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.
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