Just glanced at the hits counter on the blog and it has reached 5,000 visits to the blog. When I hit 2,000 we had a celebration of sorts – so I guess 5,000 needs marking as well! So a little celebratory wittering about my recent activities seems in order!
The blog has changed in character a little in recent weeks – other commitments have kept me from posting regularly, and when I do post it has been more personal CJ stuff about my day to day activities, and less of my lengthy essays on science, religion and parapsychology. I certainly will be blogging on those subjects again, and I have a whole new series to try out – I’m going to interview a number of people, some of whom readers of the blog may know, but all of whom have achieved eminence in their fields. The People: series will start soon, and will cover many of the unlikely and fun folks I know from the worlds of Science, Media, Games and History. Amusingly some of the people I have approached to interview actually seem quite flattered — and none have refused to date!
So what else is going on? I have pretty much quit the Richard Dawkins forum now, as I said I would, happy to let my record stand — I have made rather a lot of posts there, and I am happy that anyone who wants to can read them. I have been helping an old friend, making a lot of phone calls, and hoping some good comes out of it for him – I won’t say more – and this weekend is Lorna’s birthday, Becky is coming to visit and I will get to see Clare “Goldfish” Hatfield for the first time since my thirtieth birthday while she is in town. Been a while! Lisa is up to her neck in nationality paperwork, the cats are loud and demanding as always, but just as lovable, and generally “all quiet on the Western Front.”
Today was supposed to be busy with work, and a couple of hours out to go do a piece for an American ghost show. I met Dave Williams a lovely guy who gave me a lift to where we were filming in the south of the county, but we left early to be there on time, and by the time we had finished well that has put back work a good day. I’m going to have to work like crazy tonight to catch up — so naturally I’m blogging instead. The TV show was one of these Most Haunted format things – I signed no NDA and can comment freely, but I will wait till after it airs before naming it, but the usual rules apply — the distinction critical to normal TV between talent (on screen) and crew (off screen)is lost, the guys filming the show are the stars of the show, and they spend a night in a haunted location. With Most Haunted of course (for which I was briefly a researcher for Hanrahan Media on the early Most Haunted Lives, and then later for ANTIX on the series) one of my criticisms was that the experience of the crew takes place largely in a vacuum – you see and hear little about earlier experiences, or how the claims tie in to the parapsychological literature and other cases. (OK, not always, sometimes they interview witnesses – but not much). This show does not take that approach – I was asked about an experience about sixteen years ago, which I related to camera, and then talked a lot about the history of the area, the building, and so forth. It will be cut to a thirty second snippet if I am lucky – which reminds me of a funny story…
In 1993 I set up a psychic research group in Cheltenham. The Cheltenham Psychical Research Group to be exact, or CPRG. My then landlord Derek Newman was terribly “busy and efficient”, and soon we had a full blown office and a seriously impressive organization. (later it all went pear shaped, but more of that another time!) Unfortunately our press releases went out to the local media on April 1st, and I’m sure some of them thought it was an April Fool’s Joke. Back in those pre-Most Haunted days ghost groups were still rare, and people used to offer to pay us to visit their properties! (For those who don’t know, some owners of reputedly haunted houses are booked solid every weekend till next year with fee paying investigators nowadays…)
Anyway a week or two later I did an interview I will never forget. It went something like this–
Journo: So you study ghost and poltergeist cases?
CJ: Well I study alleged ghost and poltergeist experiences yes.
Journo: What would you do if you were in someones haunted house and a ghost threw an axe at you?
CJ: Pray and duck! I’m pretty confident that won’t happen though. (laughing)
Journo: So can you get rid of a poltergeist?
CJ: When I start to investigate the phenomena seem to invariably end. Maybe the spooks are shy?
Journo: So how do you deal with cases?
CJ: I sit down, have a coffee with the witnesses and try to work out what they experienced, record testimony and understand the claims fully…
Next day I was less than delighted to read in the paper “Local Ghostbuster …(CJ)… says he can cure any poltergeist with prayer, optimism and a cup of coffee!”
The only good news about all the press coverage was they usually got my age wrong, making me a couple of years older than I was. I once got in to an over-25’s night at Gas Nightclub with cheap drinks (I was 23 at the time) by waving a set of newspaper clippings giving the wrong age at the bouncers. Oh to have people believe I was under 25 today!
Anyway, back to the filming. It was ok, and it was clear sensation was the order of the day. Luckily I had quite a sensational story – nah, ok, it was interesting though. Dave had a fantastic story — I was jealous. Mine was “mildly interesting”. So I got to double up as historian. I seemed to spend an awful lot of the day standing under a tree sheltering from the rain, and a fairly short period in a graveyard being filmed. Of course the graveyard had nothing to do with the story, but it did remind me of sitting chatting to Clare the Goldfish there, some sixteen years ago, the night Derek and Harry were “busy and important” and Dave “the Munchkin” Aukett was swallowed by blue ectoplasm. OK, he got in his blue sleeping bag, but recorded it as the former! People were fairly bored and constantly told to write down ANYTHING that happened – which led to vigil record sheets with things like 1.06pm “fly enters room”. 1.07pm “fly buzzes Dave”. 1.08am “fly deceased.” I ended up chatting to people, and amusingly when who was with who as vigil partners was randomly drawn ended up with the very pretty Clare for almost all the sessions – my then girlfriend Sarah was not much impressed as I recall!
Heck, I suppose in my twenty years of ghosthunting I have a lot of anecdotes but like these ones, they really are only of interest to my friends, and the people who were there. Anyway I enjoyed the day, met a witch and talked incubi and pagan politics – not so much “Wicca and Witchcraft” as “Bicker and Bitch-craft” – and a chap called Alan who took a photo of the building which showed a figure looking out of the window. Even while they were doing interviews stuff was happening apparently, but I was not really privy to it until I was briefly filled in by one of the three main investigators later. Nice chaps, but I never really felt I got to know them at all – us “witnesses” talked among ourselves mainly, and I spoke to the crew quite a bit – but fun all round. Many thanks to Jeff Belanger for setting it up – I really enjoyed it even if I now have to work hard to catch up and not let my current employer down.
And on that note – well I enjoy blogging I guess, though I suspect i have very little worth saying, but maybe my life has a few moments which might amuse. It was nice to come home and find a comment from Keith Hitchman, who I have not seen in a long time, and I have been to TESCO. I shall resist the urge to coment about that. Yet, mundane or a little screwball as my life may be, a blog would be nothing without he readers and commentators. Whereas Beast has long wonderful academic discussions, my blog is a more light hearted affair, and I thank you all for reading.
And just before I say goodnight and do some work ready for more of the interminable phoning tomorrow, what search terms bring people here?
“how to use vacuum nipple clamps”
“richard wiseman spanking”
“bottomless bathing suits”
are among my recent favourites. Shame it oes not tell you who searched – I’d like ot meet Swindon’s lonely transvestite, and say “good luck!” I have a transexual friend, but as far as I know no tranvestite ones – yet. 🙂
“anna richardson sexy” got many hits which must do wonders for her ego – her career is going well, though I’m more disturbed by people searching for her address! Maybe they just want to write for an autograph. Over seventy people have looked for the Rev. Keith Hitchman – “revd keith hitchman 2009 cheltenham” was one search string from tonight, and “cress seeds experiment” is pretty popular. People are still looking for the Science of Ghosts website, and parapsychology, atheism, “was easter pagan?” and “bonze age myths” all rank highly in searches bring people here. Some people are looking for Jerome – friends from Richarddawkins.net I guess, or enemies from the same – and my esays on “Science and Religion” do very well. The highest ranked search term though? “Lord Kelvin”! Given the number of wonderful sites there are on Kelvin, that really surprises me. He massively outdoes “Darwin” as a search term. Maybe some school has a Kelvin essay title? I’ll add a good Kelvin link in the morning.
Night all , and thanks for reading!