Luzy, France, 2004. Orbs? Dust? What do you think? I was viewing a house which was really a shop that was for sale. Practically every picture taken has in it an orb or whatever they are. Worryingly I appear to be surrounded by them. Only glad I didn’t know that at the time.
Summer 1977. The car park and back of the haunted Royal Hotel in Guernsey, CI. The hotel has since burnt down. Yes, spooky indeed. To the left is my mother to the right is Chrissie, a friend from school, and someone who could see ghosts lucky her NOT. And hidden from view on the left is the ghostly gate with its rattling chain and padlock.
To continue with this ghost theme I have included a few relevant photographs which makes a welcome change from showing pictures which have nothing to do with my blog whatsoever.
So what’s with the ghosts? Well, for starters, if you’re looking for an absolute fright night of a hair-raising experience cease reading and move along. Seriously. You won’t appreciate these accounts you’ll possibly find them too tame and fair enough each to their own. But, believe me, you had to be there. My interest in ghosts is not because I enjoy or want to be frightened out of my wits. I only have to look in the mirror in the morning for that little delight. My interest in ghosts is purely platonic. I find the subject fascinating and with that in mind, let’s get down to business.
During the couple of weeks when Chrissie came to stay with us at the Royal Hotel back in August 1977, I was to witness one of the most frightening yet fascinating experiences of my life.
The Royal Hotel in Guernsey was reputedly a favourite with all things supernatural and could even boast its own haunted bedroom. Well, perhaps not boast exactly as they didn’t like to advertise they had a resident phantom on the premises and refused to allow anyone to stay in the room unless it was absolutely unavoidable as come the following morning it was always the same story.
The guest would complain of a freezing room and the feeling of being continuously watched. My mum and I were shown the allegedly haunted room and it was spooky. The day was warm, the sun was shining, but in that particular room it was cold and oppressive. I couldn’t wait to leave it and never return.
‘This is such fun! It reminds me of “Blithe Spirit”.’ Mum looked round eagerly at the deserted reception area. ‘George, there you are, this is my daughter Rosemary home for the school holidays and whom I’ve brought along with me this evening,’ she said. She lit a cigarette and laughed.
George, the elderly night porter, looked up at her in something approaching adoration. He couldn’t have been more goggle-eyed had she been Vivien Leigh.
And so we settled down with a silver pot of hot coffee and began our vigil. George, along with another porter, continued to make his rounds. The two gentlemen stopped now and then to chat with us on their way. We’d swap notes. Check times. Apart from the four of us the place was deserted. All guests and staff were asleep or in their rooms upstairs and rightly so at two o’clock in the morning. Sensible lot.
As I sat there sipping on my hot drink I was open to the possibility of witnessing a ghost and I was both fascinated and terrified of what I might see. I believed in ghosts but quite frankly I didn’t know what to expect.
Mum had told me about the strange noises she’d been hearing outside her bedroom window late at night during our weekly phone calls. At the time Mum was renting a suite in the hotel. Her room backed on to a private courtyard that was chained and padlocked every evening. Mum would hear the padlock rattling and thinking it was George would shout out ‘Good night, George,’ but he’d never answer. Night after night the same thing would occur. Come three o’clock in the morning the chains would rattle Mum would shout out and receive no answer.
Finally she cornered George. She thanked him for checking the gates every evening but couldn’t understand why he didn’t answer her when she called out to him.
‘It’s not me, Mrs Bach. No one goes out there at that time of night.’
‘Who rattles and checks the padlock?’
‘Well,’ he said quietly. ‘Put it this way, no one likes to go out there and quite frankly no one does,’ he paused. ‘At least no one from our current staff.’
And so Mum was introduced to the spirits of the Royal Hotel and from that moment on she dived into her ghost hunting with gusto.
We’d been sitting on our velvet-covered chairs drinking endless cups of coffee for about an hour when George and the other porter returned from making their rounds. It was quiet. No one spoke. It was still. And it was cold. Suddenly, the heavy door that led from one of the bars into the reception area about twenty-five feet in front of us began to swing open. Fascinated I watched as it opened slowly, deliberately and steadily exactly as if someone was pushing it from the other side. Except, no one was there. And I know this because the door was made of solid glass and I could see right through it. Suddenly it banged shut. We simply stared at it. Knowing what we had witnessed but unable to comprehend it. A moment later, one of the glass doors that led through to the dining room began to swing open. It was exactly as if someone had come in from the bar, walked down the large L-shaped reception area, turned the corner where we were holding our vigil to walk right past us and through to the dining room beyond.
But, as for an actual apparition having being sighted, none had been, until now.
To be continued…
Sweet dreams tonight,
A few years down the road and this is us standing in front of the Royal in July 1980. The hotel, still haunted and prior to it burning down has been painted a rather unattractive fleshy pink colour rather like a steak going off. In the picture is yours truly, my mum, and the wife, lovely lady, of an old Salem (Bavaria) school friend of Dad’s, the eminent ex-Dean of Ohio State University, Dick Meiling.