During this series, I’ve brought you stories of poltergeists, residual hauntings including sightings and auditory phenomena, all of which I’m at a loss to explain. (Don't worry if you've just stumbled here, there are links to previous posts at the end of this one!)
The other thing I mentioned was an intense sensation of being watched. Scrutinised by invisible eyes that left me with little doubt that my presence was not welcome.
One day at the Royal Oak (and not at the Hotel where I experienced that feeling), my parents were alone and got a very similar feeling. Enjoying the experience about as much as I did when I felt the same thing many years later, they decided to go out. As they were about to climb into the car, my uncle, the DJ in the nightclub, returned from an errand.
“Don’t mention anything,” dad quickly whispered to mum. “We’re just going to the shops to buy a newspaper, would you like anything?” he asked my uncle.
The reply came in the negative and off they went. When they returned some thirty minutes later, my uncle was sitting outside, alone.
“What are you doing out here?” dad asked, innocently.
“I’m not going in there,” my uncle replied. “There’s somebody in there.”
Another bizarre event at the pub took place when dad was upstairs and mum nipped downstairs into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. She suddenly heard a very familiar and distinct sound: my grandmother shouting my dad’s name. The only issue was my parents were alone: my grandmother was on holiday in Scotland.
My mum was shaken (naturally), when my dad came downstairs you’d imagine that it would calm her a little. And I’m sure it would have, had my dad’s first words not been “You won’t believe what I’ve just heard…”
Of course, he reported the exact same thing.
As haunted as the Royal Oak was, in all the time I was there, I only ever personally experienced one event. At the bottom of the stairs, where the brass-topped table sat, I heard the distinct sound of footsteps coming from upstairs. The highwayman. At the time, the only other person at the pub was my mum, and she was in the kitchen next to me. Naturally, I fulfilled the classic horror movie trope and headed upstairs to investigate. Of course, there was nobody there.
In my experience when it comes to stories like this, people tend to fall into three distinct categories:
Category 1 are believers. Category 1 people annoy those from Category 2 who see themselves as rational. Sceptics. Not taken to flights of fancy and living in the land of the fairies. People from category 2 annoy those from group 1. Group 2 will be sad to hear that they annoy those from group 3 as well. The reason being those from category 3 are the true sceptics.
If you’re category 2, you’re a debunker. I’m sorry to tell you that you can come across as deluded, almost as much as those folks you love to mock in group 1. If you’re from category 2 you try to shoe-horn the story you’ve just heard into a box where it doesn’t fit. Making the story fit the science and not vice versa. Every slamming door is a gentle breeze and every UFO report, swamp gas and weather balloons. Weather balloons that cross the night sky in a zig-zag pattern in a matter of seconds. Poltergeists are earthquakes. Earthquakes that only affect one item in one room.
Coming to these conclusions is unscientific, and rather than solve the problem, you skip over it, missing an opportunity to genuinely come to an understanding that wasn’t previously considered.
There have been studies that show low-level sound frequencies can bring about the fleeting sense of movement in peripheral vision, and even feelings of revulsion and dread. Tested. Repeated. That is science. If these feelings had been written off as delusion, that would be something undiscovered.
Low level sound doesn’t explain stories of disembodied footsteps, or situations where loved ones have heard the voices of a family member holidaying in another country.
As it stands, we have no explanation for that. And that suits me just fine.
Just in case you've read these posts out of order like some massive weirdo, here's the links for the rest of the series! The Royal Oak...
Part One: The Room
Part Two: The Highwayman
Part Three: The Bar
Part Four: The Cellar
Part One: The Flat (1)
Part Two: The Flat (2)
Part Three: The Kitchen
Part Four: Reception
Short but sweet this week. Sweet and spooky. Really spooky.
Last time at the Royal Oak, we talked about the bar. The busy bar was almost the full length of the far wall of the large open space. Behind the bar were two doors. The first led to the kitchen. The other was an old wooden door which led to the cellar. Inside the door were two stone steps leading straight into a square room with only one other entrance: double doors to the left where beer deliveries were received. The remote location and need for security meant these doors were always locked unless there was a delivery (the cellar was also where expensive bottles of spirits were kept, so it would be a quick way to lose a lot of money quickly if left unlocked).
One thing of the first things you’d notice on entering the cellar, besides the large barrels and chilled air, were electrical sockets. One by each barrel of beer. To help thirsty customers get their hands on ice cool beverages ASAP, the bar was fitted with electric beer pumps. Place a glass under the tap, flick a switch and a half a pint is poured. Flick it again and Hey, Presto! a pint. Ideal when the round was a mixture of beers and spirits. Leave the glass under the tap and mix a double Jack and Coke or whatever. Because it was so busy it common to see several of the taps going at the same time.
In the middle of the chaos of a Friday night shift, the place is packed, disco music is pumping, dancefloor jumping, and of course, beer is flowing.
That’s when our night in question takes a turn for the weird.
The music is still playing. The dancefloor is still jumping. The problem is the beer. The flow has stopped. All of the pumps have stopped at exactly the same time. The music is still playing, so it’s not a power cut. So what is it?
Several bar staff desperately start flicking the switches up and down. Nothing. So the problem must be in the cellar.
Upon entering the cellar, everything seemed normal. Nobody there. Kegs all aligned in their usual ‘L’ shape along the walls, no bottles missing, and those all-important double doors still locked. Then they see it.
Every plug to those electric beer pumps, spaced over a distance of a few yards, has not just been switched off, but completely removed from the wall. At the same time. Unplugged.
Every. Single. One.
After a few moments nonplussed, the plugs were reinstated to their working positions and normal service resumed. A problem easily solved. But to anyone working that night, it was a problem not so easily forgotten.
Have you experienced anything spooky yourself? Seen a ghost? UFOs? Let us know in the comments! As always, I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And please be respectful of others!
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In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.