Last time I told you about the first time I ever saw a ghost. As I said at the time, I wasn’t that scared. It’s strange because there have been other occasions I’ve experienced different things that have scared me…
THE FLAT: PART TWO
One night sitting watching television in the living room and I got the feeling that I wasn’t alone (sound familiar?!). Worse than that, the feeling was that whoever I was sharing the room with left me in no doubt that my presence was not welcome. The feeling grew stronger and stronger by the minute and I could think of no trigger. I’d been watching comedy on the television and hadn’t been thinking about anything strange before it happened. After about twenty or so minutes of hoping the feeling would go away, it got progressively worse. I eventually left. Not an experience I’d gladly repeat.
This happened a few feet from the room I’d witnessed my first ever ghost, and as I said, that wasn’t the last time I saw something.
This all happened a few months after the first experience. I can’t remember exactly how long, but it was long enough for me to have the other incident far from the front of my thoughts. I was lying in bed one afternoon (I was a chef working split shifts at the time and after years of practice, I am now the World Champion of Afternoon Snoozes). Just as I was thinking about going to sleep, I saw something between my bed and the closed door of my room. The area between my bed and the door is only about a square yard (just under a metre, for our European readers).
A black cat’s tail swished up, hung in the air for a moment, and then disappeared back down alongside my bed. It was odd, because, well, we didn’t have a cat. Nonplussed as to how a cat made it all the way upstairs and into my room, I propped myself up, and waited for a second, thinking (hoping) the cat would appear at the door and try to escape. It didn’t.
It must be cowering by the edge of the bed. It was the kind of bed with drawers built into the base, so there was no way it could have made its way under. Now I had to peer over the edge of my bed to see what it was doing, risking having my eyes scratched out in the process. I just wanted to sleep.
I peered over the edge of the bed to find absolutely nothing. Just so we’re clear, this was a solid black tail. Not a white ghostly tail. Not transparent. Solid black. And let’s be clear, I hadn’t even fallen asleep yet, so there was no way I was dreaming. Again, at the time I wasn’t scared. It was just… odd. As before, the scary part was still to come.
I did manage to fall asleep (see ‘World Champion of Snoozes’), but when I woke up, it wasn’t because of my alarm, and there was nothing natural about it.
I was awoken by pressure on my back. More precisely, four small points of pressure. More precisely still, two points on my upper back, two on my lower back. Spaced apart almost like feet. If pressed, I’d say exactly like feet. And if I had to guess the weight of the object that had just landed on me? I’d say it was about the weight of a cat. I leapt out of bed and carried out a thorough search of the room. There was no cat.
My room at the hotel always was a bit strange. There was a time I was awoken by a terrifying dog’s bark. That was on the cusp of being awake/asleep so I can’t say for certain that it wasn’t a dream, but that wasn’t all that happened. There were invasions of wasps, HUGE spiders (including one so big it barely fit into a pint glass(?!)), and Red Admiral butterflies. The thing about the butterflies was they used to appear in my room and fly right into the corner before settling on the ceiling. There they stayed until they died. The exact same spot. Never anywhere else. At one point, there were three lined in a row.
I remember chatting with my mum after I’d left the hotel, and just as a jokey remark, I asked how everything was in my old room. She told me that she didn’t know because my dad insisted on keeping the door closed. “He never liked that room.”
He only let me sleep there for ten years… Thanks, Dad!
Next time... One for the sceptics to mull over!
Have you ever had an experience you can't explain? Let me know in the comments! As before, I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And please be respectful of others!
In True Ghost Stories I’ve brought you experiences from my Grandmother’s pub, The Royal Oak (don’t worry, we’ll be going back, there’s a couple of really weird stories still to come!): now I’d like to fill you in on some of my own personal experiences. From the Hotel...
The Hotel was another example of an old building steeped in history, just like the Royal Oak the hotel was built in the 1700s. And like the Royal Oak, it had its fair share of hauntings.
The first story I’d like to share is the first time I actually witnessed a ghost with my own eyes. I’d been working in the pub trade for around ten years and had basically been born into the industry. Even though I’d worked in some really old places, most of which with a story to tell, I’d never actually seen anything for myself. That changed one summer night.
There were some pretty scary non-paranormal stories in the pub trade, (anyone who has ever seen British TV show Crimewatch can confirm that, and holy shit if that isn’t one of the scariest things on television), so whenever I worked in a new place, I followed one simple rule: if my bedroom door had a lock, I used it. (Turns out it wasn’t necessary, but better safe than sorry.)
The windows to my bedroom at the Hotel opened onto a roof. The kind of roof somebody might use if they wanted to gain entry, bypassing the doors. So on this one night, when I was awoken by the rattle of my bedroom door opening behind me, I knew something was off.
When I turned I was relieved to see my dad inside the room, beside the closed door. But he wasn’t looking at me; he was staring in the direction of the windows. It was clear from his posture that he was listening intently to something out there. My dad can sometimes be, well, reactionary, so there was no way I was opening my mouth to speak now, especially after screwing up and not locking the bedroom door.
I was pretty freaked out. He’d never done this before and for a second I thought I could end up on a reconstruction on Crimewatch myself. He just stood there facing the window, looking. And listening. I too turned attention to the window, in an attempt to see the source of what he’d heard. As far as I could make out, there was nothing going on, so I turned back to him. He still wasn’t looking at me. His eyes were fixed, peering through the dark at the windows. It was especially dark as the curtains were drawn, so it was no surprise when he took a few steps towards the window to get a better look, stopping a few feet away.
My eyes were adjusting to the light now and I turned back to the window myself. Still nothing. No signs of movement, no sound. I was still reluctant to say anything. Just because I couldn’t hear it, didn’t mean it wasn’t there, whatever it was. By now, I’m gripped by curiosity. I looked at him, back at the windows, back at him, and then the strangest thing happened...
Right before my eyes, as I was looking at him. The figure I thought was my dad faded into nothing. I slowly sat upright and tried to wrap my head around what was going on. I wasn’t scared, which I found odd. I even thought at this point I might have been dreaming, so I pinched myself. Nothing happened. I tried again, really grabbing and twisting hard. My next thought was Okay, you’re definitely awake. Now what? I sat up for another few minutes trying to explain it. I didn’t fancy the idea of getting out of bed, so I lay back down and after a few minutes, I fell back asleep.
The next morning I woke up, and being the non-morning person that I am, I was groggy. I wasn’t groggy for long as I suddenly remembered what had happened the previous night. Now I’m wide awake with a hazy and more-than-slightly confusing memory of my dad being in my room. Again, not afraid, but curious to find out what he’d been looking for. I quickly got up, dressed, and left my room. Well, I tried to leave, but the door didn’t open.
It was locked.
I hadn’t forgotten. I’d locked the door as I always did. Now I know it wasn’t dad. That was when the fear kicked in. It was also the quickest I’d ever unlocked a door and the first time I’d ever seen a ghost.
It’s difficult to explain to anyone how I can be so sure that it wasn’t a dream and yet I’d bet my life on it. The ghost of a living person is called a Doppelganger (another German word) and is said to often be a harbinger of bad news. I’m happy to report that this took place over a decade ago (maybe two decades – where has the time gone?) and nothing bad happened.
I’m not the first in my family to see a doppelganger. My uncle was sitting watching television with my grandfather at his house one night when nature called. He excused himself and passed my grandfather on his way to the bathroom. He planted his foot on the first step, looked up, only to see my grandfather peering down at him from the landing.
He mumbled to grandad on his way back to his seat. “I’ll wait.”
I’ve also heard a very similar (almost identical) story to my own told on the wonderful Jim Harold’s Campfire podcast, so it does happen. I’m sure there will be some among you who think it was all a dream. Well, that was the first time I saw anything in that room. It wasn’t the last…
Next time in True Ghost Stories, I'll tell you about the second.
Have you ever seen a ghost? Let me know in the comments! As before, I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And please be respectful of others!
As I mentioned in Part One: The Room, the Royal Oak’s remote location added to its character and atmosphere. Is it also possible that it added to the types of ghosts that walked the halls there? In part two, we talk about...
One ghost commonly seen stalking the rooms of The Royal Oak was that of a large imposing figure, wearing a three-cornered hat. This character also had a wooden leg, much like a pirate, though anyone who saw him would tell you they were looking at a highwayman. Whenever he was around, the atmosphere changed to one of foreboding.
Of course, not everybody saw the highwayman, and naturally, there were some who were sceptical of his existence. For some, only seeing leads to believing. Today’s story concerns one such individual.
The pub itself was a big old place, and on weekends it was a nightclub. Despite its isolated location, at weekends, it would be packed. Due to these factors the pub required a large cleaning staff - a cleaning staff who, when not working hard to get the place ready for the next round of visitors, told tall tales of ghosts and hauntings to newer, less experienced colleagues.
The kitchen served as their break room and one break in particular started out like most others. The end, however, was markedly different. On this break, the expected tea and chatter were present, but one of the cleaners, Karen, was not. They shouted to find her, and she swiftly replied.
Karen was in the next room, cleaning a brass-topped table which sat at the foot of the stairs. The rest of the cleaners continued their break when Karen shouted that she would be in to join them as soon as the table was polished. It would normally only take a few minutes, but she entered the kitchen even sooner than any of them expected.
“What’s wrong with you? You look awful.”
Karen stood before them, her face pale, and her hands trembling.
“I’m not going back in there.”
She was met with a stunned silence until Sue, one of the newer, uninitiated cleaners finally asked, “Why not?”
Visibly shaken, Karen replied, “He’s in there… The highwayman.”
One voice laughed in the silence. It was Sue. When she realised that she was laughing alone, she stopped. “You’ve got to be joking.”
“Come with me.” Mandy, one of the longer-serving members led her through to the stairs. They stood side by side at the foot of the stairs looking up.
“See?” Sue said. “Nothing.”
But Mandy knew better. “Listen.”
After a few seconds, there came a sound. A heavy plodding footfall on the stairs. One foot normal, the other, the clump of a wooden leg. Sue’s face drained of colour. It was her turn to tremble.
Needless to say, Sue never made fun of the highwayman again.
So what about the highwayman? One of the more popular theories about ghosts is that they are stuck between our physical world and the afterlife, usually because of some unexpected, shocking or violent end. The theory is that these poor souls wander around as spirits, unaware of their physical demise. If his appearance was anything to go by, could it have been that this ghost was once a highwayman? A dangerous life for anyone. Could it be that he was stuck between this life and the next? And if you visited the site where the pub once stood, could it be that he’s there still, or has he moved on, looking for somewhere new?
Next time in True Ghost Stories, we leave the Royal Oak for a little while and move to the Hotel where I experienced my first ever real life ghost sighting!
Have you ever seen a ghost? Let me know in the comments! As before, I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And please be respectful of others!
The stories you are about to read depict actual events told as truthfully as recollection permits. Occasionally, dialogue consistent with the character or nature of the person speaking has been supplemented. All persons within are actual individuals; there are no composite characters. The names of some individuals have been changed to respect their privacy. In the name of privacy the names of the public houses where these events took place have been changed.
PART ONE: THE ROOM
The Royal Oak once stood in the countryside of South Yorkshire. Built in the 1700s, it was a classic Georgian design, located a few hundred yards from the main road on a long wide driveway that doubled as a carpark. The roads that led to the grand old place snaked through the surrounding countryside and if I pestered long enough, my dad would park the car en route to the pub on moonless nights on one particularly dark road we nicknamed ‘spooky lane’ and turn off the lights. That darkness was something I’ll remember for a long time.
At the time of the story I’m about to tell you, David was living at the pub. This took place before I was born, but I can recall the bedroom now. That’s because it was the one I slept in whenever I stayed over at the pub as a child. The bedroom was almost a perfect square, bar one recess for a built-in wardrobe. I was glad of the simple design because it meant one thing: no shadowy corners for the bogeyman to hide in. In a building that old where spooky events were a regular occurrence that can be pretty important to a kid.
Because of the remote location, security was paramount, so the old building was equipped with sliding chain locks on all of the windows, even those on the first floor accessible only by ladder. The chains were comforting, but while the windows locked, the internal doors did not.
Anyone who has worked in the industry will tell you, the best part of the working day is when the shift has finished, the punters have all gone home, and the lights are out. But it’s not because the work is done that makes this the highlight. Going to bed straight after a busy shift is impossible, so, as the dust settles on the aftermath, it’s the turn of those who worked their backsides off to have a drink and share stories about the shift, maybe tell stories about weird customers or funny events. On the right night, a few extra drinks flow and the banter flies. It’s the closest you’ll get to a campfire without having a campfire.
It was on one of these nights, after saying goodnight to his colleagues on the night of the story, David trudged upstairs to bed. All was quiet except for the sound of laughter drifting upstairs from those he’d left behind. The hour was late, and he was looking forward to a good night’s sleep, but there was a problem. When he reached the bedroom, the door wouldn’t open.
He tried the handle, and it moved. But the door did not. It didn’t rattle, it didn’t budge. He knew the doors didn’t have locks. It was stuck fast. After a few minutes of trying, he gave up and trudged back downstairs for help.
David stumbled back into the kitchen thinking he might have been victim of a prank, but when he relayed his story, the first instinct from those downstairs was to scoff. They had no idea what he was talking about, in fact, they thought he was playing a trick on them.
David dragged Tony and Des upstairs to see for themselves. Both men playfully ribbed David on the journey upstairs, a grown man who couldn’t open a door. Then they tried the handle. It was true, the door wouldn’t budge. After a quick assessment of the situation, it was decided that the best answer was brute force.
Any laughter from their trip upstairs quickly subsided.
After working together shouldering the door, they managed to open the door a crack. Peering through the small gap they’d managed to make, it soon became obvious as to why the door was stuck. The bed had been pushed against the far side of the door.
After more work fighting against the heavy furniture on the thick carpet, they opened the door wide enough for David to squeeze through. A quick inspection revealed that there was nobody in the room and the windows were locked from the inside.
A friend of mine suggested that this bizarre event could have been the result of an earthquake. For those of you reading from outside the UK, earthquakes in England are extremely rare. Is it possible that there could have been a tremor strong enough to move furniture that nobody remembers? A tremor that only affects a single bed in one room, and not smaller, lighter objects in other rooms? I think not. An erathquake strong enough to shift heavy furniture on a thick carpet would certainly have been noticed, if not at the time, then there would have been plenty of evidence after the fact. I’ve told this story to many people, and I’m yet to hear an explanation more plausible than the incredible story itself.
Have you experienced anything similar? Do you have a better explanation then the one above? Let me know in the comments below. I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And please be respectful of others!
I'll see you on Friday for Part Two: The Highwayman.
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.