The area around the hen-runs has turned into a quagmire and that spell of sunny weather seems a distant memory. When we have to wade about in mud and muck, conversation does tend to be reduced to grunts. The result was that other than passing references to Cameron’s pledge of eternal freindship with Andy Coulson, and the inevitable threats made by the Murdoch crowd to Ed Miliband, there was little mention today of the replacement of the Screws by the Sunday Sun. What did attract out attention was the row that has broken out around TV’s new golden boy, Professor Brian Cox, he of the perpetual smile.
During a programme called ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’ the new age hero blotted his copy book by declaring that there are no ghosts and it is silly to believe in them. The Beeb was inundated with complaints that the programme was ‘unbalanced’ and Cox subsequently tweeted that “there are some utter nobbers out there”. Such language will have shaken the curtains in leafy Surbiton where the smiling scientist has replaced Cliff Richard in the heart of many a blue-rinse.
My instinct is to agree with his dismissal of ghosts. It is illogical and unscientific, such things are a figment of fevered imaginations. However, this disbeliever has, on a number of occasions, learned of encounters that simply cannot be explained away. Let me give you just one example. It relates to a hotel in the Midlands, one of those former ivy-clad grand houses from the 17th century.
Several years ago a friend stayed there. He is a scientist and, as is typical of his kind, refuses to believe anything that he doesn’t witness and cannot verify. To this day he still refuses to believe in ghosts, poltergeists or little men in green suits. However, he has an intellectual problem. He still cannot explain an experience he had that night on his overnight stay.
I remember his ringing me on the following day to report what happened. His room was on the third floor and the only access to the bathroom was through his bedroom. During the night he recalls half waking to hear a great deal of noise nearby, but he drifted off again having assumed that there were revellers in an adjoining room. When his alarm roused him he padded across to the bathroom. On opening the door he stood transfixed in horror.
Everything in the bathroom was smashed. The sink, the bath and the toilet were shattered into fragments and toiletries were scattered everywhere. My logical friend could only reason that for the first time in his life he had sleepwalked and become violent. But where was the sledgehammer? In a daze, he dressed and rushed down to the reception where he expected incredulity and a demand for payment.
Instead the girl on duty simply replied ” Oh God, that’s the third time this year!”. The duty manager was summoned and instead of hostility provided comfort. He reported that for some years there had been a series of such unexplained events and, having consulted various ‘experts’, the management had resigned itself to the fact that the old building was the haunt of a poltergeist.
My friend often revisits that night in his mind which refuses to accept other than a rational explanation. He cannot find one. In fact he has since called in at the hotel and has learned of five more ‘visitations’.
If, as Professor Cox suggests, my scientific pal is a ‘nobber’ I cannot imagine what that says about the rest of us. He plans to challenge the Prof to stay overnight in the Midlands!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S PUB QUIZ; 1. No 2. Simon & Garfunkel 3. Claustrophobia 4. Palm Sunday 5. Sunday 6. September 7. Fossils 8. Bambi 9. Bob Hope 10. Harry Houdini