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Happy New Year Enfield, from the DDC

Posted on 13 February 2013, 21:57

The latest issue (1- 2013) of the excellent Ghost Club Journal contains an interesting piece from club chairman Alan Murdie, who also chairs the Spontaneous Case Committee of the Society for Psychical Research, which records unusual experiences published in the press or sent in by members of the public, and generally tries to keep up to date with ghostly goings-on around the world. Naturally these include poltergeists, which are reported quite regularly – as I write there is a particularly persistent and destructive one at work in the Turkish town of Siirte, and there have been well reported recent cases from as far afield as Zimbabwe, Malaysia and Vietnam. (More about some of them below).

The Enfield case continues to be remembered after 35 years, though not always as I would prefer it to be. On January 1st 2013, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme included a five-minute slot on it, in which two members of our committee, Alan Murdie and James Tacchi, were invited to take part and were interviewed at length. As Alan reveals, his contribution was ‘edited down by about 95%, including all comments made about paranormal phenomena’, while that of James was edited out altogether, as was that of poltergeist witness Gianna De Salvo. So what was left?

Not much of any value. The reporter did manage to dig out some of the original BBC radio coverage by Rosalind Morris, who put together an excellent piece of reporting on The World This Weekend after spending much of the previous night on site and witnessing a good deal of inexplicable activity, as I describe in This House is Haunted. We heard a few seconds of this, and snatches of what might have been some interesting comments from local residents who remembered the case well, if they had been allowed to describe them in any detail. We also had some typically tendentious BBC agitprop about how those living in modest conditions (i.e. working class people living on benefits) are more inclined to imagine they are having ‘supernatural’ experiences, the implicit assumption being that these cannot possibly be genuine, such imaginings being the consequence of their difficult economic circumstances, a theory Murdie rightly dismisses as worthless since it cannot be falsified.

For reasons known only to themselves, the producers never thought of contacting anybody who was actually there, who could have provided plenty of first-hand testimony. Rosalind Morris, for example, is still alive and well, and as bright as ever as she showed in a recent Channel 4 documentary. They never contacted me either, of course, and in retrospect I’m very glad they didn’t.

This being the BBC, or as I shall think of it from now on, the DDC (Dumb-Down Corporation) the whole piece had to be smothered with background music provided on this occasion by something called Black Sabbath, which I hope never to hear any more of. As Alan Murdie aptly noted, ‘It was only ghosts and poltergeists at issue, but it does make you wonder what else gets distorted on this programme, which prides itself as a flagship of radio news reporting for the BBC.’

To turn to more positive matters, the Vietnamese and Turkish cases mentioned above had much in common with the widely reported 1982 case of Carole Compton, in which I was indirectly involved as described in her book (with Gerald Cole) Superstition. The True Story of the Nanny they Called a Witch (1990). She unwittingly became the focus of outbreaks of fire – a common feature of poltergeist cases – and ended up in an Italian prison without trial, eventually being convicted on two counts of arson and sentenced to two and a half years, but luckily was released in view of having spent more than half that time in detention. During that time she became pilloried as a witch by the Italian press, some of which seemed to be still living in the sixteenth century.

In nominally communist Vietnam and secular Turkey, by contrast, although considerably more fire damage was done in each case – the unfortunate Turkish family having practically all their clothes and bed linen burned - local universities in both countries expressed interest in investigating the two teenagers concerned and even set up special committees for that purpose. This has never happened, to my knowledge, in supposedly advanced Europe. As I said in my previous blog, our authorities take no notice of such evidence as we have been able to record, such as the anomalous acoustic signatures of poltergeist raps or the equally anomalous bass voice produced by the Enfield girls.

Another clue likely to be ignored by the ‘experts’ is clearly seen on the piles of destroyed clothing from the Turkish house. The burn marks are curiously similar to those some of us made when we found we could set pieces of paper on fire by focusing the sun’s rays through a magnifying glass. I have seen identical circular burns on one of the Brazilian cases I investigated and described in The Flying Cow. Just what kind of energy is being focused on poltergeist cases, and how, I have no idea. Yet this, like the other evidence mentioned above, is a clue to the eventual solution of the poltergeist mystery. Let’s hope those Turkish and Vietnamese scientists show more interest in those other clues that we have been able to observe and record instrumentally than has yet been shown elsewhere.

Let’s also hope they make their findings public. You can be sure you’ll never hear them mentioned on the DDC.

GUY LYON PLAYFAIR was born in India and educated in England, obtaining a degree in modern languages from Cambridge University. He then spent many years in Brazil as a freelance journalist for The Economist, Time, and the Associated Press, also working for four years in the press section of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The first of his twelve books, The Flying Cow, in which he described his experiences investigating the psychic side of Brazil, was translated into six languages and became an international best seller. His most recent book is Twin Telepathy. He now lives in London and is a council member of the Society for Psychical Research.

His books include:
If This Be Magic: The Forgotten Power of Hypnosis
The Flying Cow: Exploring the Psychic World of Brazil
This House is Haunted
Twin Telepathy


Thanks, Lee. I hope you enjoy the book. As for consciousness surviving death, there is far more evidence that suggests that it does than that it doesn’t, though I’m not quite ready to conclude anything yet. I’ll only do that if mine survives, and if I doesn’t I won’t know because it will have ceased to exist. But if I had to bet on it, I would say it’s more likely than not, though I don’t spend too much time worrying about it - I think it’s more important to get all we can from life before death.


Guy Lyon Playfair, Wed 20 Feb, 07:15

Hi Guy,
I just bought The Flying Cow from Barnes and Noble based on your blog post- I look forward to reading it.

Given your years of researching the paranormal, would you be willing to conclude that consciousness survives death?

Thanks for your thoughts,

Lee, Tue 19 Feb, 04:35

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“Life After Death – The Communicator” by Paul Beard – If the telephone rings, naturally the caller is expected to identify himself. In post-mortem communication, necessitating something far more complex than a telephone, it is not enough to seek the speakers identity. One needs to estimate also as far as is possible his present status and stature. This involves a number of factors, overlapping and hard to keep separate, each bringing its own kind of difficulty. Four such factors can readily be named. Read here
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