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

Posts tagged ‘actor’


Tony Goodman is a bored actor who gets more than he bargained for when he fails to learn his lines…

Acting Up is a short story I wrote a few years ago.  If you enjoy a visit to the theatre, then this story of slovenly actors and creepy old theatres is for you.

Format: PDF file


For a free copy, click here: Acting Up


©Nicola Kirk and 2010



Clowning Around – Ghoulishly Good Fun

Coulrophobia is the irrational fear of clowns (and yes, I realise the above picture is not going to do people who are terrified of Mr Chuckles the Clown any favours whatsoever but… I’m a bit evil like that).  It’s quite a common phobia it would seem; so common, in fact, that in July 2006 at a three day music festival held at Robin Hill, Isle of Wight, organisers were forced to withdraw a request for festival goers to attend dressed as clowns because many of the revellers were terrified of them.  It’s a strange phobia to suffer from, especially when you consider the innocent origins of clowning around.

Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837) is considered to be the original clown (so all you people out there frightened of a bit of greasepaint and hideous fuzzy wigs, Joseph is the man to blame).  Grimaldi enjoyed an exciting career in theatre and could often be seen bounding around the stage at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, throwing himself about like a rag doll to the audience’s delight whilst wearing gaudy outfits and with his face painted white.

Before:  Mr Grimaldi practises the art of being serious.

After: Oh, and it’s all gone horribly wrong…

Unfortunately, Grimaldi’s punishing theatrical routines crippled him and he was forced to prematurely retire from the job he loved.  By 1818 he was penniless and in his final speech at a benefit performance (in which he was forced to perform seated because of his poor health), he told his audience:

“Like vaulting ambition, I have overleaped myself and pay the penalty in advanced old age. It is four years since I jumped my last jump, filched my last oyster, boiled my last sausage and set in for retirement.”

Grimaldi died in 1837 at 33 Southampton Street (now called Calshot Street), Clerkenwell at the age of 58.  There is an interesting story that Grimaldi asked for his head to be removed before being buried at what is now called Grimaldi Park, Pentonville Road.  No one is entirely sure why Grimaldi asked for this to be done, but seeing as his father was so terrified of being buried alive that he asked for his head to be sawn off before being buried, perhaps some of that terror rubbed off on his son and beheading before interment appeared to be the sensible thing to do…

Joseph Grimaldi’s Grave,
Grimaldi Park, Pentonville Road

For most people, death is pretty much the final curtain, but Joseph Grimaldi doesn’t quite see it that way and has refused to remain quiet in his grave.  At the Theatre Royal people have frequently reported receiving a phantom kick up the backside when Grimaldi wants to get their attention.  From actors on stage to usherettes, it would seem that no one is safe.  Also, we mustn’t forget the strange, pasty white disembodied face that has also been reported hovering around the theatre.  As I have no idea where Grimaldi’s head ended up, I wonder if maybe a sympathetic friend arranged for his head to be secreted somewhere in the theatre he loved so much, hence its strange spectral appearences.  Who knows?

Below is a short video of ghost hunter, Chris Halton, attempting to get Joseph Grimaldi into a chatty mood:


©Nicola Kirk and 2010


Wikipedia – Coulrophobia

Haunted London

Wikipedia – Joseph Grimaldi

The Guardian

Incredible Coincidences But… No Squirrels This Time, Sorry

My boss was having a heart attack.  He had collapsed onto the floor and his face screwed was up in agony.

“It’s okay, Michael,” I told him with a calmness that I didn’t feel.  “I’ll call an ambulance, you’re going to be okay.”  Isn’t it amazing that people always make these promises when everything is clearly not okay and the person suffering most certainly doesn’t look like they’re going to be okay.  I patted him on the arm in what I hoped was a soothing way but it just felt awkward.  I scuttled off to call an ambulance.

“Which service do you require?” the operated asked. Her voice sounded tinny and distant.

“Ambulance, please,” I said, my voice shaking with panic.  “My boss is having a heart attack.”

“Okay, we’ll get someone out to you right away.  What’s the address?”

“I’m…um… I’m at…” Actually, where the hell was I?  It didn’t look like my office.  “I think I’m at work…” I muttered.  This was stupid.  Surely I should know where I was.  And then, at the back of my mind I heard another voice.

“This is the news on Thursday 25th June on Capital 95.8FM.  Today people are waking up to the sad news that Michael Jackson has died from a suspected heart attack…”  My eyes flew open and I realised I was in bed with my radio alarm clock chattering away on my bedside table.  I had been dreaming.  I lay there listening to the news with a strange sense of unease that only moments before I had dreamed that someone else called Michael had been having a heart attack.


* * *

Penny Hopwood, who you may recall from an earlier post on incredible coincidences, seems to have an uncanny knack of running into people whom she hasn’t seen for years, even though the odds of meeting these people again are exceptionally large, seeing as she left them behind on an entirely different continent:

“Gareth was my first ‘real love’.  I was sixteen.  We parted after two years – I went to Entebbe and he to Provence.  We lost touch until about four years later when we found ourselves sitting next to one another on a District Line tube!  For a moment we sat in silence, but after a quick chat he asked for my phone number.  That night I had a date with my future husband and as I flew down the stairs I heard the phone rang – I shouted to one of my flat-mates to please take a message if it was for me.  Needless to say, it was Gareth and he didn’t leave a number.  Years passed by but I never forgot Gareth and always felt I would see him again.  I knew he was a relatively well-known actor and his mother a film and stage actress.   A few years ago, I saw Gareth narrating a programme on T.V. about his godfather (a very famous actor and writer).  I must admit, I found it hard to recognise the gorgeous Gareth I had known as a teenager, but he was still attractive.  I was all the more determined to trace him, but it didn’t happen. Last year, my boss’s wife, an actress, began talking about a film she had been in and asked me to check out a member of the cast whose name she had forgotten. I did.

It was Gareth.

The next day, I made some calls to find out the name of Gareth’s agent.  There was a slight pause at the other end of the phone.

‘I’m afraid you’ll have difficulty contacting him,” I was told.  “He died last year.”

P.S.  Looking at Gareth’s bio on the web, my boss wrote the music for two films Gareth starred in.  Small world.  It was a shame that I was a year too late!”


©Nicola Kirk and 2010

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