Ten comedians walk into a haunted house… Lou Conran talks spooks and high spirits following a trip to Pontefract’s 30 East Drive.
We turned up with all the appropriate equipment (crisps, toilet rolls, sleeping bags and the high anticipation of something happening so at least one of us could get an Edinburgh show out of it).
I don’t think Fred, Scooby and Velma had problems parking their van when they went ghost hunting, but we weren’t in a spooky old house in the middle of bumfucknowhere, we were on a housing estate in Pontefract, and were told to park ‘sporadically’ as the neighbours were getting pissed off with people turning up waiting for Casper/Bruce Willis to appear.
The property at 30 East Drive has a long history of bad poltergeisty things happening in it, and was eventually sold to a chap who made When the Lights Went Out, a film based on scary doings in the house. He bought it for the publicity of the film, and now rents it out to people who want to shit themselves for a night. You can read about it here.
There were the usual suspects who had only come along to take the piss, but there were a few of us who actually wanted to take it seriously, I’m a believer in all things ghostly. I am in equal measures both excited by it and terrified at the same time, so after Barry Dodds, our captain in command (check out his podcast here), had arrived, and introduced us to Carol, a psychic, who had the keys and lives next door, I started to wonder what I’d let myself in for.
Now, I think if I was going to be the key master of a haunted property, I would’ve at least put some clothes on. It’s a bit disconcerting to get shown around a place that’s riddled with the occult, only to have the person doing so wearing a dressing gown because we’d got her out the bath.
We were told spooky stories, and given warnings about not being left on your own in certain rooms. There was even a warning to a specific member of our group, although it was never identified which one of us the poltergeist was interested in, but I could hazard a guess. (He knows… Oh he knows…)
Barry went about setting up ghostbusting equipment to try to capture spirit activity, which was ‘already quite active’ and while he was busy doing so, his mate was walking behind him switching them off. (Poor Barry.)
We had an Electronic Voice Phenomena machine, an Electromagnetic Frequency machine and some other things I know what not. What we didn’t have was a proton pack and the Stay Puft marshmallow man, although having said that, there were a few people there that night who would have made a good double. Anyway…
As we got the equipment out, I was starting to silently panic: “What if there is a violent thing here, who are they going to get first? Well… you know, you’ve got to get Phil first, then Peter, because they fucked off to the pub, and it’d be ace when they get back if they were both punched in the face. That would definitely be evidence.”
“It’s a bit disconcerting to get shown around a place that’s riddled with the occult, only to have the person doing so wearing a dressing gown because we’d got her out the bath.”
I think the expectation of our ghost hunt was more terrifying than the prospect of ever actually experiencing anything. That said, I couldn’t go to the loo without someone standing outside. Just in case. But that’s just me.
I’ve sat in a seance before, not your traditional sit around a table holding hands ‘is there anyone there’ type seance, but a professionally conducted service with things flying round a room, voices coming from nowhere and presents (apports) being left for certain people.
That was, in equal measures, terrifying yet thrilling. And the only time I wasn’t scared was when the things were happening because I could see and hear for myself that it was ‘real’. The build-up and the anticipation was the scary bit – and it was the same in the house. The knowledge we all had that things had happened; for me, that was the scary bit.
As the night went on, we watched When the Lights Went Out. So there we were watching a film about the house in the house.
The only thing I can say was that while we were in the living room, Steve was watching orbs flying around the room through his mobile phone, and he managed to capture some that were flying around me, as I stood in the middle of the room.
There was definitely something not right about 30 East Drive, but I can’t really say whether it was the energy from a nasty poltergeist or that of 10 comedians locked in an ex-council house, excited because they were having a sleepover.
Read more A Brew With Lou columns here.
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Lou is a comedian, writer, actor, lover of curry and cheese, and is also a giant simple child.