INTRODUCTION

Over the past decade or so, ghost walks have been growing in popularity in towns and cities around Great Britain. This is hardly surprising when one considers our rich and varied history, ancient buildings and of the many dastardly goings on down the centuries. The English Civil War alone brought numerous accounts of headless horsemen, often seen charging across former battle sites such as Marston Moor in North Yorkshire. The Tower of London is also said to house several manifestations of those tortured or beheaded within its walls. Then there are the scores of religious sites across the country where the spirits of nuns and monks are thought to retain an earthly presence as guardians to the living.

It is often believed that paranormal phenomena can manifest itself in a variety of ways; extreme drops in temperature, or an inexplicable coldness in an otherwise warm environment, frequently appear to be the most common. There are also instances of peculiar or unusual
smells permeating the air for no apparent reason. Accounts of disembodied voices or lumbering footsteps have also been reported. In some cases the appearance of a vague figure, typically white or grey, has been seen to manifest itself. Some people actually maintain they have communicated quite freely with ghosts. More commonly children, often thought to be more attuned to the paranormal, will say they have spoken with dead relatives, particularly grandparents. There have also been accounts of ghosts seeming to appear quite solid and lifelike.

Theories and speculation on the paranormal are varied. There is a wide belief that some spirits will linger in this life due to unfinished business or untimely death. Other accounts adhere to the theory that spirits for a sentimental attachment to a place or building, which inhibits their passing over to the afterlife.

In many instances, however, more rational explanations can be found. Nevertheless, one thing is certain, there does appear to be a grey area
that frequently defies all logical reasoning. Whatever one might chose to believe, or dismiss, there has always been much general interest and debate about ghosts and the paranormal, with numerous books, short stories, films and plays based around the subject. Furthermore, tales of the spirit world have pervaded virtually every culture for centuries.

My first active involvement with the paranormal, as a writer and entertainer, came about when I was approached by a tour company to script and produce a ghostly show to entertain customers aboard a cruise boat. Since then I have researched, scripted and performed in around half a dozen or more such shows.

As an entertainer, I soon came to realise that ghost stories were an excellent vehicle for entertainment and particularly rewarding to the performer. Such tales offer endless opportunities for exploiting dramatic tension, which I frequently juxtapose with self-effacing
comic respite. My ploy has always been to lift the audience to a dramatic high point then make light of some of the more gruesome aspects of a tale with throw-away gags or deadpan humour.

Many towns and cities across Great Britain have a long and often dark history, embracing numerous accounts of ghosts and hauntings. York alone is said to have over 500 ghosts, while Brighton’s famous ‘Lanes’ plays host to literally scores of fascinating tales of ghostly goings on. Hopefully, my blog will act as a guide to the history and haunted heritage evident in many of our towns and cities.

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