Psychic Health for Alivelies

Been a while since I’ve addressed anything fully ghost-centric, right?

To that end, I applied to my mate Jacques, a brilliant addition to Ghost Club Admin, for information I could pass on to you regarding both protections against/contact from ghosts and energies.

I’ve spent some time reducing his answer, pulling out what I thought would be most useful, condensing things into easy category, prying apart as much jargon as possible.

Still a bit long…but what you’ll find below is a sort of guide for understanding and reacting to contact from ‘the other side’.  I’ve tried to arrange things in steps, from point of first contact through to closure.  I’ve also addressed sanctioned and unsanctioned contact, alike.  Hopefully this provides some peace of mind to the unwilling alively, and some grounding for those of you who have reached out to us ghosties.

Let me know if questions remain, or if I’ve spurred a new inquiry.  I may or may not be able to answer–rules, you know–but I’ll be honest with you, either way.

Step One: Interpreting First Contact

A) Is your visitor ephemeral–more of a feeling or disruption than a sense of human presence?  Then you’ve likely walked into a pocket of collected, formless energy.

B) Is your visitor humanoid and based on location?  As in, did you encounter this ghost at a historic site, at someone else’s house, in a natural setting?  If so, it is tied to a specific place, and the visit is not about you.  In fact, you are the visitor.

C) Is your visitor humanoid and following or attending to you?  As in, does the ghost seem to react to you specifically?  Is the ghost in your own home?  If so, then you are being either (i.) officially or (ii.) unofficially haunted.

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(iii.) or you’ve some tossers in the front garden.

If you are being (i.) officially haunted, you will know within the space of six months–that’s all the longer we are allowed to visit our targets.  So, the contact will initiate, build, and then immediately drop off.  If you’re looking for them, you’ll find indicators within that six month period that your visitor is following the rules and just having a bit of fun.  For instance, an official haunt can make noises, cause breezes, open doors, etc., but we may. not. touch. you.  We also come and go, because official haunting is a club-sanctioned, after-work sort of hobby.

If you are being (ii.) unofficially haunted, then the contact could last longer than six months.  Again, if you pay attention, you might know before the six-month threshold if your visitor is unofficial.  The activity will be sporadic in intensity and mood, but the presence will be constant.  It may also look as though someone else is living in your space–signs of kitchen use, lingering scents or temperatures in oft-used spaces like living rooms or dens, moved books, a temperamental telly.  And you may experience physical touch, although it is rare and generally unintentional, as in, not vicious in intent.

Step Two: Reacting Positively to First Contact

A) Ephemeral contact will likely dissipate, and rather quickly, so just enjoy the sensations while they last.  If you’re skilled at energy absorption, feel free to claim some of the ephemeral for yourself.  But be aware that you cannot change the character of energy you absorb–take on only that with which you intend to live.

B) Do not tamper with a ghost tied to a specific location.  They are not here for you, and your manipulations, even if well-intended, might disrupt their way of afterlife.  Trust us to take care of them, to meet their needs.  But do feel free to enjoy the way their presence deepens your experience of the space they occupy.

C)  You can choose to co-habitat with your official or unofficial visitor, particularly if you find their presence to be congenial.  If that’s your intention, see Step Four on returning contact. However, if you find you want your home back to yourself, then remain calm and follow Step Three.

Step Three: Severing Contact

A) Dissipation.

B) There is no need to sever contact for a ghost tied to location.  Please leave them be.

C) For hauntings specific to you, do exactly the opposite of literally anything they do on ghost hunting shows…

(i.) If you do not want to be officially haunted, simply say so.  That’s all it takes. We read salt-flinging, seances, and holy water as signs of returned contact and escalate our haunting accordingly.  We also think they are hilarious.

(ii.) If you find that your calm ‘cease and desist’ did not work, then you are dealing with an unofficial ghost and you must signal to the afterlife that you need help detaining them.  All you have to do is suggest to the unofficial visitor that perhaps they would like to pass on, and we will attend to the rest.

Note: I am not saying that you should try to take control.  You do not have the power to pass someone on.

Instead, you have the power to make a suggestion of a passing, written or spoken, directly after you experience some sort of contact.  Once the visitor hears you and begins to contemplate for themselves where they should like to spend their afterlives, we, on the other side, become much more aware of their existence.  If they find that they do wish to pass on, we have therapists who can help them take that step.  If they find that they don’t, we can help them integrate them more fully into our systems and away from yours.

Let us do our work.  And give us a week or so to respond.

Step Four: Returning Contact

A) Enjoy the sensation or absorb some energy.

B) Say hello, and leave it at that.

C) If you are certain you are being (i.) officially haunted, and you are certain you want to return contact, by all means, go absolutely completely nutter.  Leave us notes, hold a seance, set up a camera, call your mates, do a massive over-the-top cleansing.  Essentially, do act like those absurdist ghost shows.  We love a good sport, and if you wink at us, we’ll wink at you.  It’ll be grand.

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Q: Did…did the ghost just call us ‘wankers’?     A: Undoubtedly, yes.

However, on the off chance that you’re wrong, and you’re not being officially haunted, you risk offending your (ii.) unofficial visitor with such silliness.

Therefore, it’s always a good idea to initiate contact with a simple ‘hullo’.  Ask a few questions to establish the strength of occupancy and level of awareness.  Essentially, err on the side of politeness and earnestness, to start.  From there, you can move to tongue-in-cheek if appropriate.

But do not be aggressive.  For an official ghost, it ruins the fun. For an unofficial ghost, it can lead to retaliation.

Step Five: Dealing with Threats

A)  Aggressive energies can be rather nasty, often ‘demonic’, which is to say, if you believe in demons, the energies will attune to that belief, and if you don’t, they’ll become something more poltergeist.

The best thing to do in this situation is a cleanse, first and foremost.  Move through your space, marking doorways and windows with sage or salt.  Then, bring in calm friends and family to diffuse the aggressive energy in the space.  Energy collections fall apart rather easily when their attachments multiply.

If you attracted an aggressive energy because you were attempting psychic work of any kind, momentarily abandon that work.  Review your notes and look for any signs of dominance, demands, or orders you may have given.  Rewrite and reconfigure so that you appear subservient and welcoming.  Take a few weeks off before returning to attempts.

If you can’t handle the idea of being subservient, then you should not be tampering with the psychical.

B)  Simply leave the space.

C)  If you’ve followed the above steps, neither an official nor an unofficial haunting should reach the point where you feel threatened.  Either you’re in on our game, you’re open to cohabitation, or you’ve alerted the proper ghostly authorities and we’re on our way to help.

If you haven’t followed the steps, you might feel threatened because you’ve initiated the threat.  If that’s the case, stop being an arsehole.

You might also feel threatened because you called in help from someone with their own psychical baggage, and they’ve brought that into your space.  So do be careful where you apply for help.

Or, you might feel threatened simply on account of the unfamiliarity of these things.  Hence my attempt at education.

Step Six: Optional: Welcoming Further Contact

A) If you enjoy the sensation of positive energy, or want to work on absorption, by all means, read up on such things.  I have no specific advice on the matter, other than to advise caution.

B) Mindfully visit haunted locations.  Be aware that you are the interloper.

C) If you loved being the target of an (i.) official haunting, let us know!  Either play along, or leave us a note stating that you enjoyed the interaction.

If you find that you are comfortable with your (ii.) unofficial haunt, be kind to them.  Map your own routines onto the ones you see them building–as in, leave the telly on their station once in a while, or ask before you turn on the lights in a space you know they tend to occupy.  Be sweet to the people you find, and be ready to part ways if they so choose to move on.  And be aware that unofficial ghosts are not your personal link to the afterlife.  They are not spirit guides or familiars–they are simply people gone before you who may need a friend.  If they choose to give you more information about planes of existence, that’s up to them.

About Those Spirit Guides

A) Learning to collect or absorb energies may alert afterlife entities to your presence.  If you’re looking to make a connexion, this is one way to go about it.  But you may not always make a connexion you like.  Again, I advise caution.  Close circles, groundings, prayers, meditations, etc.  Create a periphery for your home.  Don’t be stupid.

B) Nope, still not for you.

C) Friends and family members who have passed on get…uh…first dibs? on (i.) official haunting targets.  And in this case, the contact is almost always reciprocal, protective, and tending toward guardianship.  Family and friends may choose to make themselves your personal helpmates, and you are free to behave in such a way as deepens your connexion to them.   In this case, seance, salts, or personally/spiritually meaningful approaches will be taken with the utmost of seriousness.

There are also (ii.) unofficial ghosts and alivelies who form connexions for one reason or another, with the unofficial visitor taking on a guardian role, or with the alively acting as a researcher.  Famously, alivelies what can initiate these relationships call themselves mediums.  But a real medium is a rare thing.  Most people of minor talent have simply opened themselves up to neutral invasion, not actual reciprocity.

Finally, if you feel a deepening connexion, official or not, be aware that there are rules to Ghost World.  Many of your questions will go entirely unanswered, especially those you are asking on behalf of others.  We are only allowed to give out so much information, and instead, we will try to be comforting or warning, as the situation requires, and hope that you are strong enough to figure out the rest.

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Drugs after Death

Let’s say, hypothetically, there lived a Victorian man named Eliot Smyth.  He was a pleasant enough chap, but on the whole, rather subdued.  So, he took a shine to alcohol when out with friends, because it enhanced his extroversion, inspired conversation, and led to small adventures.

He may have climbed the statue of Queen Anne outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral and toasted her with a bottle of whiskey.  He may have streaked through St. James’ Park.  He may have targeted any number of other saints in his frolics, come to think of it…we’ll never know for sure.  Purely hypothetical, you know.

Let’s say this Mr. Smyth also discovered opium, laudanum, and hash along the way, because why not?

Let’s say this Mr. Smyth was, in fact, a recreational drug user with a penchant for seeking out safe but surely world-altering experiences.

Now…

Let’s also say that this Mr. Smyth died and became a ghost.  And once a ghost, he realised three rather important things:

First, when one is a ghost, the risk of death by misadventure decreases significantly.

Second, in the years after his death and prior to his manifestation, the alively world created a vast number of new substances.

Third, in order to experience these new substances, all one had to do was borrow the happy memories and best trips out of vast memory banks, find a suitable club, and summon up instant bliss, just prime for personal variation.  Instant legal bliss. (See realisation number one, and consider its applications to bodily autonomy.)

What would you do, if you were Mr. Smyth?

If you said that you would find yourself a fantastic club full of blinky lights, collect the memories to match little pills that make you feel like velvet houseplants are touching your eyes, and switch out your cravat for leather trousers, you’d be accurate in your estimations of Mr. Smyth’s character.

Now suppose, hypothetically, of course, that Mr. Smyth was having a rather excellent trip that resulted in the belief that he was, in fact, a mushroom.  Leather pants wouldn’t do at all for a mushroom, right?  So he locates another gent on the dance floor and suggests they should switch trousers on account of said gent wearing suede–much more mushroom suitable.  Gent says, by all means! I’m actually a snake! I think leather would be perfect!

Trousers are switched.

And let’s suppose that the following morning, Mr. Smyth watches footage of the trouser exchange on his husband’s mobile, shakes his head at himself, and giggles into his cereal.

But later in the day….more footage comes in.  Along with a memo from Mr. Smyth’s PR firm alerting him to the ongoing Twitter auction for a pair of his leather trousers worn home from the club by one @YASSLAYJOSE.

Mr. Smyth may have swaddled himself in Victorian attire at this point, picked out a stuffy book, and considered the merits of clean living.

AND LET’S SUPPOSE that this bloody Twitter auction ended at $80k Canadian for a pair of damn trousers.  And Mr. Smyth had to pony up for the quid, to keep the designer of said trousers happy.  Mr. Smyth also had to take meetings with his charitable board of investors, who allowed he should blow off steam on occasion, thank god.  And Mr. Smyth also had to contact each of his contractual designers and explain the situation to chortling fashionistas, as well as apologise to his mentored models, because while drugs are legal in Ghost World, they are still surrounded by bullshit moralistic tripe.

So…depending on the sort of person you are, and whether or not you become a ghost, these suppositions could read as either a cautionary or curious tale.  Choices between libertarian and sober lifestyle will be entirely up to you.

I think I shall keep my boots laced and my cravat tied for at least another little while, as dealing with hypotheticals can become rather time-consuming.  And I promised my PR consultant a vacation at the winter holidays…

Ghost Tourism

It’s been a bit crazy around the Junius-Smith household the past months.  Alexander (who we happily incorporate under the nomenclature) took a new job and has continued to pour himself into editing in the off hours.  Marcus had a wild streak of inspiration that launched him into many busy evenings with his staff and workshop.  And I’ve been coaching more often out of my London townhouse, and I selected a third model for residency back in June.

Hence my posts here have been a bit erratic.

But, I wanted to drop in and call halloo, because I just had the most wonderful birthday trip to Scotland, and it put me in the mind of sharing something about ghost world.

Namely: Yes, we have a bustling tourism sector; Yes, it overlaps with your “worlds most haunted places”.

Do you find this as hilarious as I do?

I don’t know why, exactly, but there’s something about this crossover that just tickles the hell out of me.  It’s the egoism, I think–the idea that while you alivelies are creeping about with ghost-hunting equipment, treating any and all apparations as though we are somber, scary, and hell bent on giving you the time of day, we’re just having a ripping good time and essentially ignoring you.

What was that!? says the ghost hunter.  Can you tap something if you’re here with us?

*ghost entirely by coincidence chooses that moment to slam a shot glass on the table and knock back Scottish whiskey with his mates*

OMG DID YOU HEAR THAT??? What is your name!? Can you give us your name?

*ghost’s mates proceed to sing a raucously off-key rendention of happy birthday*

Eli? says the ghost hunter. Elliot? Edward? Elsbeth? You poor, poor soul, Elsbeth, do you need release from this world!? BE GONE FROM THIS ESTABLISHMENT.

*ghosts take another shot and proceed down the road to the next pub.*

Our work here is done, says the ghost hunter.

And castles, my god, castles.  Ghosts *love* castles, because we know that they are always deserted at night, often secluded, and built for abuse.  And ghost-hunters love castles, because, quite frankly, they just look rather haunty, don’t they?

Although for the sake of the ghost hunters, I rather hope that no one was trying to set up equipment while Marc and I were racing about our rented fortress, knocking over the furniture, and snogging in all the corners.

Marc booked the place on account of its discretion, not its homey drafts…

Oh, and on the topic of tourism, you should know that your alively tourist traps, for the most part, have parallels in the ghostly realm.  We still visit the Great Wall, the pyramids, the Aztec ruins–although we can see more of these things than you can.  And our co-visitation is part of what lends your tourism that sense of awe and wonder–an amplification of on-site emotions.

For instance, if anyone was out Nessie-watching on August 18th, you might have encountered the ripples of ghostly vessels, or heard the shouts of Marcus Brutus as he hung off the side of the boat, sandwich in one hand and camera in the other, daring the sea-monster to hide from him.

For what it’s worth, reverse psychology doesn’t work on sea-monsters. Not even if you’re Brutus.  He was appalled.

So, next time you’re out on a pleasure cruise, or walking the corridors of an on-site museum, or traipsing about a “most haunted”…give us a wave.

 

 

Ghost Telly

When you look at the ghost population, the numbers are greatly skewed toward ghosts who lived without television.  I would say a full three quarters of us lived before the advent of television, and at least half of us lived before such a thing even seemed possible–before electricity, radio, or monitors.  And yet, the GCN (Ghost Cable Network) is by far and above the most profitable segment of the entertainment market, attracting more users than all the libraries, museums, and galleries combined.

When I first saw this statistic, I did have a bit of a fit, lamenting the poisoning of the human mind, the laziness of entertainment seekers, and the death of imagination. I became determined to be a bastion of Victorian entertainments.

The lofty ones, mind you.

But there was a problem…

As it turns out, ghost libraries, museums, and galleries are few and far between.  Not because they are undervalued–on the contrary, their rarity assures they are constant sites of pilgrimage–but because they are difficult to fill, maintain, and use.

If you want to read a book that you did not read in life, you must find a library where someone has checked in the memory of that particular book, download the memory, and “read” someone else’s interpretation of the piece, which may or may not be accurate.

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“And then the clown looked at Mr. Darcy and said, I can play your birthday party, but it’ll be $500 plus travel expenses.”

If you want to view a painting, similarly, you must go to a gallery that has purchased the viewing memories of a plethora of artists and interpolated them into a fair representation of the original piece.  Famous paintings look fairly accurate–Mona Lisa still smiles–but lesser-known artists are difficult to find on the walls and harder to faithfully represent.

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Not entirely a ghost problem.

Museums have greater success on account of the fact that ghosts are excellent identifiers of artifacts-cum-things we used in life.  But even then, there is a hitch that keeps us from full appreciation.

The hitch: Items and experiences with electrical impulse are far, far easier to see, share, and use.

This explains why, as I wondered, and you might be wondering, ghosts do not simply go and walk around alively galleries.  When we do, we see a mere shadow of what you are able to see.

It also explains why television and film and live theatre have become our wild successes.  We are able to actively share these spaces and experiences with alivelies, because not only can we see movie and TV screens, but we can also watch the outlines of great actors, and their electrifying emotions.

[Remember that time you were alone in a theatre? You were not alone…ohhhh, yes, we saw it all.]

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I know what you did last summer.

We can also easily channel your viewing experience for display on the GCN, taking whatever electrical and digital codes make up a show, and mirroring them in our world.

After a while, even the bastions of Victorian entertainment wear down.  You can only peruse so many grey-scale walls in galleries you once knew before you say, fuck it, I’ll just watch Dance Moms.

We all know the real star was Chloe.

But as it turns out, television is not the brain rotting ridiculousness that a certain segment of ghosts warned it would be.  Sure, Lifetime is full of sap, the reality TV shows run rampant, and Friends has its own goddamn channel, but I was amazed to find shows of real quality, as well.

Not only that, but ghosts also make their own versions of alively programming–Deathtime (still full of sap), Dead Friends (still full of Joey), Days of Our Afterlives, etc.–which are quite hilarious.

And we also make our own entirely original shows, such as How Did You Die?, FUNerial, and this bizarre cartoon called Adventures of Birds where Fire Eagle and Steve Sting (a hawk with a scorpion tale) fight mythical creatures with the help, this season, of Raven, hard-boiled PI and birdseed fanatic.

[Who would come up with such a cartoon? Marcus Brutus.]

Not all bad.

Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that these digitisation projects that have everyone so up in arms are actually making books and artwork more accessible on the other side.  Maybe throw in a buck or two next time you visit a library doing a scanning project or a museum with interactive maps and displays.  My children (and yours) will thank you.

Dinner Party Success!

(Marcus tried to make me name this post ‘Dinner Party is More Like Winner Party’)

So, May 1st was my big debut, and I am delighted to share that it went off without any major hitches.  In fact, I’d say it was a success!  A few of the most delicious details below…

I must start by saying that I am immensely proud of my family and grateful for their help in the matter.

Marcus was excellent moral support–every time I looked for him, he was at my arm, gracefully reentering conversation or just brushing shoulders long enough to remind me that he was watching out for me.  Also, the guests were obviously enamoured with the idea of a Roman in their midst, and he was more than happy to play the part.  He skulked about in a toga, sipping wine and looking ‘so mystery’.  And he only had to leave the room and giggle about it once or twice.

The children were also wonderful.  Mira gave a beautiful toast to Beltane over supper, and she looked absolutely smashing in a baby queen ball gown reminiscent of the 1920s–a sage green and lavender number she selected herself.  And J refused to move down table for a stodgy bastard who thought he should have been seated closer to me than my own son.  He just looked right up at this man and said ‘this seat is for faeries’ and continued to eat decorative parsley, and my heart soared.

I am also just thrilled with my two doorman/models who put on a good show.  Chauncey, shy and brilliant, worked the corners of the room, while Jerome, outgoing and…airy would be a nice way of putting it, charmed the milling centre.  And while their walks were still those of budding amateurs, that was really rather the point.  They’ll walk again when we open season in the winter, to demonstrate improvement.

And finally, I would be remiss as a ghost, Englishman, and moonlighting libertine, if I didn’t mention that Lord and Lady Rochester came to the party and left in incredibly high spirits.  That’s John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester of the court of Charles II, and his new wife/open-marriage-compatriot Drizell; Willy and Dizzy, known collectively as Lord and Lady Rooster, on account of them crowing gossip all through society.

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I went to Elliot’s party.  Pinnacle moment of my afterlife, must say.

He wears less armour these days, but his hair is the same, as is his preference for satin.  He showed up in a tight-fitting blue satin suit with frothy, cream cravat and long black dress shoes with a bit of curl to the toe.  Very updated London.  And Drizell, a ghost from the 1940s, wore a gorgeous, ephemeral, glittering cream gown cut on the bias.  Both of them flirted shamelessly with Jerome.  And Lord Rochester invited me to one of his upcoming salons–he still writes unctuous poetry, which, while almost necessarily terrible, I cannot wait to hear.

And, in general, I would say people had a good time, myself included.  I was able to dispense with nerves as the supper progressed, falling totally into my role as society home owner and gentle eccentric.  Marc surprised me with a newly designed JS jacket for the occasion, which I debuted on the runway after dinner–russet leather lapels and pointillism grey wool.  And the house stood up to guests, with only one broken piece of pottery and a bit of spilled wine on the stairs.

Would I host again? Oddly enough, yes.

Am I looking forward to other society parties? Again, oddly enough, yes.

It’s a new age for Elliot, haha.

The Lovely Renewal

If you’ve ever picked up a copy of Vogue or Vanity Fair, then you’ve probably seen the cluster of pages toward the frontispiece wherein celebrities mill about at some party you’ve never heard of, wearing designer looks you can’t afford, clutching each other’s arms in an attempt to look like friends.

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Look at us. We are friends.

It’s disingenuous, dripping in diamonds…and, according to the PR firm what handles Marc and I, a celebrity rite of passage.

Knowing how loathe I am to participate in events and efforts that haven’t fully claimed my heart, Marc suggested that we throw our own Vogue-spread party, rather than attending some random soiree to fulfill our duties.

I agreed with the stipulation that it couldn’t benefit our own private coffers–no JS Design party–and it couldn’t capitalize on JS Home for Children–no sad orphan benefit.

He said that left either a massive birthday party for one of us, or, a massive wedding vow renewal party.  And as we had already missed his 2100th birthday, and my 200th isn’t for another two years…

So, we had a gigantic vow renewal.  We had an enormous guest list, ridiculous, designer party favours, an astronomical liquor bill, and…

…a smashing good time, I must admit.

This has mostly to do with Marc’s graceful party planning.  He started from a small list of requirements–that we actually renew our vows before our children, that we have a few readings by our best mates, that we forgo gifts in lieu of donations to a core set of causes, and that the focus of the event be about companionship, family, and fun.  And from that he extrapolated out into a live band, a romantic setting, plush food and silver, and photographers.

So, it was sort of like a party within a party.  Marc was delighted to run about in extroverted outer ring, thanking people for donations, telling well placed anecdotes, and fielding compliments and cameras.  I was delighted to monitor the interior, checking on the children, introducing our mates around, and visiting the children’s tent off to the side of the event.  And we were both delighted to find the opportunities where the circles ran together–on the dance floor, primarily.

We took tango lessons for the occasion.  Went over well.

Oh, and Elvis led the band.  NBD.

And, I like to think, we kept it genuine.  Marc’s tearful vows were the most beautiful, heartfelt words he’s ever said to me.  Our best mates–Ed and Jacques–stood up with us and our children, despite the PR firm begging us to ‘use notables’. I surprised Marc with a drag performance to close out the evening, launching into a few 1980s power ballads whilst wearing the first costume he ever made me.  And so on.

So, overall, I’m glad that we threw the party, and that we threw it in our own idiosyncratic way.  I’m glad that our children and friends were able to witness Marc and I recommit to each other, reaffirming not only our love but also their roles within it. And I’m glad that everyone seemed to have a good time, and that our causes fared well.

Now all that’s left is to go through literally thousands of photos.

Open bars do make for incriminating scenes…

Why Ghosts Love Seances

Ghosts love shows about ghost-hunting. We have an entire channel dedicated to them, and it loops through all the best/worst shows out there on alively telly, twenty four hours of the day, seven days a week.

Why?

Well, viewership seems to fall into one of three categories:

First, there are the haunting aficionados. These are the folks who take notes on all the latest and greatest in ghost-hunting equipment, compile lists of the most haunted locations, review the most common modes of alively attempts at contact, and then talk shop about how to use all this information to scare the shit out of you.

Second, there are the self-congratulatory folks who love to relive their ten-seconds of fame, pointing out their appearances on camera with all the eagerness of an extra in a A-list film.

And third, there are those of us, myself included, who think that ghost-hunting shows are just bloody hilarious.

We watch for the juxtaposition of the alively drama with ghostly trolling, laughing like mad when one of our celebrity haunters mugs for the camera and then wings a piece of brick across an abandoned building, causing all the alivelies to lose their minds about demons.

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‘That was definitely a demon. Trust me. This is my serious business hat’.

We watch for the ghosts who didn’t realize they were being filmed, which happens relatively often as we do tend to occupy abandoned buildings and such. These unsuspecting ghosts have the most fantastic candid camera moments, which, when overlapped with the completely unaware alively activities in the background, are sheer comedy gold.

We watch for Chip Coffey.

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‘That was also definitely a demon. Trust me. This is my serious business scarf’.

And we watch for the séances.

Oh god.

The séances.

Now here’s the thing. There are two kinds of séances. There are séances that are conducted in a manner respectful of the dead and hopeful for the living where family members, friends, and lovers attempt to make contact. These are usually carried out privately and sincerely, and although they rarely work for any number of reasons, I do not intend to belittle these attempts. Who hasn’t tried to talk to someone they’ve lost?

No, the kind of séance that leaves me gasping for breath between cackles are the dramatized, publicly-conducted circuses where ghost-hunters plead for contact, begging for a name or ‘just some sign that you can hear us’ whilst gripping the table and moaning and mumbling and jumping at the slightest noise.

Because while the ghost-hunters are doing that—demanding signs and personal information and gory details about murders and madness—we are having a field day behind your backs.

There are any number of ghosts who’ve made a living hamming it up at your on-screen séances, but let me tell you about my favourite, everyone’s favourite, Sylvester.

Sylvester, who is better known to ghosts as ‘Lucky’ on account of his dying on Friday the Thirteenth, is a genius. He started haunting back in the eighteenth century, but he really arrived, as it were, when he famously disrupted Houdini’s attempt to make contact with the other side at a highly publicised Halloween séance in 1927.

By all accounts, he simply explained to Houdini why his communications weren’t working—there were too many people at the séance, they were too centered on the drama and not enough on the pure intention of contact, no one had a mind clear enough to foster proper connection. But Houdini, who was rather torqued about the whole thing, threw up his hands and passed right on out of the world, leaving a spot open for the next great mentalist and magician.

Sylvester slipped right into the opportunity, proceeding to make a great number of hats out of available energy deposits and plop them on the heads of the alivelies attempting to speak with Houdini.

And he did this for the next ten years, honing his energy art and creating ridiculous tableaux after tableaux, until the séance-goers finally stopped trying to make contact with a man who was no longer there.

But Sylvester didn’t stop just because the yearly Houdini séance did. Not hardly. He continued to disrupt every spiritualist he could find, selling tickets and turning alively events into great ghost entertainment. He would pop up behind fortune tellers with supposed ghostly familiars and re-interpret their tarot cards to tell complex and hilarious futures.  He would attend magical shows in Vegas and walk about on stage dodging jugglers and knives whilst revealing all the tricks with stone-faced seriousness. He would perch himself on levitating tables and pretend slapstick surprise when they popped up on strings.

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‘Lucky’ is definitely sitting on that table. Trust me. I’m sipping my serious business tea.

I’ve seen the films—the man is a giant among men.

Now Sylvester is in semi-retirement, but he’s trained a whole host of other ghosts to carry on his silliness and keep his name alive.  But of course, he can’t resist the occasional disruption and so we all watch the ghost-hunting channel on the off chance that ‘Lucky’ will pop up, wearing his Buster-Keaton-esque attire, and drop an energy-balloon hat on the head of one of those raging assholes on Ghost Adventure.

So, by all means, keep trying to contact us.  We love it when you do.

In Which I Accidentally Participated in a Battle on a Tuesday

London posts are coming forthwith, I promise, but as you can see from the title above, I simply must tell you about something else first.

Here’s what happened…

About two years ago, Marcus discovered a company that oversees fake battles—like a park districts oversees beach volleyball, but with more blood and vengeance, one supposes.  As I understand it, ghosts can sign up for battles that are specific to the wars they experienced in life, they can apply to teams of mixed experiences and weaponry, or they can just try out something new.  Whatever the case, your level of skill is measured and you’re assigned to squads or whathaveyou based on your best chance of ‘surviving’ while also pleasing the spectators.

Oh yes, there are spectators. In fact, there’s a videographer, but more on that in a bit.

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What do you mean the lens cap was on!?!

When Marc first told me about this, I was appalled.  In the end, I capitulated because I’d rather fake wars to real ones.  And since our One World Government has been terribly effective in eradicating the real thing, this was his only option for recapturing glory, or something like that.

So, Marc applied and paid his fee, and he got a letter back from the Committee saying, wait…the Marcus Junius Brutus?  And he said, sic.  And they said, how would you like to be a general for the summer season’s closing battle, the high point of our schedule?  And he said, duh.

Which is how he ended up leading a group of mixed elites into battle, last year, as well as some regular soldiers who paid a further fee just to be cannon fodder under Marc’s command…really, I do not understand this mentality.

Each year is themed, and last year was ‘Cavalry’, which was absolutely perfect for Marcus, being as he loves his warhorse, Nox, almost as much…as much as, but differently, than he loves me.

It wasn’t even much of a contest.  With Nox beneath him and elite cavalry around him, Marc ended up winning in record time, and he got a solid month of TV interviews out of the whole deal, as well as a full, gleaming, muscled spread in Ghost Sports Illustrated…which I certainly didn’t pin up in my carpentry workspace because that would just be indecorous…

Anyway, if you win, you are guaranteed your position as commanding general for the next year, to defend your title, and you get to keep your team if you wish.  Marcus did wish, and immediately began training his team in further maneuvers and swordplay, waiting for the theme to be announced.

About two months ago, the Committee revealed that the theme was to be Medieval, and the battle was to take place on the site of the Battle of Tours.  Marc immediately hired a champion knight to be his second in command, and they started having all these late night pow wows over wine and ale, talking shop and planning strategy.  I was not invited to these meetings because a) I wasn’t interested and b) Marc feels that I can’t be trusted around blondes, for some perfectly ridiculous reason.  It’s like saying to a bird, no you can’t fly around because there are bees and you may be stung!  But the bird has been perfectly happy to live with bees, and their stingers, for years at absolutely no risk to bird (brained) husbands whatsoever!

I digress.

Now, Marc gets really into the mindset of battles and general…ship? when he does these things, and if you haven’t noticed yet, I have literally no understanding of battles, wars, soldiering, etc.  In fact, I’m primarily a pacifist.  I mean, I enjoy a good boxing match as much as the next Englishman, but in principle, I think war is a horrifying waste of human life, and the only reason I can begin to play along with this whole rigamarole is that I know, in the end, it’s a game.  All the ghosts who are “slain” pop right up at the end of the battle and go out for a pint.

So, I said to him with a sigh, how can I encourage you in this?

Well, he said, looking coy.  It’s bad luck to go into battle from an empty bed.

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This woman will likely die in the field of battle. This PSA brought to you by Roman superstition.

Because I’m a terribly good sport, I am, I ended up draped in a cloak and sneaking through camp, only to discover it’s nye on impossible to sneak back out the next morning without learning new words for human anatomy and its objectives upon encountering it’s like.

This year, I decided, sod it, I’ll just play the part.  I’ll be the army ‘wife’, go to the pre-competition feast on his arm, make a thing of it, and look as dignified as possible, because anything has to be better than failed cloak and dagger.

I gussied up.  Marc left in his general duds, so I followed shortly after in my toga—he made me an honorary citizen of Rome as a Christmas present last year—with a few gold and leather cuffs and a shiny shoulder clasp and my ruby engagement ring that belonged to Cato and some killer hair if I do say so myself.  I showed up looking every part the patrician, and things immediately went better for me.  I even got to snub a few blokes who shouted things at me last year, not knowing I was anything more than a ‘tent bent’, let alone their commander’s husband.

I feasted and drank ale and fell in love with the blonde knight—the self-styled Sir Lucifer. And as the night was winding down, and Marc was giving me side eye, we were ambushed.

In the rules of competition, there is a clause about ambush. The clause states that you’re allowed to have your go at one, but it’s rather poor sportsmanship, and besides, you have to pay an exorbitant fee.

I guess Marc was up against a rich bastard.

Trumpets start blaring from the sides of camp, and Marc is up and out of his seat like a flash, barking orders to every one of his command around the table. They all take off like sizzling oil in a hot pan, and Marc turns to me, grinning like a devil straight out of hell, kisses me a good one, and says ‘Claudius’, before rushing out to the fray.

I followed on his heels, because I didn’t know where in god’s name I was supposed to find Claudius, and Tipsy Elliot was convinced that if he hollered loud enough Battle Marc might stop and pay attention to him.

Oh Lord no.  Not only was Marc in soldier mode, chest out and completely strident, but he had also whistled for Nox, so I might as well have been on the next continent over and up a tree.  Although I have to admit, the vision of Marc leaping onto Nox’s back, letting out his war cry, cape flying behind him like something out of a film, and galloping off into a rain of fiery arrows was one part thrilling, one part terrifying, and one part salacious.

I let out my own sort of whistle, and the chap standing next to me snorted and gave me this look as if to say, “Right?”

Claudius.

Claudius holds the honour of being the only man Marc has found, so far, who actually served under him in life.  Roman ghosts are a bit rare, and most Roman soldiers, says Claudius, departed when their wives or families left the earth, or if not then, at the fall of Rome.  Claudius is around because he is absolutely in love with the earth itself—he was a conscripted farmer—and because he’s determined that somewhere out there is true love of another kind.  Problem being he has terrible taste in men, and he also can’t quite live up to his make and model.  Bloke looks like something akin to Marc, but he trips over his own feet at least twice a day and has proved to be the sort of person for whom the idiom “bless his heart” was made.

Claudius tells me that Marc was expecting something like this might happen, and that he’s suppose to take me and the other spouses and significant others to a safe place.

I’m about six kinds of furious, then, because how dare Marc drag me into a perilous situation just to have a trophy sitting next to him at table.  Claudius waves his hands to calm me down and says Marc didn’t tell him as much but Nox was wearing a saddle which means the camp wasn’t fully dressed down or something or other.

(See! He can be quite sharp, I say, defending him to people who cannot possibly take him out for coffee.)

I’m still peeved, but I’m inclined to follow his orders on account of the fact that the firey arrows are getting closer.

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Like this, but fired by *soldiers* instead of Hollywood extras.

And then I find out the safe place Marcus determined to stash me is the camp kitchen, and I’m six kinds of furious again.  All done up and nowhere to go that doesn’t involve coals, dirty plates, a goodly number of crying girlfriends, and a hardened crowd of outraged wives who are demanding that Claudius let them out into the field.

So I did what any respectable Englishman does when trapped in a kitchen in the midst of a battle.

I made tea.

And when opposing soldiers finally broke through and made it into the camp, I did what any respectable Victorian orphan would do and threw a good number of kitchen knives with alarming accuracy.  Claudius looked quite impressed, and the videographer looked like he was in the midst of some kind of religious experience.  Solid gold BooTube material if there ever was.

Marc won the battle just as the dawn was rising, because if there’s drama to be had, he shall have it.  And we found a relatively unscathed tent in the midst of camp, because if there’s husband to be had, he shall have that, too.

Can’t say that I minded.

Then spectators arrived in droves only to find that the battle had already happened. They were utterly disappointed until the videographers made quick work of a highlights reel—including my transition from tea-drinking-gentleman to knife-throwing-rapscallion, I was pleased to watch Marc see.  This kept everyone all sorts of happy while the grounds were cleared away, and then the losing side of the fray had to joust for our pleasure.

I pointed out to Marcus one of the blokes I felled with a kitchen knife, referring to him as my prisoner, and shouting out a demand that he win the tournament for me.

The man had the decency to blush before closing his helmet.

And that is how I ended up participating in a battle of a Tuesday.