You probably did not read it here first. 😉 This story has been all over the media and blogs for the last few days, and while I feel duty bound to discuss it, I quite probably have nothing new or interesting to say, so you might want to stop reading now! Still this is Polterwotsit, and you might therefore think someone in the media might have beaten a path to our door, and asked for comment. Actually, if you did, you ain’t psychic, because no one has, just as no one has at any point in the year since I started Polterwotsit ever asked me to comment on anything. 🙂
I guess this could take a while, so I’m going to aim for three or four parts – you all know the score by now. Let’s look at the story as it unfolded in the pages of the Coventry Telegraph.
A MUM captured this amazing video footage of the poltergeist she claims is haunting her Coventry home.
And footage there is! But that really comes later, let’s see what little can be gleaned from the press. The Coventry Telegraph have done a pretty thorough job on this, and while it’s as always dangerous to speculate without a proper investigation, well I think we have quite a bit we can look at. Annoyingly Becky was in Coventry on Thursday for a PhD meeting with Dr Ian Hume, her supervisor, and also at Coventry University is Dr Tony Lawrence – and the lovely Anglican chaplain Revd. Jennifer Croft would have been a formidably intelligent addition to the team, if anyone had thought to phone the Parapsychology guys at Coventry – or mention it to Becky, who was actually interviewed by the Coventry Telegraph about her research when promoting www.strangesurvey.com a few months back.
Lisa Manning and children – Ellie, 11, and Jaydon, six – claim their rented home in Coventry has its own poltergeist. Things have got so bad that Lisa’s landlord Whitefriars even brought in a priest to bless the house in Holbrooks.
Is it just me or have children featured in a lot of our cases? Not the coin throwing garage one, and maybe I’m imagining it. I’ll do a quick search soon and have a look. Adolescent girls are always linked in the popular mind to poltergeists, but my reading of Cornell & Gauld’s classic Poltergeists made me doubt a connection, but still we will have a look see what turns up from our tiny sample of cases in the UK news.
Lisa says there have been a host of unexplainable events since they moved into the end-terrace in Lilley Close six months ago.
Six months ago? It was six months from the time the family moved in till the Cork poltergeist story broke, eight months in the Cheshire one, and now six months again (but the Tyre depot was three years after they moved in the business…) One wonders if it had also been empty for a long time like the Stockport and Cork cases? Anyone else spot another connection? Second half of March is when poltergeist stories like to manifest in the UK news! Still we have far too little data to speculate, probably just coincidence. Still sounds like the Housing Association called in a priest — which does not mean they necessarily think there is anything up, they are just covering their backs by helping reassure their tenants. I did a quick investigation for a local letting agency last year, but nothing came of it.
Six times strange goings on have freaked them out so much they have fled the house.
If demonstrably true that would be strong evidence they are actually bloody scared. It can not be easy to keep fleeing to friends or relatives with two young kids in tow.
Lisa says the weird happenings include:
* pots and pans mysteriously being thrown around
Well that could be seen as classic poltergeist activity, but we would need rather more detail!
* blinds moving up and down
I have seen one reference to this in the “Accidental Census”. It’s interesting but without knowing more about the blinds, who can tell?
* lights turning on and off
Not uncommon, but again neither is faulty wiring!
* drawers pulling out on their own.
Think we saw this in the Cork case, and again sounds plausible, but I leave drawers half open all the time. All of this could be commensurate with classic descriptions of poltergeist phenomena, or someone who watched the movie Paranormal Activity a bit too seriously!
Lisa, a 34-year-old carer, was originally sceptical when her children and partner Anthony, 25, complained of strange things happening. But she started to believe there was a poltergeist in the home when she found her dog seriously injured at the bottom of the stairs. She took the pet to a vet but it later died. She says the vet believed its injuries showed it had been shoved.
It’s quite common for people giving accounts of the ‘paranormal’ to begin by saying “Well, I did not believe at first, but then…” However this dog business horrifies me. It is not clear if the dog died as a direct result of its injuries, but something feels wrong. Did the vet report them to the RSPCA? And what kind of injury does shoving a dog down stairs do? In my experience most dogs if pushed would skedaddle down the stairs, then bite you, justifiably. Throwing a dog down stairs might do horrible damage to the poor creature: but shoving seems weak. I am worried by this aspect, and feel very sorry for the family for losing their dog, horrible. I can’t think of anything similar in the literature – I once saw the death of some zebra bullfinches blamed on a spook, but nothing like this.
Just as in the film Paranormal Activity, Lisa has set up a video camera to try capture what’s going on. Footage – viewable on the Telegraph’s website – appears to show a chair moving across Ellie’s bedroom by itself. Ellie, an Aldermans Green Primary School pupil, said: “I’m scared to go home and I don’t like to go upstairs on my own.”
I don’t blame here with all this fuss, poor thing. I sincerely hope she is not badly effected by it all.
Whitefriars has been supportive by arranging for a priest to visit, but Lisa wants to be rehoused.
I have noted this phenomena before: “rehouse me, I have a poltergeist”. It has been going on since the seventies. There are however often better ways to get rehoused than putting yourself through hell. I used to live with a Housing Officer (who had two such cases I think that she could not discuss with me for reasons of client confidentiality), and I have read through the CiH Social Housing Diploma course, and it does not cover poltergeists, but it does to many people’s minds immediately throw doubt on the account. I’m not sure — you see it could be that some characteristic of people who live in Social Housing makes them susceptible to poltergeist activity, or it could be that simply the cases in the private sector don’t make the headlines but tend to be handled very discretely. Certainly home-owners I know of from my research which have had similar outbreaks are very wary of publicity, lest it devalue the house before they put it on the market. So I’m not jumping to any conclusions! I saw early on the BarSoc blog in comments that David Woods of ASSAP is doing research in this area – that will be wonderful to see, and is long over due, and David is a careful and highly intelligent researcher.
She said: “The priest blessed the house but said himself that we shouldn’t live here, we definitely shouldn’t stay. He gave me a small crucifix.
Blessings are common in such circumstances,and the gift was a nice gesture. I am VERY surprised at the comments attributed to the priest though. Sadly he is not named, like the vet is not named, and we do not even know the denomination — perhaps Roman catholic, but could be Anglican? However I’m not sure where in pastoral care at seminary they teach you to tell the family to get out of their house — but then we are receiving his comment third hand.
“The problem is because we can’t see it, we don’t know where it’s going to be or what it’s going to do. “This is a horror house. It’s like living in a scary movie. The worst thing about it is, even I can’t believe what’s happening myself.”
Not much one can say to that. 😦
Acting on the advice of mediums, she scatters the house with salt, puts up crucifixes and wears crystals.
All pretty much par for the course as to the stuff mediums tell people to do, and actually the salt and crystals bit rings completely true — this suggests to my mind this unfortunate women is to my mind genuinely frightened, and has either researched well or has actually been seeking help from psychics. Still at least no “smudging”! Sadly the mediums are not named.
She said: “One medium came in and said our house is a portal, a kind of bus stop for spirits, which they use to pass into our world.”
She claims the poltergeist calmed down after the priest’s visit but last week things started up again.
She claims the lights started flickering and they could hear footsteps before all the lights went off, leaving them in darkness.
Footsteps are very common in these accounts, but as long ago as 1894 the SPR Group working on the Census of Hallucinations were ignoring them, because once one thinks you are haunted sounds are just too easy to be misattributed as expectation takes hold. There are all kinds of reasons for power failing too. This is weirder though —
She says they all sought refuge in the living room and could not open the door to get out again. “Ellie tried to open the door,” Lisa said, “and shouted at Anthony to stop pulling it to stop her from getting out. She didn’t realise he was right behind her. We all tried to open the door but it was stuck as though someone had put their weight behind it. In the end we got out through the window.”
OK, so that was the first story. Oh yes the video. It has to be the most unconvincing thing I have seen in a long time —
Hayley Stevens did an excellent replication of this on the BARsoc site — go have a look and read the article! It can clearly be faked, and she has shown this beyond a shadow of a doubt. It looks so suspicious as well, it just looks faked. Of course genuine things can appear faked, but everyone I know has fallen about laughing, and, well it’s a bit like the movie Paranormal Activity. Yet clearly Lisa Manning to my mind seems to think she is haunted – or has a pretty good knowledge of the kind of things mediums say, and has researched well. I’m REALLY uncertain about this case at the moment: all I have to go on is news reports, and some of it sounds very real — though one thing I did notice was the phenomena is pretty vague in Cara’s list of what has occurred, but then we get bits like the door sticking which while all rather Hollywood sound more authentic. I can’t call real or fake (though in the case of the video I’m tempted), and I can’t tell who if anyone is actually hoaxing. Still two more news stories from the Coventry Telegraph to go, but can anyone tell me anything about the area where they live? What is it like?
Anyway, part two to follow…