Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Oh Go Whistle........!!!!!!

It was with some interest - and more than a degree of worry - that we took notice of the 'new' version of the classic ghost story 'Oh Whistle And I'll Come To You My Lad' which was being advertised by the BBC for airing on Christmas Eve. It was a little puzzling, to say the least, that the programme was yet another remake of a tale already used in the 'Ghost Story For Christmas' series, previously being televised in 1968, with Sir Michael Hordern in the title role. With so many excellent M. R. James stories to choose from, pretty much all of them never being previously attempted by television, it seemed something of a potential waste to go for a story that had already been used previously.....

Yet, we the viewers were assured that it would be a 're-working' of the original story, set with a 'modern slant' and starring the classic British actor John Hurt..... At least the latter did appear to give the project some 'Umph!!', while the previous two considerations only served to set the creeping feeling of concern for James' story to a much higher level that before........ Call us old fashioned, but the notion of dealing with a 'classic' ghost story should be approached with a great amount of respect and care for the original subject matter involved(?)

Come the broadcast and all of our previously 'creeping' fears were let loose with an unbridled sensation of barrelling horror that washed away any degree of optimism that could have been held for the project...... In short, a 're-working of the original' obviously meant to mean a complete and rather ludicrous 're-write', with only small aspects of James' story kept in place to assure us that this was indeed 'Oh Whistle...' that we were watching.......

But - rather than waffle on here re. our crushing disappointment - we urge visitors to take and hour or so and view the broadcast for itself, which (at the time of writing) is still accessible via BBC IPlayer at this PAGE

Please do write in and let us know what you think?

All the best for 2011!!


The W.M.G.C.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas!!!!

Just a brief note to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2011 !!!!

While 2010 has, on the whole, been a rather quiet year for the W.M.G.C. - for a variety of different reasons - its end, in fact, marks our 21st full year in operation.......

We aim to make the next 12 months our most productive period so far...... and have already started lining up some investigations already. So, please do watch this space and, of course, our official website (which has just been recently updated for the Yuletide Season, as it happens). The update can be found at this 'LINK'

So - once again - the Seasons Greetings to all of our friends and........ here's to the next 21 years of investigations!!! Laugh!!!!

All the best,

The West Midlands Ghost Club

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Down In The Woods......

On December the 4th, two W.M.G.C. members paid a visit to a site that had initially become a matter of some, passing interest to us last year…. namely, a tract of woodland - Hopwas Wood - situated just outside Tamworth in South Staffordshire. Our attention had first become drawn to the area concerned when sightings of an overly tall, ghostly figure were reported to the group some short while earlier……

As a result of the above, a visit was made at the time of the report and research carried out into the history of the general area. During the course of this research, stories of 'Occult' or 'Witchcraft-like' activities, being performed in Hopwas Woods, were discovered. Such activity - when it first came to light during the early 1980's - merited a considerable amount of both media and public interest and speculation.

Purely as a matter of ongoing interest, our early December visit was subsequently planned….. the trip to the area being carried out with a metal detector. The latter mentioned item was included in the visit because, according to some reports, 'metallic' items of 'ceremonial' significance had allegedly been discovered in the region in the past…..

As it transpired, the presence of this piece of equipment proved of intrinsic value to our visit, as - during a sweep of a particular area of woodland - a copper plate adorned with (presumably 'Occult-related') script and designs was unearthed….. As the photographs show, there was a considerable blanket of snow on the ground at the time of the find and the plate was discovered some inches underneath the earth below.

Because of such an intriguing find, the W.M.G.C. contacted the Tamworth Herald with a view to potentially appealing for information on the object. The ensuing article appeared on Dec. 9th - resulting in the group being inundated with general enquiries and suggestions…. some even originating as far away as the U.S.! The story itself has now, subsequently, been picked up by a number of different blogs - frequently Pagan orientated - and other websites. The original T.H. article ran as below:

"Mysterious artefact baffles ghost hunters exploring ancient woods"

By Paul Kemp news reporter

"EVIDENCE has emerged of occult activity in Hopwas after a "copper plate" featuring engraved magical symbols was dug up in the village's ancient woodland.

The rectangular tablet, which features an illustration of a star alongside mystical writing, was found buried about four inches below the ground in Hopwas Woods last Saturday.

It was dug up by investigators from the West Midlands Ghost Club, who had been researching old stories of witchcraft and hauntings in the area.

Intrigued members of the club are now appealing for more information about the artefact and an explanation of what the symbols might mean.

John Conway said he discovered the tablet while using a metal detector at the site as part of his research into the area's mystical past.

He described the find as "totally unexpected" and "intriguing".

He told the Mercury: "Our interest in Hopwas came about two years back, because we had heard a couple of ghost stories from the area. On checking up on the history, we heard about things going on in Hopwas Woods."

He said: "We visited the wood with a metal detector – the purpose of the visit being to get an overview of the area concerned and, potentially, find evidence of some form of magical practices."

John said he was inspecting an area situated on former Ministry of Defence land when he picked up a "buried" signal with the metal detector, and started digging.

"We did not notice at first, but we were in the centre of a natural circle of quite old trees.

"We initially thought what we'd found was simply a thick piece of copper sheet, but, upon further scrutiny, we found it was deeply etched with peculiar symbols and writing, quite evidently of an occult-related nature."

After cleaning up and polishing the item, the magical symbols could be seen.

But he said he realised the "ethical" implications of digging up a potentially sacred item.

"We realise someone has put something there purposefully. If they want to contact us privately we would be quite happy to hand it back."

In 1984, reports of naked "witches" in the woods emerged after a raid by police in which several people were detained.

At the time, the leader of the group, part of The Order of the Silver Star, spoke out and defended the group's actions.

Members denied being witches and described themselves as "serious occultists" who had been using the woods since the early 1970s.

During rituals they claimed they "connected with the stars and planets".

Photographs of the plate itself can be viewed on the following 'LINK', which, of course, is part of the West Mids. Ghost Club Photo Album.

Interestingly - though probably unrelated - is an account also run by the Tamworth Herald concerning the sighting of a presumed Alien Big Cat (ABC) in the region of Hopwas Wood:

"Driver shocked by the size of cat that crosses his path"

Big-cat sighting... The animal was seen crossing from Hopwas Woods.

By Helen Machin news reporter

ANOTHER sighting of a big cat has been reported in Tamworth – but this time not fitting the description of the black leopard seen most frequently.

A Whittington man has reported a golden-coloured cat running across the road from Hopwas Wood.

David Cooke (27) said he was approaching Hopwas at around 6.30am on Monday, September 6 when the animal ran across the road in front of his car.

He told the Herald: "Just as I was entering Hopwas about halfway down the slope, I saw a big cat run out in front of my car from the wood on the left and into to less dense woodland on the right.
"It was only in sight for about two or three seconds but I got a really good look at it. It was quite clear in my headlights.

"I was around 15 metres away and I'm convinced it was a big cat. It ran like a cat, not like a dog or a fox."

He added: "It was like a cougar. I'm 6ft 2in and I think it would have been around knee-height on me, but powerfully built. It had a long tail, about three feet in length.

"It was an orangey-golden colour, similar colouring to an American mountain lion.

"There was one car behind me and one coming in the opposite direction – I'm sure the car coming in the opposite direction must have seen it too."

Were you the other car driver and did you see the big cat? Contact helen.machin@cintamworth.co.uk with your big-cat news.

All the best,

West Midlands Ghost Club