Rational Explanation

I’m not a massive believer in the paranormal, but in all honesty I’ve never been able to convince myself that ghosts aren’t real. Personally, I think that it’s something that I’m not meant to know about, if it does exist, so I’ll keep my distance, but there are a few things that I’ve experienced or heard about that have no scientific explanation, should I say.

I tell some of these stories quite a lot when the topic comes up in conversation, but the ones that aren’t my own experience may need to be taken with a pinch of salt, and the ones that are may be anxiety-fuelled, so this is no confirmation of anything existing or otherwise.

My dad works as a nurse, and he’s had a few weird things go on whilst on the graveyard shift in a hospital with a very old building. There was one particular night that he was working on a geriatric ward. On this ward, in the bed nearest the window and furthest from the door, was a lady with a catheter that needed emptying every hour. My dad (let’s call him Josh) and his colleagues were taking it in turns to do it, because that area of the ward gave them the creeps, for lack of a better term. One of the other nurses went first, and said she felt something strange, like there were things running past her while she was crouching down to do the catheter bag.

When it was Josh’s turn, he hesitantly crept through the ward, past all the sleeping patients. He crouched down, and experienced the same thing as his colleague had described, but when he turned around there was nothing there. He wished away the seconds and began to make a speedy exit when he saw one of the patients sitting bolt upright, smiling.

Josh stopped and asked the lady sitting up if she was okay.

“Yes, I’m fine. I’m just watching the children play”.

Josh went on to do a bit of asking around, and found that a few people had mentioned seeing children in old-fashioned clothes running around playing in that ward. He later found out that back in the 1930s, it was in fact a children’s ward.

The second thing I heard from Josh (which will go on to a more confusing story as well here) was about a phantom nurse with a veil. There’d be many unrelated patients who would ask when the nurse with the veil was coming back to tuck in their blankets. Word on the wards was that this was the spirit of a ward sister who took her own life in one of the side rooms in this part of the hospital. I did begin to think that this one was a bit of a tall tale, until something else happened that made me doubt myself.

A school friend of mine was an inpatient in the same hospital, and when I went to see her she told me about a stupid thing her mum had said. She told me that her mum had gone to the toilet, and when she came back she said to her that she’d seen a nurse wearing a veil, but when she went to speak to her she walked off and had disappeared. She thought her mum was just seeing things.

There were also the rumours that Josh heard and swore to be true, which I’m not convinced were anything more than rumours. The one that stuck with me the most, however, was a break room for the nurses on night shift to use for a nap if they wanted to. Apparently, any female nurses that slept in the room would wake up with their hair plaited. It went on so much and for so long that, apparently, management at the hospital had to lock the room up and it’s not been used in years.

Obviously, these are all stories I’ve heard, and while my dad maintains that he experienced them as described, I can’t swear any truth in it. I can, however, share one or two of my own weird experiences.

I’ll start with my university accommodation. It used to be a convent back in the day, and was a grade 2 listed building, so no works could be done to upgrade much of it, so it had that weird feel about it anyway. I was on the second floor, which was the top floor, of my house (which was a section of the building that was built in a square with a courtyard in the middle. On the ceiling in my room was a loft hatch, and one drunken night my friends and I decided to open it and see if there was anything up there. Ever since then, the house felt totally different. I’d wake up and see a person running out of the door, it was just generally freaky. Can I say I’m sure that this wasn’t because of my vivid imagination? Of course not.

The second place I lived at university was a funny old house with a 1960s style front. It had always felt unwelcoming as it had been left in a complete state and not professionally cleaned as promised. There was what looked like a large blood stain on the living room carpet, and all the furniture was in random rooms – two beds in one, three wardrobes in another, all sorts of crazy things. I was already feeling a bit weird about these things after the last palaver from halls, but a house that was only 50 years old was unlikely to have anything, right?

Well, my housemates hadso thought there was something there, and over time I did too. I had a project due to be delivered and it had been a nightmare making it from start to finish. I’m not the most organised person (which you’ll probably notice from reading my ‘daily’ poetry that definitely isn’t daily) so I laid everything out, the label I needed, the project, everything required in the correct order on my desk. I went to sleep and woke up the next morning to find it had gone. This happened to me a lot, which was why I had started to question things – my passport or documents, for example, would be one moment next to me and another moment gone and in some cupboard or drawer. I had convinced myself it was me forgetting I’d moved stuff, but after this I wasn’t so sure. I started panicking a fair bit, as that project had to be in at 9am on the dot for submission. I trashed my room looking for it, and eventually found it on top of my wardrobe, underneath a suitcase I kept there. I’ve never sleep-walked in my life, so unless that happened out of the blue, I have no real explanation for this one.

The next, and final, thing I found a lot harder to ignore. When I first met my wife, I was staying at her mum’s house a lot, sometimes on my own as we worked different shift patterns. When I was there alone, the cat would always come and sit with me and look around at something that wasn’t there. According to my mother-in-law, who rented the house out for about 20 years before moving back into it, almost every tenant that had passed through had made comments about strange goings on, and they were sure there was something there. When the family moved back in, they would find things would go missing and turn up in unexplainable places. Hangers would clang against each other in closed wardrobes, and there were sections of the house that always remained icy cold. She had eventually decided to have a confrontation, and announced that she didn’t mind living alongside whoever this was, but could they please welcome them as they now welcome her. Nothing happened after that, unless I was there alone, which I guess would make sense, as I wasn’t there when that was said, so I wasn’t included in the agreement.

There was one time that really was unexplainable. It was Hallowe’en as well, which I don’t give a lot of thought to as I am Christian, which is also part of the reason why I like to leave things like this alone, as they’re not for me to explore or understand.

So there’s the kitchen door opposite the bathroom door, and a mirror on the wall in between. I was using the mirror to put on some makeup before I went out, and suddenly a musky perfume smell wafted past. There was nobody in the house, and none of those automatic air fresheners to be spraying away. It seemed to come from the bathroom and go into the kitchen, and a few seconds later, the lid of a jar that was by the sink flew across the room and bounced on the tiled floor with a heavy clang. That was it, I went out with only one eye done.

Like I said, these are stories from word of mouth or my own experiences which may have perfectly rational explanations, I just don’t know what they are.

I’m so sorry.

It’s been about two (or three or some kind of unacceptable number) months since my last blog or “daily” poem… I’M SORRY. With such a crazy time going on, I had to put blogging in the back seat. It was like being missing a limb.

But I’m back! So if you still fancy reading along and you’re not too disappointed by my blog abandonment, then that’s fantastic. With lockdown going on, and many other crazy things happening around us in the world, we need a bit of a release sometimes.

I’ve been working on a new creative project alongside this, and with any luck, if I feel confident in it enough, I will be sharing it with you all very soon (ish). I’m late for everything so please don’t take the fact that it doesn’t appear any time soon as meaning it’s not coming. I had some equipment to use for it, but the last piece is on its way. I made do but I’m tempted to re-do it all, so please do bear with me. Whether it’ll be any good is a question for another day, but you can laugh with me or at me, and either way I hope it’ll put a smile on your face, even if it is just for the sheer awfulness (is that a word?) of it.

Now I’ve rambled on, in a way that’s a disgrace to literature, I’ll let you carry on. But keep an eye out, any support is so much appreciated. Just seeing a notification that someone has liked one of my blogs or poems is enough to put a smile on my face for at least a day. I hope my work can do the same for you.

I know some of it can be a bit heavy, but trust me, this new project is the total opposite. I’ll try to make you all smile, because after all, we all know – when life gives you lemons, surpass expectations and eat them.

Writing Daily or Writing Crazy

I type this post with a dog sitting on my feet in the comfort of my post-workday living room. I’m just missing a cup of tea and a slice of toast (a habit I have regretfully picked up from my mother, the queen of toast-eating). I decided a little while ago that I wanted to publish some kind of post every day, but finding something interesting enough to share about my standard work, home, feed dogs, cook, eat, wash up, watch TV and go to bed life proved rather tricky. The only update I really have to give at this stage is that I am totally bogged down by the gruelling process of a house purchase (wouldn’t recommend), but once that’s done I should (haha) have more time to write!

Anyway, after that meaningless ramble, the point I was getting at is that I’ve decided to write and publish on my site (as well as Twitter, Instragram and Facebook – please check those out too for extra content) a poem every day. The majority of these are syllabic, meaning that I am quite restricted, which is great because anyone who has read my poetry on this site will notice that I don’t know when to stop.

I’ve already almost forgotten on some days, and while I have the privilege of scheduled posts on here, there is no such thing for the rest of the accounts I try to keep up to date. Still, here we are, I have committed myself and for once I am determined to stick this one out and not fall behind on it. I’ve always loved writing and this is something I can look forward to doing each day, from my sofa, with my feet up, with my dog.

I hope you enjoy reading the daily poems, or spam, depending on your perspective.

Remember to surpass those expectations and eat the lemons life throws at you this week. You can do it.

Lost (in books)

Rather than getting lost in a book today, I decided to get lost in a bookshop. Literally. It was like a maze of literary heaven. Choosing only one book was hard (I have to limit myself each time I go), so I went for a selection of short stories this time, or should I say ‘The World’s Greatest Short Stories”. The book doesn’t seem to display a publication date, but from looking at it, it’s been around for many a decade.

The literary maze

This shop has the dynamics of a TARDIS, with winding corridors and wonky stairs. If there was the time to spare, you could easily spend an entire day exploring the covers and pages of works of fact and fiction.

The literary maze round a corner

The joy of a book of short stories, I have discovered, is that when unsure what to read, or during those times in life when getting into a novel seems strenuous, you can just open the book on a random page, sift through a bit and read an entire story.

The literary maze round another corner

My usual genre is non-fiction, and I have a great interest in the Second World War, probably stemming from the stories my Great Grandfather told me every Sunday at teatime, of all the brilliant and brave things he did. Having grown up, learning about the harsh reality of it all has become an important part of my life.

The literary maze up some stairs

The reason I went for something different today, however, was in a way for some more inspiration. Like reading, I find it difficult to get all the way through writing a novel, with a number of half-written files on my Google drive. Not only will it (hopefully) get me reading in those small spaces of time throughout the day, but also (hopefully) it’ll help me to improve my short story writing, because let’s face it, I’m no expert at this.

The joy of being able to flick open a book of short stories

Saturday Summary

I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of blog content I should write for quite a while, and got nowhere with it so far other than sharing poetry and fiction. With a lot of my spare ‘sitting around’ time taken up with novel writing, the daily blog entries I’d envisaged when setting up this site never materialised. So, a weekly summary of one thing or another it is.

Scrolling through social media recently, I saw an article about things that people have seen but have no proof of, many of them being completely unbelievable things that not many people really believe. I don’t have many stories like that, and the ones I have are going in a memoir which may or may not appear in the future, but there is one that I think is worth sharing.

The story begins when I’d recently got my second dog. The first one was a timid little Jack Russell x Chihuahua (she’s a rescue so there’s probably a lot of other breeds in there too), who didn’t have a lot of personality. Even now, she behaves more like a cat than a dog, and is impossible to read. Her behaviours aren’t always typical, so figuring out what she wants or what she’s thinking is next to impossible. Training her went out of the window within a week – maybe the saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks really is true (she was 8 years old when we rescued her).

The Xbox dog

Anyway, there was one day that she and the second dog had a minor disagreement, and she’d snapped at her. She’s tiny and absolutely harmless, and there was no fight, but we needed to do something to teach her that she can’t go round snapping at her dog housemate. We put her in the crate next to the TV, which was only really there for the second dog. She stood there, seething. She was practically shaking with some kind of anger, her beady little eyes staring right at me. If she could talk, she’d have been saying “who do you think you are to put me in a crate”.

We decided to give her until she’d stopped trying to cast a spell with her face and had calmed down before letting her out. It took a good ten minutes or so, but she eventually did and we opened the door. Her little head popped up and back came that expression.

I was using my Xbox to watch a DVD at the time, and this dog seemed to know that. Without breaking her creepy little eye contact, she waltzed over to the Xbox, turned her head as if she was flicking her ears like hair, and turned the Xbox off. With her nose. Dead on the power button. Then she did her ear flick back round, looked me dead in the eye, and walked off.

I do actually have a witness to this, but even so the whole thing sounds ridiculous. I imagine it was a bit of a coincidence, but I can’t fathom any real reason why she would do that. She’s never had any fascination with an Xbox or other console of any description. Plus, how did she know to press that button, on that console? She had the other Xbox, the Virgin Media box and the retro Nintendo Wii to choose from.

Believe it or not, coincidence or not, it happened.

Sweet Sweet Lemons – Why the sour face?

Living an average life can be testing, exhilarating and beautiful, often all at the same time. Let’s not beat around the lemon grove, and dive in to an honest account.

From fictional and poetic writing to exploring the general experiences of modern real life, we’ll explore the world of today through a variety of lenses.