A few weeks ago, a chance conversation with a friend of mine somehow reminded me of a fearful, otherworldly encounter that I experienced when I was about eight years old, around half a century ago in an unremarkable house in south Wales. The memory of this awful thing that visited me in the night still makes me shudder when I recall it as a grown man, then last week, I found myself on Dartmoor, so I inevitably made my way to Postbridge once again – pictured above – as this stretch of road was home to a bizarre and lethal haunting that’s fascinated me for decades.
And so it was surely inevitable that I should cast my mind back to all those strange events that I’ve witnessed and been part of over the course of fifty years, between my stay in the house in Usk and my pilgrimage to the road in Postbridge, during which time I’ve made a conscious effort to seek out myriad places that are allegedly haunted, both in Britain and sometimes abroad. These experiences have always proved so intoxicating that I’ve additionally sought out places that possess a notable atmosphere or aura, whether they be natural features such as pools or woods, or monuments and dwellings fashioned by men over the course of long millennia.
My abiding interest has always been in ghosts, probably because the tales in which these entities appear are invariably so alluring, but also because in Britain at least, it has always been very simple for me to visit an allegedly haunted location, as our small island is liberally scattered with them. There are many books that deal with this kind of thing, but as I’ve always made a point of asking other people about their experiences, I’ve learned of numerous other places that have not, to the best of my knowledge, ever appeared in any guide to supernatural matters, either in hard copy or else online, such as a strange lane here in Devon or a haunted bridge in south Wales, that I was familiar with as a child.
Over the course of the last few decades, I’ve written down many of my experiences, while an attempt I made to put them into the form of a lengthy, detailed book was abruptly halted when I was taken ill in March 2016. After that brush with death, which was averted thanks to an array of surgeons, anaesthetists, doctors, nurses and others, it took me a long while before I could gather my wits around me again or write as I once used to. Now, however, not only do I feel capable of putting together a detailed book describing the otherworldly encounters I’ve had over the years, but I feel positively driven to do so.
I felt that the first step in this process was to go over my archives for material I’ve already written and I’ve been delighted with the results. I discovered a lengthy essay provisionally entitled Is Anybody There? that I wrote a few years ago, on the subject of life after death, so I was pleased to see this again, but I was astonished to recover an account I’d written as far back as December 1995, detailing a visit I’d made to a medium in north London, in the company of yet another medium of my acquaintance. It was intriguing to read such a detailed account so many years later, to be able to examine it as far as any predictions made at the time are concerned, but I have no shortage of such written material.
I’ve written detailed accounts of two manifestations I’ve witnessed while I’ve been sitting in my study at this very desk, at this very laptop, while I’ve also recorded elsewhere the strange way in which my dog Blueboy, in the last 18 months of his life, would regularly interact with beings that I could not see in my front room by night. But aside from and in addition to hauntings and the mediums that I’ve met over the years, I’ve also met healers, astrologers, palm readers, readers of Tarot cards and readers of auras, if that’s the best way to describe such people.
There may well be yet more documents for me to discover, as I’m hopelessly disorganised as far as computer files are concerned, but at the same time, I’m trying to comprehensively list the subjects I would ideally like to cover in my book. I know from prior experience, when I put together my book the Missing Years of Jesus, that now the idea of a book about a specific subject is firmly fixed in my mind, I’ll have to keep a pen and paper nearby, as memories appear without any warning and I’d hate for them to disappear into the abyss once more without being recorded.
I could continue thinking out loud about these arcane matters for hours, so perhaps I should start up a Facebook page to deal with them, and with the putting together of this book? I don’t usually need any incentive to write, but the discipline of doing what’s expected and providing regular updates on a social media site might jog my memory and spur me to write, so I’ll give it some thought. But finally, for now, even though I have roughly half a century of some passing acquaintance with everything from apports to Zodiac signs to write about, I still harbour many burning ambitions as far as visiting Britain’s mysterious places is concerned, because I’ve by no means seen them all.
For me, the jewel in the crown has to be St Mary’s Church in Bungay in Suffolk, the place where the dreaded Black Shuck went on his memorable rampage on August 4th, 1577, so I intend to visit this incomparable place as soon as I humanly can. I’m not short of sometimes terrifying stories about manifestations I’ve encountered or of notorious places I’ve visited, such as Littlecote House, but as far as these matters are concerned, it is my dearest wish to be able to write at length about my time in Black Shuck country.
Once again, my grateful thanks go to Hannah May Gardiner – actress, researcher, bibliophile and fortunate inhabitant of Bungay – for the photograph above of a gibbous Moon through the gloomy spires of St Mary’s church, Bungay,