This section includes background information for many of the cases featured in New Ghost Stories. There will be spoilers – you have been warned.
From Volume 1
New content will be added to this section in the coming weeks (ok, this didn’t really happen, but I’m hoping to rectify this soon).
A Rhythm of Six (Case no.26)
This wasn’t the first case I investigated, but it was perhaps the first one to really get under my skin. The fact that it featured an author of ghost stories was an irony not lost on me.
It’s not unusual for subjects to be tense and nervous when we meet; these stories are generally not comforting for them to recall. This subject was particularly uncomfortable. We met in a cafe and I remember her looking around at the faces of others all around us. She evidently believed she was being watched or followed. Subsequent events would reveal why.
We spoke at length in person and on the phone. The story that has been published is based on an account written by her. The story was typed on computer and posted to me. The final paragraphs were, however, scribbled in biro. They looked to have been written rather hurriedly.
The envelope arrived with no other information. I tried to contact her when I received it, but had no success. I have made many attempts since. I do not know whether she is fiercely protecting her privacy or whether something serious has happened to her. If anyone has any further information, I would be very keen to hear it.
It appears also that the work of the author who featured in the story has vanished from public view. It’s doubly tragic that he was deprived of both his life and now his legacy too.
Knock Down Ginger (Case no.50)
Not every story ends tragically. You would not know from speaking to this young family that they had experienced anything so very out of the ordinary.
Young Jess, now in school, is a very typical young girl and her family are enjoying a happy life in Exeter, having decided, despite this incident, to leave the city after all.
I visited the property in Penryn after hearing the story. The people staying in the house knew nothing of the haunting, but then I discovered that the house is now a holiday let. Short of surveying all the recent inhabitats, I couldn’t really ascertain whether the hauntings have continued or not.
The Black Clock (Case no.52)
I must sadly report that this subject died fairly shortly after we spoke. He was elderly, but still so very sharp and intelligent. A real pleasure to know in the short time we were acquainted.
The place where his uncle ran his shop appears not to be a lucky spot. After burning down and being rebuilt, it was bombed during the second world war and later burnt down again as part of an insurance fraud.
I had hoped to discover more about the clock and its origin. Whoever had first delivered the clock to Guillam is unrecorded and there is no mention in the police file of any enquiry being made about it. I approached the Clockmaker’s Guild for information regarding Guillam, but they were unwilling to share any private information.
When it Rains… (Case no.87)
Does being under great mental strain cause someone to become more attuned to the supernatural? Or is it simply a symptom of someone’s descent into madness?
It’s a harder question to answer than you might imagine. The man at the centre of this story, through all his paranoid and strange behaviour, told his story with complete accuracy; the details never shifted. You would expect a more erratic story from someone who had ‘lost their grip’.
One of the subject’s carers, who had worked with him very early on after his accident, mentioned that the police questioning him had talked of substantial flood damage to his apartment. They had also questioned him about some noticeable damage to his car. No charges were ultimately brought, however.
The Storm Walker (Case no.91)
When I begin each case, it is usual for only the subject to be interviewed. They may ask others to verify information, as part of my investigations. But the accounts that feature are entirely personal to them.
This makes a story like The Storm Walker complicated, because the titular character is not the person who volunteered to speak to me. Could I possibly get the full story without speaking to them?
I visited the house where, if my information was correct, Rose still lived. I wondered whether to knock on the door, to speak to her, see if she was well, to ask whether she still went searching for her daughter whenever the rain fell.
I decided against it. It seemed like an unfair intrusion. She had not asked to be involved. It was unfair to have her pain dragged up again just for the sake of my curiosity. It was an important lesson in where to draw the line. To not impose where I had not already been invited.
I can happily report that the subject successfully defended her legal case.
Cat Lady (Case no.76)
When I request evidence of each subject’s credibility, what I normally receive is some relevant emails, letters, news pieces, or sometimes a chance to have a conversation with a periphery witness.
In this case, I was taken to a betting shop somewhere in the north of England and shown a man with one eye and significant scarring all over his head. It was the first time I had really been put face-to-face with the physical consequences of one of these encounters. It was very unsettling.
In a Box (Case no.104)
I was conflicted as to whether to even include this story, particularly as the case is considered unresolved by the police.
My feeling was that the subject had a right to give their side of the story, regardless of how that story made anyone else feel. This is someone who has not been believed, not by her friends, by her family. Someone abandoned who has lost their child. It seemed like at least one person should listen to her.
I was threatened with legal action for publishing this story. To date, it appears to have been just a threat.
On the Shoulder (Case no.160)
This was the only case where I took a referral – I was told about the subject in question and was eventually introduced to him at a certain drinking venue.
Though he was inebriated (and was to some extent during each of our encounters) his story held up surprisingly strongly under scrutiny. He didn’t make this easy however. Meetings were hard to arrange; he was never reliable enough to appear at any agreed time and chafed at having to tell the story over and over.
A number of facts I was able to verify, as they were a matter of public record. And as a local ‘character’ many people had anecdotes regarding his behaviour and his explanations for that behaviour.
Shortly after Eleven New Ghost Stories was published the subject disappeared. There was concern that he had passed away. He did, however, appear again a few months later, apparently after a stay in hospital. He is still with us, at the time of writing. His stay in hospital was apparently caused by being ‘pushed’ down the stairs’.