EDDIE BRAZIL asked whether it possible to experience a single, isolated episode of paranormal phenomena – a solitary ghost?
The countryside around the village of Penn, Buckinghamshire, some 30 miles north west of London, is criss-crossed with many footpaths and bridleways which are popular with walkers.
On a sultry, overcast day in August, 1987, 38-year-old Sara Osborne, took her usual walk across the fields near Tylers Green, close to the town of High Wycombe.
Here the paths fan out in different directions, but Sara continued on a circular route.
The fields and footpaths were unusually empty of other walkers, and Sara recalls that the grey day seemed strangely still and silent.
She had almost completed her walk and was nearing a farm when she looked ahead and saw a figure standing motionless on the path some hundred yards away.
‘Extremely tall man dressed in long black coat’
The person appeared to be an extremely tall man dressed in a long black coat which hung down below his knees.
He wore what seemed to be white gloves, and his left hand hung by his side whilst his right ,positioned at his midriff, pointed towards her.
His whole attire seemed out of place and completely wrong for the sticky, humid day.
However, as Sara stared at the strange figure she realised something which made her go cold and distinctly queasy.
The head of the man seemed to be abnormally small as if it had been shrunk.
Like the head of a baby implanted on to the neck of an adult.
Yet there were no features; no eyes, nose or hair.
It was just like a small stump protruding from the mans shoulders.
The whole scene was disturbingly weird, and she wondered if the figure was some kind of optical illusion brought about by the humid atmosphere.
The thought of continuing in the direction of the man and passing him was extremely distasteful to her.
She turned and made her way back along the path which led to the main road of the village. Before passing out of the fields she reluctantly looked back to see if the figure had chosen to follow her. Much to her relief, and surprise, he was no where to be seen.
However, Sara’s curiosity compelled her to retrace her steps part way back in to the field to see if she could catch sight of the strange person. But there was no one there.
She returned home unsettled and disturbed by the incident, and was at a complete loss as to an explanation. The whole episode felt real and uncanny enough for her to flee the scene and, for weeks after, give her many sleepless nights.
Strange encounter unsettling on solitary walk
Following her strange encounter she refrained from taking her solitary walk across the fields, and it took some time for her to once again feel safe enough to so, and only in the company of friends.
The experience of Sara Osborne is not only extraordinary and bizarre , but eerily creepy, and one wonders in to what file such apparitions should be catalogued; ghosts, spectres, phantoms of the living, doppelgangers, evil spirits?
Although hard to classify, such visions are not without precedent.
In the early hours of a January morning in 1976, 23-year-old Brian Perkins from Stockwell, South London, was on his way to work at a local bakery near to his home. It was 4am on a cold, damp morning, and despite it being in a busy part of the Capital the streets were eerily deserted .
Solitary ghost figure resembles ‘extremely tall skeleton’
As he passed by a church on his way to the main road he momentarily looked in the direction of the graveyard, and to his surprise and utter shock, standing on a patch of grass some way within the yard was a figure resembling a extremely tall skeleton.
Perkins instantly stopped in his tracks trying to comprehend what he was seeing.
The motionless figure was half illuminated by the feeble yellow neon from the surrounding street lamps.
At first the young man thought he was the victim of a practical joke, and soon the revellers would reveal themselves and take off laughing. But that didn’t happen.
With out warning the skeleton figure began to move towards Perkins. Not so much walking but gliding very slowly.
The young man felt unable to flee as his terror seemed to have prevented any bodily movement.
Then , whilst Perkins looked on, the figure, as it closed, gradually began to fade away in to the shadows of the churchyard.
Wanting to insure that he was not being set up, the young man, with admirable courage, entered the graveyard towards the area where the figure had disappeared, but there was nothing to indicate what he had witnessed or why it had vanished.
Perkins then took off, and ran as he had never ran before to his work place.
As to be expected, his relating of the experience to work mates was met with the expected laughs and ridicule. Over the following years Brian Perkins would come to pass that churchyard on numerous occasions, day and night, but never again encountered the figure of the skeleton.
What are the uncanny encounters?
What are we to make of such uncanny encounters?
Could they be some form of illusion we have yet to understand or is there a more sinister aspect to their manifestation?
These incidents seem to be random, isolated supernatural episodes which appear have no reason or purpose, unless it is to alarm and frighten, which they certainly do.
Significantly, each occurrence was never independently reported previously or subsequently, and for both Osborne and Perkins it was their one and only encounter with the paranormal.
Such encounters seem to be psychical blips; mysterious abnormalities which remain apart from the main body of paranormal phenomena.
Yet, that would seem to imply that the supernatural is bound by rules, and the episodes described are some kind of wayward paranormal anomaly, like a misbehaving child, which chooses to disobey the code.
Perhaps, ghost story writer, M.R.James was correct when he observed that we have yet to understand the rules governing psychic phenomena and the paranormal.