HOPE, I’m told, springs eternal in the human breast. Well, hold my sternum and call me Tigger.
We’re old friends, hope and I; my thinking full enough of wish to power a unicorn uprising. Even in those heady days of being so firmly jammed in my own noggin that my synapses were getting sticky, I always knew there was something better, beyond my reach perhaps, but believing that my arms might still grow just that little bit longer. Every morning, rain or drizzle, begins with a fleeting wonder about what the day might deliver. Normally, it’s junk mail and pizza menus, but there’s always potential for brown paper packages tied up with strings, and I’m willing to hang by the letterbox for those shipments.
It probably all sounds naïve, fairytale even, to pin happiness on the donkey’s tail of potential. But human nature is such that we pocket every cubic crumb of hope in our path, filling our lederhosen to bursting with the chance that what we want might be just past the next gingerbread house. Not only does this blue-sky belief keep us dry when the rain comes, it encourages us to venture out again when it stops.
I do know though what it’s like to feel hopeless. Give me physical pain over a dose of despair any day. A sharp stick through a soft eye: I’ll take it like a woman, as long as there’s chance the pointy end might in time be removed.
But rob even the most innocuous situation of hope and watch me cry.
Fortunately for this plucky little rose-tinter though, there’s no real shortage of places in which to find the wishful stuff. Often the coldest, most hostile of spaces are those in which it takes deepest root, providing shelter and sustenance for the souls who need it most. And recently I spotted it in full bloom, sometime after dark in a locked-up Ayrshire museum.
The Scottish Maritime Museum is a veritable trove of nautical treasure. Berthed down by the river in Irvine, not only does its interior boast the greatest line in flotsam and jetsam, the museum itself is an exhibition piece in its entirety. Lifted and laid from the Govan shipyards from which it takes its name, the Linthouse building originally functioned as an engine shop.
Nowadays, the industrial grotto has swapped the engineering of 1872 for the education of modern-day plank-walkers.
But what the landlubbers that visit its wares every day don’t know is that the engine shop might hold more than the skeletons of the country’s ports; it may also play host to those poor sailors who found the key to that infamous locker. And, for one night only, I was there to commune with their seafaring souls.
Arriving at the riverside on an appropriately wet evening, it was difficult to take in the scale of the Victorian building on its banks. Umbrellas and quick steps are not conducive to good observation. Once inside though, joining the Glasgow Paranormal Investigations team on deck it was clear the museum had not only a past but a presence. I’m not sure if the staff were piping in the cold air to add atmosphere but, whatever was in the workshop, it certainly wasn’t centrally heated.
Never having attended a normal investigation, never mind a para one, I had no idea what to expect. But whatever I did have in mind, it wasn’t Billy and Kim, two of the four investigators, and who were already setting up a jumble of technology that looked more Sputnik than Spengler. Far from being tubthumping table-tippers, the couple are interested sceptics, spending bank holidays and full moons patrolling sites of reported hauntings. The group won’t use psychics – or sensitives, if you prefer – since the information they provide can’t be verified, and only report findings that they can’t explain in any other way.
So why spend a weekend in a freezing cold engine shop, pointing night-vision cameras and Dictaphones at something you don’t believe is out there?
Kim explained that while they definitely erred on the side of reality, the GPI are hopeful they will find something irrefutably supernatural. And until they were convinced either way, on their marks, get set, ghost-hunt.
Eight mortals entered the gloom of the museum that night, armed with spirit boxes, EMF meters and our wits, ready to be scared out of them around the next crow’s nest.
Safety in numbers was instantly shunned as we split into two groups, ours setting up camp in a creepy corner, near the spot in which the figure of a young child had been sighted by the museum team. Excellent.
Billy arranged the equipment, pointing out the places in which the cameras had been set up. As with every polite social interaction, the opening gambit was introductions; each of us saying our name, inviting any other presence in the room to do the same. Then came the get-to-know-you questions. Did you live on one of the boats? How old are you? Were your family sailors? Everything save their PPI claim was queried.
Sitting in silence as we awaited responses, or chatting amongst ourselves to encourage our otherworldly counterparts to participate, I was surprised by how very normal the situation felt. Not that I can usually be found huddled with a group of strangers around a camera in the dead of night; I only mean there was no fear, no weirdness. Even when the spirit box was set off, crackling its white noise, so focussed was I on trying to discern any curious sound that I think I forgot to be wary.
Wariness, it turned out, wasn’t really needed anyway. In fact, Billy remarked on how very quiet the night had been. By midnight, and after three location changes, there had been little more than squeaky floorboards and impromptu coughs to unnerve my bejesus. None of the scratchings or nudges that had been so prominent in previous investigations found their way into ours. I’m not sure if I was disappointed or relieved but, either way, a swig of rum from a seafarer’s hip flask was the only spirit we were in for that evening.
Alas, Davy Jones and I were not to be acquainted on this paranormal outing, but I learned a lot from the voyage. Maybe there is something more out there, maybe there isn’t, but where the power of hope is concerned, I’m definitely a believer.
STV – GHOST HUNTING IN GLASGOW – could you be a paranormal private eye?
By Kenny McKay 27 October 2012 06:30 BST
If there’s something wrong in your neighbourhood, who are you going to call?
Think seriously about this question before you answer because far from being the work of Hollywood film executives – ghosts (apparently) do exist.
It is a subject that has attracted much scrutiny and more than a few giggles over the decades but the interest in ghosthunting, or paranormal investigations, is growing.
It can be seen in the countless investigative TV programmes where presenters and psychics attempt to track down ‘lost souls’ and even in drama series where the ability to talk to the departed is central to the story line.
It seems that by default, we all have some interest in what happens after we die. Yet, with Halloween just around the corner, do we all possess the nerves of steel, the commitment and the skills to actually track down our own ghost?
That’s exactly what the Glasgow Paranormal Investigations do.
The hearty band of fearless ghostfinders have been tracking down all things paranormal since 2008, completing thousands of investigations at some of the country’s most haunted locations.
“I will always be a skeptic but the difference is I’m looking for answers,” explains James Hume from the Glasgow Paranormal Investigations (GPI).
He said: “I think I’ve always wanted to know what happens when we die.
“I like to study what happens after we move on. When I was a boy I always picked up books which were about unexplained mysteries and things like that. It’s an interest that I’ve carried with me.
“I’m not a very religious person but as a group we would say we were spiritual. We don’t put anyone down for their religious beliefs.
“I think that everyone should be open to ideas, they should be open to the fact that if you believe in the existence of a soul whether dead or alive, then it stands to reason that this must go somewhere when we die.”
Motivated by his unanswered questions about the paranormal, James volunteered to go on an investigation with around 20 people at Scotland’s secret bunker in St Andrew’s in 2008.
Despite being convinced by the existence of spirits during the hunt, he was less than impressed with the methods employed.
Instead, he and three like minded friends set up the GPI and invested in over £5000 worth of top equipment – including electrical activity senors, night vision goggles and thermal imaging cameras – to help catch and track the movements of spirits.
He explained: “The first time I did a ghost hunt was at the secret bunker at St Andrew’s, with around 20 people. We only had no night vision goggles or anything like that and to be honest, I wasn’t very impressed by it. From there I wanted to do something much more focused.
“Now we have laptops, radios, thermal imaging cameras and we also use K2 meters which measure electro magnetic energy. It is widely believed that ghosts and spirits take this energy when communicating.
“We’ve also picked up on a technique to record spirits. We did this on a recent hunt using two dictatphones where we placed them next to each other, having pre-recorded a list of questions on one.
“What we found when we played the second one back was the voice of a small boy calling ‘let me out’. We later found out there was a small boy who used to stay at this location who was locked in a coal cellar when he was bad.”
Cadder-born James, who currently works as a computer technician, also explained that his “full-time hobby” receives a mixed reaction when people find out exactly how he spends his weekends.
Despite being perfectly comfortable being a labelled as a ghost hunter, James says the reality of his investigations is far removed from Hollywood.
But as Halloween approaches, he says he is sure to be asked more than a few questions about what he has seen.
He added: “I think we are all actually past the stage of being frightened. When you are around paranormal activities, you start to look at things objectively. You take what you see at face value.
“It’s a feeling of joy to hear evidence. We set up the equipment and that’s it.
“It’s less than three percent of ghost sightings are actually seemingly physical manifestations. The most impressive sign is when we can hear a voice and identify some characteristics such as its sex and age.
“There are only a few people in work who know what I do. When we meet people they ask me, are you a ghostbuster? And from there you only get people who dismiss it.
“But the other reaction you get is that people want to know what you do and here about all your stories and things like that.
“Honestly I think that people like to be scared. It’s as simple as that.”
Halloween fun: Glasgow’s top ten most haunted locations
STV Local 27 October 2012 05:30 BST
Glasgow Necropolis Most haunted: The Glasgow Necropolis.STV
Looking to get scared in Glasgow?
Birkwood Castle The castle was built around 1860, it was transformed from a family home to a Childrens Psychiatric Hospital in 1923 and closed in 2002. No wonder children are the main ghosts that have been spotted and heard at Birkwood Castle. A boy called Michael reportedly fell down a flight of stairs at the castle and died. Reported sightings have been of a young boy in that area. Crying and singing have been heard from a young girl in certain parts of the castle. The most common reported activity is the smell of cigar smoke, which was mentioned by staff in the hospital and electrical disturbances, footsteps, etc.
A doctor Henrik Richardson has also been seen sitting at his office window staring out. He suffered a heartattack when working at the hospital and seems to have decided to stay. It was the most active location GPI have every investigated.
Provan Hall Provan Hall was built in the mid 15th Century, around the same time as Provand’s Lordship. Provanhall is reputed to have three ghosts, two in the older house and one in the newer building, Blochairn House. Blochairn House is supposed to be haunted by the last owner of Provan Hall – Reston Mather.
The older house (Provan Hall) is said to be haunted by a woman and a boy who were killed upstairs. There have been sightings in Blochairn House and inexplicable noises heard in the floors above. Furniture has also been known to move in the dining hall. The GPI encountered phantom footsteps, inexplicable bangs/taps and voice phenomena captured on dictaphones.
The Craigfoot Inn The Craigfoot Inn is located in Milton of Campsie, staff have reported seeing the spirit of a small boy in the cellar and two women in the main bar area. Other experiences are of disembodied voices calling staff’s names with no human customers to be found.
GPI investigations of this pub found chilling voices on dictaphones and various bumps and bangs in the main bar, whilst all investigators were downstairs in the cellar. A dictaphone was left in a small storage cupboard where the small spirit boy has been encountered and the door was secured. On listening back to this, the team were shocked to hear a loud shriek and lots of clicking, as though the dictaphone was being moved and on a vigil in the main bar area whilst asking questions, a child’s voice is captured singing what seems to be a nursery rhyme.
Renfrew Baths Renfrew Baths was built in 1921 by Architect Thomas Graham Abercrombie. The baths are supposedly haunted by two ghosts, one being a young boy who dived into the pool wearing a metal First World War German helmet and he died instantly. The second ghost is that of a woman dressed in white and has been seen in the basement area by various members of staff, while they have been working under the swimming pool. It is still unknown who this spirit is of.
The Arches The Arches is located on an area formerly known as Grahamston which vanished beneath Central Station more than 100 years ago. Staff as well as visitors have experienced numerous sightings of a little girl, aswell as a phantom workman and equipment has been moved and voices heard. One other sighting was of a hand seen coming through a wall and then disappearing. When GPI investigated, a little girls voice and also a mans footsteps were recorded throughout the night and clear audible voices of a man shouting on members of the team but no one was there.
Burns Tavern The Burns Tavern is located at 210 Merry St, Motherwell. It is a building in two half’s, with the oldest part dating back to 1880 and is currently the Lounge and Off-Sales. It is the oldest working pub in Motherwell. Glasgow Paranormal Investigators carried out an investigation in 2009 and this in turn has encouraged the current owners investigate the Tavern’s history even more. Glasgow Paranormal Investigations witnessed a mysterious shadow figure passing in front of bar.
Southern Necropolis, Glasgow The Southern Necropolis is located in the Gorbals and in the 1950s, an urban myth was widespread in the local area, that the graveyard was home to a vampire with iron teeth. Apparently during the story’s height, hundreds of children patrolled the area in search of the creature which they thought had kidnapped and devoured two local children. A ghostly white lady has also been seen floating through the cemetery at night by locals. The necropolis was one of the first locations investigated by GPI and many voices were captured and also a strange mist anomaly was seen.
Old Glasgow Museum of Transport The museum has recently been relocated from its Kelvin Hall home to the Riverside Museum on the Clydeside. The old building was built between 1926 and 1927 and apparently was used as a mortuary during World War Two. One of its best known features was its recreations of a 1930s street. There have been various strange occurrences from strange balls of light floating along street to footsteps and children’s laughter being heard….when no one else was present.
Scotland Street School This Charles Rene Mackintosh building was built between 1903 and 1906 for the School Board of Glasgow. The school closed in 1979 due to urban decay in the area and a huge drop in enrollment. Strange phenomena include regular sightings of two figures on the first and third floors, laughter, voices and strange disembodied footsteps when the museum is closed. Objects are also known to move on their own and cold spots are experienced during height of summer.
Cathedral House Hotel It is located in a historic part of Glasgow and is five minutes from Merchant City. The hotel is opposite Glasgow Cathedral and overlooks the Necropolis. Cathedral House Hotel was built in 1877 as a hostel for inmates released from nearby Duke Street Prison. Activity includes a ghost which passes guests on the stairwell and two children being sighted.