Saturday, 19 May 2012

Seeing is believing


Another post in what had become my 'Phantom' series - Part the First.  Maybe it's the beginning of a slow run-up to October 31st, when such stories become the meat and drink of the blogosphere, as the Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness kicks in, finishing sometime around the Twelfth Night.

I have already told this tale, but - as every fire-side kid knows - the stories get better through repetition.

Most people think that ghosts only go abroad at night, but that is because they are not noticeable as such in bright sunshine.  In fact, they prefer to wander the streets using broad daylight as a cloak of invisibility, remaining incognito as they visit their old haunts of earthly existence.  We all know that, when carrying out daylight robbery, it is much better to wear a DayGlo safety jacket with matching hardhat, than a self-concsious attempt at blending in.  By being so vividly visible, most people don't give you a second glance.

Also, most people think that ghosts glow in the dark, but that is only a trick of the light.  How else does your brain explain the way you see them in darkness so complete, that you cannot detect your hand in front of your face?

Yes, I know that the brain is capable of firing off signals which produce the same effect as millions of photons hitting the back of your retina, but how does it arrange them so perfectly, as to produce the exact likeness of someone you have never met?  That's the great thing about science - it's full of paradox.

We, as humans, tend to use light as the absolute touchstone of reality - the template against which the existence of things is measured as either true or false.  In fact, our brains work a lot faster than the speed of light, and our innate intuition operates a lot faster than even that.  Infinitely fast, in fact.  You can take a trip round the universe in the blink of an eye, when it takes mere light thousands of years to travel to your eyeball from an object which - in the scale of astronomical things - right in your back yard.

There are a group of scientists who have come to believe that the photons that emanate from stars millions of miles away, would not have started their journey of several thousand years if they did not 'know' that someone would be there to greet them with their eyes - someone who was not even born when they set out.  Don't ask me how it works, it's all a bit Schrodinger for me to get my little head around on a saturday morning.  I do know, however, that if you set up two sensors side by side and fire an equal amount of photons at them from a short distance away, the particles seem to opt for one sensor over another, even as they fly in absolutely straight lines.  Not only do they seem to make a 'decision' about which way to veer toward the preferred sensor, but they make it impossibly quickly.  Faster than the speed of light, in fact.

Anyway, I was working in my old workshop on a hot and sunny saturday about 20 years ago, and I was making a lot of noise and dust by using an air-hammer and chisel on a large lump of stone, when I became aware of a presence at the entrance to my workshop.

I used to work saturdays in those days, because - being in the middle of town - many people would visit the yard for recreational purposes, and I would usually receive an order for a fire-surround or piece of stone sculpture by hanging around and meeting them.

So to see an elderly couple standing at the threshold and quietly smiling at me was not an unusual event.  What was unusual about it was that the couple were my parents, both of whom had been dead for quite some time.

I turned the tool off and put it down, all the while looking at the old man and woman, who just stood smiling wordlessly at me.  I took off my paper dust-mask, expecting to find my own smile beneath it, but my mouth - though closed - remained expressionless.

We stood staring at each other for - I suppose - just a few seconds before they turned away and walked out of sight.  Not a word spoken.  I didn't bother to go after them, they would not have been there when I caught up in any event.  Most likely I would have found two living strangers in their place.




12 comments:

  1. Lovely Tom ... how nice of them to drop in.

    I've not seen ghosts during the day time or even at night but I always know when folk are visiting. Interesting, my post west to east was about us on a mission to seek out a dead man. I used to feel him about quite a lot for about a year after he died - and then one day he just left us and he hasn't been back since.

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    1. I had a friend (not someone who I was very close to, though) who died of cancer a few years ago, and he took to turning up in my dreams and continuing to be himself. The first time, I was out walking in the country with a group of people, and noticed him amongst them, so went up to talk.

      "Mike - I thought you were supposed to be dead?"

      He put his finger to his mouth and whispered, "Shh! They don't know that."

      Eventually he forgot he was supposed to be dead, so I reminded him that he was, and I haven't seen him since.

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  2. After my mother died, way back in 1982, I would occasionally hear her calling my name. I'd look round, knowing it was her, but knowing that it couldn't be her. A strange experience!

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    1. "Cro Magnon!" Come here this instant!"

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  3. Sweet of them to drop by. Maybe they wanted to show how proud they were of you.

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    1. That's what I thought, Amy. They did not have much of an idea about what I did when they were alive!

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  4. I wonder if you're mind altering drug phase opened up some sort of window, enabling you to see this stuff.

    I've just finished reading Jim Harold's campfire stories (he does a podcast too) with lots more eerie stories there for you to read / hear Tom. I'm not going to get any sleep tonight. And not in a good way.

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    1. The acid, mescal, etc. had who knows what effect on me. I will never know, in the same way that others who never did it will also never know,

      The one permanent revelation was the understanding that there is definitely more than one reality out there. A lot more than one. Some people arrive there quickly with chemical assistance, others have a head start, and others work hard to reach that understanding.

      You sleep well - only the living can harm you, or if not, you can only harm yourself, and where's the sense in that? Take your strength where you can find it, but don't get fobbed off by stupid fucking Christians during a weak moment.

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  5. I think that you have your mother's eyes (not literally, of course).

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    1. I have my father's body - literally.

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  6. Shortly after his death my father came and sat in a corner of my room dressed in his outdoor clothes. I wasn't surprised, I took it to mean that he was telling me he was alright and no longer in pain.

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    1. Sorry Cher - I have only just found your comment. Another nice visit from a dear parent.

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