So you want to be a ghost hunter, huh?

I have lately developed a healthy and unquenchable liking for watching the various reality tv shows that feature ex-plumbers, muscle shake drinkers and hot chicks who investigate paranormal situations. I have calculated that you can watch up to 12 hours or more of these types of shows each week.
This suggests that I am not alone in my fixation.
Actually, that’s sort of one of the points they make isn’t it? We are not alone. It seems that the past and those who have passed on are still with us. Very comforting. N’est pas?

On a scale of one to ten I am probably a 9.5 on the Official Cowardly Custard Meter. In short, if something goes bump in the night my first reaction is to pull the bedclothes over my head and hope it goes away. Trembling doesn’t help much and grabbing your sleeping partner is likely to get you a good punch in the head. Better to take your chances with whatever is lurking in the dark I reckon. Therefore, if the bumping persists take away the thing’s advantage by turning on your bedside light. This seems to work.

Conclusion; things that go bump in the night prefer the darkness, which is perhaps why they keep going bump in the night. The fools can’t see where they are going. Simple.

Despite my misgivings and reluctance to experience demonic possession, as occasionally happens on tv, I devised a cunning plan to allow me to try ghost hunting first hand. I’d like to share it with you.

First of all it helps if you own a late model SUV. I do, but it’s not black, it’s grey. Well actually silver-grey. But close enough to black for my purposes. Black clothes are never a problem. Next you must load up with a bunch of ghost detecting electrical devices. I don’t have many but it’s no real drawback. You can improvise.
For example, my smart phone has a recording feature and we own more than one reliable torch. I don’t have a movement detector but I figure if anything comes at me out of the dark I can probably react quickly enough to at least strike it a glancing blow with my cricket bat.

Watching the pros on tv has been good because I have studied their various techniques and mastered such questions as, ‘Hello, is anyone there?’, ‘Do you want us to go?’ and ‘Did you die here?’. I also know other stuff like, ‘Was that you? You swine? Lay off those hamburgers with the lot.’, ‘What the f—k was that?’, ‘Some thing just scratched me’ and ‘I’m getting out of here!’. Actually that last one is one of mine but feel free to use it. Any time.

Once I am tooled up and cruising in my near black SUV I head for any likely location that takes my fancy. For example, an old building, a cemetery or just somewhere really creepy. Here’s an actual recent case of mine.

Investigation of Eltham Tower, Victoria.

Not far from where we live is a tall, stone tower. It’s a memorial to those who lost their lives in various wars. At night it stands surrounded by tall trees that amplify the wind which always seems to sweep around the hill on which the tower stands. Access up the tower is by a set of metal stairs that cause footsteps to echo with suitably hollow effect. No need for a multiple hour lock down. If something is here I will not be staying long enough to see the dawn. At the foot of the stairs I take several nervous glances at the creepy shadows thrown by the wind tossed trees and pop the standard question, ‘Hello, is anyone there?’

‘Oooo’ comes the reply.

‘Do you want me to go?’

‘Ooooo. Oooooo. Ooooooo!’

My knees start to knock together like demented bongo drums. I see a definite shadow that rises from the steps above and moves upwards. Higher into the tower.

‘Ooooo. Ooooo.’

A shadow person. There is always at least one of them on tv! This tower must be a hell hole? A hive of paranormal activity! I suddenly realise that in my terror I have forgotten to turn on my phone’s recorder. Damn.

‘Could you make a noise so I know you are here?’ I ask in a slightly strained voice.

‘Oooooooooooo. Oooooooooo.’

‘Right, that’s good enough for me. Thank you.’

‘Oooooooooooo. Ooooooooo.’ Another shadow sweeps upstairs. My grip tightens on the cricket bat.

Then there is a loud noise from outside the tower. It sounds like chains rattling. It’s hard to fight the stay or flee instinct as a yellow orb manifests in the bushes and moves about erratically.

‘Oooooooooo. Oooooooo.’

‘Oh shut the f–k up!’ I yell up the tower as the orb gets closer and my nerves fray like cuffs on an old pair of jeans. I stand poised to play a telling hook shot.

‘Who are you yelling at?’.

I manage to get my torch on just as the tower caretaker steps into the newly created circle of light.

‘What are you up to?’

‘Oh, nothing really. I was just checking out the tower for ghosts.’

The stern face of the caretaker softens.

‘You should have come and asked first mate. We’ve got plenty of them back there in the old shed. They avoid the tower after dark. That’s when the demons take over. The spooks don’t like the demons.’

Ice water runs in my veins for all the wrong reasons. But a wide smile breaks across the caretaker’s craggy face.

‘You idiot. I really had you going then didn’t I?’

‘But, I just heard a disembodied voice. Several times. It went Oooooooo. And…and there were shadows. Big ones.’

‘More likely disembodied doves you fool. They own the tower. Oooooooo! Ooooooo! I love it.’

“Doves?’

‘Yes, friggin’ doves. Now get in your van and piss off!’

‘S’not a van. It’s an SUV!’ I say mustering what little dignity I have left.

‘Yeah. Well you and it can just POQ’ ‘Ooooooooo. Doves.’ Ha, ha ha………

Muttering and slightly embarrassed I return to my SUV deprived of the opportunity of doing a formal wrap up of my investigation. As I head down the driveway with the screen credits playing in my head I regret not having someone to fist and say ‘good job’ to.

In the darkened tower all is quiet except for ‘Oooooooo’. ‘Ooooooooo.’

Friggin’ doves. ‘Oh well, on to the next one.’

Seekers after truth, ghost posses, spirited pursuits and cricket bats

Lately I have developed a fascination for the numerous ‘ghost hunter’ type programs available for viewing on Foxtel. Far from creeping me out, I am like a rabbit in a spotlight. I just have to watch and I can’t get enough of the stuff that goes bump in the night. This is a huge advance on hiding under the bed or in the cupboard, which were my preferred strategies up until I started watching these spooky reality shows. For one thing, the bed is too low and we have all seen those movies where the monster, ogre, murderer or general harm-doer always stops outside the cupboard, and smells the victim’s fear. Then it’s usually curtains. So I don’t hide no more. Instead, I sit in a corner of my lounge, with a cricket bat; where I cannot be snuck up on. So far it has worked. No need to call Ghostbusters.
Here in Oz, there are two programs with similar names. One features a team of locals (investigators, photographers and psychic) and the other features a team of locals plus Internationals. I prefer the latter, simply because the all Aussie version is so pathetic. Most of the team on that show look like refugees from Telly Tubbies and the psychic cries at the drop of a foot fall. The star is a weird-looking dude dressed in black who has all the charisma of a fence post. But he does nod very well. So far these guys have failed to turn up anything of note despite finding a number of apparently haunted sites. Maybe the resident spirits run away as soon as the team appears.
The combined team on the other hand has racked up some great results. What impresses me the most are the EVPs; recordings of ghostly voices and sounds. What does not impress me, is when one of the team shouts out that they just saw a dark shadow or an apparition, but there is no film to back them up. Spooky noises and unexplained happenings are common to both shows but for my money the combined team’s creepy voice over narrator (perhaps ex-Rocky Horror Show?) and the team descriptions provide touches of real class. One of the team has the job description ‘Psychic Bad-boy’ (he has tats and piercings). You gotta love it.
Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International have similar lineups. The shows are quite slick and often thought-provoking. All team members wear casual uniforms with individual accessories. I also like the fact that they travel in black SUV’s or cars. Are they VIP’s? Course they are; ordinary people do not get to ride in black SUV’s. You talk about technical equipment? Both shows’ stars are tooled up big time. The spooks don’t have a chance.
More recently a show called Paranormal Phenomena – Fact or Fiction has caught my attention. Unlike the other shows, this one sets out to prove whether particular happenings are true or not. They even attempt to replicate what has been alleged. It makes for great tv. I love the way that a bunch of people, who claim to be either ex-FBI, ex-CIA, ex-police, a super hero (current or past) or have some other such pedigree, have become part of a team that selects its own cases from the weekly submissions sent in by viewers. Best of all, they often conclude that what has happened is not faked.
Of course, all this proof of ghostly activities does little to soothe my nerves; especially when I am all alone in the house with just my little cricket bat to protect me.
Unfortunately, like the snake charmer’s cobra I know that I will continue to be drawn to these type of shows. Perverse, isn’t it? SSSSSSSSSSSS!