The other day I attended a talk by the fine author Lorn Macintrye, who had many interesting things to say about his family background of second sight in Argyll and Mull, and his own dealings with people involved in the paranormal, such as the Scottish medium Albert Best.
My main focus of interest, however, was Lorn’s investigations into Pitmilly House, which he dubbed ‘Poltergeist Manor’. The house in East Fife was demolished decades ago, but I’ve been pursuing its supernatural history for my forthcoming book Haunted St Andrews and District, so getting hold of a copy of Lorn’s booklet on the subject was a bonus.
Now here is the key question: does anyone reading this have a family tradition of a connection with Pitmilly? Perhaps you have a relative who visited the house, or worked there? If so, I would be delighted to hear from you – especially if the memories are from the 1930s or 1940s, as this was the period when the poltergeist was reportedly active.
A destructive 18th century meteorite (or was it a UFO?)…
Fairy child-theft (or were they alien abductions?)…
Queen Guinevere, torn apart by wild dogs and now a local fertility goddess…
Bodysnatchers and murderous ‘Burkers’…
These are the local mysteries I’ll be covering in the talk ‘Perthshire Mysteries and Murders’ on Wednesday 12th October in Coupar Angus Library. Geographically, the subjects range across East Perthshire, from Blairgowrie and Coupar Angus to Alyth and Meigle. If you’re in the area, please come along – all are welcome.
The details: Coupar Angus Library, Union Street, Coupar Angus, 7.30pm, Wednesday 12th October. Tickets on the door. Contact 01250 872905.
I’ve just been booked for another author’s visit to one of Her Majesty’s Prisons. This will be my fourth talk behind bars – and this time, by request, I’m doing it on vampires, which is a popular subject with the inmates of this particular prison.
I’ll also be dealing a little bit with the early history of vampires in English literature, noting how the vampire of East European folklore – basically a stupid, smelly peasant – became the suave, sophisticated aristocrat familiar from Dracula and similar fictions. I blame John Polidori (and if you say who? I would in normal circumstances suggest that you attend the talk; but as this would involve committing a serious crime and then getting banged up in the Big House, perhaps this is not a recommended course of action).
As you might imagine, you can’t just waltz into a prison. Checks are made, paperwork is processed, and the prisoners themselves have to be available on the day and time specified. Then you find yourself leaving your mobile with a reception guard and being escorted through a labyrinth of doors and corridors to a room in which sit 25 prisoners, many of whom are avid readers. Usually the prison librarian has circulated my books before the visit, and so as soon as I say “Any questions?” at the end there is a forest of raised hands.
I’ve enjoyed every prison talk I’ve given, one of which brought up one of the strangest personal encounters I’ve ever been told by an audience member. Usually people describe their experiences of seeing a UFO or a ghost – but this particular prisoner told me that, driving fast on a road in Fife one night, he passed a figure complete with scythe, black cloak and skull face – Death himself…
On Tuesday 13th September I’m giving a talk to the Perth Burns Club at the Salutation Hotel, South Street, Perth. The last time I gave a talk to this organisation it was 2007 and I’d had just one book published, The Guide to Mysterious Perthshire. A further 21 books later and I’m back, this time to talk about big cats, witchcraft and encounters with supernatural entities, all taken from Paranormal Perthshire, which came out earlier this year. The event kicks off at 7.30pm and the Burns Club are happy to welcome new members at the door.
The second talk of the week is on Friday 16th September, this time for the Auchterarder Local History Society in The Institute/Aytoun Hall on Auchterarder High Street. Start time is 7.30pm and non-members can attend for £2 on the door. For this talk I’ll be concentrating on witches. There’s the Maggie Wall Witchcraft Monument in Dunning – I’ll be revealing when it was built and by whom, thus dispelling a mystery that has perplexed people for generations – and the legend of Kate McNiven , the Witch of Monzie, which will include unveiling the whereabouts of the lost ‘Witch’s Stone’, a jewel she was said to have spat out during her alleged execution. So if you fancy some world-class wibbling on witchcraft, come along!
As usual, I’ll have books for sale at both talks. My thanks to both organisations for inviting me. __
This Thursday (26th May) I’m at Aberfeldy, giving a talk at the Breadalbane Community Campus at 7.30pm. The subject is ‘Mysterious Perthshire’ although I’ll be concentrating exclusively on the Highland part of Perth & Kinross, with episodes ranging from Pitlochry and Moulin through Strathtay to Loch Tay and Ben Lawers.
On the slate will be: Big Cats in Highland Perthshire, including a photograph of a big cat print in snow; UFOs, especially the notorious Calvine/Pitlochry Incident of 1990; and the Alleged Haunting of Ballechin House, a Victorian ghost investigation by the Society for Psychical Research that led to scandal, rows, and angry letters to The Times. All these will be taken from my recent book Paranormal Perthshire.
A big thank you to Bruce Paterson for letting me witter on for his show on Heartland FM.
Tickets for the talk are £5, available from the Breadalbane Community Library, or by phoning 01887 822405. The event starts at 7.30 and lasts for about an hour, and there’s free parking. Oh, and I’ll also have books for sale, as managed by my glamorous assistant.