My short autobiography
Although I may not share all his views I do have the same inquisitive mind as George Burgess 1829-1905 (my great-great-grandfather), and like him I love reading and writing and with an inquisitive and questioning mind appreciate the wealth knowledge on life, nature and the universe. I haven’t had the full and rich life he led, immigrating to America three times, learning and practicing Phrenology and witnessing the wonders of the new industrial age, with all its new innovations and inventions, and the benevolent values cultured and nurtured in Victoriana. Instead I've led a perfectly normal late 20th and early 21st Century life witnessing however the wonders of the new technological age of computers, small electronics and Nanotechnology, and of course the Nanny State. However, some experiences during my life hasn't fitted well with my perception of reality and have forced me to keep an open mind on the nature of reality, or at least our perception of it, and this I believe to be a good healthy thing.
The experiences I refer to started early 1973 when the rest of my family; brother, mother and father started to attend public and private séances. I didn't bother going because, perhaps I was a little too young, but also because I don’t have any truck with that sort of thing.
Over the coming weeks the family indulged in their own séances at home (Cudham, near Orpington, Kent) with letters of the alphabet around a table and an upturned glass in the middle. Sometimes I would join in, but nothing spectacular happened there. Then my brother started meditating for hours on end, usually in the bath, often listening to later pieces of work by Benjamin Britten. He also drew a number of sketches, using his imagination. Two such drawings included a hand with a distinctive ring on the finger and two horses, one with its neck crossed over the top of the neck of the other. He was also a spontaneously prolific photographer taking numerous photos of anything and everything, producing a few real artistic shots in every batch of film. It was when one of these films were developed that my mother noticed a strong similarity between some of the photos and sketches made by my brother. In particular, my mother, her friend ‘Meg’ (whom my brother hadn't met before) and my brother went on a day trip in the country. While she was getting into the car my brother (already in the back seat) took a random photo of the inside of the car and caught my mother’s friend’s hand on film, and on her finger she was wearing a distinctive ring matching the sketch previously drawn by my brother. On their day out my brother took a number of photos, including a snap shot of two horses and when the film was developed the horses had their necks one over the other just like the sketch.
Some months past, and at this point I left school, and home, and moved back to Bristol to live and work. However, just before leaving I had what felt like a premonition that our two pet cats would come to harm if the went upstairs. I didn't think anything of it at the time, and didn't say anything to anyone; I just shrugged it off as a silly thought. The cats had always come upstairs on a night to sleep on our beds, and I didn't expect that to change.
Many months after I'd moved my mother told me how events had further developed and unfolded. Indeed the cats did stop going upstairs. They would sit at the bottom of the stairs and stare up but wouldn't go up. Also, on a night my mother started hearing scratching noises in the ceiling above her bed, she put this down to probably being rodents in the loft. Until one night she heard two people arguing in my brother’s bedroom, a female and a male’s voice. She naturally assumed he had smuggled a girl into his room and went along the landing to investigate. On opening the door the voices stopped and in his room was just my brother fast asleep, laying on his back with arms crossed as if laid out to rest in a coffin. This freaked her out. There’s not much that got to my mother but the culmination of events leading to this was one experience too much. So the next day she visited the local vicar and explained the situation to him asking if he would perform and exorcism. He pointed out that the practice was frowned upon in the church but reassured her that as he had just recently come back from spending time in Africa and that what he saw there left no doubt in his mind that an exorcism was the right action. So that’s exactly what he did. After the exorcism the cats started going upstairs again and everything in the house returned to normal.
After this any other experience pale in comparison, although there have been other interesting events, many of which are most probably something of nothing.
On leaving school and moving back to Bristol I stayed with my grandmother at 8 Seymour Road, Staple Hill, Bristol for the next six years until I got married. Almost a year after I moved in she had to go to hospital for an operation. At this time I’d got use to hearing her pull the curtains every night in her bedroom, a distinctive and quite loud noise in that the curtains were hung on a metal rail with small metal rollers. The first night she was in hospital and I was in bed I heard that quite distinctive noise from my bedroom across the corridor, even though there was no one there to pull them. However, not noting whether they had been open or closed when she went into hospital I had no visual way of confirming whether their position had changed or not?
For the next three years I led a normal teenage life, drifting along going in no particular direction until I met my wife to be and a few years later married. Our first family home was a relatively new two bedroom terrace house (99 Orchard Road, Kingswood, Bristol). Ten years later moving up the property ladder to an older (1930’s) three bedroom semi detached. In this new home my first impression was atmosphere, nothing unpleasant but nothing you could quantify. However, for over the next twelve years there were always little mischievous incidences, mostly things you couldn't put your finger on, and mostly involving little things disappearing for weeks on end and then turning up in the most obvious of places; and most prevalent in the autumn. One such incident was the ‘watch’. Coming home from work I would always take my watch off and place it on the coffee table. One particular time it wasn't there in the morning when I went to pick it up to go to work. A couple of weeks later I came home from work, having bought a new watch only to discover that my wife had found it laying in the middle of the coffee table that day! Another occasion, when on holiday in France, we left my wife’s necklace and rings in the bottom of a plastic ‘tidy holder’ provided by the holiday camp, or at least we thought we had. We realised this when we were half way back to England by which time it was too late to go back and retrieve them. And on unpacking everything there was no sign of the jewellery in any of the bags. However, a year later my wife found the necklace neatly hanging up in her jewellery box and the rings in one of the jewellery box’s draws! The only occasion when things were a little unsettling was the mid 1990's when my wife (doing a university degree) was at home alone on a study day. Early that afternoon doors throughout the house starting opening and closing, and after an hour she'd became a little unnerved, couldn't concentrate on her studies, and had to get out of the house for the rest of the day until it was time to pick her son up from school. There's been no similar incidence before or since!
But the one set of events more tangible, and with an eye witness, was with the outside water tap. Several times I would be watering the garden (with no one else in the garden) when the hose would run dry, and on returning to the tap I would find it was turned off. One occasion, when there was no hose connected to the tap and I was just 15ft away when water suddenly started to gushed from the tap, so I walked across the patio and turned the tap off, having found it fully turned on!
All these oddities ended when we had new central heating installed. The back boiler in the fire place, the emersion tank in the airing cupboard and the water tanks in the loft were all removed and replaced with a new combination boiler where the emersion tank use to be. The old fire place was cleaned out, plastered, decorated and glass shelves installed. Since that time, there have been no unusual occurrences and the atmosphere that had always been there has gone too!
One last event of note was the calendar. One summer, my grandmother (Eva Baglin) became too frail to look after herself and therefore moved to London for the last six months of her life to be looked after by my mother. Before moving she had a calendar that she regularly updated. A plastic one she had for years with a knob and a couple of slides to set the day, date and month. This was last set on the date in June when she moved to London but left in the house untouched for the next six months, although my wife and I continued to look after the house in that time in the unlikely event that she made a miraculous recovery and was able to return home. The following January my mother and brother returned to the house in Seymour Road for the ceremonial burial of Eva's ashes and stayed there overnight. The following morning my mother noticed the calendar and queried as to why it was set to Ted’s birth date (17th March)! Ted being Eva’s deceased husband who had died 25 years previously. We had no explanation, and hadn't even noticed the date change, or its significance, as without checking our records no one other than my mother could remember her dad’s birth date.
Across the Ocean, on the other side of the World (Australia), Pat (Grace's cousin) had a compulsion to phone Grace within the hour of Eva's death to find out what was wrong. Pat explained to Grace that she sensed that something was seriously wrong and that the feeling was so strong that she had to phone to find out what it was; then Grace told her the news of the passing of Eva?
These are some of life’s little
which one might assign to the realms of the paranormal,
but without explanation only demonstrates that reality
may not be what it seems, and our perception
of it can’t be trusted! In this context I found, the somewhat
now dated book ‘Other Worlds (Space, Superspace and the Quantum
Universe)’ by ‘Paul
Davies’ ISBN 0-349-10741-6 an interesting read!!!