Monday, May 21, 2007

The terminated train.

The UK weather remains in that state we like to call ‘changeable’. Anyone visiting from anywhere else in the world would call it ‘insane’. Today we had sunshine, rain and hail.

‘Changeable’ means you get up to sunshine, dress for sunshine, open your door and get pelted with hail. You go back inside, put on a coat, and step out into blistering heat. By the time you’re removed your coat, it’s raining. Never go anywhere in the UK without a hat.

What this means is that I’m not currently doing any outdoor investigations. I’ve found another derelict, a very, very old one, but I’m not going to photograph it because if I do, someone will demolish it before I get there. It has no roof, so I’d rather choose a time when there’s a fair chance of no rain.

In the meantime, I’ve been wondering who to pass on the ‘thinking blogger’ award to. I visit very few blogs, and some have already been tagged. So it’s not so much a case of ‘who to choose’ as ‘will I find five?’ More of that later.

With the changeable weather, I’ve had time to think about a few things. Some time ago, I wrote about ghost cars, trains, coaches, those sorts of things. There are many reports of phantoms of things that have no business being ghosts. Trains are popular, as are ships. There are a few cars, many horse-drawn coaches, even one or two aeroplanes. No trucks, as far as I know. Perhaps all trucks go straight to Heaven.

It occurred to me that I have never seen a photo or video footage of any of these. There is a ‘ghost car’ on YouTube but it’s not real. The fence isn’t fixed at the bottom. The police car chasing this ‘ghost’ could have driven through if they’d realized that.

Well, reports of ghost cars are rare, and their appearance follows no pattern. So it’s reasonable that there are no pictures. The same cannot be said of most ghost train stories.

Trains run on fixed tracks. They can’t wander around, you know the route they must take. Also, most ghost train stories centre on a specific event. The anniversary of a crash, a particular phase of the moon, that sort of thing. With a fixed route and a defined time, surely someone must have set up a camera to capture an image?

It’s hard to tell. Searching on ‘ghost train’ throws up a whole heap of fairground rides, bands, films and books. If there’s a real ghost-train image on the internet, it’s comprehensively buried by all this stuff. The nearest thing I could find turned up on YouTube. I've tried to direct-post the video here, but no luck yet.

It’s not a great capture, but it does seem to be the nearest thing to a ghost train video that doesn’t include plastic skulls on springs. It is set up at the time and place defined by local folklore, but the lights shown don’t look like train lights. To me, they look more like car headlights in the distance. The ‘horn’ sounds like a modern American engine and gives no impression of movement. No rise or fall as it approaches or recedes. Could it be from a factory nearby?

This is reported to happen on the first Sunday of every month. Now, I know there are such things as regular hauntings but I find it hard to believe any aspect of the spirit world is fixed by our Earthly calendar. What happens on leap years? Does the train sometimes appear on the first Saturday in March, because the driver didn’t check his calendar?

If that horn sounds on the first Sunday of every month, I’m definitely looking for a non-paranormal explanation. I can give credence to hauntings that appear on solstices or equinoxes, or on dates that can be related to such fixed events, but not to the idea that ghosts are controlled by their personal organizers. I don’t believe spirits either know or care what date it is. They might be influenced by the planet’s location in reference to the sun, but they don’t check their watches for their appearances. Nobody knocks on their dressing-room doors to tell them when to go to work.

On the whole, I don’t think that video’s a deliberate fake. I think this guy’s neighbours might be winding him up.

Pity. I found no other photos or videos. I found no images of ghost ships either. Nor of the ghostly carriages that plague country houses all over the UK. Why not? The trains, and to a lesser extent the carriages, are reasonably predictable in their arrivals. More predictable than the ones we have now, anyway. So why are they never photographed?

Are they all figments of the imaginations of hysterical people? Some are, certainly, but there are too many such reports, with too many independent witnesses, to discount them all.

This list gives some idea of how many ghostly carriages and horsemen are around in the UK. The first on the list has headless horses driven by a headless coachman, with a headless passenger. Despite there being no possibility of any of them seeing where they’re going, it’s said to appear every night, run for about 10 miles then explode. I’m not going to travel for that one. It’s been exaggerated to the point where I can’t believe any of it.

Others on that list have more credibility. I’d be particularly interested in the ‘radiant boy’ listed there. That’s a very specific phenomenon in a class of its own. It’s rare and doesn’t seem to be a standard ghost, in that these are not recognized as the ghost of someone dead. They might be a non-human class of spirit…but I’m getting distracted.

The Paranormal Database also has a ‘calendar of events’. Why has nobody apparently taken advantage of this to catch a ghost train, ship, or even the phantom spitfire that’s supposed to appear in January? Take a look at June and see how many events occur on Midsummer’s Eve. Yet none have been photographed, and I can find no reports that anyone’s ever tried.

It’s not so much the lack of these photos that makes me wonder. The debunkers would have no trouble proving that the dancing skeletons of Worthing, or the rotating cromlech cap of Dyffryn, are no more than legend. Their dates of occurrence are fixed. Yet there are no reports, one way or the other. Naturally, a sceptic who did observe the dancing skeletons would be unlikely to say so. Peer pressure is a powerful thing, and the sceptic who produced film of one of these events knows he would be out of a job in no time.

I’m going to try to arrange to be at one of these locations at the specified time. They’ve been ignored for too long.

I will, naturally, expect the weather to comply.


drsharna said...

Are you sure you haven't moved to Texas? With the exception of the "deep summer" months, what you've described sounds like the weather around here.

Please excuse me, the jbzep is ringing.

tom sheepandgoats said...

I didn't really win a Thinking Blogger award, but I stole one from Steve G, who somehow and absurdly came to think he was undeserving.

So you needn't consider me for the award, in case by some miracle, you were. I'd just throw it on top of the stack.

Romulus Crowe said...

Dr Sharna - it's unusual here to have hailstones at this time of year, but they just won't be told. They're having too much fun perforating my hostas.
Every day is random weather. At least I don't have to water the garden.

Tom - you were indeed on my very short list, as one of the few people with whom I can debate religion without it descending into a fight. In the event, I failed to make five this time, because several of those I'd thought of were already nominated.

Next time though.

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