Our family have always been brought up with the point of view that there is not really any such thing as ghosts, rather that we are all surrounded by energies that is emitted by everything that is in the world. Everything that we see around us has an aura. We do not even believe in the concept of God. All the time that we were growing up, the family would teach us that there was no such thing as God; rather that the omnipresence described by churchgoers is the collective conscious, so church (and connected beliefs) never entered into our childhood. We believed in what can probably be seen as a pagan belief and learnt about the energies around us, which stretched towards ghosts as well, although ghost is an odd word too, as it is the energies that we feel. We were taught that it is a bit like a tape recording left over from somebody’s past life, so we believed that even if we saw one, then it could not hurt us, in a physical sense anyway.
One particular memory crops up in my mind that is pretty strong, when me, Stu my brother and two of our buddies from a nearby housing estate to the one we lived on, went ghost hunting. Kids love to hear local rumours or stories, natural inquisitiveness of youth isn’t it? There were two houses that we had heard about and were located out in the sticks, from built up Brighton Hill anyway, that were apparently haunted! (Where and who start these tales I wonder?) These two houses were semi-detached and you had to cross some fields which led to a set of woods to get there. Anything to dwellers in Basingstoke that was more than about twenty minutes away from a shop or housing estate was usually classed as in the sticks! If my memory serves me correctly I believe this was about thirty minutes walk. We chose to walk as it was not the sort of ground accessible to bicycles, so enhancing our townie view point that the location was in the sticks! These two houses were right next to the woods bordering the fields so were fairly secluded and isolated, ideal for ghost hunting teenage lads.
Being curious twelve/thirteen year olds we decided that we would check it out and see if we could see this ghostly celebrity! Local gossip (kids/adults?) told us that apparently the spectre had been driven out of the houses by building work being done on the dwellings. We had a nosey around for a couple of days, weekends when there were no builders obviously, but disappointingly found no evidence of vaporous visitors. You would not be able to get anywhere near a building site these days thanks to good old health and safety! On the third day though, we went for the usual mooch around, but had to keep away from the builders, as this was now a Monday and so we were sticking more to the woods. Those long hot summer days that we experience as kids span out seductively, seemingly elongating each second, so it was only a half hearted look and the celebrity spirit was still being quite elusive. Our minds were probably more on the football game that had been arranged amongst us estate kids. We had just decided to go back to the playing fields designated as the venue, for what would be yet another one of the marathon footie games that was going to be happening that afternoon, when something happened.
As we began our trip back through the woods, our two mates, who had been about ten yards behind us, just suddenly started screaming and legged it. They were screaming like girls at me and Stu, and as they tore past us they girly screamed, shrieking something about the ghost being after them. Something like,”G-gho-ghost, gonna geeeetttt uuusssss!!!” Now Stu and I, as I have mentioned earlier, have been brought up in a spiritualist environment, so our interest was piqued, and rather than running we began looking around the immediate area. After all, we had grown up with the knowledge that a ghost would be unable to physically touch us! I do remember quite clearly though, even now quite vividly, going right up to my brother and brushing his shoulder with the subtlest of touches, whilst pointing to a tree that was ten feet away from us, at a place twenty feet in the air. It seemed incredulous despite our upbringing at the sight before us. We both clearly saw the head and shoulders of a man, apparently floating and we could see the trees right through it! It looked as if he was peering around the tree at us and the faint breeze through the trees sounded at that moment as if he was moaning a long sigh. We did not scream, we did not say a word to each other. We looked directly at each other with facial expressions that said, “Is that real?!” Then we just ran in the same direction that our mates had legged it only moments earlier. We were like one hundred metre sprinters. We soon caught up with our buddies. As far as I recall now in the present day, none of us four ever went back that way again, even though we were telling other friends of what we had seen! Teenagers like to boast a bit don’t they? I do know of two or three groups that went there themselves, sporting backpacks with crosses, Ouija boards and other ghost hunting paraphernalia learnt of from books like The Exorcist. They even asked me and my brother if we wanted to go, as we were deemed the experts, as we had seen it. We declined and played football instead.