I Did It My Way...
My time as night supervisor at HMP Shepton Mallet has regrettably come to an end.
This was my choice, by the way. I shall not go into why, but shall instead confirm that my colleagues are the absolute best, and the Mallet herself is as boisterous and fantastic as ever! I've lasted since the beginning of January 2022 until October 2022, and it's flown by. One minute we're in the clammy grip of the sweatiest summer on record for decades, and within a sniff, we're wrapped up in hats and some of the guests, scarves too. You have to love the UK. I suppose.
I was desperately hoping that my final shift would be a winner in every way, and it did not disappoint. The group booked were Haunted Happenings, and the team themselves have become good friends, so often do we find ourselves together. The guests were only 27 in number which was perfect, not great for HH's bank balance but brilliant for individuals and for us lot running the event.
It was in my last blog (Oh What a Night) that I recounted the events of the 9th September, the night after the death of the Queen. Amidst the strange happenings were two whistles, one witnessed by two lads who helped me walk round to lock up because I had descended into a rather wussy state as they night progressed, and the other as I switched off the final light on leaving. This week however, the whistle came earlier, and was also witnessed by my friend Nigel from Haunted Happenings.
We were chatting at the front desk, the evening shortly about to begin. No guests were yet on site, and the time was just after 8.15pm. Suddenly there came a loud musical whistle, emanating from just outside the main and open doors. It was a surprisingly humid autum night. The sound did not come from the lane beyond the far wall, and was not a bird. Both Nigel and I rushed out to check things out, and came back with no explanation. Things were kicking off!
By 9pm all 27 guests were ushered in via the imposing gates and sat in Visits, the air a-babble with chatter. Soon it would be the time for Nigel and his team to introduce themselves. However, as I stepped forward to say my piece at the back of the room, Nigel and Natalie suddenly emerged from the back of Closed Visits, and I could tell by their expressions that something weird had just occurred. On quick investigation it turned out that they'd heard someone out the back crashing around, so rowdy were the sounds that they both thought that one of the guests had snuck out. The sound of footsteps and the grating sound of a chair being moved was unmistakable, and they were genuinely perplexed and equally excited, as is the wonderous feeling when these things happen - and with viable witnesses too, making the event a definite plus to proceedings. The kick-off button had been pushed...
That said, it had already been pushed earlier but hadn't realised it yet. I came in at about 6pm for my leaving chat with my manager, and after, had freedom to record wherever I liked until the HH team arrived. Naturally I plumped again for Closed Visits, having had such amazing luck there previously and in particular, with the rather vocal spirit of a child.
Although my physical experiment involving stringing up a little Tatty Teddy across the room came to nothing (K2, recorder and video running) I did get some great starter EVPs from the fifteen minutes or so as I went off and unlocked the site. When I returned, I gathered my gear and once the guests had arrived and gone off about their activities, dashed into the confines of Closed Visits to record in 2-3 minute bursts. I'd then crank up the laptop, plug in, and begin going through the audio. I always liken the feeling of sitting down to see what treasures have been captured to being a child at Christmas, viewing a stack of presents barely concealed by (in my case) the flimsiness of a pillow case. So tantalisingly exciting...
So, how did the evening pan out, did the little girl speak again?
YES! She certainly did.
Not just once, twice, thrice, but four times in total, and not just her either but a small host of other entities. I was entranced.
During the guests' lone time I sat briefly with HH staff Natalie on the floor of Closed Visits, she was by now as intrigued by the small and often overlooked area as I was. After her own experiment using a cat ball (will only light up when physically touched) yielded nothing, I left her to it with the recorder. Again, the spirits 'out the back' did not fail to get chatting, and in fact retrospectively it turned out that the brief spell we sat together drew quite a few of them to get talking - including our little girl. As we both left the area to return to the guests, her voice unmistakably says, "THANK YOU!" This is one of those EVPs that almost make me want cry with happiness and excitement in the knowledge that experiencing EVP is such a special, vitally unique thing, to know that myself and Nat have not only entered into the conscience of 'a spirit', that her acknowledgement of us in a different dimension, is real, and that whatever barriers that indeed divide the living and 'the dead' (if indeed they are, in their reality) are actually, breakable. We are paranormal archaeologists.
At around 2.15am I did my rounds and found myself solo in glorious B Wing. The phenomena I've experienced here....! I knew that the chance to stand alone here in the dark was finite, and I made the most of these precious last moments, back to the wall midway down B1. I made to film a little piece to camera for this website, when suddenly, something caught my eye by the radiator between B1,21 and B1,22. A sort of white flash. I blinked. Was I seeing visual disturbances from having used my torch? I closed my eyes, and opened them, and made to carry on recording.
There, again! This time the movement, for there certainly was something moving, was a few feet further down. Not a white flash this time, more a rippling - as if a fine net curtain was being waggled in front of the wall. But there was no net, nobody there, just me. It also reminded me of having a migraine in which visual disturbances are experienced, causing nausea and distortion. Or like moving a magnifying glass across something, that swelling and surreal effect... only here there was no massive magnifying glass.
I hope that you sort of understand what I'm describing here. There was movement, and it wasn't just out of the corner of my eye either. As I paced the wing I saw this movement a further three times outside cell B1,22. I was jittery, because I knew that what I had seen was really there, and was possibly something manifesting before me - what would happen if I stayed longer, imagine what twenty minutes might reveal! Sadly I had duties to attend to, and instead dashed briefly into the cell and sat on the bed. I recorded.
I had been hoping for the often requested yet rarely given, gift of a name. Not just 'Samuel' or 'Smith,' but the full one, and I just know that other investigators will sagely be nodding now, understanding that this is something that oh-so-rarely happens on command! What I actually got was a chap saying, "THAT'S IMPERTINENCY!", loud and clear. In a nutshell, it means that he thought I was being rude. If indeed he was communicating with me, perhaps not, but what if he was?
It turned out that this was one active little cell that night, for two ladies, a mum and daughter, were repeatedly drawn to it and conducted a Ouija session inside, coming up with 1625 and the name Fred Mes. Mes is a name apparently, originating from Germania. The date is a little iffy, being the year that the prison opened, and of course record keeping back then was virtually non-existent. We have no way of knowing the truth, but the pair were adamant and very proud of their find.
Now, sometimes I am a little sceptical about newbies finding out things from the board, but who knows, perhaps our gent was indeed Fred. Or maybe he was simply one of the thousands of men to have spent time in B Wing, not necessarily that cell. Who's to say they're location bound, after all? Maybe the ladies were communicating with the 'thing' I saw in the wing, or perhaps it was something else entirely. Whatever our experiences actually were, the three of us went home in the early hours of Saturday feeling blessed to have witnessed what we did. And this was without the audio captures, for as you know, EVPs are only heard on playback, and Mr Impertinence was not discovered until Saturday night.
The event drew to a close, with many other various interesting occurrences cropping up throughout. It was an emotional and fitting end to a job so special that I shall miss it horrendously.
I said goodbye at 3am to the guests and team, and for the very last time ever, found myself alone with The Mallet. I savoured my last moments alone on site, shutting the side door, marching to the CCTV cabin by the firing squad wall, taking out the rubbish. Then, one by one switching off the panel of lights at the back by Closed Visits. I said thank you and goodnight to the invisible hosts, and as is always the way when the darkness closes in behind you, scarpered to the main door and flicked the final switch. Pitch black. Head torch on, I closed the main doors and clicked shut the padlock, hoisted my bags, and marched to the immense gates for the last time. Because I'm a bit of a geek I'm afraid I filmed the whole thing. Slide the bar, out the hatch door, close the door, extend the key on the chain, and lock. Done.
I gazed around, taking in the peace and atmosphere at 3.16am. It had just started to rain and the drops fell golden through the amber glow of the street lamp where I'd parked. Then, ready for my bed, I turned the phone off, got into my Mini, and drove away.
Thank you for everything, Shepton Mallet Prison. I shall be back as a daytime visitor, but these privileged nights are now committed to memory. Over..... and out.