Nicola Kirk: Author and Collector of Paranormal Stories and Other Strange Encounters

Image result for bad taxidermyYou know son, I’m not sure the cat was ready to be stuffed.

I don’t talk about my paranormal infatuation in front of my kids.  Mainly because I want them to be able to sleep at night (and thus let me sleep at night too) and partly because  I think they need to go and find their own infatuations.  As long as it’s not taxidermy.  Or pickling onions.  Can’t stand pickled onions.

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Fine.  FINE!  I’ll have a shower later then.

So I find it a little puzzling when my daughter, who is only four, comes scooting downstairs from my room one afternoon, where she has been busy rearranging my books for me, whether I like it or not, telling me that: “There was a strange noise in your bathroom and I didn’t like it!  I think your bathroom is hunted!”  We had a brief debate about my bathroom not being hunted or haunted:  “No, it’s okay, we don’t have any ghosts here, trust me I’ve looked.  I’ve even tried phoning them…” I told her, looking wistfully at my Ouija board.

A few days before she had come bursting into my room at 3am complaining that there was someone in her room.

“There’s something in my room!  I saw it!”  I poured myself over the edge of my bed, half asleep, half wondering if I could get back to the fantastic dream I’d been having, scooped her up and said it was fine, there’s nothing, it’s fine, why am I awake at this hour, back to bed, go to sleep…

Two minutes later, she’s back.

“It’s no good mummy, I really can’t sleep, it’s just too dark!”

Urgh…

I scooped her up, again, took her back to bed, again, and left her little bedside light on and her door open.  She was happy after that.  She never used to be worried about the dark but recently she’s got this thing about the house being haunted.. or possibly hunted, it’s hard to tell at times.  I’m pretty sure that she’s not been reading my blog…  so what is it?  What changes in kid’s minds from not caring less that their door is shut at night and their room is dark, to suddenly waking up, complaining that something is in their room, that it’s too dark, that their parent’s, um, bathroom is hunted…haunted?

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When my son was smaller, I recall coming home once with him from an outing and opening the front door.  My son went in first and while I turned to shut the door, he said to me: “Who was that man?”

“Hmmm?  What man?” I asked, thinking he’d seen someone go by outside.

“The man that went up the stairs?”

I turned around and had a proper Sixth Sense moment:

WTF…? A man went upstairs what man who just went upstairs do I go and look do I get the hell out of here is my son having a laugh here because I’m SO not laughing right now what if there is someone upstairs I never heard someone going up the stairs should I tell my son to wait here while I go and look what if I tell him to hide in a cupboard no can’t do that or I’ll be hours looking for him afterwards what is going on here I am TOTALLY FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW!!!

Needless to say, I didn’t find anyone and as soon as my son had announced he’d seen someone going up the stairs leaving mum in a horrified stupor he just went right back to whatever he’d been doing before without a care that he’d probably given me at least three new grey hairs.

On a separate note,  the house has been remarkably quiet of late.  A picture did fall off the wall but… that was probably my fault because I’d used one of those dodgy ‘Will Hold Your Picture Up Forever!’ sticky hooks which clearly hadn’t paid attention in class.

And finally… just because it’s funny:

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Nicola

weirdworld@hotmail.co.uk

©Nicola Kirk and http://www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2017

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Everyone has an addiction of some kind.  Don’t tell me you don’t, because thou shalt be deemed a fibber of the most Shameful Kind.  I have many addictions.  Books.  Books.  Chocolate.  Paranormal investigation programmes.  Oh, the need to see a group of people bumbling about in the dark waving gadgets about that squeak and beep and flash… And I do so love the way they all suddenly freeze and look at each other and say:

‘There’s someone upstairs… there’s someone upstairs?  Who’s upstairs?  Do YOU know who’s upstairs?  I don’t think I’m upstairs?’

“Guys, has anyone actually been to see who is upstairs?”

“Uh… No.”

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For these past few months, my intrepid (decrepit?) mate in South Africa has been joining me on a veritable pub crawl of paranormal investigation programmes to see what they come up with.  We want the TRUTH!  Buuuut… we don’t really want to have to leave the safety of our homes to get it.  So, we have so far been through the whole of the Ghost Adventures series (well, who wouldn’t want to watch that lot charging about in the dark together yelling ‘DUUUUDE!!!!’ every five seconds?) and I thought the evidence they got in their very first documentary, before they went viral with their GAC adventures, was pretty compelling stuff (I refer to the flying brick incident).  I honestly think my friend and I have spent more time with those three GAC guys than we have our own husbands. That reads in a very bad way but, whatever.  We’ve worked our way through Nick Groff and his Paranormal Lockdowns (the first episode of series two was pretty fantastic, we loved that) and now we are busy abusing Ghost Hunters.  Right from the very first episode.  So far, it’s been like watching badly lit episodes of Hollyoaks with lots of cables, EMF meters and ‘spontaneous’ interludes where the team members grumble about who’s leading the tech department and whether they’ve captured dust or an orb on film.  Or possibly a full-blown poltergeist with laryngitis.

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My friend and I continually gripe about what they get up to in Ghost Hunters – ‘it’s dust!  That’s not an EVP, that’s someone sneezing!  What the hell is he doing with that thermometer!?’ but… we still keep on watching the episodes.  Just in case.

Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin (ahh Aaron, bless him, no one can erupt into a war cry of “DUUUUDE!” like Aaron),  Grant Wilson, Jason Hawes and all your Minions – we salute you!  You go ahead and carry on falling over stuff in the dark, you carry on bickering amongst yourselves over who left the power cable at home, WE LOVE YA GUYS!

Nicola

weirdworld@hotmail.co.uk

©Nicola Kirk and http://www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2017

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Early one morning – and I mean early, I have young children who have no concept of what waking at a ‘sensible hour’ is – my bedroom door pinged open and my two Small People marched in looking determined.  I think that was the expression they were wearing because, as I said, it was early and I had to pry an eyelid open with great reluctance to see what the deal was.  The conversation went something like this:

“Hello, you two, what’s up?  You know, it’s a bit early…”

“She woke me up,” advised my son.

“Oh.  Um… why’s that then?”

“She,” he pointed at his sister, just in case there was any doubt as to who the troublemaker was, “said the TV is on downstairs in your sitting room and it’s playing 101 Dalmatians but there’s no picture.”

I sat up.  Well, okay, perhaps she had been up early pressing buttons?

“Sweetheart,” I addressed my daughter (who was wide awake, bright-eyed and showed no signs of going back to bed without a lengthy debate about it first), “have you been playing with the television?”

“No.”

“Oh.”

“She came and woke me up to tell me that it had woken her up,” my boy told me.  They both stared at me expectantly because apparently parents have the Answers to Everything.  Even at 5am.

“Um… okay, well that’s a bit odd,” I muttered, throwing the covers back to go and have a look.  The television set up we have downstairs in our sitting room is the stuff of nightmares for any technophobe.  It took me ages to figure out that praying and sacrificing remote controls to it wasn’t sufficient to get it to turn on and much pressing of many buttons on a multitude of remotes was also required to appease the gods of technology.  If my daughter had managed to get the DVD player going by herself and turn the TV on from standby (even if it refused to display a picture) was quite an impressive feat.  So I went downstairs, posted various small people back into their beds in the hope that they might stay there for another two hours (fat chance, I’m laughing to myself as I write that) and turned the TV and DVD player off again.  Finally, I crawled back into bed and snuggled down once again…

…only to wake up about fifteen minutes later to the radio pinging on in our bedroom.  By itself.  My husband opened one eye and peeked at me sleepily as if to say ‘did you forget to turn off the Ouija board, dear?’

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I’ve mentioned in the past that our house has many a foible and likes to let rip with many odd noises in the night, usually resulting in me bumbling off downstairs to make sure one of the cats hasn’t managed to get trapped in the bin.  It’s not even as if it’s a particularly old house with many skeletons buried in its closets.  I believe the house was built in the 1960s but it has been extended and built up and goodness knows what so many times now that if it’s true what they say about ghosts hating renovation, I suppose that would explain where some of the noises and weird bangs come from.

Another very early morning had both my husband and I doing a tour of the house looking for the source of three, loud clear knocks.  I’d sprung out of bed (well, it felt like I sprung out of bed, but in reality it probably would have looked like me getting caught up in the duvet and falling gracelessly from the side of the bed onto the floor) and had scuttled off to see if someone was in trouble and was banging at our door for assistance.  Nothing.  Not a thing.  Well, thanks SO much whatever that was for getting me out of a nice warm bed.  At other times I’ll wake up because I’m certain I’ve heard the doorbell ring at some weird hour. And then last night both my father in law and I were scurrying about trying to find the cause of what sounded like a load of toy cars rolling off somewhere high up and hitting the floor.

“You alright?” he asked, dashing into the kitchen where I was looking about for the source of the noise myself.

“Me?  Sure.  That noise wasn’t you then?”

We had a moment of confused face pulling while we thought about it.

“I looked in on the kids and they’re asleep, so it wasn’t them,” he said.  More confused face pulling.  “This house is haunted…” he muttered as he wandered off back upstairs.  Comments like that would probably make most people uneasy but, well, I couldn’t help grinning like an overly excited Cheshire Cat at the prospect. My daughter often palms off her misdemeanours on the Great Unseen by saying, ‘oh, it was the ghost that did it’.   Hmmm… if I was a ghost in this house, I’d probably keep my head down when she’s on the rampage.

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Nicola

weirdworld@hotmail.co.uk

©Nicola Kirk and http://www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2017

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Draft One!

I haven’t been doing much blogging of late because I have been working on my latest novel.  Sliver will be my tenth book.  I’m feeling quite proud of that.  But I’m having a bit of a problem with my current set of characters.  The arguing, the back chat, the overruling, the in-house fighting… whose novel is this?!

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At Least It’s Not Just My Characters That Misbehave.

I started out writing this novel in my usual fashion.  Have a basic idea.  Expand on that idea.  Twist it inside and out.  Create the characters, their lives, their backgrounds.  Then I like to break my story outline up into sections before I start writing so I have a good idea how each chapter is going to turn out.  Super.  Off we go.

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Halfway through my first draft I get a little niggly voice in my head telling me, this would be so much better if it were told from a third person point of view instead of first person.  It would be fresh, something different…

But… that means I’m going to have to do a rewrite now because it will completely change the heart of the book.

Sure, sure, if that’s what you need to do.

So, two hundred pages in, I begin the rewrite.  It’s going great.  I’m adding to the ideas I’ve had so far, expanding the storyline, adding depth to my characters.  And then…

Hey, you.

Sod off, I’m busy.

We know, but we’ve been talking and…

You’re my characters.  You’re part of my imagination.  You don’t get to sit around and chat.

Yeah, okay, whatever, but even so, we’ve been talking and… see that character over there?

Yes.

Well, we think this story would be much better if…

Yes?

If they were a bloke instead of a bird.

A bloke.  Wait, you do realise what this means?

Another rewrite.

Yes.

We thought that would be the case, too.

You bunch of bastards.

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Nicola

weirdworld@hotmail.co.uk

©Nicola Kirk and http://www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2017

The Twelve Weeks of Christmas

Image result for bat man and robin too early for christmas

I think I saw the first Christmas tree going up at the beginning of November.  There could have been earlier examples but my brain blocked them out to shelter me from premature Christmas Panic.  There were definitely a few occasions where I had an internal shouting match at some retail outlet who had the sheer audacity to put Christmas decorations out alongside Hallowe’en decorations.  I mean, really.  One of my friends put her tree up on the first of November.  I was forced to temporarily disown her.

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Dear Neighbour, NASA Can See Your House From Space.

As much as I love all the twinkly lights and happy faces at this time of the year, the thought of having retail/TV enforced Christmas cheer assailing my senses for almost two months before the one Christmas day (yes, it’s all just for one day!  Don’t give me all this ‘twelve days of Christmas’ rubbish, that’s just an excuse for people to delay the prospect of taking the Christmas tree down for a fortnight) does not fill me with the ‘Christmassy’ feeling that people keep on banging on about.

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I Bought That Present… I Know I Bought It… I WAS SO PREPARED!!! Sob sob…

I think for many people, by the time Christmas day actually comes around, they are left feeling somewhat drained and panic stricken by the fact that Tesco is going to be shut for a whole day and they can’t find that present for their friend’s child that they know they bought weeks before (yes, that was me.  I swear I bought that present but I’ll be damned if I can find it now…)  I can’t remember if my poor husband had to endure two, three  or more emergency visits to the toy shop and/or Tesco but I do know that when your three-year old insists on helping with the wrapping up of presents it takes a whole lot longer than you thought possible.  And uses a lot more sellotape.

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We Have To Go To Another Party?!

But now that Christmas is quietly fizzling out into New Year (where you must See The New Year In And Bloody Well Enjoy It even though you just want to go… to… bed), I can already hear the quiet shifting and unpacking of all things red and lovehearty being extracted from the backs of articulated lorries in preparation of the Terror of Valentine’s Day, where if you don’t show your love for your Significant Other with half a forest of red roses (at ten times the usual price) and a stack of novelty gifts (is it Christmas again, so soon, already?) then the scorn and wrath of Society will rain down on you like some kind of biblical plague.

Ahh, whatever…Wishing you all a Very Happy New Year, Happy Easter, Happy Beltane, Yule and Merry Christmas 2017!

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Nicola

weirdworld@hotmail.co.uk

©Nicola Kirk and http://www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2016

Leaving Stuff Behind

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Don’t Distract Me While I’m Creating!

I make a lot of stuff.  And I’m rather proud of my stuff that I create.  I mean, there’s this stuff that I post on the internet.  There’s the stuff I’ve written in the form of books and scripts.  There’s the embroidery stuff I make.  We’ll leave my cookery stuff out of the equation as we all know the closest I get to cookery is turning the kettle on.  Then there’s the diary stuff I write. Copious amounts of scribbling that I look back on from time to time and either cringe with embarrassment at (did I really do that?) or look at with puzzlement because, well, I can’t actually remember doing it.  I suppose that’s the cool thing about writing diaries.  It’s impossible to remember all the things we do from day-to-day but everything we do make us into the people we are.  And the evidence is there within the pages of a diary.

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When I make something, I like to think my kids might like to keep it one day, after I’ve finished wearing out this body.  If they keep my diaries, they might enjoy reading about ‘what mum did before she had kids’.  I almost look forward to them realising that before I became ‘mum’, I went here, did that… probably shouldn’t have done that but it was fun at the time, and, oh yes, that happened too… I’d been trying to suppress that memory…  I suppose it could be considered rather egotistical, wanting to be remembered after I’ve gone.  But I want my kids to know about their family, who they were and where they came from, what they accomplished and what they screwed up.  I want them to laugh when they read about the time I made their father take me to a strip club to help me research a novel.  I would love for them to keep some of the embroidery I made to go on their bedroom walls when they were tiny (Spiderman, Disney Princesses, the big skull and crossbones, the Ouija Board… ah come on, you didn’t think it was all going to be airy fairy cutsie stuff?).

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Kids – Parents Just Like Embarrassing You 🙂

In this day and age, in a world where everything is rapidly becoming electronic, a handwritten diary or something handmade, well, I think that makes for something a bit special.  It contains part of the soul of the person who wrote/made it.  And while I know that one day I won’t be here any more, I hope my loved ones will be able to look at the stuff I leave behind and know there’s a small piece of me left behind with them, too.

Nicola

weirdworld@hotmail.co.uk

©Nicola Kirk and http://www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2016

The Horror Of Mannequins

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Even The Plastic Dead Have Bad Hair Days

Mannequins.  I do not like them and I’m quite sure they aren’t that keen on me either.  What with their fixed, sightless eyes and their ridiculously skinny arses.  The first time I can recall recoiling from the sight of a mannequin was when I was about ten and I went into a sports shop with my parents.  I went to try something on and almost fell over backwards with fright when I came face to face with one of the Plastic Dead lurking in the changing room.  I’m not sure why someone thought it would be a good place to store such a thing, perhaps to ensure people didn’t linger.  I certainly did not linger and it was the quickest change of clothes I’d ever managed in my life.

Fat Mannequins?

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Sorry, Beetlejuice Got There First

Mannequins have continued to haunt me into my adult life too.  They sometimes invade my dreams.  After having gone to see Lights Out at the cinema (a pretty good horror flick, as horror flicks go), the opening scene where dad is working at his textile factory jolted something in my mind and dredged up a rather uncomfortable dream I had a couple of years back.  I was in a school somewhere.  It wasn’t a place I knew although it felt oddly familiar.  There was a long corridor with glass sides and plastic strips hanging down from the doorways at either end, the kind of plastic strips you see at the butchers to keep flies out – thick, heavy things that barely stirred when you pushed through them.  The corridor edged a square space in the centre which was dark and dingy, with moss smudged along the windows.  A couple of male mannequins languished in the middle of the square.  They were just standing there, one had orangey red painted on hair and the other one was dark-haired.  I remember walking down the corridor just looking at them, thinking how horrible they were, just standing there – what business could a couple of mannequins have being there?   After a while I realised that the mannequins had moved.  They were no longer in the glass surrounded square; they were out and coming for me.  The feeling of terror as I lost sight of them but knew they were loose and somehow coming to do… um… terrible mannequiny things was overwhelming.  Yeah, I have no idea what mannequins would do if they got me – improve my dress sense possibly.

And then this turned up on my radar.  There’s a little bridal shop in Chihuahua, Mexico, called  La Popular where, in 1930, a very realistic looking mannequin suddenly appeared in the window dressed in the latest bridal gown fashions.  Nicknamed La Pascualita, people took a serious interest in the lifelike mannequin and came from far and wide to have a peek at her.

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Just A Mannequin?  Or Some Damned Fine Embalming?

What was it that was so interesting about this particular mannequin?  Apparently she has human hair, extremely detailed features – just take a look at the detail of her hands.  And apparently she also has varicose veins… who gives a mannequin varicose veins?:

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Some people think she is the embalmed body of the shopkeeper’s daughter and stories abound about the mannequin mysteriously shifting positions at night:

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Yes, okay, I can see a resemblance, however keeping a body in such a good state after embalming is no mean feat. The Russians apparently spend huge amounts of money keeping Vladimir Lenin’s corpse in good condition and it’s unlikely that a bridal shop could spare that kind of time and money on such a thing.  More likely it’s just a very detailed mannequin that keeps the tongues wagging and the tourists visiting.

But apparently not all mannequins are dangerously deranged or out to haunt bridal shops as the film Mannequin from 1987 demonstrates.  Oddly enough, despite my dislike of the Plastic Dead, I really liked this film.  Go figure.

Nicola

©Nicola Kirk 2016 and www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com

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