Sunday, 1 November 2015

A 1970s 'ghost' story


I went to bed last night and listened to both one-hour episodes of the radio version of 'The Exorcist'. Lovely. This can be my entry into John's ghost story competition:

A while ago, there was a priest on the radio who occasionally performed exorcisms, and as I listened to him explain his methods and motives, I realised that he really did understand what was going on, and he really did perform a useful function on the rare occasions he was called out as a last resort by parents  who were a little confused about their daughter's (and they always are daughters) unusual behaviour.

"Poltergeists and possessed adolescents," he began, "Have nothing whatsoever to do with the dead. These phenomena could be explained using purely scientific terms, if only we understood the science behind them. In the absence of of this understanding, it takes a priest who is trained in psychology to remedy the situation, and - for want of a better description - drive out the Devil or demons". This was a sensible priest, just dealing with the problem as he found it, and without any mumbo-jumbo.

There are three key ingredients in poltergeist hauntings, and - classically - these are a mother, an unsympathetic father, and a hysterical, pre-pubescent daughter. This is as far as the understanding goes, and the physical things that occur cannot - at the moment - be explained. Neither can God, which is why the wise priest never tries.

I know all of this to be true, before anyone accuses me of getting carried away, because I have witnessed it with my own eyes, and within my own family. My (now dead) sister had a girl child with her somewhat unresponsive husband (he just liked the quiet life) and the three of them lived in a newly built little house on a modest estate near Winchester. The other thing you don't need for poltergeists is a big, old house.

Right from the start, my sister would say strange things about her daughter which I put down to post-natal depression. Things like, "She stares at me in a way which makes me think she understands what I am thinking". This was before she could talk. 

A little later, she would confide in me that she was very guilty about the way she felt about the baby. "I just don't like her as a person - I know this sounds stupid and cruel, and I know she can't even talk yet, but this is just the way I feel and I have to tell someone. H**** doesn't want to talk about it and thinks I am being stupid.  Am I going mad?" 

I began to think that she was actually going mad, but I didn't say that. Instead, I began reading-up about this sort of thing, and by the time I went to visit them, I thought I had a grasp on what might have been going on.

When I called on them, the little girl was about 3-4 years old and able to talk. "Come downstairs and see your Uncle Tom," my sister shouted, and the girl came down and stared at me.

"Tell him to go away," she said, "I don't like his eyes." I think she knew that I could 'see' what was going on.

When she was out of the room, my sister told me of other, stranger things that had been happening. She would stand at the bottom of the stairs and take in a breath to shout up instructions for the girl to tidy her room, but before the words came out of her mouth, her daughter would shout down, "No. I don't want to and I'm not going to."

Things came to a head one night a little later. The girl was upstairs in bed, the washing up had been done and my sister and her husband were sitting in a room watching T.V. before going to bed themselves, when a clattering noise came from the kitchen.

My B. in law went into the kitchen to find a large knife had been taken out of one of the drawers, and blood was splashed around all over the formica-topped work-surfaces.

He rushed upstairs to his daughter's room to find her tucked up and asleep, so he went back down and checked all the windows and doors, finding them all locked and secure, so he searched the house for an intruder but found none.

They stared at the scene for a half an hour or so, then - not knowing what else to do - cleared up the mess and went to bed. I asked her if they had taken a sample of the blood, but she said that this had not occurred to them.

This was the trigger for my sister's break-down, and the doctor recommended she go to a child psychologist. When she arrived for the appointment, she asked the psychologist when she should return to collect her girl, and he said, "You are not going anywhere - you are part of the process."

In a few weeks, all was back to normal, and their relationship reverted to a normal, loving, mother and daughter one, though the subject was never considered taboo whilst my niece remained a child. It only became taboo later, and my niece has no recollection of any of these events.

I didn't dream them up though, I assure you.

20 comments:

  1. The subject interests me because I encountered a ghost face to face at a distance of 3 or 4 feet. Years later I was given solid proof that what I had seen was a real ghost. The irrefutable evidence was supplied to me many years later by a friendly poltergeist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Then you are someone else who hasn't really read what I said above. What you are talking about is quite different from what I have been talking about.

      Delete
  2. Your sister and her daughter is a strange tale and would probably be treated as lack of bonding between the two these days and dealt with at a Child and Family Centre. Most young girls would know that as soon as mum stands at the bottom of the stairs she is going to shout "clean your room" and shout back before she is allowed to get the words out. The knife was probably used to cut up the meat for the evening meal and the meek husband didn't explain because he hadn't cleared up and the clattering nothing more than ill placed dish after the meal. You've been listening to too many episodes of the Exorcist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was treated as a lack of bonding by a child psychologist - I thought that I had made that clear. The rest of what you say by way of explanation is just bollocks, but I wouldn't have expected anything else from you.

      Delete
    2. And your reply is nothing more than I expected.

      Delete
  3. Tom, I know you are correct; I have seen the phenomena in a very charged relative with an intense internalizaton of sensitivity. An inane description, but the best I can do. She literally draws angels around herself when she feels she needs protection. Her entire look and demeanor change. I call it going spiritual, since I'm as literal as Rachel. One learns to tread lightly. She keeps many spirits around her, and they leave tokens like a clock key, or returning a long missing knife to the drawer. Had she been my child, there would have been counseling intervention at an early age. But she is a grown woman, and a well known artist.
    We should keep these discussions to annual events. They are simply wierd.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Halloween seemed the best time to tell this story. It was supposed to take the ghosts out of the equation - those are a completely different subjects for sceptics to attack. Some people just cannot accept what is before their eyes. If they don't believe their own eyes, then they should not trust their own judgement enough to air it. Maybe it is fear?

      Delete
    2. You said it was a ghost story.

      Delete
    3. No, you fool, I said it was a 'ghost' story.

      Delete
  4. The only really weird thing I've experienced was a floating round ball of 'plasma' in my bedroom in Wales. The ball was very bright but shone no light. I later learned that the phenomenon was not that uncommon, but at the time is was very mysterious. Otherwise I consider all ghosts etc a load of mumbo.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Plasma balls, like poltergeists, could - and probably will - be explained with science. I know, believe it or not, your opinions on all things mumbo jumbo. I believe you may have expressed them once or twice in the past, or am I imagining it?

      Delete
  5. There are more things in heaven and earth than we dreamed of Tom.....or something like that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank Shakespeare, not God for that one. One sensible man in a sea of appreciative idiots.

      Delete
  6. Sooo.....maybe I'm just dense, but where did the blood come from? What am I missing here?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are being no denser than anyone else.

      Delete
  7. About 5/6 years ago I had several conversations with a man I had know for years, he is a craftsman in carpentry.( Bespoke kitchens etc) Not sure how he first brought the subject up, but I really had to persuade him to tell me about the poltergeist activity that was disrupting his workshop. He didn't tell many people as he thought they would consider him a bit " mad". I found it fascinating and I seem to remember that it was eventually supposed to be connected to his assistant ( male) who had been through some bad times. On a slightly different note, I was at my mother's house a few years before she died, and heard a loud male voice calling out as if in pain. Never could explain it….could have been Dad, who had died from a cancer some years before, but I only thought that it sounded like him much later.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting. Yes, I should have said 'usually' not always girls. Also, it doesn't have to involve either sometimes. I've seen some pretty inexplicable things too.

      Delete
  8. I've always been intrigued by the notion of susceptibility when it comes to seeing such inexplicable things. Some people, like you, see them; others don't and are pretty sure they never will. I've always wished I could be more susceptible to the intangible world, if only out of curiosity. My first husband was an ethereal man who welcomed and solicited ghosts (with and without quotation marks/inverted commas) and otherworldly or as yet unexplained phenomena. Why, do you think, some get it and others don't? Also, not to doubt you, but did you see the bloody knife or only hear about it. Cynic that I am, I had to ask.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is another word for susceptible? Obviously I wouldn't use that to define myself, even though I have said many times that I am prepared to believe in anything. Of course I didn't see the knife. Everyone seems to think that I am some sort of schoolgirl who is prepared to accept anything without question. Like I said, there is a lot of psychology involved in all this, and that is a science.

      Delete
  9. Some might say gullible. Obviously I wouldn't use that to define you. I don't have an explanation, but I'm willing to bet it's more neuroscience than psychology.

    ReplyDelete