EDDIE BRAZIL reveals his first brush with the paranormal, as a 10-year-old in his childhood home in Stockwell, London…
The most frequently asked question put to paranormal researchers is perhaps an obvious one, “How did you become a ghost hunter?”.
The query would appear to require an easy enough reply. Yet, when the question is put, a mental back tracking begins as we recall the years and try to locate that moment, hour or day when we were snared by the subject and became intoxicated with a passion to discover more.
For me, it was when I was 10 years old, during the summer of 1966, and my family were living in an 18th century house in Stockwell, South London.
One warm afternoon, I returned home from school about 4 o’clock to find the house empty. Letting myself in I went and sat in the kitchen and read comics whilst I awaited the return of my Grandmother .
It was unusual for the house to be empty during the afternoon as my Gran was normally at home and my Dad, who was a shift worker, would be either asleep or getting ready to go to work.
As I sat in the kitchen I became aware that the house had become unnaturally still and quiet. The muffled sound of the traffic, and the shrieks and shouts of the other kids playing outside seemed to have been deadened to silence, and once or twice I looked up from my comic to peer, quizzically around the silent room.
Sometime later I suddenly heard a door at the top of the house close with a sharp slam, followed by footsteps. My immediate thoughts were that one of my brothers, or my Dad was at home and was now coming downstairs. And yet. the sound of the descending footfalls on the stairs and the way they seemed to edge tentatively down each flight made me listen up. It didn’t’t sound like my Father’s measured tread or the rushing eagerness of one of my brothers.
Footsteps on the staircase…
The footsteps reached the bottom floor and seemed to halt outside the kitchen door. I sat transfixed, my eyes on the door, heart thumping, waiting to see who would enter. At no time did I think the sounds were in anyway paranormal. I was certain that if I got up, went to the door and opened it I would be confronted by a large man with a stocking over his head and a crowbar in his hands. Yet, I didn’t’t need to go over and open the door, for noiselessly and without warning, it swung open on its own.
I sat upright in my chair half expecting to be bashed on the head by the intruder as he made his getaway. However, no one entered the kitchen. I eventually mustered enough courage to get up and go and look out into the hall. It was then that I realised that the sounds were not those of one of my family or the clumsy footsteps of a burglar. The hall and the first flight of stairs were empty. I panicked and bolted from the house, out through the kitchen door and into the garden.
What on earth was going on? What had I heard? Who had I heard? I was equally excited, bewildered and scared. Was it possible that I had heard a genuine Ghost? Was our house Haunted? And what would I see and hear if I went back inside and climbed to the top landing where I had earlier heard the door slam.
The arrival of my Grandmother sometime later returned an air of normality to the situation ,and I went back inside, although not without trepidation. My cautious looks around the kitchen, out in the hall and up the stairs, plus my initial reluctance to go and fetch something for my Gran from her bedroom on the top floor of the house brought from her a knowing look which seemed to say:
“Ah, so you have heard it too?”
Indeed my Grandmother and my Father had both experienced curious incidents in the house. I was to later learn that such was their concern that my brothers and me would become frightened if we learned of the strange things that were occurring that both tried to ignore what was happening.
However, it was my Grandmother who eventually commented to my Father one day, “This is strange house, something is going on here.”
On certain days, alone in the house, she would hear footsteps in empty rooms and doors closing on their own. My Father, also experienced incidents he couldn’t explain. During the night he would often hear the front door of the house open and close, followed by footsteps which would come along the hall and then ascend the stairs. The footsteps would pause outside his bedroom before continuing up to the top floor. Getting out of bed, he would open the door and emerge out on to the cold dark landing to see if there was anything out of place and that we were all in our rooms asleep, which we were.
The remaining years we spent in the house I never again experienced the footsteps phenomena or anything untoward. My Grandmother and Father continued to hear things which they couldn’t’t explain, but treated the strange happenings with a shrug of the shoulders. It was a nonchalance which bordered on denial. They reasoned if they ignored the odd incidents, they would cease, which they gradually did.
We eventually moved on from Stockwell without finding a reason for the ghostly sounds.Curiously, following our departure, the new tenants also heard the mysterious footsteps and door slamming. Today, as far as I am aware, the house remains quite from whatever paranormal agency was making its presence felt.
My experience awakened in me a fascination with the supernatural and ghosts which has continued to this day. It is a road that has led to a collaboration with veteran, British ghost hunter, the late, Peter Underwood, and my close friend and colleague, paranormal historian, Paul Adams, the writing of the definitive guide to the haunting of Borley Rectory, the most haunted house in England, countless visits to alleged haunted sites, and, ultimately, to the article you are now reading.