GHOSTLY VISITS

There are a number of locations around New Zealand believed to be haunted. The most famous, with many documented cases of supernatural disturbances, are Larnach Castle in Dunedin and the Vulcan Hotel at St. Bathans.

Ghosts have fascinated and scared people for hundreds of years and to say a place is haunted either attracts or repels people. I have had a personal experience with a ghost and am sure you would like to know all about it so read on:

UNEARTHLY BEINGS

As I recall it now, the whole thing seems so incredible, that it’s hard to believe it actually happened. It took place at a well-to-do inner city Glasgow address. I had just secured a position at the BBC and was delighted to find a place only a few streets away from the studios.  The flat was numbered 64 and was located in the middle of a pleasant three storied tenement row. The ground floor tenants were a young couple in their late twenties who introduced themselves when I moved in. I’ve no recollection of any names. He was a little overweight and wore tatty clothes. His hair needed washing. She was thin with an artificial grin that appeared somewhat unnatural. They did point out I wasn’t to disturb them. If I heard ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra” (the theme from the film ‘2001’) blaring from their stereo, they’d be making love. “Fine!” I thought. “good to know that!”

The owner was an attractive woman in her thirties. She told me she lived at the back of the ground floor. She said she was married, but I never saw her husband. She was proud of the renovations they had done to the place and on the first day after I moved in, she led me to the top floor to show off the work they had done to restore it to its former glory. The whole floor was an empty open space with nothing but a ladder standing in the centre of the wooden floor. “We’re doing the ceiling.” she said in a silky voice as she stared at me somewhat disarmingly. Half of the open area was painted cream while the rest was a deep blue, an odd colour to choose for Glasgow’s cold climate.

THE BEDSIT

My accommodation was a large bed sit on the middle floor. It contained a bed, a small couch and basic cooking facilities in one corner. A bathroom occupied the rest of the floor. I was very restless that first night. I couldn’t get warm. The air seemed to chill my bones, despite having a two bar heater next to me all night. The next couple of nights were the same. In fact, waiting in the BBC crew room to go on a job, a sound recordist commented on my appearance. “Clubbing?” he asked, noticing the bags under my eyes. “I can’t sleep” “Aunty Beeb getting to you?” he quipped. (Auntie Beeb is an affectionate term for the BBC) 

Apart from the chill in the room, every time I came and went, ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ was blaring on the stereo in the ground floor flat. “One way to keep warm.” I thought to myself. The sleepless nights continued and the chill seemed to intensify. I was becoming extremely uncomfortable in the place. I had another chat with the sound recordist because I knew he was interest in psychic stuff.  “It needs exorcising.” he recommended. “There’s a trapped spirit in your room. That’s why it’s so cold.” That did it. I decided to leave. I approached the owner, who I had not seen since she showed me the top floor renovation. I knocked on the door to her part of the ground floor and was surprised how quickly she opened it. She didn’t seem the slightest bit upset when I informed her I was leaving after only a week. She didn’t ask why as she gave me a sweet smile and closed the door lightly in front of me. I never saw any sign of a  husband the whole week I was there.

MY FRIGHTENING ENCOUNTER

That last night was particularly cold. I had temporary accommodation arranged, but it wasn’t available until after nine o’clock the following morning. I was packed and ready to leave at six. I sat inches from the heater and stared at the second hand as it crawled around the face of my watch.

I had a shower to try and shake off the chill that seemed to eat at my bones. On the way from the bathroom back to my room, I was stunned to see someone walking down the stairs from the empty space on the top floor.

I looked at this person, and a cold shiver ran down my spine. I couldn’t decide if it was male or female. It wore black trousers and a knee length coat. The hair was cut short and I remember the eyes staring at me. They were blank, as though there was no functioning brain behind them. I found it hard to breathe as I stood rigid in fear. I felt what seemed like an icy finger run up and down my spine. “You leaving?”  it asked. The voice seemed to come from somewhere deep inside the ‘person’. I just nodded in acknowledgement. “No one ever stays long in that room.” it added before turning and walking back up the stairs to the empty space above. I dressed in seconds flat and grabbing my suitcase, which was already packed. I raced down the stairs and out into the blackness of the pre-dawn. It felt so warm being out there in the cold early morning air. I heard “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” as I hurried past the ground floor flat.

MYSTERY REMAINS

I went back a week later to see if there was any mail for me. I still looked forward to letters from my folks in Dunedin. I banged the gold knocker on the black front door but no reply. Shortly after that, I moved to London to continue my work with the BBC. Almost two years later, I had a filming trip to Glasgow. I took the opportunity to visit number 64. I was curious to see if ‘they’ were still there. The black paint had peeled on the front door. The grass had grown over the garden strips either side of the front path. It was obvious no one was living there. I decided to ask the neighbours on either side if they knew anything, but they were not at home.

To this day, I’ve no idea what happened. I do believe the owner, the ‘loving’ couple and the strange androgynous person on the stairs were not of this world. I truly believe that for one week, I shared a house with four ghosts. I’m convinced that’s what they were. Why, on that last visit, the place was empty and apparently abandoned, is still a mystery to me. I’ve never been back.

MY NZ GHOSTLY EXPERIENCES

As mentioned at the start, Larnach Castle and the Vulcan Hotel at St. Bathans are both known for their resident ghosts. I have experienced their activities at both places. While filming a TV drama at Larnach Castle, the film crew and I were somewhat rattled when the heavy wooden doors to the ballroom slowly closed then opened by themselves. There was nobody anywhere near them when this happened. A castle staff member said it was the ghost of William Larnach’s daughter that liked to make her presence felt every now and then.

While staying at the Vulcan Hotel, a bottle of whisky suddenly fell from the top shelf in the bar and an electric jug on a table in the hallway (for making tea or coffee) turned itself on and boiled the water. Again, no human was anywhere near it. However, these Kiwi supernatural happenings didn’t bother me after experiencing the strange ‘people’ first hand at that Glasgow bedsit.

Ceidrik Heward