Uncle Bill

home-879877__180

Here’s a personal story I’d like to share with you.

UNCLE BILL

I had always loved my Uncle Bill.

My earliest memories are of being in his workshop, watching him tinker with old cars, a hobby I went on to enjoy throughout my life. Looking back on it I can see I must have been a nuisance to him, but he had never once made me feel rejected, indeed he spent a lot of time encouraging me to get involved. The day ‘we’ rebuilt an engine when I was about ten, and I heard it start for the first time, is one of the happiest memories of my life.

Which was why I was so upset when I heard he’d died suddenly at his home in Yorkshire. Auntie Alice had two lovely daughters, agreeable sons-in-law and several grandchildren, so she wasn’t alone, but I knew that she’d be in pieces.

The day I drove up from Kent for the funeral was in cold October, the sky as grey as gunmetal and my gloom exacerbated by a constant drizzle.

tombstones-455607__180

As we stood around the graveside and each tossed in a handful of soil, I became aware of the powerful smell of Uncle Bill’s pipe smoke, a rich tobacco scent that I always associated with him. I looked around. There were no fires, no one was smoking a pipe nearby, so I knew it had to be some kind of memory trick, for smells can evoke memories like nothing else.

In the house afterwards, Auntie Alice took me into the living room, away from the others, and handed over a large box.

“There you are Jamie love, you have it. Bill brought this fancy car radio to replace the one in his old Jaguar, but he never got round to fitting it. He’d want you to have it.”

“That’s really kind,” I protested, “but what about—”

“No, you and Bill had this thing for cars, he’d have wanted you to have that, and all his tools too. The boys in my family aren’t interested in mechanics. My Bill thought the world of you, lad, he’d have wanted you to have them.”

So I packed all Bill’s ancient wrenches, jacks and goodness knows what else into my Range Rover and drove home later that evening. I’d decided to make a start, then stop at a motorway motel, and finish the journey in the morning.

Funnily enough, my own car radio was broken, and on a long journey a radio is company that I’d really missed. So before setting out, I took Bill’s new radio from the box, and, to my delight, found that taking out my old one and replacing it was only the work of half an hour or so.
car-933269__180

Speeding along the motorway, the fog came down suddenly, making it hard to see ahead. I slowed right down and switched on my fog lights.

I’d been listening to a news programme, when it was suddenly interrupted:

This is an important newsflash. There has been a serious pile up on the M1 motorway near to junction 35, involving a number of vehicles and the motorway has been closed. Anyone travelling in a southerly direction will be directed to leave at junction 36 and take another route. Police are on the scene…

Bugger, I thought. Then I considered the poor people involved in the accident: perhaps there’d been fatalities, so my inconvenience was nothing compared to what they were suffering.

It was strange. The announcement had come just before the nine o’clock news, and I was past junction 37, yet I couldn’t see any lights ahead, indicating police presence, or emergency warning signs, telling me that the motorway was closing.

And when I reached junction 36 there were still no warning signs, but I turned off, reaching another road, then parked in the first parking lay-by I came to, so I could look at the map and work out my new route. But tiredness had taken its toll, and, once I’d parked, I fell asleep almost instantly, forgetting to switch the radio off.

Much later I work up abruptly. For some unaccountable reason I felt a frisson of fear. I shivered. Then an announcement came from the radio:

There has been a serious accident on the M1 motorway with several fatalities and a number of vehicles involved. It happened at around 9.20 this evening, and the motorway has just been closed…

The same announcement that I’d heard an hour ago – I looked at my watch and the car clock. They both said 10 o’clock.

But I’d heard the exact same announcement at nine o’clock. Yet the announcer had just said the accident had happened at 9.20, twenty minutes after I’d heard about it.
I shivered again. Then smelt the familiar scent of Uncle Bill’s tobacco.

And I knew he was sitting right there beside me.

Advertisements

My Lost Friends

I was in the pub one evening and John came over to chat to me, knowing that I’m interested in the supernatural.  He was quiet and shy, not the kind of person to want to shout about his experiences, he just wanted to chat and ask what I thought.

Here’s his story:

MY LOST FRIENDS

personal-96105__180

I died when my motor bike crashed into the wall and I was thrown under the wheels of the bus.
One second I was riding along, the next, a screech of brakes and then…

What?

I was in a big open space. All around me there were people standing around, looking as bemused as I felt. I remember a young black guy in an army uniform, he was talking in a language I couldn’t understand. There was an old man with wispy white hair in an open necked shirt and old trousers, and in one hand he had pruning shears, as if he’d been gardening. There was a young woman, looking surprised, dressed in her night-dress. A little child, a girl, was wandering around everywhere, her eyes wide with amazement.

But what I remember most is how it felt. You know when you see something like, I don’t know, a sunset over the sea, or a view from a mountain across hills and fields on a sunny day? Or when a piece of music moves you to tears? That rush of sheer unadulterated joy that lasts maybe a split second and then disappears? Well, that’s what it felt like.

landscape-540115_640

Except that this feeling of joy went on and on.

And somehow it felt as if we were all united in some way. When I caught someone’s eye they were smiling, really smiling, you know? I felt that I loved them all, and they loved me. I’ve only known that feeling of utter companionship with more than one person once in my life: I was eighteen and I had about six really close friends at university, and we were all out one night, and I felt, yeah, this is me, I was really at one with those people. But when I was with my friends that time, that feeling lasted only momentarily, and was gone, never to return.

Until now.

There was nothing at all sexual about it, for it was like the love you might feel for your mum or dad or a pet you adore, or the love they tell me that parents feel for their children.

natur-818748__180

And I can truly tell you that I’ve never felt so happy as I did in those few moments. The black guy and the old gentleman walked towards me, and without words we all knew we were all embarking on something really special together, something wonderful and exiting. I noticed that the young woman was bending down talking to the little girl, and they were both smiling and happy too as they came towards us.

Then?

Suddenly above me was an ugly face close up against mine: I remember the smudge on the man’s spectacles, the hairs in his nose, the unshaven whisker on his chin. And the agonising pain in my chest as I felt someone bashing me hard.

veterinarian-809930_640

“He’s back!” I heard the man’s loud voice yell.

Then all the other things: the hairy wrist with a gold watch, the slender little brown hand with a sparking ring on a finger and pink-painted nails. Noises of echoes, the ping ping of some machine, the hot smells of antiseptic and hot rubber.

The pain.

Afraid? I was terrified.

How I longed to go back to be with my new friends. My eyes were streaming with tears at the thought that I’d never ever see them again. And I did so want to see them. I longed to see them more than anything.

After I recovered I wondered if it had all been a dream. For they told me that during those moments I had been technically ‘dead’ with no heartbeat. But if it had been some quirk to do with the brain shutting down, how come I’d dreamt about people I’d never in my life seen before, and seen them in such incredible panoramic detail?

Who were they?

I even thought of trying to somehow get a list of people who’d died at that moment, in case I could somehow recognise a newly deceased person amongst my lost friends. But how do you get a list like that? If they were people who’d just died, they could have been living anywhere in the world, and without even names I had no way of tracing them. I had this idea that if I could contract one of their relatives, I could reassure them so much: tell them how happy their loved one had been, that they might grieve for themselves but they had no need to grieve for the dead person at all. I wanted to give them that wonderful unbelievable news.

But even if it had been possible, no one would have believed me. They’d have thought I was raving mad.

Do you?

________

P.S. note from Jamie:

If you’d like to know more about me, click on the menu above

He was Me!

graffiti-889152__180

Ever had an experience that literally scares you witless?

Hello, I’m Jamie Dark, psychic investigator, architect and lover of anything old and interesting.

I’ve come across some interesting people and fascinating stories, and one of my friends, let’s call him Michael, shared this tale with me.

This one really did scare me witless. . .

HE WAS ME!

My life is shit

See, ever since I can remember I been looking for something. I hated my mum and dad, who pissed off when I was five. Mum was always yelling at me, so I ran away from home at ten, then when she got me back she started yelling even more, so I yelled back. She hit me and I hit her back.

Course I hated school. Bunked off most days, smoked skunk with my mates in the park. Then everyone had to leave school to what’s laughingly called in our town ‘trying to get a job’—what it means really is sorting out the best way to get your JSA without too much naffing about, and maybe having to do one of them government ‘courses’ that you don’t even have to turn up for.

See what I mean? It’s all shit.

When I left home the next time I was sixteen, no one could do nothing about it, no one naffing cared, and I bunked down in squats, in mates’ gaffs, sometimes in the park in summer. Course I needed money for skunk, and I scored coke whenever I could. The easiest way to get money was to what we called ‘scamming the bums’. A group of us would go down under the railway arches, where the tramps would gather, and nick the ‘pot’ of money they’d been begging for during the day. Sometimes you could get ten quid, twenty quid, easy.

Religion? Don’t get me started. Them church goers are all middle-class wankers, with their snotty attitudes their self-righteous hymn signing and preaching. And Muslims? I really dunno mate. I think of all them terrorists who are Muslims, but I seen a telly programme, where this Muslim fella was saying that nearly all Muslims are peace loving and hate killings and such. I dunno, maybe it’s true, but just like Christianity I reckon it’s all shit, not for the likes of me or my mates.

It happened one night late when I was on my own in the underpass down by the station. I was hoping to scam a bum down there, and I had high hopes—I knew of a couple of rough sleepers who’s no doubt be in a naffing drunken coma right now, and I could scam their pot easy—if they woke up a kick to their face would naff them off good, know what I mean?

As I turned the corner in the underground passage I saw an old guy kneeling down beside this wino. There was a couple of flies buzzing around, sure enough the fella on the ground was obviously dead, I get even get a whiff of him—corpses got a special smell, I smelt it a few times now.

And then as I looked on, the kneeling guy turns and stares at me.

He was me!

I’m not joking. You know how a person whether they’re 4, 44, or 88, however much their face has changed there’s something, I dunno what it is, maybe an expression in their eyes, maybe something about their features that doesn’t change: you know it’s them.

So it was with this guy.

He was me.

At least not me as I am now, but me as I guessed I’d probably look like forty years on. He hadn’t got much hair, had a short white beard.

But I knew that he was me.

I even caught sight of the last bits of the tat on the back of my hand: 81—the remainder of the one on my arm and hand, saying ‘made in 1981’. Only the skin around it was more wrinkled and puffy like, not like it is now.

Walking across my grave? I tell you, it was as if I’d shit across it!

My heart was beating like naff, I was sweating and scared. Yet as I looked again at the man that was me, I noticed he had a vicar’s white collar on, he was muttering something over the dead guy, saying something, I dunno, maybe a prayer, like vicars must do I guess.

So I ran.

I ran like fuck for what seemed like hours.

Then, when I stopped running and was panting with the effort, cramped, bent double and sobbing my heart out, I felt as if I wanted to go on crying for ever.

But after that, do you know a funny thing? I felt better. I felt better and happier than I’ve felt for years.

I was a long way outside town on the open moors. I walked back.

Once I was back in town I saw this church. The light was on inside.

I got closer. I walked up the steps.

And I pushed open the door and went inside.

___________

Note from Jamie

If you’d like to read more about me, click on the menu above.

The Angel

angel-1004111__180

Hello

I’m Jamie Dark, an architect who loves ancient buildings, and who got caught up in investigating paranormal phenomena after a very strange experience I had a while ago.  Now I’m sharing a few of the things that have happened to me, or been told to me, on this blog.  Please click on the menu for more details about me.

Here is something that happened to me a while ago, about the first time I met a murderer

THE ANGEL

“I’m a murderer, see?”

“Wasn’t it manslaughter?”

“Well. . .”

Gigantic Tony Clifford certainly looked like a murderer, with his huge muscular torso, shaven head and massive frame. The old-fashioned tattoo on his arm of a large anchor seemed somehow in keeping with our gloomy Victorian surroundings.

Murderer or not, I found myself liking Tony more and more. The phrase ‘gentle giant’ seemed to have been tailor-made for him.

We were walking along the long dark echoing corridors of what had once been Brierley town’s General Hospital, built in 1839. There was sludge-green linoleum on the floors, cracked yellowing paintwork on the walls and the smells and aura of centuries of human suffering seemed to be etched into the fabric of the awful place. Tony’s employer, AAA Demolition, had the contract to raze the building to the ground, and the derelict place had been an eyesore for five years now. As we walked I saw broken pipes sticking out of the ceiling, and nests of electrical wiring sprouting from plug sockets and green mildew climbing the walls. We turned left into the next section of seemingly endless corridors, and above an entrance it said ‘Halifax Ward’. Beyond the filthy pane of glass in the doors, the spider balanced in its web seemed to be laughing at us.

Knowing of my interest in the paranormal, Tony’s boss, my friend Alan Winter, had phoned me that morning, telling me about Tony’s alleged sighting of ‘The Angel’ here. The rest of the hard-hatted gang of guys from ‘AAA Demolition’ all around us weren’t interested in ghosts, they were too busy stripping out anything of value before the demolition cranes moved in.

The ‘Angel of Death’ was rumoured to be the spirit of a nurse in World War One uniform who was said to appear before patients who are on the point of death, coming to help them ‘cross over to the other side’.

nurse-158282__180

“Thing is, Jamie,” Tony went on, “the man I killed, was my best mate, Sean. We had a fight, I can’t even remember what it was about. But I hit him—not even that hard—and he fell down and cracked his head on concrete, and he died. They sent me to prison for manslaughter, but I didn’t care about doing time. . .”

The big man’s voice began to tremble, and tears appeared in his eyes.

“. . . Because you see the real punishment, for me, has gone on ever since it happened, and It’s never going to stop. Okay, after I got out I found a job, I got no practical problems in my life, but that doesn’t alter the fact that I’ve killed my friend, and no one can ever change that. I think about it every single day.”

He extracted a filthy tissue from his pocket, wiped his eyes and blew his nose, embarrassed at his display of emotion.

“And even the fact that everyone knows it was just a terrible accident doesn’t alter things?” I asked him.

He shook his head. “I just wish I could do something to put things right. I even thought about volunteering to go out to a medical charity in a war zone or something, you know? Putting my own life at risk to save others. Maybe that would stop me remembering what I did to poor old Sean. Maybe if I could save just one person’s life, then I wouldn’t feel so worthless.”

“No one thinks you’re worthless Tony. Sean would understand.”

“But I killed my mate.” He was almost too overcome with emotion to speak.

We went down a narrow staircase and reached a door to the outside, the cold tiled floor echoing our footsteps. The chilly October air hit us when we exited the hospital, and I could hear the sounds of hammering and distant shouts of the men above us.

“So, Tony, tell me about seeing the Angel,” I asked him.

“Well, she was only there for a split second.” His face lit up with an expression of joy, his previous sorrow forgotten. “But in that second, time seemed to stand still.”

I’ve always known that imagination is a powerful force. The man was clearly an emotional wreck, and I could now see that this interview was a complete waste of time: just one more example of a confused sensitive person with mental troubles hallucinating under stress. He went on:

“She had this lovely face, or maybe it was her expression. When I looked at her I’ve never before felt such a warm feeling of love and peace in my life.”

“And she was in nurse’s uniform?”

“Dunno really. Big kind of hat thing, I think, sort of long dress.”

We walked in the afternoon twilight, beside the old brickwork of the tumbledown building, where workers strutted around, intent on their various tasks.

“She was just here.” He stopped and pointed towards an alcove in the wall. “That’s where I saw her.”

It happened suddenly.

Without warning.

There was a yelling from above. Then the terrible cracking sound. A few feet away a man was walking towards us, earphones plugged into his ears below his hardhat, oblivious to the danger.
Instinctively I backed away. But Tony charged towards his mate, arms outstretched, crashing his palms into the unwitting victim’s chest, barrelling him out of the way as the chimney above us came down. Tons of bricks and masonry exploded in a dust-filled mountain, completely burying Tony, while his dazed friend looked on.

As the dust cleared, everyone piled in, frantically tearing the rubble away from Tony’s body, even though we knew there was no hope.

So was the Angel of Death’s premonition fulfilled?

Who knows.

Funnily enough it happened to be me who pulled away the brick that was covering his face.
In death he was smiling.

And out of the corner of my eye I thought I could see the shadowy figure of a running woman, almost floating, leading an equally shadowy figure by the hand.

But it was only for a second.

I must have imagined it.

Or did I?