Write Stuff

It’s been a while since we blogged about anything writing-related. Mostly because it would be boring for us to tell you how we spent several minutes rearranging a sentence to cut one word, or how we used ‘find and replace’ to make sure we hadn’t used the same adjective too many times. Not to mention getting rid of framing and passive voice. We save that exciting talk for each other.

But we have been busy. Mostly waiting for news of rejections or acceptances. Ok, let’s be honest, rejections. In January, we’d submitted Soul Asylum and Bleeding Empire to Gollanzc, and Silent Dawn to Angry Robot – two publishers that had rare open submission windows. We probably won’t hear about Silent Dawn  for another couple of months. Soul Asylum was rejected in February, but we haven’t heard back about Bleeding Empire. We’re trying to pretend no news is good news, but in reality, we’re convinced they didn’t receive it and we’re waiting for news that will never come. Like casting a message in a bottle out to sea, not knowing that it was found by a diver who was then eaten by a shark. In a way, it’s frustrating, because we’d planned to release Bleeding Empire in June/July but can’t until we hear back. We plan to work on it and get it ready for publication so if/when it’s rejected, we can release it ourselves.

The past couple of months we’ve been entering lots of competitions. We entered five last month and eight this month. Though we’ve also submitted two stories to magazines this month, taking our submission count to 10. May has a further 10 competitions we’ve marked to enter but they’re not ’til the end of the month so we might take a break to edit Bleeding Empire before the panic sets in.

Our Twlwyth Teg story, Exchange Rate was shortlisted in the Flash 500 competition. We were thrilled because we wrote it five years ago, sent it out twice, it didn’t get anywhere, so we left it alone until last year when we reworked it and submitted it once. Again, it didn’t get anywhere. We edited it again this year and it was shortlisted. We found out it didn’t get placed on Sunday, so entered it into another competition which was closing Monday. We’re the kind of writers who enter competitions either on deadline day, or the day before, maximizing the amount of time we can work on the story. It’s a vast improvement on high school when we just didn’t bother doing our homework – we were too busy writing. And we liked having lunchtime detentions. It meant we did our homework without taking up valuable writing time and we didn’t have to socialise with the twats who made our lives a misery. Win-win!

We got another rejection on Monday then on Wednesday, we were longlisted in the Bath Novel Award! Out of 1,063 novels, there were 39 on the longlist. We didn’t expect to get anywhere and don’t expect to get further than this. We’re not allowed to say which is ours, but you can read the long list and see if you can guess.

Some Calamityville news – we’ve been editing the first of our Woodchester Mansion special for months and on Sunday, the hard drive disconnected from the laptop. As Lynx opened it up again, it reminded her she hadn’t saved the changes. She clicked save. It saved the disconnected version, the blank version, deleting four months of editing. We now have to start all over again. The meltdown was epic. Think Hulk stubbing his toe after a really shit day. So this week has basically been a week of pathetic fallacy – mood matching the weather. Sunshine and showers.

But we have been asked to appear on an author panel at Bristol Horror Con. We probably should’ve asked what it entailed before agreeing. Hoping it’s not some Game of Thrones style death match now. We’ll be dressed nicely and blood leaves a stain.

Theatre of Screams

Cross Hands cinemaDancing, entering forbidden areas and taking part in shenanigans. It can only mean one thing: we were back on the road ghost hunting for the start of season 6 of Calamityville Horror. We’ve always wanted to investigate an old theatre so when Gareth Mates of RIP Paranormal invited us to Cross Hands public hall and cinema, we couldn’t say no. And this was after he’d watched the show…

Cross Hands cinemaWe left early and arrived at the Travelodge exactly when we were supposed to. Is that what being an adult feels like? For the first time ever, Travelodge let us down – they didn’t have a fridge! Luckily we’d brought extra ice packs for our soya milk and Red Bull. Having warm milk for breakfast would be bad enough but no-one should have to suffer a warm Red Bull. Life is cruel enough. As we loitered outside Starbucks, stealing their WiFi, Laura joined us and we made our way to the cinema. It was about two minutes down the road but we have to lug a lot of equipment and we didn’t fancy the trek back at 4 a.m. We got to the cinema early. What’s with this? Being responsible doesn’t sit well with us. Jack and James arrived a few minutes later then the natural order of things was restored when we got locked out. We knocked on the front door. No answer. We ventured to the side door and Jack knocked. Nothing. Jack continuously knocked. The lights were on but there was no-one home. This was more like the Calamityville we know and love. Eventually, Gareth heard us and let us in.

Cross Hands cinemaEveryone else was due to arrive at 9:30 for the 10 p.m. start but we got there at 8 cos we wanted the place to ourselves for a bit. That and we like to get settled in before a load of people come. We feel more comfortable with people arriving after than us arriving with a crowd. After claiming the table in the furthest corner, the five of us then hid in the library, stealing the WiFi. Such sociable beings.

Cross Hands cinemaWhen RIP Paranormal had finished fiddling with their cables, Gareth took us on a tour and told us about the ghostly goings on. The manager heard someone knocking on the wall in the day room which was base camp. The knocks travelled across the wall then the door opened. In the library, books have been found on the floor. Knocks are heard from under the stage but although we were allowed to open the access door, we weren’t allowed to go under there. Shadowy figures have been spotted in the projection booth and in the main theatre, a little girl haunts the aisle and tugs on people’s clothing.

Cross Hands cinemaBuilt in 1906 as a public hall to improve the community’s quality of the life. One of the stonemasons was Eddie Wilkins, a gifted stonemason who was involved with many of the better stonework buildings around Cross Hands and the Gwendraeth Valley. Miners contributed 1p a week from their wages to help with the hall’s upkeep. In 1932 it was extended, incorporating many ancillary centres at the rear of the building. The hall’s French façade design once graced the auditorium ceiling, but it no longer exists.

Cross Hands cinemaThe hall was one of the finest in south Wales with top actors and orchestras. It was the main attraction in the area. The combination of the coal industry’s demise and the popularity of TV contributed to the hall’s decline. It fell into disrepair and closed in 1984. In 1991, the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Bryn Davies fought to keep the hall open, eventually securing a £640,000 grant from the Welsh Office, Llanelli Borough Council and Carmarthenshire District Council to restore the hall. It reopened on 26th April 1996. It is run by volunteers from the community and is now mostly used as a cinema.

Cross Hands cinemaWe then waited for everyone else to arrive. It was meant to be a public event but in the end, it was only going to be investigators. We were a little relieved. We’ve had our fill of public events now and prefer exploring alone. There’s always one person in a public event who winds us up. By 10 p.m., only one investigator, Tim, had arrived. We waited. And waited. And waited. By 11, it was clear the others weren’t coming. Eager to get going, we could’ve contemplated the meaning of life but instead, the five of us amused ourselves by sending each other photos of our cats in a group message. Despite all sitting at the same table. Socialising at its best. To be fair, between the 5 of us, we have a LOT of fabulous cats. 8 of the furry beasts. 5 are ours.

Cross Hands cinemaJust as we were about to start napping, we were allowed to investigate. We chose to have the theatre first. Even though the other rooms had activity, we get bored investigating rooms that look like ordinary rooms. We can sit in those anytime. Plus one room had comfy chairs and if we sat in them, we didn’t rate our chances of staying awake. We entered the theatre and the lights went out. The performance was about to begin. Jack and James returned for a memory card. Before you could say ‘opening credits’, us and Laura were under the stage. The boys returned to find the theatre empty. They soon found us and joined us for selfies and exploring, rather than proper investigating. But hey, knocks are heard from under the stage, so maybe this is where the ghosts were hiding, like spectral trolls. We were the only two short enough to stand upright, providing we stood between the beams, which looked creepy when Cat’s head disappeared from view.

Cross Hands cinemaAfter ten minutes into our allotted hour, we crawled out and made our way to the projection booth to hunt for the shadowy figures. They didn’t show. We tried encouraging the ghosts to put on a film for us, but maybe the new technology baffled them. We know how they feel. We took our seats in the front row of the balcony and awaited the ghosts’ performance. They clearly missed their curtain call, although we did hear a couple of taps. Two came after Lynx asked if the spirits could name the performance they were in. Cross Hands cinemaCat and Laura ventured down to sit on the stage while Lynx, James and Jack stayed on the balcony. After a few minutes, Cat went to stand in the aisle to encourage the little girl ghost, but like all children, she gave Cat a wide berth. As the other three left the balcony, the motion sensor light was on. It was at the top of the steps, so they hadn’t triggered it and one of the seats in the front row was down. These seats automatically flip up when you stand. None of us remembered it being down when we entered the front row, but we’ll have to double check our cameras. The stills camera shows the seat up on the walk around. What makes this stranger is, we asked the ghosts to lower one of the seats. It didn’t happen again for the rest of the night. And no, it wasn’t filmed.

Cross Hands cinemaIt was time for a break and a switch. We took the day room downstairs, but nothing happened. Gareth mentioned the team in the theatre, consisting of Tim, Hana and Lewis, had contacted a demon on the Ouija board. Not just any demon. Satan himself. You’d think he’d have people to screen his calls. Curious that Satan would take a Saturday evening off to chat, we abandoned our vigil and gathered on the stage to watch. The ‘demon’ apparently turned out to be a serial killer called Frank, who wanted to kill Hana. Among other things. He spelled her name right, despite it not being the common spelling. We were tempted to see if it could spell our real names, which also have unusual spellings, but we don’t like interrupting other people’s vigils. After several minutes of watching, we left them alone and headed up to the library and spent our time looking for funny book titles. We weren’t disappointed.

Cross Hands cinemaConsidering the Ouija board had been so active, we decided to have a go in the hope that the spirits would finally answer us. Our Saint’s Row Wee-Ja board doesn’t seem to work, so maybe someone else’s would. All we got was a hang up tone. Gareth came to watch so got to witness the truth behind when we say “we get bugger all,” we really do get bugger all. As massive serial killer… ‘enthusiasts’ seems so wrong….we felt if anyone should make contact with one, it should be us. But the board was as a quiet as a duct-taped monk in a sponsored silence. We asked if our group’s fabulous sense of style (let’s be honest, we are the most stylish ghost hunters out there) angered them. We took their lack of communication as a yes.

Cross Hands cinemaAs the balcony had proved to be the most interesting area so far, we returned there and again waited for the ghosts to perform. The performance had been cancelled. Cold and tired, we ventured into the ground floor of the theatre and took different rows in the hope a ghost would sit with at least one of us. Not even the offer of applause convinced them to give us something other than the silent treatment. It’s always disappointing when you pay to go to the theatre to watch a performance and the actors decide they have somewhere better to be.

Cross Hands cinemaAfter returning to base camp and sharing more cat photos, Jack and James headed off as they were driving home. Us and Laura decided to give it one last try and as RIP Paranormal were packing up, the three of us headed for the stage. There was only way to end the night – dancing. All week we’ve been promising that we’ll get up on stage and either perform a play or dance. Our Complete Works of Shakespeare could help a Mob victim sleep with the fishes, and improv would’ve been impossible at that time of night so we opted for dancing. Unfortunately, we could only get internet by the library so couldn’t access any music on our phones. Our flip phones saved the day. Cat blasted Muse’s ‘Hysteria’ followed by Culture Club’s ‘Karma Chameleon’ and we danced our way to the end of the night. Forgetting RIP’s cameras were trained right on us…

The ghosts didn’t even applaud.Cross Hands cinema

Going Nuclear

Hack Green nuclear bunker

L-R Anthony, Lynx, Cat, Tom, James, Jack, Laura, Elaine, Dave

Inappropriateness, mannequins and squealing over puppies. Calamityville were on the road again.

We hired Hack Green nuclear bunker in Nantwich and this was a big team up. Jack and Laura from Jack and Laura Ghost Series were again joining us, along with Jack’s boyfriend, James. We were also joined by Anthony and Dave from Team Impact, (you may remember them from our Woodchester Mansion shenanigans) Elaine (Neen’s mum who joined us in Redcliffe Caves) and Tom, who was standing in for Neen (who’s just moved house).Hack Green nuclear bunker

It started well – we fetched Tom and headed to Nandos to meet Dave and Anthony for a pre-hunt foraging mission. Anthony got stuck in traffic so they were late. Then Lynx lost the car keys and spent several minutes hunting for them, much to the amusement of Tom and the woman in the car next to us. Keys found, Lynx and Tom headed off to pick up Elaine and Laura while Cat travelled with Anthony and Dave, making a detour back to Casa Raven as she’d left our new action cam behind. Hack Green nuclear bunkerDespite visiting Elaine’s only a week before, Lynx forgot where she lived and drove around the estate until she found it. She then misplaced her glasses. How old do you have to be to take one of those dementia tests? The road from Laura’s to the A449 was closed, leading them to explore country lanes. Our SatNav, Helen, kept switching to her American voice, who Tom has named Tanya. Team CAD reached the services before Team TELL had even reached the M50. Team CAD’s journey was filled with inappropriateness, which continued in the cafe as they waited for the others. And continued every time Cat was in that car, leading them to blame her for starting all the shenanigans. Their evidence was clearly lacking.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

Lynx in the shelter

We then switched drivers, with Cat joining Laura and Elaine, and Lynx and Tom accompanying Anthony and Dave. We reached the Travelodge much earlier than anticipated, which surprised us all. And we didn’t get lost. Ok, we had to circle the roundabout as we missed Travelodge’s entrance, but that’s how we roll with Travelodge. Jack and James were already there. We booked in then hung out in our rooms until it was time to leave.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

theatre

Despite being at the Travelodge early, we were still late to the bunker, which was 25 minutes away. The secret bunker was well sign posted so we didn’t get lost. That kind of defeats the object of it being a secret bunker. As we arrived, Cat realised she’d left her warm coat in Travelodge. Anthony, Dave and Tom all offered up their coats, like true gentleman but she decided to brave it, rather than spend the night looking like a child playing dress up. Even worse, Lynx left the shortbread behind.Hack Green nuclear bunker

The Home Officer Emergency Planning Division bought Hack Green from the MOD in 1976 for use as a protected seat of government for Home Defence Region 10:2. Hack Green’s nuclear bunker was regional Government Headquarters, with 140 officials working there during times of nuclear threat. In the 1980s, it cost £32 million to rebuild it. It had decontamination facilities, its own power station and water supplies, air conditioning and life support, radio communications and telephone exchanges and nuclear fallout filter rooms. It was built in secret and the public had no knowledge of it until its declassification in 1993. In 1998, it opened for the first time in over 50 years.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

this system was decommissioned in 2002

There have been many TV and radio investigations at the bunker, including Most Haunted. The Hack Green site has been the site of many battles and deaths for over 500 years. From the Great Fire of Nantwich, Civil War and two world wars.

Officials from the Air Ministry wanted a site to put their Radio Detection and Direction Finding (RDF) equipment. It was later known as radar. The southern and eastern coasts already had a chain of radar stations to face enemy bombers and fighters that threatened Britain. As radar was in its early stages, it had difficulty locating enemy aircraft, so in late 1940, a system of radar installations, called Ground Controlled Intercept Stations were developed. In 1941, Hack Green was chosen to become RAF Hack Green and its new role was to protect the area between Birmingham and Liverpool from attack. It had previously been a bombing decoy site for the main railway centre at Crewe.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

stairs where a W.A.A.F apparently jumped to her death

Hack Green was one of 21 radar stations and one of 12 equipped with searchlights and fighter aircraft control. After WW2, it was discovered that existing radar defence wouldn’t cope with the threat from fast jet aircraft or nuclear missiles. A Top Secret plan, codename: Rotor was devised to replace the Ground Controlled Intercept Stations and place 1620 radar screens into bunkers. Hack Green joined Group 12 to protect Britain against the Soviet threat of conventional and nuclear war. With a new long range radar, it could alert officers to Russian bombers’ approach, which would enable the RAF to intercept them, using fighter aircraft or Bloodhound ground to air missiles. Early warning would enable the Victor V Force bombers to launch and retaliate.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

female dorm

As a Rotar station, Hack Green had 18 officers, 26 NCOs, 224 corporals and aircraftsmen. In 1958, Hack Green became part of the United Kingdom Air Traffic Control System, making it one of four joint civil/military air traffic control units. The station closed in 1966 when its role was transferred to RAF Lindholme in South Yorkshire.

People have witnessed a full apparition of a uniformed man in the main corridor, along with two other apparitions. Staff report feeling menacing energy and people have fainted. In room 9, the telecommunications area, people have seen an apparition of an attractive woman working at her desk. Several groups claimed to have made contact with an aggressive male spirit here. The phones apparently ring, despite being disconnected. The most active area is the theatre. People have apparently been touched and pushed and moans and bangs are heard. Probably people sneaking off for some touching and moaning. Sudden feelings of illness is brought on, with one person having to call an ambulance.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

sick bay

According to Most Haunted’s Brian Shepherd, the bunker is haunted by Joan, a W.A.A.F (women’s auxiliary air force), who apparently committed suicide in the 1950s over her relationship with another woman, by throwing herself off the top of the main yellow staircase. He said she was depressed and had someone on her mind. Sometimes she stands there, looking as though she wants to say something. Lesley Smith, the historian, confirmed a W.A.A.F died from falling off the stairs. Some say she was murdered.  She’d had a lesbian relationship, but Lesley didn’t confirm her name. Stuart from MH got punched in the stomach in the theatre. He seems to get punched a lot. Quite frankly, we don’t blame the ghosts. In the theatre, Karl went down – he claimed his leg was grabbed and lifted up. MH saw a figure and had violent poltergeist activity.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

doing a ouija board in the theatre

The main communications room has a ghost of a woman seen walking through and out the door. A dark ghostly figure is seen and makes the temperature drop. Body parts are seen sticking up out of the ground by the radar control sign. Some believe the ground was used to dispose of bodies they’d murdered for sinister purposes. In the civil war, it was an encampment for royalist and Cromwellian forces. A battle was fought around the area. Cavaliers are seen wandering the grounds. There are rumours of Cold War interrogations being carried out in Hack Green, with torture and dismemberment taking place and apparently a container of acid was found. However, the government and MOD have denied the existence of the container.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

Alfie

Newspapers on 4th Dec 1943 state that two were killed and 16 airmen and W.A.A.Fs were injured when a goods train crashed into a bus at Hack Green level crossing the day before. In Nantwich is ‘the airman’s grave’. On Jan 14th 1944, 23 year old 1st Lieutenant Arthur L Brown, from United States Army Air Force, crashed. He was suffering from anoxia (insufficient oxygen in body tissues) due to the height he was flying at, and lost consciousness before crashing. It’s not known whether he consciously flew away from the residential area.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

Morris

The bunker is fantastic. Lucy, the curator, took us on a walk around. The lights were off everywhere except in the canteen upstairs. Mannequins leered at us from behind their barriers and glass cases, relishing the fact we couldn’t get to them. To think we’d set aside time for mannequin shenanigans! We and Laura were very disappointed. But our disappointment was soon forgotten as Lucy was puppy sitting. She had her two year old Pomeranian, Alfie and his 12 week son, Morris. Ghost hunting was soon abandoned for fluffy cuteness.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

corridor vigil

In one of the rooms, there was a sign for bikini alert. We cursed the fact none of us thought to bring bikinis on a ghost hunt. In Raiders of the Lost Shark, all the women had bikinis under their clothes. To think, we’d mocked them! Lucy warned us not to go anywhere alone, as lots of people get lost. And our personal SatNav, Neen, was 150 miles away. After the walk round, the two of us did a quick tour to take photos then we split into groups.

Hack Green nuclear bunkerJack, Laura, James and Elaine went to the shelter. Anthony and Dave went to do EVPs in the BBC communication room so Tom and Lynx headed down to put a camera in the theatre. As they left, a beam of light shone out from the theatre, hitting the wall in the corridor. Tom saw it then a few moments later, they both saw it again. There was no-one else there. Cat did a lone vigil in the female dorm then went looking for Tom and Lynx. We met up with Laura, Jack, James and Elaine and all heard what sounded like a man coughing. Cat and James went in search of Anthony and Dave to ask if it was them, but failed to find them. Team TLC returned upstairs to the female dorm and lounged on the beds, where our vigil took an inappropriate turn. Seeing as male ghosts never take up our offer of touching, Cat asked the females. Again, she was shunned. Ghosts obviously like to avoid us as much as the living. Cat *spread her arms* “I’m lonely, Joan!” Joan didn’t care. Tom “Do you like that there’s a male in the female quarters? Would you like a male in your female quarters?”Hack Green nuclear bunker

Tom and Lynx started feeling a cold patch between them. Lynx felt a breeze on her face. It’s a nuclear bunker. There are no breezes because there are no windows. Tom felt the cold patch on his knees. Cat asked for it to make his right knee colder. It did go colder. We cursed leaving our temperature gun in the canteen. Cat and Tom then switched places. The ghosts ignored Cat. Tom “the ghosts clearly don’t fancy you.” Cat “you’re not the first, entity.” Lynx went to fetch the temperature gun. So we told the ghosts we had something to measure them with and to slap it on the beds. We’re beginning to see why the living and the dead avoid us. The gun didn’t pick up on the cold patches on people’s legs, but it did reveal something we’d suspected for a while – Tom’s heart was cold and dead. It was a chilly 12C compared to his 23C knees. Tom was able to stretch his long arms over the barrier and grab some coats that were hanging up so we could indulge in a favourite Calamityville past time – dressing up. Tom, as usual, looked rather dapper. We looked…fetching.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

bunks in the female dorm

We then teamed up with Anthony and Dave and headed for the shelter. 40 minutes of possibly our most innuendo-filled vigil ever ensued. It’s for the best that we don’t type it up. This was our first proper ghost hunt with them and we have to say, they fit in perfectly. At one point, after we talked about bodies being dissolved in the acid vats, we all heard what sounded like a small thud or footstep. Lynx’s bubbling throat contributed a lot to that vigil. We encouraged the ghosts to possess us but they refused to oblige. We figured after all this time, maybe the ghosts were lonely and would enjoy male company so offered up the guys, particularly Dave because he didn’t want to be offered up. We requested punches, slaps and scratches if they didn’t like us and hickeys if they did. They clearly didn’t like us but obviously refrained from leaving physical marks. Dave kept hearing a high pitched bleeping which no-one else heard. After a lot of giggling and inappropriateness, we split up.

Hack Green nuclear bunker

BBC communications room

Lynx and Tom headed for the stairs, where the W.A.A.F, Joan, apparently jumped to her death. We tried finding service records for her but records are only available for up to 1911. Tom noticed a door at the bottom of the stairs had a gap so Lynx stuck her camera under the door and discovered a child mannequin wearing a skirt and tie. Cat wanted to go to the theatre so Anthony and Dave joined her. This is apparently the most active area but we didn’t experience anything. Laura, Jack, James and Elaine joined them in the theatre. Cat encouraged the ghosts to misbehave with Anthony, who was sitting in the back row.

Hack Green nuclear bunkerEveryone headed back upstairs for a refreshment break. Cat went to the sick bay and was joined by Anthony. Lynx and Tom went to the BBC communications room. It was cold in the sick bay. One mannequin lay on a stretcher dying from radiation sickness while a nurse mannequin hovered nearby. A suspicious looking doctor wearing pink lipstick and with one hand stuffed in his trouser pocket, sat at a desk. Fainting is a common problem at Hack Green, so Cat requested the ghosts make her pass out. Nothing happened. Anthony got hungry and left. Cat got unbearably cold when she was alone, but as the room was cold to begin with, this isn’t paranormal. Tom and Lynx reappeared so we all headed to the canteen for refreshments.

Hack Green nuclear bunkerWhen everyone was in the canteen, Cat went to do a lone vigil at the top of the stairs where Joan apparently jumped from. She made sure to stay a few steps back from the bannister. Being turfed over the edge by a lovelorn ghost wasn’t how she wanted her night to end. Anthony and Dave joined her so they spread out, with Anthony going to the bottom of the stairs, Cat halfway up and Dave at the top. Cat requested Joan recreate her death for them but she refused. After a bit, Cat wandered off to find the BBC room and got lost, setting off a sound recording in one room. Everyone else went into the room beside the canteen with four creepy mannequins and several disembodied heads in display cases. There wasn’t much ghost hunting going on, just talk on the creepiness of the mannequins and James trying to find all the spy mice. They went into the next room along and James continued his hunt for the mice. They all decided to head downstairs and track down Cat. After searching several communications rooms, they found her wandering the corridors, lost. Tom reminded her that’s why Lucy said not to go off alone. We decided to do a ouija board session in the theatre, lying RAF medals on the board to encourage activity. In true form, nothing happened. Cat then returned upstairs for snacks and discovered she was completely alone up there again, so went wandering.Hack Green nuclear bunker

Lucy had suggested the corridor would be a great place to do a vigil so we gathered on the stairs. By this point we were all tired, the stairs were cold to sit on and we’d run out of things to say. We did hear humming, but that turned out to be Cat accidentally setting off the voice recording in the decontamination room when she went upstairs. We returned upstairs, had more cuddles with the puppy then called it a night at 3:20 a.m. Whilst the paranormal activity was low, the fun levels were high. It’s an interesting place and well worth a visit. We’d like to return in the day too. Lucy was really nice and there were fluffy dogs to cwtch. We’re looking forwards to our next team up. Will there be ghosts? Unlikely. Will there be fun and inappropriate behaviour? Most definitely.Hack Green nuclear bunker

Eric

Last night was the closing night of Monstrous Productions’ Eric. We’ve gone to every play since Mort (still gutted we didn’t know about Monstrous Regiment and Carpe Juggulum before that) and we weren’t going to miss this one. We’ve never read Eric so had no idea what to expect. And we loved every single second of it. The moment Death appeared, we clapped with excitement. He had blue pinprick lights in his eyes! Exactly like in the book! Matthew Burnett, who played him, not only was fantastic in the role, but he made the mask, eye lights and hands himself. The play was hilarious. And just when thought it couldn’t get better…they made Luggage! We admit, we did squeal and clap like overexcited sea lions when Luggage trundled on stage. We may have even declared “Oh my god! Luggage!” and then Tweeted about it. Even better, Luggage chased people and ate them (complete with chomping sound effects), which was just perfect. Luggage was designed by Joe Davey and built by Tony Beard and Emma Paines. Tony also controlled it. As much as Luggage can be controlled.

Eric is about a 13 year-old-boy who tries to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps by summoning a demon. Except he accidentally summons a wizard, Rincewind, who’s been trapped in the dungeon dimensions. He asks for three wishes: to be ruler of the world, to be immortal and have the most beautiful woman in the world fall in love with him. Unfortunately, Rincewind is the most incompetent wizard on Discworld. And he comes with a psychotic suitcase – Luggage. Luggage will fold your clothes if you throw them in. And eat anyone who threatens Rincewind. What more could you want from a travel accessory? (Providing it’s within airport length and weight allowances.)

Rincewind tries proving he’s not a demon by clicking his fingers. And transporting him, Eric and Eric’s parrot (brilliantly played by Zoe Azzopardi and made by Zoe and Ruby Azzopardi) to a jungle filled with a cannibalistic tribe. When we saw the parrot in the cast list, we wondered how this would be done but Zoe and the parrot were definite scene stealers!

As always, the cast and crew were amazing. So much goes into every play. The make-up was brilliant and we loved the giant book in the background, with scenes fabulously painted on the pages. Nick Dunn was fantastic as Rincewind. Rincewind isn’t usually popular among Pratchett fans but we’ve always loved him and Luggage. He was the first character we met when we started reading the Discworld novels. And it was strange to see a play where Nick didn’t die! (He is an expert at dying). Though he did go to Hell, so that counts. And Loz Shanahan was superb as Lavaeolus, who would prefer to build large wooden horses and find tunnels than kill someone in battle. Neil Chappell played a sulky thirteen year old boy very convincingly!

We particularly enjoyed the scenes set in Hell, which had lift music, voices over the tannoy system, and every torture was accompanied by a reading of health and safety regulations, complete with sub-clauses that ran into several volumes – that’s more terrifying than pitchforks and hellfire. Gone are the days where a man could just push a boulder up a hill as one of Hell’s tourist attractions. Edward Duke was excellent as Demon King Astfgl.

And even better – Monstrous Productions have now raised £18,000 for Alzheimer charities! So not only are the plays amazing, they’re for a good cause. If you haven’t seen any yet, please go. You will not regret it. You don’t even have to have read any Pratchett books to enjoy them. We can’t wait to see Going Postal in August.

Cast:

Rincewind – Nick Dunn

Eric- Neil Chappell

Astfgl – Edward Duke

Parrot – Zoe Azzopardi

Lavaeolus – Loz Shanahan

Da Quirm – Matthew Hitchman

Head Tezuman – Matthew Fisher

Death – Matthew Burnett

Azaremoth – Harry Spencer

Tsortean Captain – Terrance Edwards

Duke Vassenego – Jamie Gibbs

Urglefloggah – Ellen Warren

Drazometh – Pete Belson

Vizzimuth – Ben Wilson

The Creator – Katya Moskvina

Various – Howard Dickens

Archchancellor – Sam Steele

Quezovercoatl – John Dent

Bursar – Callum Robets

Various – John Simpson

Elenor – Sarrah Burrow

Ephebian – Matthew Thomas Edwards

Sissyfussy – Richard McReynolds

The Dean – Dan Collins

Tezuman – Luke Belson

Child – Lowri Belson

Private Archeios – Alastair Babington

Dirty Forts

Behaving inappropriately in shafts, dancing, dressing up and encouraging debauchery in soldiers’ bunks. Calamityville Horror are back and just as unprofessional as ever.

Fort AmherstWe haven’t had a proper Calamityville adventure since we returned from America. In October. That is a looong time without shenanigans. But we hit the ground running and didn’t stop until we fell asleep. Yesterday was our 33rd birthday. We know. We can’t believe it either. Turns out, sacrificing someone by drowning them in the Fountain of Youth doesn’t stop you ageing. That’s the last time we ask Magic 8 ball for advice. Anyway, we spent our birthday ghost hunting in Fort Amherst in Kent. Helena and Alex from Boleyn Paranormal (you may remember them from our night in Moira Furnace) invited us as it was Helena’s birthday the week before. Ghost hunting on our birthday? No way would we turn that down!

Fort AmherstOur SatNav (Helen) said it would take us 3 hours 19. You were wrong, Helen. 5 and a half hours, Helen. Ok, part of it was our fault – we’ve never been to London and knew nothing of the M25. Or that we’d hit it at rush hour, leaving us stuck in traffic and really needing a wee. Neen’s car died three times, depositing us on the hardshoulder until it decided to work again. We consoled ourselves by eating birthday cake, drinking strawberry daiquiri then joking about it spilling in our laps, which led to very inappropriate comments involving strawberry bushes and daiquiri thatches. We’ve missed Calamityville!

Fort Amherst

Lightning passage

We found Travelodge no problem (there’s a first time for everything), checked in, donned our thermals then headed out to the fort. Which luckily, was just down the road. We rocked up two hours late. Helena and Alex are super organised, having packed everything a week before and written a detail itinerary for the evening. We packed the night before then left our IR floodlight and squash behind. Our planning stretches to: rock up, film, see what happens. This allows for such interruptions as breaking down, eating cake and general misbehaviour.

Fort AmherstThe Fort and surrounding area have been inhabited for over 3000 years. The area contains a Saxon burial ground, a Roman mosaic and the original site of old Chatham, which was demolished to build the fort. In 1708, plans were drawn up to build a fortification to protect the Dockyard from land attacks. In 1714, land was bought for this purpose but work didn’t start ‘til 1755. During the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) bastions and ditches were built, known as the Chatham lines which were entered via four gateways with bridges. Fort AmherstThe lines were strengthened during the American Revolutionary War (1778-1783) with two redoubts being the design’s strong point. At the northern end was Townsend, at the southern was Amherst Redoubt, which later became Fort Amherst. The Chatham defences were strengthened during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) and further batteries were added. Between 1802-1811, prisoners from St Mary’s Island extended the tunnels and created underground stores and shelters, new magazines, barracks, gun batteries and guardrooms. The last building works took place in 1820. A labyrinth of tunnels was dug into the chalk cliffs for moving ammunition around the fort.

Fort Amherst

plotting room

In 1820, the defences were declared obsolete because of improvements in artillery and greater firing ranges, so the area was used as a training ground. Practice sieges were so popular that they attracted many visitors. Charles Dickens described one of the sieges in his book, Pickwick Papers. It is the most complete Napoleonic fortification in Britain. In the tunnel walls are scratched memorials to miners killed during building work and an angel carved in the chalk. Cornish tin miners were worried about digging down towards the devil, so they carved an angel in the chalk and touched it each time they passed.

Fort Amherst

plotting room

Fort Amherst has been used for several filming locations – the 1986 film The Mission, The Saint, the 2011 film Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows. The 2015 BBC adaptation Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime. In the 1990s it was used in the television series Sharpe starring Sean Bean. He recently returned to Amherst to join re-enactors making a Battle of Waterloo documentary. And now, it’s starring in Calamityville Horror. What a comedown.

Fort Amherst

grand magazine

Most websites don’t list which ghosts haunt it but one site lists loads: a faceless male ghost in the plotting room dressed in a Victorian long, dark coat and top hat; one woman on a tour group answered a ringing phone in the communications room and was told by a woman on the other end said a bomb had dropped on her house – the phones are props and not connected. An electrician working in the tunnels heard a fire bucket fall behind him. Fort AmherstHe went to investigate and saw it slide across the floor then it moved across the room. A young boy likes to pull young women’s skirts. Perv. There’s also phantom drumming, voices and the sounds of women and children crying and dark shadowy figures. The Lightning shaft is haunted by a young woman nicknamed Lily of the Valley, who wears a Georgian dress and materialises from the white door on the right. Men describe her as being beautiful, women describe her as being ugly. During a wedding on the lower gun floor guests saw a soldier in a red jacket materialise and walk through the bride, groom and guests. Visitors have reported leaving the fort and finding children’s dusty hand prints on their clothes.

Fort AmherstWe started in the tunnels. As usual, we got left behind as we were busy taking photos. We stopped in the lightning passage to do some EVPs. Boleyn Paranormal’s K2 was going off but ours was quieter than a sponsored silence in a graveyard. The door leading out of the lightning passage apparently knocks. We rattled the door to see how it would sound in the wind. The door moved, so wind would be able to knock it, but luckily there was no wind last night. The door remained silent. We moved on, with Cat getting left behind to photograph while Lynx and Neen admired the shafts and enjoyed easy rear access to the privy. Our research said that a ghost haunts the lightning shaft, but the fort named it the lightning passage, which led to a discussion about the importance of differentiating between a shaft and a passage. Older, yes, more mature, no. We also found a large cannon so naturally had to sit on for a photo. Neen straddled it like a pro.

Fort Amherst

Prince William Barracks

Then we found the communications/plotting rooms. This was our favourite area. There were maps, blackboards, phones etc. And helmets. We immediately donned the helmets then Lynx went to man the phones in the communications room while Neen and Cat hung out in the plotting room. Neen demanded a dance performance off Cat, so she strapped her helmet on and busted some zumba moves. We moved on to the bunks. Most teams speak to each other like this: “Do you want to get in a bunk and see if you can sense anything?” We speak to each other like this: “Get in the bunk, bitch.” We each took a bunk, with Neen and Lynx claiming bottom bunks and Cat going on top. We encouraged any soldiers to join us and even asked for birthday kisses but even the dead refused to kiss us on our birthday. We even tried encouraging them in arse slapping. Nothing.

Fort Amherst

area where the handsome man is seen

We returned to the cafe (base camp) for cake, Red Bull and live tweeting. before heading back out at 10:50 to check out other areas. We walked through the tunnels and upstairs. The large empty room provided a great place for an impromptu group zumba dance, which resulted in Lynx smacking Neen in the face and us getting left behind again. We scurried after everyone else and headed outside to the Grand Magazine. This was a large empty room, where apparently wedding parties were held. Neen grabbed Cat and walked her down the aisle before leaving her at the altar. Isn’t it good advice to marry your best friend? We discovered tunnels in the walls either side and explored them. A trapdoor at the end lifted up, allowing access to tunnels under the floor. Despite us wearing fancy long skirts and coats, we were down the trapdoor like Twilight vampires in a glitter sale.

Fort AmherstWe had to walk hunched over to get to the other end, where we discovered a tiny tunnel. It was just wide enough for Cat to fit and so short, she had to duck-walk in. But she got to the other end and managed to turn around. These tunnels are apparently haunted by a boy called Tommy. We tried getting him to interact with us but got no response. We then did an EVP session above ground. We tested out our new H2 zoom audio recorder we acquired off our friend, Anthony (you may remember him from Team Impact’s Horror Nights). It was incredible! With headphones in, you could hear everything. The ghosties can’t hide from us now! While Lynx, Neen, Helena and Helena’s mum Liz did calling out, Cat returned to the trapdoor with the H2 and sat in the tunnel below the floor in the dark. Again, we got nothing.Fort Amherst

Fort Amherst’s ghost guy Clive then took us to the abandoned buildings, where other ghost hunters aren’t permitted to go. We visited what we think might have been barracks. A handsome man is usually seen in one building. A handsome man on our birthday? This sounded too good to be true!

He stood us up.

Fort Amherst

under the floor of the grand magazine

But we had an abandoned building to explore, so weren’t too heartbroken. We’re writers – rejection is part of our daily life. We called out to any soldiers but they didn’t want to come and see us, then we got cold, so stood around the fire Clive had got going outside. Yes. A fire was started and it wasn’t by us. Go us. Helena and Liz wanted to stay in that area, so Clive took us and Neen to the Prince William Barracks. A man is apparently seen pacing between the doorways. He was obviously having a rest tonight. This part was hit by a bomb during the war and is awaiting restoration.

Fort AmherstWe then moved on to the washrooms. Were we about to be rewarded with semi naked soldiers washing? Uhhh…no. There weren’t even the sounds of coiled wet towels snapping against cold bare buttocks. Disappointing. Neen was relieved. By now we were freezing so we returned to base camp for more cake. It was about 1:30 a.m. We then returned to the plotting room to use the dowsing rods our mum bought for our birthday and the planchette Dan (you may remember him our Frightmare video) sent us a week ago. He also sent us a scrying mirror, which needs to be charged under a full moon. Anyone know when that is?

Fort AmherstWe donned the helmets and conducted a planchette/EVP session as the five and half hour journey caught up to us. And the fact we were all up ’til midnight the night before – Neen because she was baking us delicious birthday cakes, us because we were watching a serial killer documentary. Our brains and bodies started to shut down. We put the H2 in the next room by the machines to see what we could get. We then decided to separate for the final part. Lynx stayed in the plotting room, manning the desk should there be an outbreak of war.

Fort Amherst

plotting room

She tried to get the ghosts to communicate, but they wouldn’t play with her rods. Nor did they stop her opening an envelope marked ‘confidential’ and reading its contents. Neen moved to the communications room where the H2 was and spent a long time talking to herself. Cat took the bunks and climbed onto the top bunk. She asked the ghosts to move in front of the motion sensor light that was between the bunks. Nothing. Then she invited one onto the bunk to spoon with her. No takers. Turned out, Neen also told the ghosts to spoon Cat. Feeling more unloved than a decaying corpse in a wedding, she left the bunks and we regrouped. It was now 3:20 a.m and we decided to call it a night.

We headed back to base camp, packed up and drove back to Travelodge. Neen “I’m going to be asleep before you’ve even taken off your pants.” Just what all girls want to hear on their birthdays! And she was right. We were still awake til 4:30. So while we didn’t get any ghostly activity on our birthday, we had a lot of fun. And cake. Everything is better with cake.P1150592

Valentine’s Day Massacre

Southcart BooksEvery year, we turn Valentine’s Day red. With blood. Last year, we released all three anti Valentine’s trilogies in print, ending our opportunity to ruin the day. We were sad. Who doesn’t love marching up to the most romantic day of the year, ripping out its heart and hoisting it aloft like a trophy? Then Scott Carter, who owns Southcart Books  in Walsall with his wife, Amy, decided to host the Valentine’s Day Massacre and asked if we’d like to read. Does Freddy Krueger love bedtime? We were glad to celebrate Valentine’s in a horror-related way. Otherwise we might end up sneaking into supermarkets and replacing roses with venus flytraps and giving teddies real hearts to hold. Reading at Southcart Books would not see us having to explain our actions in court.

Southcart Books

authors’ books

Surprisingly for us, we didn’t get lost. The journey was easy and uneventful. Well, we drove into a pedestrian zone, but everyone’s come to expect that from us, seeing as we’ve now done it four times. But we soon realised our error when we saw a paved dead end and Primark at the end. Please England, put bollards up. It takes all our self-control not to Hulk out on people on a daily basis, we can’t be expected to control ourselves around pedestrian zones too. We’re not superheroes. We hastily reversed from the pedestrian zone and found a car park easily. Only to then walk past a closer car park that was 50p cheaper. We’re still annoyed.

Southcart Books

Adam, Amy and Scott

Southcart Books

Southcart BooksSouthcart Books is an awesome independent book shop, filled with thousands of books. It was hard not to buy them all. But we were good. We only bought three. In true us form, our shyness and social awkwardness kicked in and we spent some time hiding in the storeroom. This was a technique we perfected in childhood and even though we’ll be 33 on Wednesday, it is still serving us well. We eventually emerged and lurked at the Supernatural/Occult section. We’re good at lurking. You could even say we’re natural at it. We have the awkward body language and shifty eye movements down perfectly. Even though we’ve made huge progress with the social anxiety, the shyness is innate and will never be defeated. So in social events, we will always be the people in the corner. We’ll never approach anyone. Even if it’s someone we know. Hell, we don’t even send friendship requests on Facebook. ‘Mingle’ is one of those words that incites the same panic as ‘flying spider’, ‘rabid clown’ and ‘inquisitor’s chair.’

Adam Millard

Adam Millard

The event was hosted by Adam Millard, who was hilarious and the perfect choice to host it. We loved his stories about stalking and robots. They appealed to our sense of humour. They were absolutely fantastic and we wanted him to read for longer! We’re glad we were on before him – had we been reading after him, we might have locked ourselves in the storeroom and refused to come out. We bought two of his books afterwards and can’t wait to read them. We met at Bristol Horror Con in October but didn’t get a chance to buy his work then.

First up was Kerry Hadley, reading from her book The Black Country, about a separating couple who accidentally run someone over, but when they return to look for him, he’s nowhere to be found. That act then binds them together. She did a great job.

Kerry Hadley

Kerry Hadley

Southcart Books

Photo by Craig Beas

Then it was us. Everyone else was so confident and seemed really comfortable doing the reading. Natural, like they’d been doing it for years. There was us, hiding in the storeroom beforehand! And we have been doing readings for a few years! We read from Romance is Dead, our aforementioned horror comedy anti-Valentine’s trilogies. We read a short extract from all 10 stories. By ‘short extract’, each one was about 90 seconds. We were paranoid if we read longer than that for each story that people might get bored and leave! If anyone’s going to leave, we’d rather it was because they were frightened of our twisted minds, not because of boredom. Yes, we filmed our reading, complete with nerves and cock-ups. We only picked the extracts last week and the lack of preparation shows.

Southcart Books

Photo by Craig Beas

Jessica Law

Jessica Law

Next it was Jessica Law, who sang three songs whilst playing the ukele and told funny anecdotes about her relationships, most notably featuring biscuits. She sang about an impolite housemate and a love song between Jekyll and Hyde. She also makes octokitties (kittens with tentacles) and has written a gothic novel. It was refreshing to hear about someone else who has disastrous social encounters, though she managed to make hers sound sweet and funny. Ours are just embarrassing.

Ash Hartwell

Ash Hartwell

Following her was Ash Hartwell, who read a story about a murderous snowman who was obsessed with a female ghost hunter. She can’t understand why there are puddles in her house until she sees him watching her. Always knew snowmen were creepy.

Antony N Britt

Antony N Britt

Antony N Britt read a brilliantly funny story about revenge. An old womanshows up at her meeting to find all the others dead – poisoned by cake. As she examines the bodies, her sister walks in and reveals a terrible secret. It was one of our favourite stories of the day.

Jon Hartless

Jon Hartless

Following him was Jon Hartless, who writes under many pseudonyms, including Ora Le Brocq. He read a funny story written under his paranormal romance pseudonym, about a fairy who was meant to convert a human but ends up falling for him.

Ken Preston

Ken Preston

Then it was Ken Preston, who read two stories. One was from his Joe Coffin series about gangsters and vampires and the other was about two friends on a double date night with their girlfriends. One of the girls challenges the driver to perform dangerous driving while blindfolded, which later destroys the friendships and many years later, has serious consequences for another driver.

Daniel Oram

Daniel Oram

And finally it was Daniel Oram, who read a letter from a vampire, complete with bloody fingerprints, and the opening of his novel about a goth girl who turns into a werewolf.

It was a fantastic event, which proved really popular. All the authors read really well and were very entertaining. Southcart Books host many author events, so if you’re ever around, they’re well worth visiting, as is the shop. It’s great that they really care about the authors as well as books and are happy to stock local and unknown authors who normally wouldn’t get their work into bookshops. We had to resist from spending all our money. There were some beautiful editions that we were tempted by, even though we already own those books. It’s everything an independent book shop should be and we’d love to go back.

book shop selfie!

book shop selfie!

 

 

 

Time To Talk

It’s Time To Talk Day, which if you don’t know about it, is a day to talk about mental illness in order to remove the stigma from it. We wrote a post about it last year too. You can read it here. Until 2014, we’d been seeing a wonderful psychologist, Neil, who changed our lives. You can read about how we felt about leaving the mental health system here. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t get the help they need – they’re either ashamed, see it as weak, or there just isn’t the support around. Mental health isn’t treated with the same importance as physical health, when really, the two are often linked. If people with cancer were treated the same way as people with mental illness are, there would be uproar. And whilst illnesses like depression and anxiety are slowly gaining support, the other issues, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are still stigmatized. That needs to change.

We haven’t blogged much recently – we’ve written maybe two posts in two months. We’d like to blame it on being busy but that would be a lie. We just didn’t care. Our youngest cat, Ebony, died in December and to us, our animal army are our family. So when one of the dies, it’s like losing a family member. Grief is grief, no matter who you’re grieving for. We were heading into a spell of what we call the darkshines anyway, because when we’ve had a few good months, the darkshines like to visit to remind us they’re still there lurking in the background. Whilst they can be dealt with, they never go away completely. Winston Churchill likened his depression to a black dog – some times it was a small dog that he barely noticed, other times it was a large dog. It’s a good description. It’s like a shadow – you always have one, but sometimes you and others don’t see it, so you forget it’s there. Other days, it’s clearly visible, like a twisted, blackened version of yourself.

We use the term darkshines (stolen from a Muse song) because it’s an umbrella term that covers the different forms it takes – sometimes we feel inexplicable rage, or a burning knot of frustration, or times where the slightest thing will make us cry. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming numbness. For it to be a bout of darkshines, it has to last more than a few days, otherwise that’s just a shitty mood. It’s been six weeks now and this time it’s despondency. Rage is preferable because we’re like Bruce Banner – avoid confrontations whenever possible but when the rage hits, we Hulk out and get shit done. We once emailed every library in Cardiff, asking if we could do readings purely because we were in a fit of rage. Why? Because we discovered dinosaur erotica was selling more books than we ever will in our lifetime. For us, rage is empowering. We embrace it. It gives us the confidence we normally lack to face our problems and take them down. We turn from socially awkward messes into goddamn productive ninjas. And who doesn’t want to be ninja?

Despondency is more destructive. Despondency makes us not care. Despondency finds something that isn’t going well and focuses on it, using it as a example of what massive failures we are. In this case, it’s book sales. We sell one ebook a month. Considering we have eight books out, that’s spectacularly shitty. So the darkshines like to remind us how shitty this is. Every single day. Though to be fair, even the most positive person would have to agree this is failure. It tells us we must be shit writers to achieve such poor sales. It tells us there’s no point releasing more books because they won’t sell either. It tells us that whatever we submit will be rejected and it backs up the argument with the 300+ rejections we’ve had over the past eight years. The darkshines love statistics to prove the point. We stopped counting after 300 but the darkshines wants to know what the current total to further support the point. It’stough to resist the urge to give in and do a recount. We’ve come close to giving in a few times, but we know it’s what it wants. January was extremely difficult as we submitted five novels and four poems with the darkshines chattering away about how pointless it all was because we weren’t going to get anywhere. Then we weren’t longlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize for the first time in two years. The darkshines just said “told you so.”

Writing is something we’re passionate about. Being writers isn’t what we do. It’s what are. That burning, consuming hunger we feel every day never goes away. Not many people understand that hunger. People tell us all the time, “if it has this effect on you, why don’t you quit?” And do what? It’s like telling someone to stop breathing. Yes, there are times it destroys us, but it also keeps us going.

What helps, is writing. Escaping. Going on adventures, doing zumba or FitBox. And hanging out with our friends. Our friends don’t know when the darkshines hit. We don’t tell them. We don’t want to burden them. But they help us without even realising it. Hanging out with them brings us out of ourselves, whether it’s going to the cinema, having game night, D&D or spending an evening watching horror films back to back. Even though we know we haven’t been fun to be around. When at times the darkshines is too strong to conceal completely and our mere presence just ruins everything. We’ve been hurt badly by people we thought were friends, but that taught us who the good ones are. Just because someone is fun to be around, doesn’t mean they’re a good friend. It’s the ones who are there for you, who stick up for you. We’ve found them and we’re keeping hold of them. Sorry, guys. Not sorry.

We’ve talked a lot about our depression and overcoming the social phobia that kept us imprisoned inside our house from age 18-26. We’ve come such a long way. Back then, we couldn’t eat out in public, could barely speak in public. A supermarket trip was traumatic. Now we’ve done readings at literary festivals, had tables at horror cons, we travel the UK with our ghost hunting show, Calamityville Horror and in September, we went to America with Neen. Our first time of leaving the UK. We went to Las Vegas and San Francisco. We visited Alcatraz, the Winchester Mystery House, we spent a day by ourselves in Vegas while Neen was at her brother’s wedding. We met the guys from Ghost Adventures. And these are the same people who were once too scared to walk anywhere in public. So the social phobia is cured. Yes we’re still socially awkward but we’ve learned that’s not part of our mental illness, that’s just who we are and we can’t change it, so we’ve learned to accept it. We joke about it. Our depression cannot be cured. But it can be lived with.Paillon Grand Canyon tour

The worst thing is knowing that it’s just the darkshines and it will pass and yet still drowning in them anyway. It’s like a wave – sometimes it drags us out of our depth, but eventually it will carry us back to shore and spit us out. We just have to wait for it to change direction. We’ve been listening to Rise Against’s ‘Tragedy and Time‘ which is great for reminding you that nothing lasts forever – not even the bad times.

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