Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Fearful fun as dark secrets are revealed

Well … everyone survived.

Apart from someone fainting during the tour of the top floor, our Haigh Hall horror night passed without any unsavoury incidents. I’m glad to report that my rendition of The Upper Tier (pictured) also went without a hitch.

Various members of the audience assured me afterwards that it was a clear, well-paced presentation, and that they enjoyed the story immensely. I’m quite pleased by that as Wigan audiences are nothing if not honest. Two years ago, I performed a different reading at a library in Wigan, and one of the ladies who’d turned up told me afterwards, in a very frank tone, that she hadn’t enjoyed it at all, as it was “much too horrible for her”. So hopefully this time I hit all the right notes.

A couple of people have emailed to ask if, now the night is complete, I can explain the background to The Upper Tier, which is based very loosely on a disastrous ghost-hunting expedition to Haigh Hall in 1947. Basically I can’t, or rather I won’t – not yet. I’m hoping to publish The Upper Tier later this year as part of a new collection, and it wouldn’t be cool if I gave away too much detail at this early stage. Put it this way, the 1947 event had a very, very serious outcome for several of those involved, while the paranormal activity reported was apparently astonishing. (I’ll keep everyone informed regarding progress with this publication – it won’t be for a few months yet, I’m sorry to say).

Interestingly enough, I spent some of last night in company with a modern-day paranormal investigator, who is now very keen to get his team into Haigh Hall despite the embargo on this kind of activity that the local authority have imposed. Last night for example, though we got permission to tour the top floor, the legendary Noah’s Ark Room remained firmly closed. Nobody was allowed to enter, ostensibly because it isn’t safe, though I suspect the real reason is because there have been so many alleged incidents in there. Anyway, my ghost-hunting pal, who has held vigils in northwest ghostly locations as varied as Muncaster Castle, Chingle Hall and the Morecambe Winter Gardens, was very impressed by the look and feel of Wigan’s own version of Borley Rectory, and feels he may be able to pull enough strings to gain entry. If so, he will be the first for about 20 years. He’s already enquired if I’d be prepared to accompany him. Well … what kind of horror writer would I be if I refused?

As I said before, nothing seriously odd was reported from last night’s tour of the upper tier, apart from the brief fainting fit and a couple of folks complaining that they felt ill up there, though a former newspaper editor of mine, who was also present, said that there was definitely an atmosphere in that place. He was at the rear of the group, and told me afterwards that he constantly felt as if somebody was walking behind him. He reckons he won’t be going back up there in a hurry.

We did take some photographs during the course of the tour, but all the ones I’ve seen this morning are too dark. You can’t really see anything except shapes in the dimness, and the odd rotted doorway.

One final thing – it may be nothing, but it’s got to be worth mentioning. At the end of the night, one of the downstairs staff (only specially designated staff will go upstairs) asked me if everyone had now come down. I replied that I thought they had. She then asked me “whose is the child?” When I replied that no children had attended, she laughed as if she thought I was joking. I assured her that I wasn’t, and she said that it didn’t matter. I later found out that, as everyone had been leaving by the Hall’s main door, she’d heard what had sounded like a child whimpering in the dark recesses above. When I spoke to the lady again, she said that she’d probably just been mistaken.

Yeah, right ...

1 comment:

  1. Ohhhhh, I love little anecdotes like that! Too fun, wish I could have been there.