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Ever had your neighbours complain about the noise? If you’ve ever been young and reckless, or lived in shared student accommodation, the chances are that you probably have.

Not me. Even as a student my nights were an unrelenting spiral of solitude and despair; hours and hours of crushing loneliness punctuated only by an occasional fit of sobbing.

If, however (and it’s an ‘if’ bigger than Westminster Abbey), I ever did get invited to a social gathering of any kind, I could only dream of thinking of an excuse as brilliant and audacious as this for keeping the whole street awake.

Despite an ever increasing pile of wine and cider bottles building up in her back garden, young mother Leanne Fennell (pictured below dressed as an X-Rated Sgt Bilko) insisted that a poltergeist is responsible for the noise pollution rather than her party lifestyle. Ms Fennell claimed that the fun-loving ghoul would turn the music up to full volume when she was fast asleep in bed, and then throw cans of beer into the garden. What? It could happen.

Surprisingly, no one was buying this version of events and she was soon turfed out of her council house and ordered to pay a hefty fine.

Despite commendable defiance in the face of mounting evidence against her, Fennell let herself down by admitting on her Facebook page that “I love to party with my mates, well, the ones who can keep up with me that is.” Her defence, far from watertight to begin with, was shattered and Hull magistrates court, the highest legal power there is, found Fennell guilty of four breaches of her noise abatement notice.

The Metro reported that “Council Officers also seized four televisions, four DVD players and a CD player, which will now be destroyed”, probably in a manner so cold and brutal it would have made the SS seem like the Samaritans. Isn’t that a pretty pointless punishment anyway? It’s not like she won’t figure out how to make noise using other means. It’s like punishing a serial thief by hiding their swag bag.

Anyway, maximum points to Leanne for effort but this serves as a chilling reminder that the ghosts will always find you out.

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If running this blog has taught us anything, it’s that there is a certain stigma attached to being a paranormal enthusiast. As a topic most people take about as seriously as Morris Dancing, telling people you have even a fleeting interest in ghosts immediately invokes looks of pity or contempt. Either way, you’ll probably find yourself invited to far fewer parties. With your social status diminished to a low you never imagined possible, you might as well have told your friends you were a child molester.

One of the many problems we imagine paranormal enthusiasts often encounter is the lack of evidence to support their beliefs. “If ghosts exist,” many will scoff, “show me the evidence.” And then when you do try to show them some form of evidence, they’ll simply refute it with reasoning and logic. And, most likely, punch you in the face.

Frankly, when stories like this surface, it’s difficult to feel much sympathy.

This report from the expertly written and definitely not racist Daily Mail claims that a young family from Coventry (I know, but bear with us) have “fled their house in terror” after capturing poltergeist activity on video. Seriously, the Daily Mail again? We know it’s always looking for new and inventive ways to scare the life out of people, but it’s fast becoming the paranormal rag of choice. Who’s the Editor over there these days; Derek Acorah?

The Mannings, pictured here looking terrified.

Anyway, the story drones on about phantom footsteps, doors slamming, lights flickering – the usual generic ghostly crap. Read it here if you’re interested; it’s far too dull to talk about at any length. Except for the bit about a dog flinging itself down the stairs. That was fairly amusing.

One thing you must do, however, is watch the accompanying video. This is the “evidence” the paranormal world has apparently been crying out for, and it takes the form of shaky video footage of a chair being pulled across a room on a piece of string.

“It’s like living in a scary movie,” wails Lisa Manning, mother of the family, although as a resident of Coventry this is presumably a sentence she’s uttered many times before.

Perhaps that’s the problem: knowing that this event took place in Coventry reduces the story’s credibility by approximately 98%. The other 2% is reduced by the canine suicide.

I think we can all agree that if, one day, irrefutable proof of ghosts does surface and there is to be a world-wide media storm,  it isn’t going to happen in the Midlands.

 Looking For Ghosts is always pleased when a ghost story is reported in the national press. Not because it lends credibility to the paranormal community (it doesn’t) but largely because it forces professional Journalists to write earnest features about orbs and use phrases like “things that go bump in the night” without a hint of irony. It’s probably not the Pulitzer-winning breakthrough story they dreamt of when they first joined the news desk as a fresh-faced, eager young graduate. As the article shuffles from one dubious eye-witness account to the next, the sense of the writer’s disappointment in their own work is almost palpable. It may as well have been written in tears.

Inevitably, by the time the article is complete, the transformation into a bitter, degraded old hack, scrambling around for tedious stories like a pig in the dirt, is complete. If the author in question is a Daily Mail Journalist, this makes the process all the more enjoyable. It’s like watching someone have a bucket of misery poured all over their dreams. Ha!

This is precisely what the newswire has thrown up at us today, as we’re fed this load of utter horse shit about a French couple who have spent over £3,000 on hotel bills after being run out of their home in Frodsham, Cheshire, by poltergeists.

The article explains how musician Jean Marc Mariole and his wife Charlotte are regularly forced to check into the local Holiday Inn during the early hours because of “stamping noises, flying blobs and even levitating bed sheets.” All of which sounds perfectly plausible, as long as you’re prepared to have your beliefs stretched to breaking point and the bit of your brain that filters out logic and common sense surgically removed.

According to the Mail, the couple have already invested £18,000 in decorating their “dream home”, which seems to consist of a rented flat above a butcher’s shop. It seems unlikely that this would ever be someone’s dream home; a flat above a butcher’s shop is not even the dream home of the Butcher in question. What were they living in before, a sewer? Also, as someone rightly points out in the comments section, why on earth would anyone invest £18,000 in decorating a rented flat? For that money, not to mention the £3,000 in hotel bills, they would have been much better off just moving somewhere else.

With the rationality of this couple looking decidedly fragile already, their ghost stories become increasingly hard to believe.

“It’s terrifying. We see black silhouettes on the walls and hear screams at night. Sometimes it sounds like a grown man crying,” explains Jean-Marc. Perhaps they live next door to a Daily Mail Journalist?

“The noise is very distressing – it’s like something out of a horror movie and does not help our sex life.” Thanks. That’s good to know. We were all wondering…

Anyway, read the whole story here if you want to be further repulsed by an old French couple rutting away like a couple of sweaty, grunting boars.

Don’t forget to inundate the Mail’s message board with hateful obscenities!

After the disappointment of the Tree of Death, we at Looking For Ghosts were feeling despondent and disillusioned with the paranormal world. Why couldn’t someone throw us a ghost or two? Even the ghost of Rod Hull would have been a start. At this point we’re really not being fussy.

Trudging over from Green Park to neighbouring St James’s Park we were reminded of a tale involving the seemingly serene lake that tourists so gleefully flock to.

St James's Park. Not the one in Newcastle, although horrific apparitions are frequently seen there too.

Little do they know, however, that the lake is an important aspect of a ghost story apparently so convincing that even the authorities seem to accept that it’s true.

In the 15th Century, so the story goes, a Sergeant in the military murdered his wife and to avoid her being identified he hacked her head off. As he was in the process of dumping the rest of the corpse in the lake he was disturbed by two soldiers returning to the nearby barracks. To this day, The Red Lady of St James’s Park is frequently spotted in a blood-stained smock, sometimes with the stump of her neck spurting blood, sauntering around the park looking for her head or, terrifyingly, rising slowly from the murky water.

In 1972 a motorist driving in the area crashed his car after seeing the apparition, only to be acquitted of dangerous driving after the court believed his tale. All of this leads us to ask why more misdemeanours aren’t blamed on ghosts? If only John Terry had been that creative with his excuses then England might still have a half-decent captain for the World Cup.

Try it yourselves. Late for work again? A poltergeist flung your alarm clock against the wall. Caught staring at a checkout girl’s chest? You were possessed by ZOZO. That hideous noise coming from your bedroom at night? Banshees. Help us fill the world with implausible ghost stories; if nothing else it will keep this blog in material for a lot longer.

Annoyingly, our paranormal quests often lead us into one of London’s many haunted pubs. Sometimes, if there are two or three haunted boozers in one area, the whole investigation can take on the form of a spectral pub-crawl; hour upon hour spent getting rat-arsed on flagons of ale and leering at attractive barmaids. The things we do for ghosts…

Newgate Prison cells: plush!

Returning to the City we settled in to the Viaduct Tavern in St Pauls, one of the last remaining examples of a Victorian London Gin Palace. Opposite the Old Bailey court house, the pub’s cellars still contain prison cells from the now demolished Newgate Prison. It is also supposedly home to some pretty frightening poltergeist activity.

Many staff members over the years have been disturbed by a particularly malevolent ghost, including the landlord in 1996 who, when stocking up on supplies, was locked in the cellar after the door slammed shut. Hearing his panicked shouts, his wife came down to let him out and found that the door, impossible to budge from the inside, could be easily opened from the outside. “Ha! Men…” She might have chuckled as her useless husband struggled upstairs with the Bacardi Breezers.

Ghost Hunters are welcome at the Viaduct Tavern

Add to that numerous tales of moving objects and terrified workmen and the Viaduct Tavern has built quite a reputation as one of London’s prime haunted sites.

To find out more Looking For Ghosts accosted a barman, who we figured would be thrilled to have his busy Friday night interrupted by a couple of half-cut ghost hunters.

As he led us down into the cells we were casually informed, with a mixture of sympathy and disdain, that tours of the cells are regularly requested by paranormal enthusiasts. With our social status diminished to the level usually reserved for those with leprosy, our doting guide ushered us inside. But had he ever experienced anything strange down here himself?

“No.”

Oh.

Easily the most unsettling place we’ve been so far, these cold, musty cells remain completely unused by anything other than cobwebs and damp. The eerie atmosphere is a huge contrast from the bustling City pub upstairs and provided us with a macabre insight into London’s grim Judiciary system.

Staggering outside after last orders we felt satisfied that our search for ghosts had taken us one step closer. But then again we always get emotional after a couple of Bombay Sapphires…

Looking For Ghosts

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