Christmas blog, Oh Christmas blog, how Christmassy is your blog? Christmas.... Eurrrgh... One of the world's finer literary giants, Charles Dickens identified that Christmas is not for everyone. He also had the good sense to pack some ghosts into a few of his works. With a style more akin to journalism, Dickens is the superior author in my opinion. As a student of history, I read a lot of Dickens, he really could paint a canvass with his wordsmithery. He would put you outside a Poorhouse, the sights, the smells etc. Then of course, it's down to student and teacher to explore the social, political and economic factors that shaped the scenes described by Dickens.
A particular ghost tour I used to run for Lantern Ghost Tours would stop at one of Dickens' old haunts (geddit?) The Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich sits right on the south bank of the Thames. Just a stone’s throw from the Cutty Sark and Royal Naval College. It was built in 1837, on the site of the Old George Inn. Mention hauntings to the current staff and see the colour drain from their faces. One in particular told me that he didn't want to talk about it, lest the activity focus on him. Looking out of the bay windows over the Thames it's easy to imagine the ferrymen plying their trade, the ships returning from far off lands. Dickens would no doubt have been inspired to write by what he saw from this very same viewpoint.
Nowhere in the world can beat London in terms of history. Not just the combined years of settlement, but the story of people therein. The history of London is not pleasant. The people have been blighted by raids from overseas marauders, plagues, disease, poverty, war etc. Then, they will have suffered more personal events, high infant mortality, crime, addictions, abuses. Even as recently as the 1950s, dockers would turn up to work and fist fight to decide who got the limited number of jobs, this would be daily, before any work was done... Stuff that... For me, it's no wonder that London is one of the most haunted cities in the world. There are layers upon layers of paranormal tales, and likely hundreds more that have been lost to time. Of course, many of these would likely fall into categories of explainable phenomena, such as pareidolia, but surely not all.
Having said this, it's almost impossible to hold public paranormal events in London. Most of the venues who are open to the idea price themselves very very highly. Other places of significant interest are significantly uninterested. Then there are the bars, restaurants, hotels, it really isn't worth their while turning down their regular custom for a bunch of people to mooch around in the dark. Even events held outside would be disrupted by noise, light pollution, members of the public. For an area with such rich tales, it's very frustrating to not be able to get close to them.
History doesn't always equate a haunting. A tiny rock/heavy metal bar in Soho caught my interest. The Crobar lies between Tottenham Court Road and Leicester Square, dating from the 1690s the side street was home to the anarchist movement of the 1800s, so there is plenty of history. On occasion, I pop in for a beer or two, the place has a certain ambience and is filled with interesting characters. I explained to the staff what my interests are and asked what paranormal activity might lie therein, I eagerly awaited their response, expecting tales to wow me.. "None," they said. "We wish it was haunted!" If anyone reading this passes away any time soon, pop in to see them, you will be warmly received!
Speaking of Lantern Ghost Tours, I'm soon to be running their Paranormal Ghost Tour. I really do miss working with them, I love the vibe of paranormal London. Circumstances dictate that I'm working further away from London most of the time, otherwise I would still be treading the streets with my kit in tow, up the Old Smoke. Hopefully, next year Wycombe Paranormal will collaborate with Lantern on some projects, watch this space!
So, as this year draws to a close, my paranormal work does not. There are plenty of ongoing private investigations and a new writing project to ensure I don't get too comfy watching Fiddler on the Roof or whatever other crud the networks see fit to blast at us. Anyway, I've now got Topol singing stuck in my head.. You should too.. No, really, you should!