Monday, December 24, 2007

No Jacobites this year.

No luck.

I went out again tonight, in case it was the 23rd after all, and not the 22nd. I was there from sunset (3:30 pm) until 5 pm, and I’m sure it was the right place. Nothing appeared to my eyes, but I have a lot of film to look through. I’m not too hopeful though.

Why nothing? Well, there are a few possibilities.

One. There never was anything, it was an urban legend. If so, I console myself with the decency of the urban-legend-generator who placed this particular story at a reasonable time of day. It might have been started to attract tourists here. It was the last-but-one battle fought on British soil after all. If that was the case, it didn’t work. I was the only one there.

Two. The bridge might have been built over the ford after all, so if there is any replay it’s going through the granite bridge supports. One of my video cameras was facing that way so if that’s the case I might yet spot something. Although if these are images imprinted on the environment, it’s possible that constructing the bridge has deleted that recording forever.

Three. The phenomenon is highly specific in time and location. Perhaps the conditions need to be exactly right. That would mean checking it next year too, and the following year. I’ll get some of those electrically heated gloves before then. The 22nd I thought would have been a reasonable match, with clear sky and a nearly full moon. Tonight (23rd) was overcast, very windy, and cold enough to make any brass monkeys reach for the thermal underwear. Well, I can rule out overcast/cold/windy so I won’t have to go there again in those conditions.

I heard no sounds of advancing soldiers but then that’s not surprising. The bridge was loaded with traffic the whole time, and soldiers approaching an enemy try to get as close as possible before they’re spotted. They wouldn’t be shouting.

A lot of these ‘replay’ phenomena are reported to take place in silence, pictures but no sound. So the absence of sound isn’t an issue. Pity though, if I had heard something I could have zoomed in those cameras.

Could such a phenomenon happen, right next to a busy bridge at the busiest time of year, with nobody ever noticing?

Definitely. From the bridge, you can see the river but you can’t see down over the side where I was standing. The traffic was seriously bad so every driver is watching ahead anyway. I’ve ridden the bus over that bridge many times, and in winter the sides of the bus are coated with road salt. You can barely see through them in the daytime, you can’t see a thing at night. If a full marching band materialised and stomped across that part of the river, they could do so without anyone seeing a thing.

No houses overlook this area. There’s a builder’s yard behind this stretch of river and that’s closed at the time the phenomenon is supposed to occur. As I said, I was the only one there, both nights. Fishing season is closed, and even dog-walkers don’t brave that stretch of riverbank when it’s dark and freezing. Besides, everyone else is last-minute shopping now.

The far side of the river has the old opening for the defunct canal. It’s overgrown and impassable. Nobody with any sense ever goes there, at any time of year. There’s no path on that side and no bridge over the remains of the canal.

Anyway, I didn’t see anything this time. Since it’s close to me and costs nothing apart from a roll or two of film, I’ll take another look next year. It gets me out in the fresh air.

I took two video cameras, each ran for 90 minutes each night so I have six hours of video to watch. I’m not doing that in one sitting because it’s hardly Cannes material. I’ll fall asleep for sure. I’ll do it in 15-minute chunks. Digital camera pics showed nothing, I won’t know about the films until I get them developed – and I doubt I can get that done before Christmas now. Still, I have enough to keep me busy.

I did run a voice recorder. I’ll save the files for later because I really don’t expect to have anything on that other than traffic noise. These replays aren’t ghosts, they’re replays. There’s no actual spirit present so no reason to expect voices. So I’ll store the files, and if any pictures show anything I can then go back to those recordings – just in case it wasn’t a silent film.

I could just delete this from my list of places to visit, and there are circumstances in which I would do that. If there were heavy travel and accommodation costs, if I had to hang around and risk hypothermia until two in the morning, if the place was in full view of anyone at all, then one investigation would be enough.

However, I can walk to this place. The alleged event takes place an hour after sunset, which is just around teatime here. The location is impossible to see unless you go there.

Now, the idea that these replay events are somehow imprinted on the environment is just that – an idea. It would be a much stronger idea if we can determine exactly what conditions are required to activate the replay. If we knew that, we might be able to reproduce those conditions at will and set the thing playing whenever we like. If we can do that, then we can start to determine where in the environment the images are stored, and that leads to a way of working out how they became stored there in the first place. And then, a way of storing any images we like on anything we like, to replay as holograms when activated. So yes, this might one day turn out to have a particularly lucrative application.

I have one of these events on my doorstep and all that’s required of me is to spend an hour or so, two evenings a year, checking it out. Those Jacobites might never appear: the bridge might have destroyed the recording or the whole thing might be an urban legend.

Still, it hardly involves any effort and, aside from the cold, it’s actually a very quiet and pleasant place to spend a little time. So I’ll go back next year.

It’s just a pity both the trout and salmon seasons are closed.


Southern Writer said...

My fingers are still crossed that something will show up on the film. If i lived there, I'd help you sort through it.

Anonymous said...

I knew there was a reason I left such investigations to others. Watching six hours of tape sounds tedious. On the other hand, you could set a screen up on the lawn, tap a keg, and invite your buddies over to a see a 'movie'. People will happily watch almost anything if they've got beer and chips.

Good Luck!

Romulus Crowe said...

Six hours of tape of a static scene. Three hours in one direction, three in another.

I'd need guys with berets and cappuccinos to appreciate such experimental cinema. Unfortunately I can't bear to be around those people. You know, I bet this could get an award somewhere...

It was dull. Very, very dull. Even in small slices, still dull.

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