“If you do feel the need to run, please turn your torch on before you do so.” So enthused our Medium, Paul Roberts, he’s obviously been busy since he left The Stranglers, not that one clearly.
Now, when you think of Mediums you most probably think of Tangina from Poltergeist or most likely Derek Acorah, not forgetting his spirit guide Sam. Paul was like neither, he wasn’t short or a silver fox with an earring for a start. He did however have a long leather coat, which he could swish dramatically.
At the bottom of the tower we stood in our first circle and Paul gave a great ghost hunting 101 on the difference between a ghost and a spirit, according to Paul a ghost is like a recording in time that is on constant replay, like a paranormal sky +, that does not alter or change. A spirit on the other hand has can interact and be interacted with. Oxford Castle was open to both.
Paul said: “A ghost energy, a tape recording, can’t interact with us; they don’t know we are here. The stone tape theory basically says your aura is laid down in the fabric of the building, the stonework, the floor. So, if you did something at the same time in the same place for say 40 years the stone tape theory says that in a hundred years time a group like this could see a ghost of you doing that very action. But it’s just a recording.”
“ If you Sky + EastEnders and have Pat Evans walking through a door, if you wave at her she will not wave back because she is just a recording, that is a ghost. “
He went onto say that a spirit, of which we had one in there, is the opposite. “They are aware of us, aware of the environment and they can interact with us, touch us, pull hair, whisper into our ears or even say their names out loud. They can even move things, throw things or show themselves as apparitions.”
Paul certainly had the crowd hanging on his every word; it was almost like watching a magician on stage as he took command of the audience. Apparently, one of our spirits was male, about 5 “3 and from 1347, the year, not the time obviously. A Norman type figure.
Feeling a little like Ten Little Indians we were divided into two smaller groups of about 15 people, which helped give the proceedings a more intimate affair, which was a neat touch as it helped keep the evening’s exploits fresh. The vigil in the crypt with the medium was an interesting space and experience
As instructed we turned out our torchlights one by one until blackness remained, not dark in your hallway dark but complete. By taking out your primary sense, your eye sight your other senses are heightened, including your hearing.
Holding hands of men I’ve never met, well even men I’ve met generally as a rule, is not a common occurrence for me but when told the one thing you must not do in a vigil is to break the circle, you grip that hand like you aren’t going to let go. I was concerned in the darkness that I might sneeze in such a dusty environment, but my sneeze (and boy can mine be loud) reverberating never materialised.
Although it was pitch black in the crypt I was the only one that anyone was able to pinpoint where I was owing to me wearing my glow in the dark Ghostbusters hooded top, from those nice folk at Last Exit to Nowhere. Initially some people mentioned this floating apparition to the medium when I chipped in.
Seeing as I was one of the only people that could be located I was an obvious choice for the medium to use as a reference point every so often, all the time me thinking, yes Dean, that was clever I may as well have come down there covered in glow sticks and a sandwich board saying please haunt me.
Paul asked the spirit to talk “as lively and loudly as it could” into my tape machine. Upon reviewing it, only the voices that were there at the time of recording could be detected. Phew! He did admit in the 17 years he’s been involved in this world of the paranormal he has never seen anyone harmed by a spirit.
Alas I was also guilty of dashing other members’ of the groups’ hopes of paranormal proof after they heard inhuman type noises reverberating around the stone walls, it was just my stomach growling and squeaking as if I had swallowed a dolphin.
However, Sarah was blown on the neck twice, the first time she dismissed it as just her mind playing tricks and the environment we were in but the second sent her arm body popping and almost wrenching Shona’s out of her socket, fair play though, the circle remained complete. Shona’s legs also went extremely hot at one point and it was certainly interesting that Paul mentioned, after the fact, that people are more prone to feeling hotspots, insert own Michael Barrymore joke here, rather than Hollywood’s more traditional cold spots
Two members of the circle, who’d been a little annoying all night with their quips, mentioned sensations of having their ribs be squeezed and a jabbing in the ribs, to be honest I scoffed at this and it seemed to smack of playing up to the crowd. However, it turned out that the medium revealed at the very end that one of the spirits in that room specials in poking people in the ribs just above their waistband…
He was very careful not to lead us so didn’t give very much away in the way of what these spirits generally did to anyone in the space they inhabited.
The evening of paranormal investigation flew by and was extremely varied so it becoming mundane or boring was never an option. It wasn’t just stumbling round with torches a la The X Files, we also tried moving glasses and using a pendulum, and I had very little success with divining rods, which are meant to be effected by ley lines.
Noises were heard in other parts of the building but with it being night, another team several floors up, who can tell if it just wasn’t noises from them carrying through?
Later that same morning and a hearty breakfast is the first order of the day, which gives us chance to the events of earlier that morning. We played our dictaphone back in the hope that we might have picked up some EVP. The hiss from the dictaphone is quite distinct, no Amityville Horror-style ‘get out’ noises or anything like that to report, our voices and the mediums alone.
The night was a great experience that lets you be both the investigator as well as the participant with the freedom to explore on your own in the darkness – worth the price for the sheer Hardy Boysness of it all alone.
The glass moving with the finger on top, divination, was something of a none event as it didn’t really move or even shuffle for anyone, which I guess is at least better that way than someone just forcing it, it did however make it seem more like an even lamer version of Touch the Truck, if such a thing is even possible.
Although we left without anything conclusive, as dawn approached the earlier words of Medium, Paul Roberts, echoed in our thoughts. He said: “At the age of two you don’t know that ghosts exist, because you don’t know what they are, you don’t know the difference. Later, every time you mention seeing a ‘ghost’, you are repeatedly told again and again that there are no such things and you are conditioned to believe that they don’t exist.”
He added: “I’m not the type of Medium that runs round saying that you will believe, as far as I’m concerned you have to make your own individual decision, whether that is based on tonight or based on other nights as to whether or not there is anything there. I love sceptics. If we here a stone drop a sceptic will not say. ‘we’ve got a ghost’, they’ll wonder what it was that could have made that noise and that is the way everyone should be, everyone should be on the fence.”
And that was certainly where we remained, but eager to try out another Fright Night location and see if we have any luck in capturing things that (may or may not) go bump in the night.