Updated: Mar 1, 2022
It was Armistice day 2021, and I had been feeling rather down in the dumps. My husband Jack who works abroad, had left for a 21 day spell floating about somewhere in the North sea, and my Mother and Stepfather visited all too briefly the day before. Everyone had now left, and even the neighbour's cat Beatrice (Bea-bea) had not deigned to pay a visit.
The day was drab, and it reflected my sudden emptiness. How to address this? How to kick oneself up the proverbial backside and stride out with positivity and joie de vivre?! Well to a normal human being they might I don't know, get together with friends and go for a drink, but my friends are generally the ladies at the yard and we all smell of horse much of the time and don't really have time for socials. Then there's the prison staff themselves, but they're too busy doing their prisony thing, and Jen has birds to look after. And I wouldn't want to incur the sparrowy wrath of Pickwick and Florin, god knows. Where we live it's extremely quiet despite the fact we have three pubs, so it can get lonely at times. When Jack's not home, it's me and Bea-bea! At least the poltergeist has gone, that's one social guest I was not happy to have.
So I'm guessing that Normal People when they feel a bit 'meh', immerse themselves in something televisual or get their derrieres off the sofa for a jog or workout or something equally unattainable to myself (at that time such a thing would be tantermount to flying to the moon using chopsticks). But you know we all get days like that, and it is autumn and it's all rather manky, so instead of doing any of the above I opted to spend a few hours at the prison, lurking around the darkness whilst the ghost tours were operating. What better way to kick away the blues than by going somewhere so brutally dark and dismal that anyone's domestic woes diminish for while? Plus it means that on the way back I could stop and get a cheeky dirty takeaway and feed upon it with solo relish at home on the sofa in front of my latest favourite binge, The Marvellous Mrs Maisel on Amazon.
The fabulously patient staff at the prison are well rehearsed in accepting my weirdness, and sometimes I feel like I'm their pet strange-person, one who pops up at random times to do bonkers things that 'normal' people just don't get. Luckily I count them all to be my friends, and I don't feel that I'm gatecrashing. Also, many of them share my passion for the strange things at the prison, and so we're an odd collection really. But it's all good, as they say! In July 2018 Jack and I had our new-found friends over for a house warming party/thankyouprisonpeople event, BBQ and booze a-plenty. My Mother even made a Mallet cake!
It all went swimmingly, and now whether they like it or not, Jack and I have enveloped them as our friends. Tough luck folks! When we move again they shall get an invite again and we can all drink too much and my Stepfather can throw wine up the curtains yet again.
Anyhow, I digress! I killed what felt like seventy-nine hours before it was time to leave for Shepton. I detest the dark evenings. It takes me around half an hour to get there from Ilchester, but much longer if we have a tractor or twelve in front of us. Luckily I was not held up, and managed to be parked outside the gates nearly an hour before doors-opening! I sat and read my new book on Poltergeist Parallels & Contagion by the light of my phone (excellent, by the way. It's by Darren W. Ritson), before realising that ghost tour crowds had been gathering in the dark by the wall and were probably watching me wondering why the car windows were steaming up.
Fletch, the adopted prison cat who lives we know not where, was tarting around rubbing himself up peoples' legs then haughtily mooching off. He's a grand little person, and not unlike Bea in looks and attitude.
Then it was time to go inside, and with that, I slunk away like a woolly-hatted burglar into the corridors.
It was when I was in B-Wing that I began to feel a bit strange, sort of hunted. Normally I'm perfectly fine in the dark at Shepton, and it wasn't like I didn't have a torch because I did. An enormously jazzy affair purchased for my caving adventures with Jen from the prison, Chris (fellow 'ghoster'), Darren (Chris's friend) and my Jack. It has about eight lights that whizz and flash in different patterns, and could quite easily initiate some sort of siezure. However, it did the job. But even so, that night (last night actually, as I write this) I wasn't relaxed, I was jittery. I even mistook something obviously not a person for a someone standing outside Treadmill house, which was ridiculous as it quite obviously wasn't - but from then on I was jumpy and this for me, is not the norm.
I made my way up to the 3s on B-Wing. Charlie who was running the tour, said that that would be a safe bet for me to avoid the group, and so I sat in what I call Neil's cell, B3,16. The cell has a tragically sad story, and that's just one of hundreds of stories to come out of it. It's just because I am friends with the lady officer who found the inmate in question, dead at the back of the cell in 2010. I go there, and have had some interesting responses.
I left the cell (I thought I could hear the tour coming, but unlike Jen when she runs it, Charlie has the projection of a wee mousey, and can quite easily sneak a 24-person strong tour into the wing with little warning!) but it turned out this wasn't the case, but I snuck from B3,16 anyway and stood at the far left of the wing, and took some photos down the length of the 3s.
Then the tour really was coming, and so I scooted off down D-Wing like a rabbit in the dark. I couldn't risk turning on the head torch in case the tour saw me, so for a few moments I stood rather spooked in the D-Wing entrance, almost scared to go forward.... I turned on the torch to its palest setting, and proceeded. My phone pinged, and it was Charlie. "Are you or have you been in B-Wing?" Oh dear. Rumbled!!
I spent the remaining half hour flitting here there and everywhere, but never feeling quite myself, just jumpy and flighty, like a pony looking for something to spook at. So I called it a day.
I waited in Visits for the tour to finish so that Charlie and Karen could let me out, and I began to flick through my photos from the night. I try to take a few around and about because you never know what you'll get. I've had some absolute corkers of weird-stuff-shots over the years, and you have my word that I'd never fake anything. Why would anyone? What's the purpose of pretending to have captured or achieved something, is it for kudos, for prowess? I don't get it. But anyway, I've been lucky. I suppose the highlight being the little boy in execution in the early hours during a sleepover in May 2018. But I hadn't had anything for a while, I think the last thing being the shadow man in B-Wing by the bath house stairs.
So there I was scanning, sat on the window ledge next to the Pierrepoint Fact File, when suddenly, there in between the odd selfie (for the website) and wing shots etc. came something that caught my eye. It was the shot I'd taken as I left B3,16. It seemed to be a column of white bending mist just a little way from me. I enhanced it, and it became obvious that I'd captured something - quite what I didn't know, but I had certainly been in the presence of this thing. Was this why I was jittery? Had my animal instincts picked up on the fact that something was with me?
I'm still listening to the audio from this moment when I was in B-Wing. If anything significant shows, I'll stick it on here forthwith! There's also plenty of video I took on the wing, so here's hoping that our misty friend is in that too.
So, over and out for now!
Take care all. X
PS: Although no audio came through at the time of this photo being taken, twenty seconds prior to it the following was captured: "Ann.." Spoken by a male on B3. Here it is!