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If you’re looking for an example of the paranormal being treated with far too much importance, then look no further than Thorpe Park. The UK’s 614th most popular Theme Park may be a disease-ridden Mecca for the poorly educated, neglected and unwashed but it evidently takes ghosts very seriously, having just moved one of its rides for fear it may have been built on an ancient burial ground.

Construction workers building the new Storm Surge water ride claim to have experienced several ghost sightings, including a headless monk, prompting managers at the park to rethink their plans.

According to London’s Evening Standard: “a paranormal detection agency was called in to carry out tests and found that an ancient burial ground or settlement could have been disturbed.”

Could have been disturbed. Possibly. Although probably not. But maybe. If this is the sort of detailed analysis you can expect from a paranormal detection agency, Thorpe Park would have been better off asking a Magic 8-Ball what they should do. It would have saved them a lot of money and probably made more sense.

Storm Surge: headless monks not pictured. Obviously. They don't exist.

Mike Vallis, divisional Director of Thorpe Park claims: “Staff reports of eerie goings-on shot up and the only physical change in the park, at that time, was the beginning of ground preparation work for the new ride.”

“As employees were getting freaked out, we decided to call on an expert to see whether there was anything to report but had no idea of the dramatic effects.”

And what dramatic effects would these be, exactly? Some crackpot team of charlatans feeding you a load of bullshit about burial grounds? Is it not far more likely that the staff, as upstanding and principled as they almost certainly are NOT, are just…lying? You can’t call out the Ghostbusters every time someone thinks they see a shadow move. What kind of company policy is that?  

Anyway, presumably concluding that a load of ghosts wandering around would be bad for park business, bosses have ordered the 64ft structure to be moved to a new location so that customers won’t be harassed by the undead. This seems reasonable; who in the right mind would want to see a ghost?

The truth is they really needn’t have bothered.  As a place where thick people go to have fun, Thorpe Park is already an unabashed wasteland of misery and despair; a few headless monks haunting the place would be a welcome relief from the hoards of tracksuit wearing Neanderthals shoving candyfloss into the faces of their fat children.

For the benefit of society as a whole, just pull the whole thing down and let the ghosts run amok.

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We’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to Ghost Hunting, our approach is casual at best. For a start, we’ve not left the UK. We’ve barely even left London. We haven’t invested in any equipment. Our “research” largely consists of half-baked internet searches and our expeditions involve sitting in supposedly haunted pubs. And we haven’t seen a single ghost in the year this blog has been live. Readers, we stand before you today as FRAUDS.

As the laughing stock of the paranormal community (an impressive feat in itself given the shear abundance of horseshit out there) it isn’t hard to make us look languid and lazy. But this week we stumbled upon something that made us look so humiliatingly incompetent that we might as well pack up our belongings and shuffle off into the abyss. If we could be bothered.

Whilst our work ethic will barely allow us to walk to the end of our road for a spooky fix, a team of researchers from the US are planning to travel 960 miles off the coast of New York to find evidence of the paranormal. Under the sea. Yes, they’re going to look for ghosts on the Titanic.

RMS Titanic in happier times

The unit, ominously titled Society of DEAD (Direct Evidence After Death), includes Matthew “Sandman” Kelley, a retired truck driver, and William Brower, a self-taught (ie self-proclaimed) Titanic expert whose preparation for this trip is apparently limited to watching films about the famous wreck. What could possibly go wrong? Apart from absolutely everything, obviously.

The team hopes to find evidence of Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP, to prove that people who died on that night in 1912 left a psychic impression in the area. And how do they intend to do this?

“We will re-create the atmosphere by eating the exact meal that was served the night the ship crashed, and we will play the same music heard that night,” Kelley explains.

Let us be the first to go on record and say that this WILL DEFINITELY WORK.

Matthew Kelley, the brains of the operation...

However, not everyone is as convinced as we are. Paranormal writer Terra King believes that carrying out research at places of extreme disaster is “disrespectful and unethical”.

“Too many groups who are searching for the voices of those who have died are downright ghoulish,” King explains, possibly chuckling at her own amusing pun. “This expedition falls within this category. Trolling the North Atlantic for EVPs is ridiculous.”

Ridiculous it may be, but you can’t fault their blind optimism in the face of such ill preparation. Good luck, guys. You’re almost certainly going to need it.

Want to hear something really stupid? Of course you do. Why else would you be reading a paranormal blog?

We’ll be the first to admit that Looking For Ghosts has featured some ridiculous stories on occasion. There’s been a ghost bus. Even a ghost chicken. But this next report is so laughably insane that it makes both of those stories seem like Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpieces of monumental integrity.

In an article which even Derek Acorah would probably describe as “utter bullshit”, a paranormal expert in Britain has claimed that ghosts are contacting the living through mobile phones, with the number of mystery calls attributed to them rising by 43 percent in the last four years.

Phil Hayes, a spectre investigator from Paranormal Research UK, claims that a third of all haunting are now through mobile phones.

“There is evidence to suggest that ghosts can use phones to communicate, with reports of people receiving phone calls from deceased relatives,” Hayes is quoted as saying. Although exactly what type of “evidence” he is referring to is unclear; presumably it’s not the kind of evidence that you can see. Or hear. Or exists.

He goes on to explain that the calls feature heavy static with a “faint and distant voice”, with the caller ID often showing as “withheld number” or “000000000000”.

Definitely sounds like ghosts to us. What else could it be? Apart from telemarketing companies, of course. Or a fault with the line. Or just about anything else.

In a study which was, bizarrely, conducted by Tesco Mobile, it has been revealed that there is a 70 percent rise in paranormal evidence in the last year due to people using their phones. Again, “evidence” in this context appears to be based entirely of listening to the stories their customers have made up. Worse still, they seem to be actively encouraging this absurdity.

“We’d recommend those brave enough to capture any spooky sightings should MMS or email their pics to the paranormal society for investigation,”  says Lance Batchelor, CEO of Tesco Mobile, common sense and logic seemingly having abandoned him completely.

“Keep your camera phone on the highest quality resolution setting and use the recorder to capture the noise of any spectral sounds,” he adds.

Perhaps it would be more responsible to advise their customers not to confuse basic technical glitches with paranormal activity, whilst also seeking to reassure them that the souls of the dead are not trying to get in touch. But, far from trying to distance themselves from this lunacy, Tesco appear to be keen to establish itself as the network of choice for spirits and ghouls.

And if you can’t trust the nation’s biggest supermarket chain to keep a level head, then what chance have the rest of us got? On the strength of this story, we are a nation in decline.

After rubbing shoulders with dead celebrities on our London Cemetery jaunt, Looking for Ghosts realised that if there is one thing we love more than ghosts, it is ghosts of famous people. And we have a certified A-lister for you here, folks!

Whilst William Terriss isn’t exactly a household name now, back in the 19th Century he was one of the UK’s most celebrated actors. Sort of like a Victorian Jude Law with the possible distinction that Terriss was, presumably, a good actor.

William Terriss, taken from Heat Magazine 1896

A regular at London’s Adelphi, Lyceum and Prince of Wales theatres, Terriss achieved fame after his energetic performance in Robin Hood, as well Othello and Romeo and Juliet, earned him rave reviews. He became the darling of Theatreland and when he married fellow actress Jessie Millward, his female lead in The Harbour Lights, they became a popular power couple. They toured Britain and America extensively, increasing their international appeal. Sort of like a Victorian Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with the possible distinction that Terriss and Millward were, presumably, fairly interesting people.

However, it seemed not everyone was so smitten with this acting colossus. On 16th December 1897 Terriss was murdered by hapless, struggling actor Richard Archer Prince. Sort of like a Victorian Ralf Little, with the possible distinction that…actually, no; that’s pretty much accurate.

As Terriss was entering the Adelphi for the evening performance of Secret Service, fomer Terriss protégé Prince lay in wait and stabbed his old friend in a bitter act of jealousy and resentment.

As a result, the ghost of Terriss is often seen in Covent Garden, particularly in and around his favoured Adelphi Theatre and, strangely, the tube station. Many witnesses claim to have seen a gentleman dressed in old fashioned clothes who disappears before their eyes, later identifying Terriss as the man they had seen when shown a photograph. This could possibly be because all Victorian gentlemen look exactly the same or perhaps, more likely, many of these witnesses were simply mental.

The plaque outside the Adelphi

After spending an afternoon elbowing tourists out of the way in Covent Garden, Looking For Ghosts are disappointed to report that we didn’t even catch a glimpse of this spectral thespian who, we suspect, is currently treading the boards of the great theatre in the sky. Possibly in Mamma Mia.

As a result of the heat wave currently engulfing most of the UK, Looking For Ghosts felt an almost unnatural urge to get outside and get some sun on our faces. With our sallow complexions currently resembling custard as the closest colour match, it’s about bloody time.

So we headed for Highgate, a leafy, affluent North London suburb and, somewhat fortuitously, a haven for ghostly activity. How much fear we’d experience on a sunny Saturday lunchtime was unclear, but we figured it would be somewhere between “very little fear” and “no fear whatsoever”.

We noticed our first point of interest minutes after leaving the station. Ascending a steep pathway, stopping halfway up to peer through the foliage, we observed an abandoned train station in the mid-distance. This was originally built as part of London Underground’s Northern Heights project, but development was cancelled during the Second World War. Now the station stands empty, barely visible amidst mounds of twisting bracken, but there are several reports of a “ghost train” steaming along the tracks after dark. However, considering that no actual trains ever used this line makes this story about as credible as a Jeffrey Archer testimony.

"The Ghost Train is experiencing severe delays, please use the replacement bus service..."

Moving on we found ourselves in The Flask, another of London’s haunted pubs. Only slightly concerned that it was still technically morning, we sat down to ponder the pub’s history over a pint of something intoxicating and delicious. It is claimed a maidservant, who took her own life when an illicit romance turned sour, still frequents the pub and announces her presence with a sudden drop in temperature before going berserk with the lights and moving glasses along the bar. Yawn. Why can’t ghosts ever do anything more interesting than that? Flip the odd table over, maybe. Or put the Beastie Boys on the jukebox for four hours.

However, the Flask is an endearing pub with excellent food and even comes complete with a local lunatic who insisted on talking to us, for what seemed like an eternity, about soup. Perhaps he was a ghost? Frankly, we were too bored to check.

Leaving the pub we passed Pond Square, known in paranormal circles for being the site of a rather unusual haunting; the ghost of a chicken. No, we are not making this up. According to Walking Haunted London: In 1943, one Terence Long was crossing Pond Square late at night when he heard the sound of horses hooves accompanied by the low rumble of carriage wheels. Suddenly, a loud raucous shriek, split the silence, and the ghostly chicken appeared before him and proceeded to race frantically around, before vanishing into thin air.” Alarmingly, this spectre has been seen several times since. Give us strength.

Chicken Payback

As laughable as the ghost chicken story undoubtedly is, at least it’s original. After all, if you’re going to make something up, make it interesting and faintly ridiculous rather than some vague and generic account of a jilted lover who slams doors and sometimes makes the air a bit chilly. Come on; get creative with your lies!

Slightly underwhelmed with Highgate’s supernatural offerings so far, we concluded our soirée by visiting somewhere ghouls were bound to be in abundance; Highgate Cemetery. Home to such luminaries as Karl Marx, George Eliot and, erm, Jeremy Beadle, surely this place would be alive (pardon the expression) with famous ghosts, swirling around the place with unbridled glee? Yes?

Well, what do you reckon? You’ll have to wait until our next post to find out…

With all due respect, you should all be deeply ashamed of yourselves. With the varied readership Looking For Ghosts attracts, surely some of you have had a ghostly experience? But still our Your Stories section sits emptier than a Ramones reunion gig. It’s embarrassing. Make something up if necessary; we don’t care.

Still, if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain. In order to counteract this massive disappointment we have once again been sifting through the internet’s oozing pile of waste for the best, or worst, reader-submitted ghost stories. All for your morbid amusement. We’re too good to you, we really are.

Have you experienced anything as scary as this? Let us know!

The Entity Kept Kissing Me: If you read no other ghost stories this year, we implore you to read this one. It really does beggar belief. There is simply nothing else we can write here that will be funnier than the story itself. Enjoy (although not as much as the guy in the story, please…)

Shadow Wears A Hat: This story starts with a startling claim of “Sixth Sense” proportions although, as the author is keen to point out a number of times, he really isn’t too bothered about it. Until he sees a shadow. Wearing a hat. And then vomits.

A Toast To Grandma: This family cannot seem to come up with a logical explanation for why a wine glass might shatter of its own accord. Probably best to assume a dead old lady did it. That’s what most people would do.

The Glowing Skeleton: Pretty dull, this one. Only included because we were intrigued as to what a “calm” scream would sound like.

My Strange Experience: These girls have a pretty casual approach to conducting a Ouija Board and manage to piss off an entity called Jacob. They couldn’t even “be bothered” to cleanse the house properly afterwards, demonstrating alarming nonchalance in the face of paranormal mayhem.

My Poor Cats: This woman lives in a  trailer-park and her cats started going berserk. Even smearing her home with herbs didn’t help. Who would have thought?

Need Advice On Dealing With Ghosts: The title of this story suggested it was an advert for people who need help coping with problematic spirits, but sadly it isn’t. This is a girl who needs YOUR help. She’s been hearing “jingling” from an early age, and sometimes feels cold. Sounds awful, being that sensitive to the elements. Oh, and she predicts things in dreams to a 90% level of accuracy. She’s only 14, so probably making it up for attention. Teenagers are like that. The best advice we can give her is to stop lying.

Sometimes Looking For Ghosts have to search far and wide to get our paranormal thrills, whilst other times they seem to fall straight into our lap. I Believe In Ghosts: Joe Swash is one such example.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Joe Swash’s work, he’s an ex-soap star and recent winner of reality TV jungle shitfest, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. Inexplicably, he’s become a household name in the UK, but carries the international gravitas of a parsnip.

With the greatest of respects to Mr Swash, we’re sure he’d be the first to admit that he isn’t exactly an authority on the paranormal. In fact, it’s doubtful that he’s really an authority on anything except gelling his hair into laughably abominable shapes, or wearing an expression that always looks like he’s concentrating hard not to swallow his own tongue.

Still, he’s likeable enough and his affable, cheeky shtick was enough to win the hearts of the Great British Public who voted him King of the Jungle so who are we to argue? Good luck to him, we say.

However, when we heard he had made a documentary about ghosts, naturally we rubbed our hands with malevolent glee. Regular readers of the blog will know that we take glib delight in mocking other people’s efforts, so surely poor Joe Swash would be like a sitting duck as we prepare for a brutal character assassination, right?

Wrong.

Annoyingly, I Believe In Ghosts is actually rather good. Not enough to convince hardened cynics like ourselves admittedly, but pretty insightful nonetheless.

Far from being the credulous simpleton he’s often portrayed as, Swash actually keeps a level head throughout the whole process and refuses to jump to any radical conclusions despite having “evidence” thrust in front of him from various dubious sources. He seems to have a genuine desire to uncover some sort of truth and asks all the right questions along the way, albeit in a voice which is so high it makes him sound like his balls are being perpetually gripped in a vice and every so often struck with a hammer. All of this makes giving him a famous Looking For Ghosts kicking pretty difficult.

Plus, he spends the night alone in some fairly horrific places without too much hysteria, which is more than we can say for the entire cast and crew of Most Haunted (UK) or Ghost Hunters (USA).

He meets some physics, mediums and general believers on his epic quest and does well to prevent himself from laughing aloud at their farcical conclusions, opting instead to sit and nod politely as his mind, presumably, begins to wander. He even watches The Exorcist in the name of research and the image of him clearly straining to understand the plot is endearing. Perhaps he was under the impression it was a documentary.

The highlight, however, comes when he’s asked to spend the night in Edinburgh’s South Bridge vaults, reportedly one of the most active places in the UK for ghostly activity. There is a touching moment when, after a guide shows him around the vaults prior to him bedding down for the night, he lets his guard slip and risks tarnishing his “nice guy” image. Clearly on edge (and understandably so) he almost explodes with angst as he cries: “you’re fucking kidding me, I’m not walking around down here” before he turns to the crew and, with his comical voice cracking with nerves, asks: “I can’t seriously sleep down here on my own…can I?”

He bloody does, though.

It is during this tour that he becomes the unlikely voice of reason, asking his guide why there is a sledgehammer stored in a room which is supposedly swarming with poltergeists. “They’re not that strong,” she offers feebly, “although they have been known to throw rocks.”  Suitably reassured, Joe climbs into a sleeping bag and bids the crew goodnight, fully expecting to wake up with his head caved in and bits of his brain plastered all over the walls.

The documentary ends with a sound engineer analysing the footage of his night underground and concluding, rather soberly, that there is a voice on the tape that he can’t explain. Amazingly, the voice in question doesn’t belong to Joe Swash.

Preconceptions aside, Swash gives a very good account of himself and I Believe In Ghosts is an entertaining watch for fair-weather fans of the paranormal, or die-hard fans of Joe Swash. Your minds may not be blown, but your hearts will probably be won.

Let it never be said that Looking For Ghosts are afraid to address the big issues. So far, we’ve tackled the controversial ZOZO debate and attempted to debunk numerous myths and stories, but today we scale new heights. We are going to talk about the persecution of Jews. We are on uncomfortable ground indeed.

Amazingly, we’re not going to mention the holocaust (apart from just then, obviously) but something far closer to home than many Brits would care to remember. We have to cast our minds back to 1290, a time when the internet was powered by horses and dinosaurs roamed London’s gas lit streets.

At this time, before Hitler and the Nazis had their wicked way, Jews were being run out of Britain. Presumably not in the most reasonable and orderly fashion either.

According to one ancient account, a boat due to transport Jewish families from London to Poland was moored on a small island in the middle of the Thames, leaving the ship and its passengers stranded. After evacuating the ship, the captain and crew managed to free the vessel and retreat back to the shore, leaving hundreds of Jews stranded in the middle of the river. As the tide rose, they inevitably drowned and it is said that their anguished cries can still be heard under London Bridge to this day.

Call us cynical, but a few things about this story don’t quite add up. Firstly, how is it possible for anyone to beat a hasty retreat in a gigantic passenger ship? It’s not like it’s a speedboat. Surely they didn’t just stand there looking at the ship slowly lumbering away?  “It’s alright, they’ll be back. They’ve probably just forgotten about us. Boy, are they going to be embarrassed when they realise!”

Also, at the risk of sounding callous, if they were stranded in the middle of the Thames then they weren’t actually that far from the river’s banks. Couldn’t they have just swam for it? We’re not suggesting it would have been the most pleasant dip they would ever have, but if their lives depended on it (which evidently they did) then it must have been worth a try.  Realistically, only about 30 metres of rancid water separated them from safety.

We’re not intending to sound facetious or disrespectful, but this whole scenario just seems far too elaborate and cumbersome a process to carry out a mass murder.

More likely is that the ship simply sank, probably nowhere near London Bridge, but this wouldn’t have been quite interesting enough. Besides, why let the facts get in the way of a good story?

Another account reveals that the anguished screams are more likely to be from the souls who were beheaded at nearby Traitors Gate and whose heads were flung into the Thames. Yes, that seems far more likely.

Suffice to say that we didn’t hear any anguished cries under the bridge, although the fact that 720 years have passed since this event would suggest that their spirits have probably grown tired of all that screaming and are now resigned to their rather dubious fate.

Here at Looking For Ghosts, we are committed to researching all aspects of the paranormal world in order to bring you, our loyal readers, the most varied spectrum of information as possible. Whether we’re visiting famous haunted locations, trawling the internet for hysterical supernatural encounters or sitting in a dusty library with our noses stuck in spooky books, we make sure no stone is left unturned in our quest to find a ghost.

With this in mind, we will now turn our attention to a popular, if not slightly dubious, corner of the paranormal community; ghost photography. No, not photographs taken by ghosts. Photographs of ghosts. Well, possibly. But most likely not.

This week, we will specifically be looking at orbs. Big, round, beautiful, bouncy orbs. Behold!

Phwoar! Check out the orbs on that!

Insects

Rain

But what are they? Ask most paranormal enthusiasts and they will probably mutter something about orbs being spirits caught on camera or balls of energy that will leave you scratching your head and regretting that you asked in the first place.

In reality, orbs are caused by the flash from the camera reflecting on dust particles, insects or drops of moisture in the air. All perfectly normal and utterly unmysterious. If anyone ever tries to tell you any different, simply find the nearest stick and beat them with it until they are a whimpering, sorry mess. Only stop when they tell you, between terrified screams of anguish, that they were wrong and that orbs are not scary, thus surrendering any tiny atom of respect you might have once had for them.

Once this is done, you will have to locate your nearest police station and turn yourself in. Don’t worry; there isn’t a court in the land that will convict you.

(Note: Looking For Ghosts does NOT condone the use of violence, even against orb enthusiasts.)

As Looking For Ghosts continued to search for the paranormal amongst London’s concealed past, we arrived at  St Mary-le-Bow. It is said that you can only truly be considered cockney if you were born within earshot of the churches’ chimes; the Bow Bells. It is also, along with a few other London churches, immortalised in the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons. However, few people are aware that this famous church once suffered a deadly curse…

Will this great tower fall once again?

In the 11th and 12th centuries black masses were held at the site, leading many locals to believe it had become cursed. In 1091, the roof blew off killing a considerable number of local residents, whilst more people were crushed to death in 1271 as the tower collapsed into the street below.   

The church was also nearly destroyed in 1196 when the Archbishop of Canterbury used fire to smoke out murderous tax-dodger William Fitzobert who had been hiding out in the tower. How that plan went wrong we’ll never know.

St Mary’s houses many a grim tale, as Lawrence Duckett was murdered within the building at the end of the 13th Century. Consequently 17 men were hanged (and one woman burned to death) for this crime.   

Almost inevitably St Mary-le-Bow was destroyed by the Great Fire of London and was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren in 1673 , when many people say the curse was lifted. Nice one, Chris!   

 Fire, murder, toppling towers; whilst there can be no argument that St Mary’s is the unluckiest church in the world, is it the result of some ancient hex? Or just poor infrastructure? 

Despite us pressing our ears up against the door of the crypt, we still didn’t experience  any bloody ghosts. Probably because the crypt, which for centuries amassed decaying corpses, ironically houses a fashionable vegetarian restaurant these days.    

Looking For Ghosts

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