September 23, 2005


Follow-up to Chomula from The Midnight Heart

I have always been somewhat sceptical about ghosts. It all began while I was working at the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY) over the summer. I was helping in creative writing workshops with Peter Blegvad and the poet, Julie Boden. One day a ghost hunter came to talk to the teenagers and later we went to visit Guy's Cliffe House near Leamington, which is an old abandoned house now owned by the masons. Julie Boden went down into the caves under the house and later she told us that she was convinced that the place is haunted. At first, I admit that I was shocked that people like Julie, Simon the ghost hunter and others from the paranormal society who work at the house believed in ghosts. I have always been very rational and sceptical about such things, but perhaps it was this experience which planted a seed of doubt in my mind and contributed to my experiences here in San Cristobal.

The first hotel that we stayed in was called Casa Magarita. We had a room up in the eaves of a large colonial building set on a courtyard. The room had an imposing wooden door that faced onto the bed. I was woken up in the night by terrible nightmares and I felt convinced that there was something uneasy about the room. We moved the next day.

I have been having Spanish classes here in San Cristobal and my teacher Eduardo told me that it is thought that there are many ghosts in San Cristobal. Eduardo said that in that very school there was thought to be the ghost of a small boy who had been murdered there years before.

For one night, we stayed at the museum, Na Bolom , which was once the house of Gertrude Duby Blom, the journalist and photographer. That night we went up to our room, locked the door and sat by the fire. All of a sudden the locked door swung open. We shut it and sat again by the fire which had begun to blaze brightly with incredible heat. The next morning we told the staff at Na Bolom of the night's happenings. Pepe told us that the room where we were staying had used to be Trudy's office and that another woman who had stayed there had also had a strange experience. The guest had been sitting at the window looking down at the beautiful gardens of Na Bolom when she saw an elderly lady looking up at her drinking a cup of tea.

All this is probably heresay and perhaps it is superstition or fear or hope that produces such desires. The men from the paranormal society told me that the walls of old houses contain the same chemicals as those in a video tape and some people believe that the rooms record events from the past. It is more likely that it is us who summon the past, but in San Cristobal, this can be dangerous.

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  1. Now, Guy’s Cliffe… really Zoe, the only thing ghostly and old about that place was the tour guides. (This is Michael from 2006 SS). It was a ghostly type of building, creaky, old, structurally insound, far too many pidgeons, but the chipboard-widgiboard (is that how you spell that?) ruined the feeling you were going to see something paranormal. I too, am sceptical about these things, and the ‘haunted house’ description implied that it would be, y’know, haunted. Yep, haunted by dust and stagnant air…

    21 Sep 2006, 22:51

  2. Very funny! If you had gone to Guy’s Cliffe with Julie Boden, I’m telling you that you would have been creeped out too, Michael. I guess that you have to suspend disbelief. In any case, how is your writing going? Did you receive your report?

    24 Sep 2006, 11:00

  3. Yep, I got the report. I’m doing more writing now, and working on a small novel for NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month), which I hope I’ll get into adequatley. Not sure of the plot though. Thinking of doing pirates, based on some recent drawings of characters I did. I’m also starting to chip my way through the reading list, difficult (and costly) I know, but they’re good books. I seem to be spending an increasing amount of money on SS ‘memorabilia’, having recently purchased some of Peter’s albums, as well as some of Robyn’s, including Olé Tarantula. Peter’s should be hits, really, the lyrics are so good, almost sung poems ( ‘We’ll build a heaven in Hell’s despite’, “Judge me not for what I did, but for what I didn’t do” ). I need to get the book of Leviathan! Some of us went to London to Tanya’s Bookshop ( it’s really amazing!) and we had a little party with drinks. She wanted to take us to a gallery, but she couldn’t leave the shop closed on it’s first day open for months. Shame really. We went to the Tate Modern anyway. Megan started a role-playing site for Creative Writers, where it’s like a huge collabarative story, and also we can post and critique eachother’s work. The spirit of The Stone has not faded yet!


    02 Oct 2006, 19:39

  4. Stephnie (from 2006 SS)

    I think its only when you begin back at school that you realise what an amazing place Warwick/the summer school was!! By the sound of michaels entry, I severely bummed out when I missed the reunion in the summer…oh well.
    Remenising about Guy’s Cliffe??!! Do we really want to enter that section of our memories?! What about the nutty tour guide who told us we should wear hard hats due to the falling masonry, but that there weren’t enough so hard luck, sweetie, suck it up and continue.
    And then when Abigail fell straight into a pile of nettles … but that’s another story.

    I still remember Zoe’s cunghanneds … oh sorry, how do you spell it??

    04 Oct 2006, 08:56

  5. Wow the party at the Book Art Bookshoip sounds wonderful. I must pay them a visit some time. Michael, well done on beginning your novel. Yes you’re right about Peter’s songs – they are simply great. You should drop him a line – I’m sure he’d love to hear from you. “Cynghanedd” was the workshop that we did Stephnie. See more on it here: It is great to hear from you both and in any case, I am glad to see that the stone in the middle of the road is not forgotten.

    04 Oct 2006, 10:18

  6. Forgotton? I think Rowan still has it…

    I wish I could write those Welsh Cynghanedds, the complex ones sound so nice, but are just that—complex. I think I’ll do thatm drop him a line. I got a questionaire about the SS the other day (very excited filling it in), and I still have your shell (Rhythm and playfullness). I plan to do other types of poetry, so I’ll give the Welsh meters a go, along with some other ones.


    06 Oct 2006, 14:00

  7. Brilliant. Glad to see that your rhyme and playfulness have not gone away.

    13 Oct 2006, 16:30

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The Midnight Heart

“Zona de plagas donde la dormida come / lentamente / su corazón de medianoche” – Alejandra Pizarnik

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