Yesterday’s Dollop about ghosts, science and the term “irrational” elicited the following response from Jools.
“Pretty sure ghosts exist, if you can say exist about something that has no corporeal identity. One used to walk about my friend’s cottage, outside the windows, just out of the corner of your eye you would ‘see’ her. Turn quickly and she was gone. She passed you behind your back but you knew she was there. I talked to her once or twice but she went as soon as she came. Not ‘seen’ one anywhere else but there. She had a real presence.”
I think one of the elements of Mr Dreadful’s tour that put the others off was that he would frequently repeat the same themes. But as I explained yesterday, I enjoyed the anecdotal nature of the tour, and surely if you are looking for evidence then it’s useful to note the recurring elements underlying the various stories. You could argue that this helps give these kinds of accounts more weight, as people are reporting the same type of experience, even though they happened at different times, in different places and by different people. Of course, many of these recurring themes are so well-known to us, that if we were making up a ghost story we would probably include them. Like with Jools’ account, Mr Dreadful’s tour had lots of mentions of the figure shimmering in and out of vision, being there one second and then gone the next, also there were lots of remarks about walking straight through physical objects, and a sudden drop in temperature. These are clearly common themes with ghost stories.
Perhaps we’ll discover in the future that these things are all hallmarks of some kind of neurological episode, like a hallucination, although, that doesn’t seem to account for why sometimes you hear the same story corroborated by more than one person, who say that they experienced the same thing in the same place but at a completely different time. Perhaps this is some kind of time loop, and we are just seeing things that once existed, almost like time is bending. Baring in mind that there apparently is no such thing as time anyway, then this theory doesn’t seem too far fetched.
Last week I was on the phone to a friend when the door bell rang. I went to answer the door, but upon opening it there was no one there. I closed the door and walked back into the room I’d just come from, at which point the door bell sounded again. I was only a few paces from the door, so it only took me a second to reach the door and open it. But again, upon opening the door, there was no one around. Surely there hadn’t been enough time for someone to have rang the door bell and then run away. If it was someone playing a prank then I’d definitely catch them the next time. I stood by the door, waiting. If the person came back and pressed the bell, I would be ready to instantly pounce.
My housemate’s came down the stairs to see what was going on, at which point I began to get suspicious that it was they who were playing the prank. But as they pointed out, they had been upstairs, and the receiver for the door bell was on top of the piano in the dining room. Plus, the door bell was playing the same tune. There is only one button to press, which cycles through the 100 door bell sounds, all as annoying and as jarring as each other, so if you pressed the button on the receiver in order to sound the door bell without having to be at the door, the tune would change. So there was no way that they could have interfered with the door bell.
We were now all stood at the door, waiting for the prankster to return, the three of us poised to instantaneously pounce. But the door bell didn’t ring. Defeated, we walked away from the door. I walked back into the dining room, and as soon as I did, the door bell chimed again. The three of us launched ourselves at the door. We were all impressively quick to act, perhaps a little too quick, as we all slammed into each other at the same time from different angles, our hands all noisily grappling for the handle. This perhaps gave the prankster a bit too much time to run away, and sure enough when we picked ourselves up off the floor and opened the door, there was no one to be seen.
Surely this had to be a person pranking us. They must somehow have known when we had left the door, and gone into another room. But they wouldn’t really have been able to see us. Perhaps they had been listening. After all, we were talking to each other in whispers, and I was conveying what was going on to my friend on the phone. So we decided to be silent. We stood there for another minute or so, still and silent. But the silence remained, and was not punctured by the sound of the door bell.
Once again we walked away from the door, although this time we did so as quietly as possible. I walked back into the dining room, only two or three paces from the front door to the house. Before I’d had the chance to restart conversation with my friend on the phone, the door bell rang.
This time Ben had barely moved from his position, still scratching his head about what was going on, and so he was at the door immediately. He flung the door open. There was absolutely no way that the prankster would have had time to escape, yet when the door was opened, there was no one to be seen.
The door once again was closed, and the three of us were back together, completely puzzled by what was going on. Logical explanations. That’s what we began to discuss. It was late evening, but there were three of us here and so it wasn’t particularly scary. Ordinarily, paranormal activity wouldn’t be the first conclusion I’d leap to, however the conversation to my friend on the phone had consisted of him telling me about his scary dream in which demons had possessed objects, and now here we were, being challenged by an errant door bell. Therfore, I think that my friend on the phone was more scared than us, as he was in the house by himself, and seemingly the very thing he had just been talking about was now happening to our door bell.
Logical explanations: the door bell battery was running out, and was just chiming randomly. Or the door bell was malfunctioning. That didn’t really explain why it never seemed to ring when we were standing at the door, but always sounded when we moved away from the door. But that could surely be dismissed as coincidence. Fair enough. We could help verify the coincidence argument by repeatedly walking away from the door and see what happened. So that is what we did. We all walked away from the door, with me returning to the dining room. And as soon as I walked past the piano, on which the door bell receiver lay, the door bell chimed. I walked back in the other direction, and sure enough the door bell rang again. I repeated this process, and every time I passed the door bell receiver, it chimed.
So then Ben tried it. He walked into the dining room, passed the piano, but the door bell did not sound. He tried this time and time again, but nothing happened. Similarly when Elsa tried it, nothing happened. But when I did it, the door bell chimed.
Was I the cause of the door bell ringing? or was it because I was holding my mobile phone, which was somehow working on the same frequency as the door bell? Well, again this was something else that could be tested. I handed my phone to Ben and he walked past the door bell in the dining room. But nothing happened. The phone was handed to Elsa, but the door bell did not chime. Then I tried walking into the dining room without my phone, and the door bell remained silent. It appeared that the only time the door bell would sound was if I walked past it whilst holding my phone.
But there was more investigating to be done. I hung up the call, and walked past the door bell, which elicited nothing. I called my friend back up, and tried again, but nothing happened.
So we had gone as far as we could with our investigation. We had gone against the advice of John Donne, and asked for whom the bell tolls, and discovered that it tolled for me, but only when I was holding my mobile phone while talking to my friend Matthew, and only for that one specific call.
I wonder whether this Dollop will be eulogised in the same way as John Donne’s poem has. I doubt it. I think it’s more likely that I’ll be eternally remembered for my Dollop about my new kettle.
Perhaps if I was in the house by myself, then I would have reacted to this scenario differently, but it was easier to be more rational and level-headed because I was not alone. Of course, our investigation still doesn’t completely rule out a paranormal explanation, and the fact that the door bell has never chimed again during any mobile phone calls seems a bit weird. Presumably there was just something about the way that that specific call was set up, creating some kind of connection with the door bell, although the fact that I can’t repeat this or prove it means that this is merely a scientific theory, and is certainly not hard fact. Was our conversation about possessed objects in any way responsible?
So it could well have been a mischievous ghost. Perhaps it was a dead ringer. Hahahaha, I am so funny. Just to be on the safe side though, I have changed our door bell sound to the Ghost Busters theme, which should deter any mischievous spectres from messing with the door bell in the future.
Perhaps if the ghost wants to interfere with household objects then it could make itself useful in the process. It could fill our app controlled kettle with water whenever it becomes empty, so that we don’t have to go into the kitchen and fill it before we can then use our phone to set it boiling. Or if it wants to be really useful then it could possess my laptop on a daily basis and write these Dollops for me. I could help the ghost along by making some bullet point notes each day, and the ghost could type it up propperly for me. I’ll probably still do the audio podcast version, as I’m not sure how pleasant it would be for listeners to hear the voice of a dead person each day. Maybe it could do the Halloween audio Dollop though.
If there are any ghosts reading this, then give it a thought. I’ll type up some bullet point notes tonight with some ideas for subject matter, and leave the computer running throughout the night, which I understand is your most productive time. Hopefully I’ll wake up tomorrow with the Dollop all written. I’d appreciate it if you were a relatively modern ghost. I don’t want my blog to be written in old English, and contain loads of outdated jokes about Queen Elizabeth I. We’ll see what happens tomorrow folks.