Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Case no 0004 - Dog Mind Meld

Our attention was drawn to a cold case from 1990 by our friend Mr. Terence Dackombe in the comments of a previous post:

Here are the facts of the case as explained by TD:

"Naturally I have been very impressed by your extensive record of solving mysteries. Thus I am awarding you a multi-million pound* contract to help me resolve a mystery that has troubled me for many years.

In 1990, I travelled, by car, with my then girlfriend and her dog to Worthing. We went for a stroll in the sea; I was wearing tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt. I had my keys, including my car keys in the pocket of the tracksuit bottoms. The pocket was rather shallow and when I emerged from the water and we had sat down, I noticed my keys were no longer in my pocket.

I imagined all sorts of possibilities for the next step - train journey home, pick up spare keys, return to Worthing and so on.

However, I said I would re-trace my steps. My girlfriend said it was a forlorn hope as we had no idea where we had entered the sea or retracted from it. I walked in a straight line from where we were seated, walked out into the sea to about the height I imagined we had reached, looked down and picked up my keys which were lying on the sea bed, about four feet below.

We returned, triunphantly, to Berkshire, with no need for spare keys. Was this a simple piece of good fortune, or was there 'special forces' at work?

It was a warm June day; we had never been to Worthing before; no other party was involved; the dog was useless and just sat down looking bored.

*May be re-negotiated.

Terence Dackombe, February 2012"

Our initial response:

Mmmm, this is a very interesting case. I know we said we were 'not for hire' but personally I'd consider doing anything for a million pounds, even a headstand.

Key words here seem to be: straight line, keys, girlfriend, Berkshire, Worthing.

Other significant elements might be: warm day in June, tracksuit bottoms, dog.

I do think it important that you recall the dog 'was useless and just sat down looking bored.' In fact, dogs usually like retrieving things, and they are seldom bored, which is why they make such cheerful companions.

It seems strange that the dog didn't join in the 'game' of looking for the keys. Did it affect looking bored while actually using special powers to take control of your mind and direct you to the exact spot where the keys had been lost?

I need to confer with my colleague but I believe that special forces were at work - a kind of dog/man mind meld.

I would categorise this under 'paranormal'.

We are trying to establish SBI's reputation as we are newly-established, and so we will waive our fee for this one.

We got in touch with TD ('Sir Terence') via Twitter to make further enquiries about the dog. We felt that if it was his girlfriend's dog, it might have been jealous of him. The response was significant:

It transpires that the dog was a Jack Russell called Rambo. Jack Russells, as we know, are highly intelligent:

So, it was TD's birthday! Very interesting. Presumably Mary-Ann had been making a fuss of him that day.

Conclusion: The dog, Rambo, was jealous of TD and wanted to discredit him. Rambo used some kind of mind meld technique that day in Worthing. First, Rambo caused TD to lose the keys in the sea. Next, the dog propelled TD towards the sea in a straight line, like a remote controlled human toy, to retrieve them. The 'bored' appearance of the dog was due to intense concentration.

The straight line is important: humans rarely walk in a straight line; it would be more usual to use a frantic wiggle to cover as much ground as possible in the hunt for the keys. It emphasises TD's robotic, controlled state. Also, the dog couldn't resist making it clear that he knew exactly where the keys were, by sending TD directly to their location without deviation.

By using TD like a toy, Rambo was attempting to demonstrate his superiority to him to Mary-Ann. The dog's intention was to ruin the relationship.

Categorised as: Paranormal.

[n.b. pictures posted by a model.]

Monday, 20 February 2012

Opening an eye onto another realm

This morning, just before the alarm went off, I opened my left eye too quickly and tore open the old wound in the vitreous jelly of my eye. Perhaps 'wound' is too extreme. It's a tiny vertical cut caused by inadvertently poking my eye with the plastic tab from a pair of sunglasses in TK Maxx in Croydon - you will remember that I had to drive home with my eyes mostly closed, with you shouting stop-start directions and navigating. It was serious enough that I had to go to the eye hospital at St Thomas's. I like visiting hospitals as it brings to mind the opening sequence of one of my favourite childhood TV programmes, The Six Million Dollar Man, and makes me feel studied and important. Still, I didn't enjoy it enough to want to recreate the experience by poking myself in the other eye. It's healed now but it hurts when it sometimes reopens (usually in winter, when I've had the central heating on and the air in the house is very dry), and it makes my eye flood with tears.

In light of the conclusions you drew yesterday about your auditory hallucinations, I thought perhaps the universe was opening my eye onto another realm. Now we have one eye open, two ears open, and a mouth open here to tell the world about our paranormal investigations.

We need to get on and recreate some of these investigations for our readers before the universe tears us a new arsehole. Have you seen the trailer for Of Dolls and Murder? Dioramas have been created using real-life crime for CSI students. Assuming that our readers are students of the paranormal, or at any rate interested in our investigations, we could consider creating a diorama of the paranormal. When I say 'we' I mean you.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Auditory Hallucinations, Case number 0003

I will start with the facts, like a Poirot.

The first time it happened:
Location: Kyle's dads house
Time: late afternoon
Event: P&G and Kyle were there and one of his sisters. I had been working all day on the garden, and had eaten my usual breakfast and had a 'sub' from Subway some hours earlier. I was hot, tired and thirsty. All his family are discussing something towards the house and decided to escape and am at the bottom of the garden, weeding. I suddenly hear a voice, like a stage whisper (loud, but raspy) 'Lauren.. Lauren... Lauren!'. I froze, scanned with my eyes and checked where everyone else was. It felt malicious, as if someone was trying to make a fool of me. Do you remember the queue for the rides at Disney World? They put little speakers through out it to cheer us up, I suppose. I thought it might be a speaker hidden in the garden. The noise stopped, I unfroze. I went towards the where it came from and looked for a speaker. I found nothing. I told no-one.

The second time it happened:
Location: My garden
Time: probably late afternoon (it was light, but not morning, as I recall)
Event: I was in my garden this time. Many members of Kyle's family were in the flat, and I had come out to my shed for a moment. As I stood there admiring all my hard work, the beans, the peppers, the cacti I had smuggled back from Ibiza, I heard noises again. This time it was fervent garbled whispers, like a message, but I couldn't work out at all what was being said. At first I was just as petrified as before, but I knew I had to take courage and find the source of the noise. I could still hear it, a whisper, urgent and incomprehensible. I went further still and the noise stopped. After I looked around the see if it could be sound bouncing off the other houses, maybe kids etc. But it didn't seem to be. Later that evening I told you and Kyle - neither of you seemed worried. I was a little concerned I was going mad. I thought about Grammy, and the funny turn you had and thought 'is this the beginning?'.

The third time:
Location: Claudio's car.
Time: about 6pmish
Event: I was in Claudio's car with L&C and Kyle on the way to Cafe Brazil. All the family were talking over each other. I started to hear whistling. Tuneless whistling. Not a tune I knew, not very good whistling. I looked at every person, and each family members lips were moving, but none were pursed. I tried to work out the source of the noise. The radio was not on. I later asked about their mobile phone ring tones, it was not that either. I felt more amused this time. Less frightened. But I didn't mention it at the time. I later told it to Kyle, he said 'muh', although I felt stronger, like it's a perfectly normal thing to hear voices. Perhaps Kyle's lack of panic (read: 'interest') had brought on a sense of calm.

Investigation: I would like to investigate the voices. Are they real? Who are they? What are they saying?

Last night (yes, saturday) I watched 'Ghost Hunters' by myself, absolutely nothing happened in the show. Some nice beardy men came to the house (they could be truckers or cowboys, y'know, real American - they high-fived when they left the house), hung around and recorded things. Their main aim seemed to be to reassure the nice middle aged lady who lived there that everything was ok - the spirits weren't going to hurt her, but nor was she going mad. Anyway, I am going on a bit. At the conclusion they advised the lady to move her computer tower away from the fridge. The ghost hunter explained that because both have fans it can create a 'sound matrix' of white noise and our brains try to make sense of white noise which can lead to hearing voices. He gave the other example of when you think you can hear voices when vacuuming.
I like the idea that this is what is happening to me. The chitter-chatter of my extended family becomes some garbled white noise to me. My mind is unable to comprehend the viscous* banter of a large family and instead makes distracting voices appear.
Being an only child I did as I was told growing up. I still remember the day I was told not to interrupt others' talking or talk over other people - it was the same day I learnt to do a headstand.**

Conclusion: The voices are caused by a weakened physical state (i.e. being hungry) combined with a sensory overload (i.e. lots of Kyle's family talking (why doesn't it happen with the Welshies? Or at parties?)).
This is, at its base line level, similar to an ancient way of inducing hallucinations, depriving the body of fuel and then overloading the senses to create a 'trip'. Perhaps this is a way of connecting with some other realm. I just like the idea that family chatter is like white noise to me.

Extending the investigation: We can always try to induce this state to hear some more noises. For now I will be carrying my camera at all times to capture the noises if I hear them.

Love you enormously, can't wait to see you this afternoon xxx

The photo is a ghostly image we saw when we went to Forkbeard Fantasy's *** exhibition at Southbank. They are so clever.

* I know 'viscous' is not really an appropriate word, but I am looking for a word that describes the many layers, the constant-ness, and the impenetrability of another families discussions, and I quite liked this one. Other families banter has a thickness to it.

** I know what I am implying here, you know what I am implying here, we will leave it there.

*** no idea where to put the apostrophe there. Forkbeard Fantasies, Forkbeard Fantasys', let's call the whole thing Waterstones.

p.s. can you suggest some labels for this post? xxx

Case no 0002 - Daughter of Herodias

INVESTIGATORS: Helen Smith and Lauren Smith

Notes: There is a painting in the National Gallery in London (Rm 12, level 2) by Sebastiano del Piombro called The Daughter of Herodias. Lauren's friend Katie Pitts, aged around 14 or 15, is depicted as Salome with the head of John the Baptist on a plate.

According to the National Gallery, del Piombro painted it while living in Venice in 1510. He later moved to Rome and became friends with Michelangelo.

What does it mean? It's evidence of time travel.

Anything else? Did Katie travel to Venice in 1510 or did del Piombro come to south London in 1999 or 2000? If SdP came to London, how did he avoid detection? If Katie travelled to Venice, how did she avoid detection? Wouldn't it be great to put Katie in a blue satin dress and get a peaky-looking long-haired chap to lie his head on a tray, and recreate the picture in a photograph?

Categorised under: Time travel.

Edit: When contacted for comment, Katie said she had no memory of time travel but thought it possible that she had posed for a photo similar to the painting, and the painting was therefore actually painted from a photo. She said, 'I think someone travels through time selling these photos for very high prices.' It's a very interesting theory. It means neither Katie nor SdP are time travellers, but there is some unknown intermediary who is stealing photos (from Facebook?) and travelling through time to sell them, perhaps to struggling artists who later become famous, perhaps to established artists who have run out of inspiration or run out of models. If so, he or she will have done it more than once. We need to look out for evidence of other examples of this happening.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

3000 Female Ninjas

We talked about whether or not we should carry weapons when investigating anomalous events on behalf of SBI. However it's not clear what kind of weapons would work against ghosts, spirits, Spanish secret agents, or mythical creatures such as giant rats, even assuming any of them are likely to attack.

Maybe we just need specialised combat training instead. For details, please see the video below and this article in the Telegraph: Iran trains 3000 female ninjas as potential assassins.

Legendary Affaire

Here's a link to the story I was telling you about when we met at La Rueda on Thursday. An American woman, Erica Marshall, was killed on 10 February when a horse started kicking while she was treating it in a hyperbaric chamber in Florida. Apparently sparks from the horse's shoes caused an explosion.

According to The Telegraph, the explosion could be heard 30 miles away. They explain that EM met and married an Englishman called Keiran Marshall while studying in England. The story is illustrated with a wedding photo. There are quotes from Peter Rust, the landlord of the Fountain Inn, and Tim Errock, the owner of Phoenix Fine Drinks in Gloucester. EM is variously referred to as 'a 28-year-old newlywed', 'the former barmaid' and 'an equine expert'. The article in the Telegraph is the one I read first and I still prefer it to any of the others I read subsequently as it has the most 'human interest' elements.

Irish Central tells the story from the point of view of Sorcha Moneley, an Irishwoman who was injured in the explosion (the comments under the article are generally unsympathetic to all concerned). There are more details about the accident in The Chronicle of the Horse, here. There's a succinct write-up and a photo of the wreckage on MSNBC here, though there's a lot of bickering in the comments under the article, with people trading insults about cats.

Retired Race Horse blog does a bit of Marpling about the story here ('The news of the horseshoes seemed very odd. Why would anyone allow a horse with steel shoes into a hyperbaric chamber?') and links to a story about a horse called House of Wisdom who died in a fire in a hyperbaric chamber in Newmarket in England in 2008.

Wesh.com talked to neighbour Georgie Yates who said of the explosion: 'They heard it down as far as Morriston Post Office.' Wesh's reporter explains that the horse was being treated for Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis, a neurological disease, and then quotes Georgie Yates again: 'The roof was blown open and walls were gone, but my heart just goes out to the family members of the poor girl that lost her life.'

The horse was called Landmark's Legendary Affaire.

Obviously, this isn't paranormal. It's just a very sad story. There's no need for us to investigate it. However maybe I could use an explosion in a hyperbaric chamber as a cause of death in an Emily Castles Mystery. Did I tell you I'm experimenting with a new kind of mystery where it's always the most obvious suspect who's responsible? I like your theory that the first person you see on screen in TV series like Marple/Poirot/Midsomer Murders is always the murderer. That wouldn't work in the books because I usually start with Emily. Actually, it would be fun if I could turn Emily into a serial killer, but it would remove the mystery element. Anyway it's probably already been done.

Do you remember the story of the horses that were electrocuted at Newbury about a year ago? The horses were called Fenix Two and Marching Song and they both died of a heart attack. That was another sad story. It seemed paranormal at the time. There's a full write-up here in the Daily Mail under the title 'Horror at the Races' ('a mysterious incident', 'the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in my life') but it's full of upsetting details so don't read it if you don't want to dwell on the horses' suffering.

Friday, 17 February 2012

What next?

Our first case was successfully concluded, and we have had a good reception from family and friends on Facebook - where I posted news that we had established a detective agency - so in some ways it's tempting to just retire. Can things at SBI ever be as good as this again?

Yesterday I bought some half-price false eyelashes in case we do a podcast, so actually I don't want to retire before attempting one of those. And I saw several instances of anomalous activity after I left you, though I can't bring any of them to mind as I didn't write them down when I got home.

I do remember that as I stood in Sainsbury's at the 'fancy foreign goods' shelf, looking for Almond Butter because my friend in Seattle mentioned that she eats it with a banana for breakfast sometimes and I desperately wanted to try some, I saw some very strange behaviour by three Spanish people at the spice rack next to me. I think they needed something to make curry (they pointed out a packet of bombay potatoes to each other) but didn't know what to buy. They picked up some garam masala (which would have been just when they needed, and I was about to intervene to say so), then they took the cellophane wrapping off a pot of turmeric and one of them sniffed it, and then he opened the top and passed it round, and then the others sniffed it, too, one of them putting his nose right into the jar. Then they put the jar back on the shelf. This isn't paranormal activity but it is anti-social.

One day, when we have established our reputation at SBI, I'd like to think that we could act as marshalls as well as investigators, and be allowed to use weapons on people who drop litter in the street and behave irresponsibly in supermarkets.

[n.b. I just tried to find the Almond Butter to take a photo of it but it seems I didn't buy any. Did I decide it was too expensive at £2.63 compared to 93p for the 'value' peanut butter that I usually buy (which by the way up until a few weeks ago used to be 64p, Sainsburys, you robbing bastards)? Did I think I would just eat it on bread and that would make me fat? Did I get distracted by the Spaniards? Did I bring it home and put it somewhere where I will later find it? Maybe the Spaniards were special agents whose sole purpose in being there was to stand about and distract people from buying Almond Butter with their 'nose in jar' pantomime? I just looked it up on Wikipedia and Spain is the second largest producer of almonds (at 220,200 tonnes per year) after America. So... 'quite paranormal', then. Possibly. If they are Spanish Secret Agents. Why do they do it? To keep prices artificially high by restricting the number of jars sold? Or do they want to keep all the almonds for themselves? We need to look out for Spanish Secret Agents to gather more data, to be sure of who they are and what they're up to. Can they really beam themselves from Spain to anywhere in the world where people are standing about debating whether or not to buy a jar of Almond Butter? Because if so, that's 'very paranormal'.]

Because of the false eyelashes and the Spanish Secret Agents, I don't think we should retire. I feel we should press on.

What are you thinking of working on next? I'd quite like to invetigate the case of Britain's Only Black Woman, Bonnie Greer. If the BBC need a black woman (Newsnight Review, Question Time with Nick Griffin of the BNP, any discussion about Whitney Houston's death that isn't being addressed by Paul Gambaccini, and so on), they seek out Bonnie Greer. I look around me and I always think that London is a harmonious, multi-racial, multi-cultural city. I see black people. We have black friends. Some of them are black women. The question is this: Am I hallucinating? Or is Chicago-born Bonnie Greer really Britain's Only Black Woman? c.f. Britain's Only Disabled Man, Mat Fraser.

I'd also like to write up the case of the painting of Katie Pitts by Sebastiano del Piombo in the National Gallery. As Katie Pitts is alive and well now, and the painting is from 1510, this can be categorised 'wonder' and 'time travel'. One of the questions that needs asking is whether Katie travelled back in time or Sebastiano del Piombo travelled forwards. But the painting isn't that flattering. KP is an attractive young woman. I don't want to offend her. I'd like to know your thoughts.

I would also like to investigate whether the boiler in a person's house could be connected to the cycles of the moon. I do understand that combination boilers are not tidal but twice, now, in the space of two weeks, the boiler has dumped water onto the floor and then stopped working, and I have had to refill it and start it again. The first time was on 7th February, during a full moon. The second time was yesterday when, as you pointed out, the moon was waning. The question (as with almost every other unexplained phenomenon in my life right now) is this: Is the erratic behaviour of my boiler a signifyer of impending menopause? By the way, this is not an old boiler. It is relatively new.

Are you going to write up the Case of the Giant Rat? I think you'd need to do a reenactment of the circumstances of finding it, so we can understand what happened.

What else? What next? Exciting times. I love you very much. I like being a detective.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Case no 0001 - Evie's Gold-Spangled Dog Shit


Notes: In January I went to a fancy dress party where I met a successful novelist named Evie who was dressed as a vicar. I subsequently made friends with her on Facebook. On Tuesday 14th February (Valentine's Day) Evie updated her FB status to say that she had just walked past a dog turd decorated with gold stars, but she hadn't taken a photo as there were too many people about. She noted that it was "Opposite the Montpelier, at the foot of a tree." Several people urged Evie to return to photograph the dog shit. She did return, and she took a photo and posted it on Facebook. The photo proved her to be a credible witness. It showed a dog shit broken into four parts and sprinkled with gold stars.

What does it mean? Valentine's Day is a heap of sparkly shit.

Categorised under: Not paranormal.

[I have left a message for Evie on Facebook asking if we can use her photo here. If that's not possible, we can recreate the evidence and photograph it ourselves. That's partly what SBI is for.]

Edit: Evie said we were welcome to use her photo so I have posted it (above). Thanks, Evie. However, she also said she thought this might explain the sparkly shit.

Re: Notes of Meeting, 16th February (Doreen Day)

Fantastic! The SBI is up and running! Well done for writing everything up so coherently. My notes from the meeting are just a random list of disparate words:

'Auto boxes'
'Spangled shit'
'Giant rat'
'Knitting comebacks'
'Are you being solved?'
'Lack of work on ebay'

I truly do not remember putting that last one down, and I have no idea of its relevance, unlike the others. Perhaps its a message, like automatic writing.
As for punctuation, I love to use it as much and as creatively as I can (I love using brackets within brackets (it used to amuse Estherelli too)).

Love you enormously xxx

Notes of Meeting, 16th February (Doreen Day)

DATE: Thursday 16th February (Grandma's birthday!)
VENUE: La Rueda
RE: Setting up a detective agency

We talked about a name for the agency and its purpose.

Name: We settled on Smiths Bureau of Investigations (mainly because we can say SBI and it sounds a bit like FBI so it's lispily amusing, secretive, American and important-sounding), though we weren't sure whether we should use the apostrophe or 'go Waterstones' and do without.

Purpose: To investigate mysteries, anomalies and wonders. We will be responsible for researching our own cases and will confer as to their meaning. We will not be constrained - we can investigate whatever we want. We are not for hire. We will write a mission statement at some point, though we won't call it that.

How will we investigate?: We need to keep our eyes open. We need to write down anything that strikes us as being worthy of investigation. We need to discuss it and draw conclusions.

Timings: How will we know when a case is solved? We didn't reach a conclusion about that.

What sort of kit do we need? I would like a detective raincoat. I could use Nana's one that Leanne gave me. However I would also like a red one to match the cover of my novel. We need to be prepared by carrying a camera and notebook and pen at all times. A ruler would be useful. (Just read my notes back and in fact I had written that the police non-emergency number would be useful, not a ruler. But a ruler would also be useful so I'll leave that in. I'm thinking of that time you measured the snow.) We need to give more thought to this.

Assigning case numbers, etc.: We will assign individual case numbers, starting with 0001.

Categorisation: We need to decide if something is anomalous, paranormal, frightening, ordinary, etc. We talked about having a category named 'smystery' (a telescoping of Smiths' Mystery, there's a word for this telescoping, no doubt). We probably won't call anything a smystery publicly, but we found it funny anyway. If anything is too far-fetched, it can go into an Emily Castles mystery. Other categorisations might include 'menopause', 'money under mat' and 'Jessie'. Also, you mentioned a joke on Seinfeld where hair is lovely on someone's head (ooh, can I touch your hair, it's so soft, etc) but disgusting when separated from it (ugh, I found a hair!). So there could be a 'Seinfeld's hair' category for anything that alarms because it's out of context.

What sort of investigators will we be?: [I'm not sure if it's OK to put a : after a ? punctuation-wise] We talked about writing a job description for ourselves, but avoiding jargon. But once we have one, we can make sure we measure up to the standards we have set. However, to answer the question another way, we will mostly investigate from home.

Self-assessment: Wouldn't it be great if we could measure our brains and see if we get cleverer by developing our ESP using paranormal investigation? e.g. you and Kyle now sense when Claudio is nearby and use 'code Claudio' with red, amber, etc. to describe different states of alert even before he arrives at your flat. That's really clever. It's like Mio being able to speak two languages even though she's barely two years old.

What to do if in danger?: We would need to leave a message somewhere public, that would have meaning for each other but wouldn't tip off our enemies. You mentioned that if someone phones a spy and asks if they're OK in a hostage situation, then the response 'Honestly, I'm OK,' signifies that they're in danger. So we can do something like that. Also, I liked the idea of leaving a codified pictorial message in e.g. a charity shop window in Clapham High Street. But first we'd have to gain entry to the shop and rearrange the display (getting a job as a volunteer seems too long-term/deep cover). Then we'd have to make sure the other person walks past and sees it and knows. So this needs more thought.

Anything else?: Two things. 1) I was going to bring home the bill from La Rueda and photograph it and document it - after all, it's an important day for us as it's the start of our exciting new detective agency. But the waiter took the bill away and I was too embarrassed to ask for it. I have decided that, in 2012, I want to be more fierce. So I hope that working at the agency will bring some personal development. 2) It's Grandma's birthday today, as well as Day One at the Agency. Should we call it Doreen Day and remember to celebrate next year if we're still going then?

Anything else apart from that?: We said we'd set up a website, and here it is. Also, I love you x