Thursday, 27 August 2009

In the dark...

Here's another cartoon from Mike. In case you suspected that the two of us are in the dark about ghost hunting, this picture confirms it!

What it actually illustrates is our experience at Graves Park, when we went on the hunt for two drowned women in the boating lake. What a night we had: ghost photos, eerie weddings, cross-dressing (sort of), an evil dark thingy crossing the road, and a King Size Twix between us.

Keep watching for the full report on this very blog next week when all will be explained. Two Men and a Ghost - I never knew there was so much in it!

(Apologies to the venerable TV Times for nicking their 1980s advertising slogan...)

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Poltergeists and portaloos

Inspired by last week's blog entry, which revealed that a ghost in Barnsley revels in flushing the loo, Mike Kazybrid crafted the above cartoon.

Which reminds me: word has reached of us a haunted loo in Sheffield. It's located in a certain Little Chef, and what's more ... it's in the women's toilets.

Not sure how Mike and I are going to get away with investigating this one, but we'll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you know of any drag queen outfitters in the Sheffield area, please let us know...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Star and Beauchief Abbey (by Andrew Wooding)

Mike emailed me the other day with some joyous news: ‘To bring good cheer, check out the Sheffield Star website. It appears that yesterday we received another mention that we're becoming big down under!’ I’ve never been accused of being big down under – more so round the waist. So, in the absence of a link, I googled ‘Sheffield’, ‘Star’ and ‘ghost’ and found this – not quite what I was looking for, but interesting nevertheless.

It’s an article about a ghost from Barnsley that’s obsessed with flushing toilets. The question one has to ask is: ‘Why?’ What trauma from their mortal existence would lead a ghost to compulsively flush the bog? Is there a dysentry pandemic in the spirit world? Do they get the squits in the nether regions? Or could it be Elvis from beyond the grave, regretting that one last cheeseburger?

I googled again, a little more precisely this time, and found our mention here, under the heading ‘Ghosthunters a hit Down Under’. The piece was written by Sheffield journalist Martin Dawes, the same nice person who kindly gave us a plug when this blog was just two weeks old. His write-ups are much appreciated, but he seemed to end this one with a sarky comment: ‘Their site is full of funny cartoons. But not, as yet, a single ghost…’

Really? What about our malfunctioning mileometer on the Stocksbridge bypass? And Mike’s childhood reminiscences of his levitating cot and haunted piano? Maybe he reckons these can all be explained away. Maybe he's looking for conclusive proof?

Well … here, especially for you, Martin Dawes … is the account of our trek to Beauchief Abbey.

It was a peaceful evening, in lovely grounds surrounded by a golf course. The abbey was founded in 1175 by Robert FitzRanulf de Alfreton. Old FitzRanulf (or 'Fitz' for short) was High Sheriff of Nottingham and Derbyshire. Some believe he played a part in the shameful death of Thomas Becket in 1170.

The theory is that Fitz, racked with guilt by his misdemeanour, attempted to redeem himself by funding a religious building. Back then there was no Children in Need or Comic Relief for conscience-easing acts of charity, so Fitz had to build an abbey instead. Slightly more expensive, perhaps, than writing a cheque to Pudsey Bear, but at least he didn't have to put up with Terry Wogan. Or wear a red nose. (Or maybe he did. Who knows what fun-loving High Sheriffs of Nottingham and Derbyshire got up to in those days? There's nothing in the history books to prove otherwise.)

As for paranormal activity, there's supposedly a ghostly monk in the vicinity. Maybe a friend or former colleague of the 'mad monk of Stocksbridge'? Our Beauchief Abbey monk wasn't mad - at least, not this evening. We didn't see hide nor habit of him. He probably couldn't be bothered to do a haunting tonight. Perfectly content with his lot, he was quite happy to put his feet up in the great beyond while chanting in Latin ... or contemplating ... or painting over his bald spot ... or whatever ghost monks do on their evenings off. (Wonder if ghost monks have a union? The GMU perhaps?)

There have also been sightings of a lady in white, who sometimes roams the ruins of the abbey. We didn't see her either. All I can say is I'm glad she didn't wear red, otherwise that annoying Chris de Burgh song would have gone round our heads all evening, over and over again. (Wish I hadn't mentioned it. It's going round my head right now.)

For what it's worth, it's been written that the abbey is built on ancient ley lines, but no matter how hard I looked I couldn't see them. What does a ley line look like when it's at home anyway?

Desperate for something strange to happen, we ascended a large grass mound and surveyed our surroundings. Mike started to theorise that the mound was home to a mutant giant mole that only came out at night, and I believed him ... for a milli-microsecond, that is. Mike was clearly gibbering, so it was time to call it a day.

'It's a day,' I said.

'No, it's not,' said Mike. 'It's a mound.'

I tripped on the way back to the car. Had I stumbled across an ancient ley line? Closer inspection revealed it was a can of Irn-Bru.

So, Martin Dawes of the Sheffield Star, you'll be pleased to see that there's no conclusive proof again this week. But hope springs eternal in the human breast and maybe in the ghostly breast as well - or breasts, in the case of the lady in white.

Better luck next time? At the infamous boating pond of the ghostly Graves Park?

In the meantime, how can I free my mind of Chris de Burgh's incessant warbling? Got any bright ideas anyone? Where's that packet of Anadin...

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

More 'Real or surreal?' (by Mike Kazybrid)

Welcome to yet another blog edition of ‘Real or surreal?’ As already mentioned in my last offering, whilst I'm a pretty much down to earth type of guy, the idea behind these is simply to show that the strangest things can happen, and most often do. So sit back, take another sip of that tea, coffee or whatever takes your fancy, and pin back your lugholes! (That's ears to anyone else.)

This ‘Spooky Encounter of the Ghost Kind’ takes place when I was around the young age of nine. Life was good as I was well into discovering The Mighty World of Marvel comics. Spider-Man was top of my list of superheroes, not forgetting that wonderful battle between the Human Torch and Captain America. And just in case you missed out on that issue of Strange Tales, that Cap turned out to be a fake. However, it did open the door for the grand return of the real Captain America as seen in The Avengers #4.

Okay, I'll promise to shut up. So, where was I? Oh, yes, spooky encounters, etc.

To set the scene, for the first eleven years of my life I grew up in my grandmother's house, a large place consisting of eight bedrooms. Apart from my parents and I, Gran would often have stay a number of lodgers. As a youngster, I was never alone; people always seemed to fill each space of the house. But as I got older, I also grew to realise that certain others did also dwell alongside of us. Are you spooked yet?

On a serious note, whilst humour has always played a large part in both the careers of my good mate, Andrew and myself, we were deeply aware when we started to produce Two Men and a Ghost that certain events force you to adopt a serious view of paranormal matters. Certain others did reside in the house of my childhood, as I was to learn yet again on that cold November night.

On the evening in question, my father was at work. He was a man who had been employed in the textile industry for over 20 years, working 13 hours a night, six nights a week. My gran happened to be out, and because of a shortage of lodgers, the only ones left in the house were my mother and myself.

I recall playing with my toys while Mum read the local newspaper. The only sounds came from myself, seeking to create a fantasy world for my toy figures.

It wasn't long before we both became aware that another sound had started to fill the air, the sound of the piano being played from the out of bounds front room. Out of bounds mainly to myself and any one else below the age of eighteen. Never quite understood why. For someone who was much more interested in the comic book version of New York and all the superheroes that filled it, the front room offered nothing but old furniture.

My mum and I sat staring at one another for a brief moment. Maybe we had imagined the sound. Perhaps the people next door were having a piano party? Fat chance! As we slowly left the room, we quietly began to walk down the stairs, always mindful of the terrible creaking noise coming from each wooden step.

But as we turned the corner to come down the next flight of stairs, it wasn't the thick blackness that sent a chill deep inside me, it was that thin bright line of light from the bottom of the front room door. I recall a feeling of fear mixed with excitement filling my entire body. It didn't matter that my mum was standing next to me; after all, when my father was out, surely that made me the man of the house, didn't it? Even if I was only nine.

This was it; I could go no further. Standing up close to the door, I could hear very clearly the piano keys hitting the atmosphere. This was the first time I'd realised that they offered no real tune. Quite the opposite - it was a mass of tuneless screams produced be the erratic banging of an unseen hand. I began a mental countdown; it's amazing how brave you can be when you're much younger. Three, two, two-and-a-bit ... one!

Turning the door handle, I took a deep breath and quickly entered the room, expecting to see ... nothing. The first thing that puzzled my mum and I was the fact that the light was on, but couldn't Gran have left it on before going out for the evening?

It was the second part of that puzzle that made us feel uneasy. Looking around the room, my eyes fell upon the piano, revealing its black and white keys to the onlooker. That was something that shouldn't be, for the rule was always that the lid be firmly placed down, hence to avoid collecting dust. Placing my hands on the smooth surface of the keys, I could still feel the tell-tale vibration of its tones so recently played.

So there we have it, a light left on and a piano without the player.

So that's me, a pretty much down to earth type of guy. I often think back to that cold evening, and I wonder, which part of the answer did my young eyes miss? Anyone could have by mistake left the light on without mentioning it, and as for the piano, perhaps the cat had got locked in and in a state of panic, had climbed upon the keys creating that awful sound. Except, the lid wouldn't have been left up, and the cat wasn't around any more. Like every other pet I'd ever had in that house, it had died by unseen means.

And that's a story for the next ‘Real or surreal?’ Sleep well...