For what it’s worth, here’s my own personal ghost story: the mysterious hovering lampshade of Bordesley Green. This really happened, and I’ll never forget it! Back in the nineties – I believe it was winter - I was staying at my aunt and uncle’s in Birmingham. There I was, reading a comic in bed in the spare room, when I glanced up at the ceiling … then froze in my bed!
This wasn’t just because it was a cold house (they didn’t have central heating); it was because I was witnessing a truly ghostly phenomenon. The lampshade hanging from the ceiling was moving quite dramatically of its own accord … from left to right, from right to left, from north to south, and all directions in between … as if some invisible figure was pushing it about for devious reasons of its own.
I couldn’t move for ages. Would this nightmare ever end? To add to the mystery, the air directly below the hanging lampshade seemed to be shimmering. Evidence of a ghost perhaps … or was it some sort of heat haze?
‘Heat haze?!’ It was then that I realised what was happening. One of those portable three bar heaters – switched on in the spare room - was giving off heat directly below the lampshade. The heat (as it does) was rising, and it was this that was causing the lampshade to swing randomly about. No ghost, then … unless Morphy Richards heaters give off paranormal entities, but there’s nothing about this in their warranty.
The reason I mention this is that on our travels, Mike and I fully expect to see lots of strange things. But how do we know when something is ghostly, and when it’s something that’s perfectly explainable by science or psychology?
On our first trip to Stocksbridge, our mileometer packed in for the entirety of the trip, only working again when we headed for home. How do you explain that? On our second trip, nothing happened, other than indigestion from guzzling a fun pack of Gold Bars too quickly. Ghostly noises emanated from our stomachs, but it was nothing to do with the spirit world and everything to do with trapped wind.
This being our third excursion, we wanted to ‘up’ the probability that we’d stumble across something worth writing about. So Mike chose Bunting Nook, a leafy road near Graves Park in Sheffield, noted by a number of paranormalists for the following phenomena:
- There’s a ghostly dog, known as a boggart;
- An eloping couple who died after falling off a horse (what were they doing on the horse?) supposedly haunt the lane;
- A man with the surname Glover was brutally murdered in the nineteenth century, and visits his grave in Bunting Nook once a year;
- Birds can never (I repeat, never) be heard in the lane;
- There’s a ghostly figure that walks through walls.
There you go: five possible paranormal encounters. How could we go wrong?
We spent the best part of two hours wandering up and down the lane, and unless the boggart’s changed its form into that of a squirrel with halitosis, we didn’t come across it. There was no eloping couple, no grave in the graveyard with the surname of Glover, and those birds that don’t sing … they were screaming their lungs out at us, and we were treading in evidence of them all over the pavement.
This left the ghost that walks through walls. On our third walk up the lane, I examined one of the walls more closely, cleverly made of sharp flat rocks piled on top of each other. Protruding between two of the rocks was an ice lolly stick. Hoping I’d find a joke on it, I plucked it out, but there was no such joke … not even a Lyons Maid logo burnt into the wood.
A hundred yards or so down the lane there was another lolly stick on the floor, lying between all the bird poo. Then another lolly stick near the bottom of the lane … or, to be more accurate, only half a lolly stick.
Mike and I tried to imagine the events that led to this thought-provoking display of litter. Did the lolly sticks originate from just one person, greedily sucking his or her way through three of the lollies in succession while traversing the length of the lane? Or maybe the lollies were consumed by three people walking together, who happened to suck at different speeds and finished at different points on their journey. And why was one lolly stick half the size of the other? Maybe the three friends in question were two giants and Ronnie Corbett?
These are mysteries we are still pondering days after our experience of the legendary Bunting Nook. And can you blame us? There was nothing else for us to ponder … other than how we were going to get all that bird crap off our shoes.
Ah well. Better luck next time?
PS. Maybe the significance of the ice lolly stick is that our ghost likes to walk through Walls?
PPS. No, I didn’t think it was funny either…