In 1986 I started work with a local Community Programme.
I was given the role of teamleader and put in charge of half a dozen younger lads, the premise of the scheme was that the Community Programme would provide the labour for free if the approved project bought the materials, this allowed youngsters to be given a taster of various trades at the same time providing help to community projects which otherwise may not be completed.
We were given two projects a cricket pavilion and work on a chapel in the same remote village, the chapel project was to excavate underneath to make a toilet and kitchen area.
My primary responsibility was the chapel and another team was working the pavilion project though we pooled resources if required as the two projects were a 10 minute walk apart.
Generally there were 4 younger lads; there was also a joiner who would have been in his early thirties. He was an unassuming and pleasant individual who was quite softly spoken and he was a bit of a hippy.
He was quite private and nobody knew much about him. The others were typical 18-19 year olds a bit loud and a bit lippy, but good lads really.
What tended to happen once we had done the excavations was that the chapel would run out of funds and we would having nothing to do.
As we were all dropped off and left for the day we had to fill our time; initially this involved playing cards generally a game referred to as Wogga which used two packs of cards and the jokers and was similar to rummy but you had a bigger hand of cards.
One day we were chatting in general and one of the lads told us that he and his parents often used a Ouija board to contact his sister who had died at a young age.
We were all intrigued, some were dismissive as you might expect, but long story short, we decided to make our own board and give it a go.
Using some plasterboard we wrote the alphabet, number 1 – 10 and yes and no at either end; we placed a sheet of glass on it and borrowed a glass from the vestry.
Initially we let the lad with experience lead the way, explaining the rules, the most important seemingly was to not let the glass outside of the circle or oval as it was; that we had created with the letters and numbers.
We were doing this underneath the chapel; we had a makeshift table and seating made from anything we could find, bags of sand, boxes pallets etc.
It was as you might imagine quite cool under the chapel, but not cold, we probably started this around April 1986.
There was a small amount of natural light from the door and a small window as I recall and then a couple of makeshift temporary lights.
We absolutely felt safe and protected as we were after all inside a chapel.
So off we went ‘is there anybody there’ we would ask; my recollection is that the glass would start to move. (but glass on glass is perhaps not the best combination), it would start with the noise you would expect, quite a shrill screech as it started to move but then it seemed to almost lift away from the glass and would be moving around the board at quite a pace, there is no way any single individual could be controlling it.
We would try and keep up with what is was spelling out and quickly learned to use closed questions where a yes or no response was likely.
It was all very interesting and we became almost obsessed with it and hoped to arrive at site to find no materials so that we could get on the Ouija board.
It was clear we were doing something right as the temperature would drop noticeably, to the point where we could see our own breath and the glass would actually frost up at times.
We had some laughs one lad asked a spirit ‘where are you in the room’ and it replied that it was sat on his knee, one lad had forgotten his pin number and it correctly gave it to him, generally though it was fairly innocuous.
Then one day the glass moved around and stopped in front of the hippy guy and would not move, the lad who was experienced said its someone for you, now although he had observed, he had not until now put his finger on the glass; he still refused. But he asked it who it was. The answer came back, ‘your sister’ the colour drained from his face, but he was not convinced so he said ‘if you are then what happened at your funeral’ it spelt out ‘finger nail’ at this point he broke down, we knew nothing of a sister and when he gathered himself he explained that she had been raped and murdered and that at her funeral he was a pall-bearer and had caught his fingernail on the coffin and that it had bled for days. It also turned out that he had been to Prison, as he had found the perpetrators before the police and had taken a hammer to them.
Now during this time, we were in the run up to the World Cup and obviously young lads got to asking who was going to win the World Cup, we got back a surprising response as it said England, obviously we were all astounded at the prediction and were eager then to go put a bet on, however it spelt out that we could not pass the information on to anyone or put on a bet or the result would change.
We all agreed to abide by those rules, so we watched England against the odds fight their way to the quarter finals against Argentina as we all know they lost due to Maradona’s ‘hand of god’ goal we were straight to the Ouija the next day asking what went wrong.
The reply was that someone had indeed placed a bet, we all looked around the table, looking for the traitor and one of the lads indeed put up his hand and confessed ‘I couldn’t resist… they were doing so well’
Could it be that we were the reason England didn’t win in 86?
After this things started to take a turn for the worse, these lads were getting a bit bored and started to ask to speak to such things as the spirit of Hitler.
As I said we had been told not to allow the glass out of the circle and on a couple of occasions we had that issue occur, we were told if the glass exits the circle that the spirit may then either possess the nearest individual or become a poltergeist.
The strange thing was that when the glass was clearly moving off the board, rather than simply taking our fingers off the glass, it seemed that you could not.
We had a couple of situations where with one finger on the glass the other hand was being used to try and push the glass back, the force was quite something when you have 3 or 4 young men trying to push a glass back onto the board and seemingly unable just to take their hands off the glass.
On what would be the last outing for the Ouija board we contacted a spirit and it went to each person in turn and waited for them to put their finger on the glass.
The lad who had talked us into trying the Ouija in the first place, said, ‘we have a bad one here, its trying to get maximum power so it can get off the board’ he refused to put his finger on and that was good enough for me, I actually left and decided to walk up the road the cricket pavilion.
When I returned they were all ashen faced and the board was smashed, it turns out they apparently had the spirit of a young man named Wayne, aged 19 who was killed during active service in Northern Ireland, he was none too happy we had not put our fingers on and had said he knew where I had gone and that he was going to get me… The glass had come out of the circle and they smashed it immediately as is apparently required.
All of them seemed visibly shaken and that was the last time we used the Ouija board. I spent months looking over my shoulder.
More to follow…