Saturday, March 14, 2009

Walking England's Most Haunted City...

While I normally hate congested urban places, some part of me loves London. The ultimate irony is looking back over my journal writing in 1998-99 during my trip to the city, you might not think it:

January 6, 1990 - Day 12
"Well, this magical mystery tour is almost over. Two more days. I'm glad they're in London or I'd have to kill someone. [The teacher/tour guide] Fred's been quite bitchy lately. Glad he's gone to Africa. Depending on energy, I might go out or just call Simon [my friend from Soho]..."
I didn't get to see any haunted places. I was trapped with a bunch of fellow students who acted more like stereotypical, obnoxious American tourists than even I could have expected. I only spent time with my friend Simon once during the entire trip. I was utterly broke by the final days. I ordered prawns at a pub near the hotel and refused to eat them because they were "staring at me". And the leader of the group turned out to be a stingy 'dirty old man' we all grew to hate. But the city itself, with all its flaws, was a breath of fresh air. It just felt like home. And all these years later, that female voice from the Tube still echoes inside my head: "Next stop, Marylebone... Marylebone..."

I highly recommend a visit there to anyone in the United States, or any other country for that matter. It's a whole different world. And there are more ghostly legends than you could imagine. But don't make my mistake: spend some time looking for spooks. Dozens of books about London's ghosts, from the Underground to pubs, are everywhere. London embraces its haunted heritage, and no one should miss out on that creepy aspect.

If you do find yourself in London, I recommend a ghost tour or two. While taxi drivers and business owners have plenty to say, it's good to have a broad range of tales encompassed in the span of a few hours. And one group, London Paranormal, offers a wide range of walking tours and paranormal events throughout the year. Its founder is a name you might recognize from one season of Most Haunted: Ian Shillito. Or perhaps you've read on here about The Scary Marys and remember him from it. And if you happen to be in the city during the month of October, there's always the organization's London Ghost Festival.

Is it gay-friendly? You better believe it. Ian's a fellow "out" investigator, so there's no need to worry about being yourself. And London has a few gay ghosts to boot, along with other places throughout the UK, some of which I've chronicled in the upcoming book Queer Paranormal. You can bet that my next trip across the pond will include several stops in England. Ghosts and legalized gay marriage: who could ask for more?

1 comment:

Cullan Hudson said...

Gotta love London. I'm something of an Anglophile, being part English, as many are in the US. It's hard not to feel that connection to where it is that your language, culture, and ancestors come from. So, I'm drawn to Ireland and England. They feel, in some ways, a part of me.