The 1990's... Not so long ago but that decade now seems like a lifetime ago in many ways. I had moved into a grubby little bedsit in the West End of the city of Glasgow in '93 & I now lived amongst the poets, the vagabonds, the hopeless & the dreamers & I loved it. They were difficult times but in hindsight they were great.
The building I lived in was located next to the main thoroughfare called Great Western Road, directly across from bars & nightclubs so the street was continuously busy & noisy 24 hours a day. I would sit at my window of my wee bedsit in the old Victorian building that had been separated into single rooms that were filled by middle aged men, most of whom spent their nights drinking alone & it must be said that most kept themselves to themselves & our only interaction would be a quick hello on the stair as we exited or entered the building. I found out many years later they were mostly ex criminals fresh out of jail for heinous crimes. I'm glad our interactions were pleasant!
I was in my early twenties when i moved there & had secretly been giving some spiritual readings for free & was known for my connection & love of all things ghostly. As word got out & people shared little pieces of paper with my telephone number on it...Well, I should say the telephone number of everyone who shared that house & the payphone that was located in the hall of the old house.
When word got around I was continuously asked for readings but I simply didn't have enough time or energy to do it all for free so I stopped seeing people. But I continued to be asked occasionally to help people with hauntings & all manner of strange phenomena. This led me into lots of wasted time, some of the most amazing adventures & also into a couple of the most disturbing demonic experiences I could imagine. I'll refrain from sharing those particular experiences here.
I've changed the names of people & held the names of the locations etc. because this wasn't meant to be shared but it's nearly three decades ago now. I've written as many details as I can remember with this old mind.
So, here are a couple of those haunted experiences from a bright eyed youth...
1: A SPIRIT IN THE CELLAR
The place was a small bar in the West End of Glasgow and at the time of writing has changed hands twice I believe since I investigated it some years back. This old pub was a favourite haunt (if you’ll pardon the pun) of students and arty types and to be honest needed no publicity to attract customers through the doors so as I stood enjoying a pint one evening while the bar manager at the time told me in confidence about the strange activity that was terrifying the staff I agreed to come spend the night. So, armed with my array of ghost hunting gadgets – none of which have been scientifically proven to actually catch ghosts may I add, but interesting to use – I ventured in one night at 11.30PM ready to face whatever was there. David met me at the door and I followed him in. I have to say, standing in any pub after hours as the lights go out can be a naturally creepy experience but this place took on a whole different atmosphere without the hustle bustle of customers and loud music to create a mood. There was definitely a sinister feel to the place which actually surprised me. Mind you, it may have been my first time in there sober! ‘It’s in the cellar, Tom. Whatever it is it’s worse down there.’ David said as he pointed down the steps to the pitch black space below. ‘Whatever you do Tom, keep that door jammed open or we’ll get locked in.’ He said as he made sure a little wooden block was securely in place to keep it open. As we descended the stairway a distinct sound of heavy footsteps hurrying across the floor could be heard; David froze. ‘Hear that? That happens all the time.’ he whispered nervously. ‘I did. How often does it happen?’ I asked. ‘Every night mate. This is the first time I’ve came down here at this time for a few months. I wait until the morning.’ He said as his voice trembled slightly. Suddenly the footsteps could be heard louder, accompanied with a dragging sound. ‘My pals laughed when I told them and they said it was rats or something.’ He whispered. ‘If it is rats then they’re wearing big bloody boots.’ I replied. It really is easy to sit back in the comfort of a brightly lit place and scoff at people’s paranormal experiences when you haven’t actually experienced it personally. But when something strange does occur it terrifies the people involved. Suddenly there was the definite sound of someone coughing. David ran half way up the stairs and stood behind me. I slowly walked down the final few steps to the cellar and stood on the stone floor and stared around in the dark. I switched on my torch and searched for any places the sound could have been coming from. As you can imagine sound can travel from nearby sources and it seems as if it is coming from within a room in quietude. I’ve lost count of the number of times a ghostly voice or whisper has simply been a sound travelling through vents and pipes. And this can usually only be heard at night when there’s less external noise. This time there seemed to be no sources where that could be the case but I was not ruling it out yet. I turned around to David, who had been standing halfway down the steps we had descended. I noticed out of the side of my eye that he had bravely moved down and was now on the cellar floor about four or five feet behind me. ‘Do you feel braver now mate?’ I asked, laughing as I continued my search for a sound source. But David did not respond; his breathing was now very laboured heavy and extremely loud. ‘David, I think you should go up the stair and get a beer or something man. You’re hyperventilating.’ I said. But as I turned around and shone the torch on to him I got a fright of my life when I realised he wasn’t there and the figure had vanished. There was no sign of him anywhere. I made my way back up the stairs to see David sitting on a barstool at the far end of the bar white as a ghost (no pun intended) with a whisky in hand. ‘Sorry mate, I thought I saw something moving about behind you there. Might’ve been my eyes playing tricks or something but it frightened the shit out of me so I bolted.’ He said as he poured himself another. At this stage I didn’t want to make him worse so I explained to him the ways the mind can play tricks in situations like this. I didn’t mention the fact that I had seen and heard something behind me too. ‘I can’t go back down there. Sorry.’ He said as he poured another whisky into his glass.. ‘No worries. Just you sit there, okay.’ I said as I made my way down the steps again. However, I was only two or three steps down when David ran across the room to the main door. ‘Can I come back for you in a couple of hours, Tom? I feel sick…I can’t do this…I just heard my name there.’ he said as he fumbled desperately to find the right key to fit the lock. ‘See you in a couple of hours mate. Sorry. Sorry.’ He said as the door slammed closed behind him and the sound of his footsteps dissipated into the distance outside. It was at that moment I realised he had taken the keys with him! I walked over and tried to open the door and it wouldn’t budge. Here I was, locked in a strange pub and all alone…well, kind of alone. At moments like that I always felt a mixture of excitement, trepidation, regret and fear. But I was here and there was no way out for me so I decided to just get started. I sat for a few minutes at the bar planning the next few hours of the investigation in my head. It was then I heard the coughing again coming directly from the open cellar. ‘Why on earth would a ghost cough?’ I asked myself for the umpteenth time. This is something I have never come to terms with and always questioned. Why would a spiritual entity, someone who has died actually breathe or cough? And to be honest, I still have no idea! I’ll tell you more about ‘breathing’ ghosts later. As I sat alone in that pitch black bar, only the dull lights behind the counter gave off a faint glow across the tables and chairs onto the old wooden floor behind me. I remember looking at the rows of different whiskies and spirits lined up against the gantry.
It was at that moment I sensed something had joined me in the room… I had company. Back then I had a habit of jotting down some notes during investigations. I preferred this to recording as I found that many times the electrical equipment didn’t work when things were active. But I never imagined I’d share the notes with anyone so I just put them away in a drawer, where they lay forgotten about for years. However, a few years ago as I cleared my mother’s house out I found some of these. I have a couple of crumpled notes beside me here that I had jotted down for this one. It’ll give you an idea hopefully of the feelings I was having and the freaky phenomena I was experiencing at the time. Although some of my language when I was writing was a bit, ahem, colourful. It also shows the bizarre workings of my mind I have to add: 11.45PM: The manager buggered off and left me. TOOK KEYS!! Something’s right behind me now… 11.47PM: Oh s***, just heard a chair dragging across the floor directly behind me. Scared? Wee bit! 12.01AM: Lots of shuffling, bumping and dragging noises from the open cellar! What is down there? I might close door over. – They sell Tartan Special Beer in here by the way. (No idea why I wrote that about the beer) 12.13AM: Sounds like something keeps running up the cellar stairs to where I am. Then they stop and then run back down again: really weird and actually a bit scary. 12: 16AM: Another chair dragged across the floor behind me up here: Gave me a fright. Hear horrible sounding raspy breathing a few feet behind me right now…I’m too scared to turn. Can hardly even write. 12.20AM: Turned around and it stopped. Lots of weird noises coming from that cellar! Want out of here!S***, just thought; what if there’s a fire here? 12.38AM: Well, all quiet for last ten minutes so quite peaceful now. I see they sell dry roasted nuts here. Haven’t had them for ages. I’m hungry but they’re fattening. (There was other more pressing matters of course but for some reason I wrote about nuts!) 01.07AM: It’s kicking off now. Some really weird s**t happening in the cellar: mumbling voices and bumps and bangs. If that’s mice or rats they’re on bloody steroids. Bit apprehensive about going down there but I guess I should. That’s what I’m here for. 01.18: Was about to go down steps when I definitely heard a voice saying ‘Who’s that?’. Slammed the cellar door closed and am back at bar now. Not up to this tonight. Conclusion: this pub is HAUNTED!!! Want out now. 01.32: Been quiet since slammed cellar door but just hearing gentle knocking sound from other side of it. I thought I could see door moving as if being pushed from other side – tired eyes? Imagination? - No chance! Haunted! Haunted! 01.40: Went all quiet again. Decided I’m going to head down the cellar to investigate. (At this stage I must have lost my mind and found some courage) 01.46: Opened cellar door again. Pitch black down there, can’t see a thing. Very cold but that’s expected I imagine with it being a cellar. Deadly quiet now. Still thinking about dry roasted nuts. 01.47: Just heard a dragging noise but going down anyway. Torch on and ready to go… This is when the notes stop abruptly and I’ll tell you why… I slowly descended the creaky wooden steps and knew instinctively there was an entity there. ‘Hello?’ I yelled. Silence… ‘Can you let me know who you are? My name’s Tom and I mean you no harm.’ Suddenly I could feel an icy chill on the right hand side of my face. I knew something was close to me. Some ghosts were accompanied by a smell to me. Sometimes it was freshly dug earth, roses or strange sulphur type smell and most other times it was just that person’s own personal scent. I can tell you that this guy was like nothing else I’d experienced. He was stinking! What happened immediately after this is one of the strangest paranormal experiences of my life I have to add… As I reached the bottom steps of the cellar and stood in the darkness the hairs on my body all stood on end. This was complete blackness, so dark so I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. I’d been there a minute or so when I could hear the sound of heavy footsteps above me in the empty bar. I mistakenly thought that the manager had returned so made my way quickly back upstairs but when I looked around there was no one there… Well, no one living… apart from a single lone hazy figure leaning against the counter. I knew this was a male but to my eye he had no face; just a hazy mist. Now I realise that may sound like something out of a horror movie to you reading this but many apparitions appeared like that to me. Sometimes I’d only be able to see an arm or half a body or just a head. I believe it’s just our perception that gets mixed up. As I stood frozen the spot, the figure slowly moved across from the bar and began to approach me; every floorboard creaked as its energy came into contact with each one. I could see it stood about six foot high and looked like an extremely heavily built man and as it approached it was looking more threatening. And to be honest I began to feel a bit scared. So, the big brave paranormal investigator, yours truly, took to his heels and ran down to the cellar! That was the one of the rare times in my life when I bottled it! Now this is where it really became strange because as I ran down the steps the cellar door slammed behind me and it seemed my luck had went from bad to worse because I distinctly heard the latch on the other side clicking into place! Quietly I ascended the steps and pushed on the heavy wooden door; I couldn’t believe this: I was now locked in the cellar! I knew the cellar door locking wasn’t caused by anything paranormal because the manager had warned me earlier but it definitely made me panic. I sat down on a crate of beer, sweat dripping from my forehead while simultaneously feeling chills running up and down my spine and listened to the activity in the bar above me; I remember hearing the gantry glasses rattling interspersed with dragging and loud footsteps. This guy was having a party up there and I wasn’t invited! I felt completely helpless; there I was, trapped in the cellar of a bar with some demented spirit roaming around, causing havoc and knowing there was no way out and I’d have to wait until David came to let me out. I made my mind up never ever to investigate again. I remember hearing a very deep mumbling voice coming from the bar the other side of the cellar door and then the racket would continue again. I also have to admit to being a bit scared to switch my wee torchlight on because I expected to see the ghostly face in front of me. Then after a half hour or so all the phenomena above stopped abruptly. I felt very apprehensive as I knew this would mean he might have relocated downstairs beside me! By this time the temptation had become too much and I cracked open a bottle of beer. I had decided to pay for it before I left. But time was going by very slowly and one beer led on to another and after a while I began to let’s just say relax! As I had guessed it was only a matter of time before I was joined in the cellar by the resident ghost but by this time his heavy breathing, strange sounds and footsteps that had now moved down to with me had no effect. I was getting happier and braver with every beer I threw down my throat. ‘Ooh I’m scared!’ I remember saying out loud. ‘Okay, enough bull***, what’s your name mate?’ I asked, full of Dutch courage. There was no reply, just some scraping sounds and breathing in the opposite corner. Over the next hour or so, I sat there making my way through another several beers as I chatted away to my ghostly companion as bumps and bangs occurred all around me in the small dark room. At one stage as I lit up a corner of the cellar with my torch I could see the source of the dragging sound I’d heard; it was a beer barrel moving several inches across the stone floor. This was a strong energy! It all stopped and I then heard a deep voice in my ear: ‘Richard,’ It growled. ‘Well, Richard. Nice to meet ye old son.’ After another hour had passed and another few beers had slipped down my throat I knew he was still in the cellar with me but had ceased all the activity by then. I on the other hand was lying back slowly getting p****d. ‘Richard…Ricky….Rick… Go to the light mate. Why are you hanging around here?’ I mumbled. I wondered if I was frightening him by that time but he seemed to relish the banter we began to have. Even though I was getting decidedly drunker by the minute, over those next few hours I received information from him that he had killed himself by hanging and that he had been a customer in the bar for many years. When he had been in his physical body he loved his whisky and in fact had drunk a bottle of the hard stuff before taking his life. I have to say there was no sadness from him just remorse at leaving so many questions unanswered for the loved ones he left behind. I always sensed this from suicide victims, but they were not troubled souls. This may sound strange to many of you (it seems strange even writing it here) but after being locked in that cellar, I did feel a bond had formed between us and I was actually enjoying his company. After a wee while I’d worked out a series of knocking replies with him that seemed to work very well. We used the old ‘One rap for ‘yes’ and two for ‘no’ routine. This, coupled with psychic impressions meant we had quite a good connection to be able to pass information. I remember finding out he was a huge fan of Partick Thistle football club and had a very good dark sense of humour. With the risk of sounding absolutely crazy here, it was a great experience and any fragments of fear of the paranormal I had within me had gone forever that night. I think it was around 5AM when an overwhelming feeling of peace filled the room and he had gone. I sat quietly. For a few hours I’d been starved of all visual senses and spent time locked in a small cellar having a beer with a stranger who just happened to be dead. I raised a wee toast to him and tried my best to get some much needed rest. It was 8AM when David opened the cellar door and woke me from my sleep. By then I’d polished off 9 bottles of beer and 5 packets of dry roasted nuts! ‘Sorry Tom, I thought you had a key.’ He whispered quietly. ‘No you took it with you; you daft git!’ I growled. He looked around at the empty bottles and nut packets. Nursing a sore head I paid David for the beers and the nuts I’d gorged on, passed on the information about the phenomena from the previous night but decided to keep the communication I’d had with Richard in the cellar all to myself as I knew it would sound crazy to someone who would never understand. I realise that many of you reading this won’t understand either but that’s the way life is; each of us has our own unique view of this world around us. And as I left that bar behind and walked through the wet rain soaked streets of the city, I passed the morning commuters all making their way to their work, children being taken to school by their parents, delivery drivers, taxi drivers, shop workers, office workers, factory workers… all the living beings hurrying by, busy with their own lives in that moment; all of those emotions… I stopped for a while and sat in a small café drinking some much needed black coffee and watched the tired, stressed faces passing by the window and was reminded of some old black and white film footage I’d seen of the exact same street, taken at rush hour in the at the turn of the nineteenth century. All of those people who walked those same steps and no longer exist in the physical realm had felt those same emotions too, now they were all gone; their bodies now buried somewhere or turned to dust. Most of their names are forgotten, as ours will be one day. They lived and died and no longer exist… I smiled to myself because I beg to differ.