmolean Museum, although one report said they smashed a skylight.  Carrying a holdall containing the tools he needed he then clambered through the hole using a rope ladder.  The most cunning part of the plan was to come next.  The thief let off a smoke bomb to obscure the security cameras.

The smoke bomb set off the fire alarms, and whilst a member of staff was waiting for the fire crew to arrive, the thief grabbed the Cezanne, and shimmied back up the rope, before hot-footing back across the rooftops and eventually disappearing back into the celebrating crowds.  He left behind him his holdall containing his gloves, scalpel and tape.

The painting, entitled View of Auvers-sur-Oise, was very clearly stolen to order.  It was housed amongst a lot of other very priceless paintings by the likes of van Gogh, Picasso and Monet, but it was the Cezanne the thief was after.  No trace of the painting has ever been found since, and it’s probably safe to say it has been sitting in a locked vault somewhere, the pride and joy of some unscrupulous collector.  This in spite of the fact that the story did get a lot of publicity at the time (I remember reading about it on dear old Teletext the next day), and an alert was immediately put out at all sea and airports.

At the time a spokesman for Thames Valley Police said they had no idea when the painting would be recovered, “it could be tomorrow or it could be in 20 years”.  Well, nearly 20 years on, and both painting and culprit are still highly elusive.

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John Christopher, who worked under many pseudonyms, is largely known these days for his sci-fi series The Tripods.  If you’re as old as you me, you may remember that being serialised on British TV back in the 1980s.  He also wrote a number of stand-alone chillers, including this one, The Possessors, which has a pleasingly low-budget, black-and-white B-movie feel about it.

It begins rather like an Agatha Christie whodunnit.  Douglas is a London solicitor, going away on a skiing holiday to get over an unsatisfactory love affair.  He arrives at an Alpine hotel, isolated in the Swiss mountains, run by a British guy, George, and his American wife, Mandy.  He meets all the other guests, all of the British middle-class kind, who certainly wouldn’t be out of place in a Dame Agatha novel.

One day, one of the children staying at the hotel, Andy, is playing in the snow when he comes across a strange blue object, the size of a tennis ball.  From then on things become very strange indeed.  We move from a Whodunnit to an eerie kind of zombie thriller, with aliens taking over human bodies.

This is very much a slow-burner of a novel, and if you prefer your horror to get cracking with the blood and gore immediately you may well be disappointed.  But I liked it.  I get so sick of some modern zombie thrillers where characters constantly run around in a testosterone-fuelled fit, yammering on about how bloody marvellous guns are, doncha know.  This has a creepy, 1930s-style Old Dark House feel to it, with characters being taken over one after the other.  Sort of like Alien transposed to a Swiss hotel, but much less violent.

The novel was written in the early 1960s, but there is a refreshing lack of archaic sexism.  The men insist they are the only ones capable of doing guard duty (yeah of course), but that’s just about it.  We don’t have any of the usual mid-20th century nonsense where Silly Woman Has Screaming Fit And Has To Be Slapped, or the boring hunk shakes her by the shoulders and calls her “you little fool” (something which always makes my toes curl).  All the characters, male and female, have their faults and foibles.  Nobody is too perfect and capable to be believable.  Most of the characters seem to be haunted by something in their past.

Some authors (particularly in sci-fi) are Ideas authors, and the characters are very much secondary.  But I get the impression, from an old interview I read about him, that JC found the interaction between the characters in his stories to be his main interest.  This makes a refreshing change.  With the character of the young widow, Jane, he was particularly good, showing how her recent bereavement and trauma had left her feeling emotionally detached from everything.  I found that very therapeutic.

There were some very eerie moments in this, and the hotel began to have a  claustrophobic, dark prison-like feel to it, as the inmates put themselves into a siege situation against the aliens.  There is one scene where Selby is doing a night-vigil by himself in the bar which spooked me out, although admittedly I was reading it very late at night!  Even a daytime scene though, where the aliens call to Mandy through the kitchen window, was spooky.

I liked the linear structure of this story.  I am absolutely fed up to the chuffing back teeth with modern stories arsing about all over the place, with multiple time-lines and big, clunky flashbacks getting in the way of the action.  My only criticism is that it all ended too abruptly.  I would have liked a bit more.  BUT so many novels these days end up exasperating me when I’ve barely got beyond the first chapter, so I suppose this isn’t much of a criticism.

I’ve got a few more John Christopher novels on my reading list, so I may well make this piece a review section of his books, including a very rare copy of Dom And Va I managed to get my hands on, which has apparently been banned for nearly 40 years.  I wasn’t at all surprised to read that JC lived for several years in the town of Rye in Sussex (a place I know well).  Rye seems to attract an awful lot of writers and artists.

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For every talented person who hits the heights of fame, there must be numerous ones whose stars never get to shine.   Connie Converse was a pioneering singer and songwriter in the 1950s, who never achieved much in the way of recognition in her day, and for several decades was famous only for her mysterious disappearance in 1974.  But in recent years her music seems to be finally getting the recognition she deserves.

Connie was born Elizabeth Eaton Converse on 3 August 1924 in Lacona, New Hampshire.  She came from a large, strict religious family, and her father was a Baptist minister.  Connie was a formidably bright child, and won 8 academic awards at Concord High School.   After 2 years at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, she moved to New York City, where she worked at the Academy Photo Offset printing house.

In photographs of her taken at this time she bears a resemblance to Sylvia Plath, or a young Bette Davis playing a bespectacled bluestocking character, but Connie seemed to have a yearning for the bohemian lifestyle.  She wound up in Harlem, and the notorious Hell’s Kitchen area, where she took the name “Connie”, and began writing songs.  She performed them for friends, accompanying herself on her guitar, or recording them on a tape-recording machine in her basement.   She also horrified her parents by smoking and drinking copiously, and her father was said to have never listened to any of her music.

Her music was starting to get her noticed, and artist Gene Deitch even arranged for her to have a brief appearance  on CBS’s The Morning Show in 1954.  It was to be Connie’s only public appearance.   There are many theories as to why Connie’s musical career never took off.  Some say it was simply because she was ahead of her time.  The singer-songwriter was a new phenomenon, and in the early 1950s female singers were expected to sing chirpy, upbeat songs (Alma Cogan) or bluesy torch-songs (Peggy Lee, Julie London).  Connie’s very other-worldly folksy tunes are more reminiscent of the late 1960s/early 70s.

Some argue that Connie simply didn’t help herself with her own attitude.  She could come across as arrogant and stand-offish, not at ease with the necessary networking required.  She was an intensely private person, and would give curt, snappy answers to any questions about her personal  life.  This has led some to speculate that she was gay, although her nephew, Tim Converse, has said that there was no evidence Connie ever had any kind of a romantic relationship with anyone.

The 1950s was also the era of high glamour.  Female singing stars appeared coiffed, bejewelled, sparkled, corseted and gowned to the hilt, whereas Connie preferred shapeless dresses, and with her hair stuffed into a bun.  These days she actually looks quite in the mode, like a present-day earnest Millennial!  And in one picture I saw, where she’s sitting playing the guitar, with her horn-rimmed glasses on, and her shoes tossed to one side, in her stockinged feet, she looks quite cool.

By 1961 Connie had become frustrated with the lack of progress in her career, and she moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she worked in a secretarial job.   By the early 1970s she was acutely depressed.  She remarked that “I generally conceal my own problems, and listen attentively to those of others”, which should resonate with anyone who has ever suffered from depression.  Friends clubbed together to fund a trip to England for her, and her mother asked her to accompany her to Alaska.   Possibly the last straw came though when her doctor informed her that she would have to have a hysterectomy, a statement which floored her.

In August 1974 Connie penned letters to family members and close friends saying she wanted to start a new life.  In one she said “let me go, let me be if I can.  Let me not be if I can’t”.  She added that she couldn’t find her place in human society.   Connie then packed her belongings into her Volkswagen Beetle and drove away.   She was never seen again.  No trace of her has ever been found to this day.

Her family did hire a private detective to try and find her, but he advised them that if Connie had chosen to vanish, then her decision must be respected.   This must always be a difficult one for the family of any adult missing person.  Sometimes it is a fact that the missing person concerned doesn’t want to be found.  There is a tale of one man who was tracked down who got very angry, and demanded to know why they had found him.   It was very clear that Connie had run out of patience with her old life, and it may simply be that she wanted to reinvent herself and start over again.   Her brother Philip believed though that she may have deliberately driven her car into a body of water, although someone did tell him that they had seen an “Elizabeth Converse” listed in a phone book in Kansas or Oklahoma, but the lead was never followed up.

In the Noughties Connie’s music inspired fresh interest.  Her old friend Gene Deitch played some of her recordings on a New York radio show, and in 2009 there was an album released of 17 of her songs, entitled How Sad, How Lovely.   I listened to some of Connie’s songs on YouTube, where she seems to have acquired a new generation of admirers.   Inevitably, there were a couple of dissenters, who argued that it was only her disappearance that had led to her revival, but most people were impressed and respectful.

My verdict?  I have to say that folksy music is not a personal favourite of mine.  This is mainly because I am of the generation that had it stuffed down our throats ad nauseum in school assemblies in the 1970s by right-on hippy teachers (I NEVER want to hear Ralph McTell’s Streets Of London, or Peter, Paul and Mary’s Puff The Magic Dragon ever again!*).  It has led me with a marked aversion to anything that reminds me of pot-smoking, bearded sandal-wearers.  BUT, I did like the songs of Connie’s that I heard.  There was some criticism in the Comments sections that her voice wasn’t perfect.  Well frankly not many singers do have perfect voices.  Even highly-revered performers can sometimes struggle when hitting the high notes.  It’s all part of their charm.   But I did find How Sad, How Lovely to be very haunting and beautiful.  There is one song of Connie’s, called A Witch And A Wizard, which reminded me oddly of the eerie beginning to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven.   The lyrics begin ‘A witch there was, and a wizard as well / moved into a rose-covered cottage in Hell /a rose-covered cottage in Hell’.  Pretty dark stuff.  I’m not surprised they couldn’t cope with her in 1950s America.

*At children’s parties, when I was little, we would always inevitably have to get up and dance to The Beatle’s Yellow Submarine (probably on pain of death if we didn’t).  I still don’t know to this day how much the teachers knew it was a drug-fuelled fantasia of a song.  No wonder my generation grew up weird.



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