Monthly Archives: July 2011

Has Simon Cowell a Poltergeist???

The Post Chronicle has a little story that really amused me, because it features the ever entertaining Simon Cowell. Recovering it seems from the Cherylgate Scandal  that dominated the British media earlier this Summer (Cheryl Cole got dropped from a US talent show – if you care about such things you doubtless followed it, if not like me, you have at least some idea I suspect!) he is in the States working on a new show. Here is the Post’s coverage, with as usual my comments…

Someone call the Ghostbusters! Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul a night in a haunted hotel in Dallas. Judge L.A. Reid checked out the same day he checked in because he reportedly got “spooked out.”

The judges were to stay at the Stoneleigh Hotel & Spa while they filmed auditions for the US version of ‘The X Factor.’ However, they had no idea that creepy ghosts live in the walls of the hotel.

Creepy ghosts? What do they do, watch you on in the shower? 😉

I can think of lots of reasons people might check out of a hotel, but I imagine the Stoneleigh is a pretty upmarket kind of joint, so the story caught my attention. It certainly looks gorgeous.

A source told US Weekly Magazine, “L.A. didn’t even know the story of the ghosts; he just couldn’t be inside the hotel. He was first to check in and left before the others arrived, saying it had a ‘weird feeling about it.’ Everyone joked he was being a diva, but when they heard about the hotel really being haunted they just thought he was smart!”

So. L.A. departed early, feeling something wrong. Interesting, and good for him — I would not stay in a hotel if I had a really bad feeling about the room; but the fact he had mentioned it possibly set the stage for what happened next — Cowell et al experiencing “spooks”…

Paula on the other hand wasn’t so lucky. According to reports Paula’s bathroom water taps kept getting turned on and off by themselves. She was reportedly left scared by the experience.

A variation in water pressure, surely not unlikely in Dallas in the Summer, or air blocks, or — I dunno, ask the lads from T.A.P.S they are plumbers aren’t they?  Still I’m sorry Miss Abdul was upset by it.

Cowell experienced similar goings but enjoyed spending times with the ghosts. A source said that he really liked staying in the hotel and will probably try to stay in only haunted hotels in the future.

Cowell as always level headed. If he wants a list of purportedly haunted hotels in an area I can happily provide one. In fact the original source makes it clear that is NOT what he said. The anonymous source said they would not be surprised if he insisted in future on it, as hyperbole, to stress how much the incident had entertained him.

Simon Cowell; credit wikimedia

So normally I would ignore a trivial celeb gossip piece like this, but since the News of the World is dead I thought there was room for some sensational journalism, and I’d step in to their shoes. Now I’m not taking up phone hacking! What I actually wondered however sounds so bizarre and ridiculous that it would be worthy of that journal, if not the World Weekly News, National Enquirer  or The Onion.

What if  Simon Cowell has his own poltergeist? 😉

Seriously, the idea is not as insane as it sounds. Poltergeist activity is associated according to mainstream parapsychological theories with people, not buildings: you have a poltergeist agent, around whom events cluster. That person serves as catalyst or medium for the phenomena, whatever the ultimate causes. They are completely unconscious of their role in the “haunting”, and it has often been suggested are less bothered by the events than others — like Simon in the above story? Often creative, intelligent and sometimes frustrated by obstacles preventing them utilizing their talents, they… OK, I’m not entirely serious!  But if anyone was a poltergeist agent, Simon Cowell strikes me as a good possibility. And I recall a little story from last Summer that I ran here on Polterwotsit on “Britains Got Poltergeists?”

Now all these unattributed sources are probably Cowell’s press office, or bored journo’s making up stories, who knows? But twice is either a) suggestive that Simon may be a ) unconsciously mediating recurrent spontaneous psycho-kinetic events or b) good at coming up with interesting stories to keep his name and how in the papers. I can’t quite decide which is more plausible… 😉

Seriously though, assuming there was something to both stories, only Simon (or one of his crew) seems to be a common link.  I think the Dallas events can be put down to a) the plumbing b) the atmosphere caused by L.A. switching hotels based on his intuition and c) the fact events took place during a massive cloudburst and thunderstorm across the city, well I think we can safely say there was not much to it. If there was, well maybe Simon Cowell really is a poltergeist agent, which would be hilarious, and strangely scary — something like The Omen meets The Producers? Anyway, I shall watch future events with interest, and if Mr Cowell ever wants testing for ESP, in the words of the ghostbusters “we’re very discrete…”

cj x

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The Sweetshop Spook – Cardross, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

OK, I have been really busy lately so let us return to the 25th June and a story in the Daily Record

A SWEET-TOOTHED ghost has whipped up a storm in a teacup at a village cafe. The friendly “Casper” likes to move sweet jars and other goodies around the tearoom in the night.

Many many years ago an old friend of mine was called in to investigate a poltergeist at a chocolate manufacturers, way back in the early 1980’s. Rats turned out to be the cause! (And oddly enough a couple of years ago a care home where staff were frightened and contacted me also turned out to have a problem with the “rats in the walls”.  But even the most enterprising rodent does not heft around large sweet jars, so let us read on…

But the playful poltergeist sometimes makes an appearance during the day.

That poltergeist activity occurs during the day is of course no surprise, but appears? Um, let’s establish the facts as far as we can…

Laura McKirdy and her mum Fiona believe they are being haunted by an old lady dubbed Nanny Goony by folk in Cardross, Dunbartonshire.

Laura said: “I had just locked the door one evening when a jar of lollipops went crashing to the floor.

“I thought I’d just pick them all up in the morning but, when I came back, they were back in the jar and stood upright.

Well the obvious solution is someone else picked them up and put them back. Yet obviously Laura would have considered this possibility, and would hardly be attributing it to a ghost if she felt it likely. A second option is that she picked them up and put them back, and simply forgot. I know that sounds bats but I have often done things like this, then been surprised to find I have done a task when I return to do it later. But then I’m often quite bewildered,and can’t generalize from my crapness to to others.

Laura's Cafe, Cardross, from their Facebook page

Laura's Cafe, Cardross, from their Facebook page (linked). The cafe has since had a makeover apparently, but looks good to m anyway!

What is interesting is not the fall, but the replacement on the wall. One assumes the jar could have fallen for all kinds of perfectly mundane reason, but the tidying up the spill is a bit strange! Then again, there is another really odd but entirely possible scenario – that the jar did not fall in the first place, and was hallucinated, or that the fall happened some days before, resulting in someone else sorting it out, and Laura was mistaken as to the date. All these explanations strain credibility however, but then so do poltergeists!

Other spooky happenings include sweets moving on their own, pictures falling off the wall and crumbs appearing on newly wiped tables.

All very poltergeist, but all to my mind within the possibilities of simple misperception and natural causes. Those who read my 1996 JSPR piece will remember that I suggest that “ghost” may sometimes be an explanation that develops over time to explain a lot of “symptoms” that appear puzzling and bizarre, but when each of the “evidences” for the spook is examined in isolation, the whole picture may change, and instead it may just represent a series of mundane but entirely explicable events. Anyone who has been besotted with a girl or chap knows you start to notice their name more, spot their birthday, and generally become hyper-aware of things that remind you of  the object of your affections – at least I hope so or I am just a freak, it certainly happens to me. Or if you read Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea’s Illuminatus Trilogy, it may well be that you suddenly spot the number 23 absolutely everywhere, because 23 now stands out to you.

In many cases I think this occurs with ghost and poltergeist cases (the relationship between which will be a future article written with Becky, but you can here more on my thought about this at ASSAP’s Seriously Strange conference this September); a series of minor events that may well happen to all of us all the time and which are intrinsically puzzling become attributed to an entity, as we seek a causal relationship between what are probably events unrelated except by the fact they live in the category “mysterious happenings in our home”.

Note I’m not saying this happens all the time, and it certainly does not explain a large number of poltergeist cases I have read about, investigated or studied, but it may well explain some. The place for any ghost investigation to start is with each single incident, meticulously examined and recreated with the original witnesses present — exactly the kind of thing I can not do on a press review site like Polterwotsit. This is why I always  stress that I want to go and talk to the witnesses myself, or speak to them via the phone or email. I very rarely get the chance 😦

Fiona said: “One time we heard the sound of legs moving under a table, but there was nobody there.”

This seems rather subjective, but I don’t work in a small cafe, so I may not instinctively recognize these things. Laura and Fiona probably have lots of experience of their cafe – they know what they are hearing, so I’ll take their word for it.

The cafe owners called in the Scottish Society for Psychical Research to investigate.

This is excellent news. I only really know Trish Robertson and Archie Roy, and I think Soapy Sam off the JREF attends meetings sometimes, but they strike me a level headed and intelligent organization.  The context makes it sound like this chap however is the SSPR reponse, which I don’t believe to be the case…

Paranormal expert Ron Halliday described the goings-on as typical poltergeist activity.

He said: “It could be that it is a trapped soul who is trying to send a message to the owners themselves.”

It could be. Or it could be all kinds of other things, and trapped souls are currently low on my lists of suspects. Still I will wait and see what transpires. The SSPR will do a good investigation.

Laura added:”She doesn’t seem to mean any harm. She’s a very friendly ghost – I wouldn’t stay here if she wasn’t.”

Well that is nice, and I think Laura has a very healthy attitude. I’ll do a follow up if anything emerges! I’d love ot hear more from anyone with actual first hand knowledge of the case.


Romer, The Poverty of Theory: Notes on the Investigation of Spontaneous Cases, JSPR, July 1996

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