Book Excerpt by Frank Edmund Earp

A Glimpse of the extraordinary experiences of Frank Edmund Earp, Pagan Elder.

Accompanying this post are three short stories of individual accounts of my earliest encounters with paranormal entities. They are taken from a book, ‘Paranormal Nottingham’, which I was commission to write by Amberley publishers. The book was pulled at the last minute because others in the series weren’t selling. 

So, what qualified me to write this book? Perhaps the most obvious answer is the fact that I was born in the most haunted room of a ‘haunted house’, not that I lived there long enough to witness the haunting myself. Halfway House was a Farmhouse on the Wollaton Hall Estate in Nottingham and was the residence of my paternal grandparents. Charlie, my grandfather’s name for the ghost, was a popular subject in the family and I grew-up hearing or rather overhearing tales of the paranormal. As I have previously told the story of the Halfway House ghost in another of my books, I will not dwell on the subject here, but will reference it again in another post. 

 To say that there was a general belief in the paranormal, – although not an obvious one, – in the family, is perhaps an understatement. My grandmother, came from a family with deep roots in Nottingham’s ancient past. One Sunday morning, using the old fashioned flat-iron, she was attempting to iron the best white linen tablecloth. No matter how hard she tried, she was unable to ‘get-out’ creases which distinctly formed a coffin shape in the middle of the cloth. For a number of days, the creases stubbornly remained until they merely disappeared when the cloth was shaken. It was later to emerge that during this time, an uncle of hers had lain desperately ill and had died on the day that the creases disappeared. 

  A traditional omen of an imminent death in the family was the sound of three loud raps on the front door. This was said to be the ‘Angel of Death’ or some other psychopomp calling to collect the soul of the dying family member. Again, on a Sunday morning, whilst the family were gathered together in the kitchen at Halfway House, there came three loud knocks at the front door. Immediately my grandfather announced that the door must not be opened. Despite this advice, my mother ‘answered’ the door only to find that there was no one there. It would seem that the visitation was for the soul of my father’s youngest sister who was in hospital dying of TB. The full story of the events leading up-to my aunt’s death latter that day, was told by a nurse who had attended her. It appears that on the night before her death the sound of three loud knocks emanating from the foot of her bed had echoed throughout the ward. Still on duty the next morning the same nurse was politely asked by my aunt to “Please turn off the radio”. The nurse responded to the request by saying that there was no radio on. “That’s strange!” said my aunt. “I can hear bells ringing, music playing and people singing.” 

                                      The Genie in the Shed

My parents moved to a home of their own around 1956 when I was 5 years old. This was a typical Nottingham post-war council house on the Southwold Estate around 2.4 km east of Halfway House. Ours was the last house on the road and only had other houses on one side. Almost from the day we moved-in I had been befriended by Peter, just over a year old than me, who lived with his parents, a younger brother and older sister, some ‘three doors away’. 

One school holidays when I was no more than seven years old, I had been playing with Peter and his siblings in the garden of their house. The garden, like all of the houses on this side of the road, was a fully enclosed long rectangle bounded on the two short sides by the house and the wall of the railway line, and on the two long-sides by tall hedges. We had been playing games all afternoon when my three companions were called in by their mother to have something to eat. I was given the choice of either waiting in the garden or returning home until I was called. As I was assured that they would not be long I chose to stay. 

Alone in the garden I amused myself for a while but soon became bored and was thinking of going home when my attention was drawn to the ‘coal-shed’ door on the end of the house. The door, painted ‘Corporation green’ was splatted with mud and round marks where we had bounced a Tennis-ball off of it. Looking at the top left corner I began to see a face forming in the muddy patterns. Although I turned my back and looked away several times, each time I looked back, the face had grown clearer. Finally, it had become crystal clear standing out in ‘glorious 3D’. It was the face of a bearded man with horns surrounded by leaves and foliage. He was looking directly at me and smiling in not an unpleasant way. I now recognise this face as that of a classic ‘foliate head’ or ‘green man’ but at the time and to my child’s mind it was the face of the Devil grinning back at me. It must have been several minutes, during which time I turned my back and moved about the garden, before I found myself standing no more than 3m in front of the door. He was now to my left and still smiling down at me but my attention was drawn to a green mist or smoke which suddenly began to issue from under the bottom of the door. 

As I watched the smoke billowed out and rapidly formed into the head, arms and torso of a bald-headed man. This was the stuff of a story book, a genie emerging from under a door instead of a lamp. Again I turned my back and looked away, but to no avail. With outstretched arms and a broad ‘cheesy’ grin the entity was advancing towards me, drifting on a column of smoke. I remember thinking what incredibly big hands with thick fingerers he had and that these would soon be about my throat. I backed off and moved away but still he was coming towards me. I was in utter panic trapped in a nightmare I could not escape. Picking up a large and heavy stick I threw it at the entity with all my strength and in slow motion watched as it travelled towards him. I could clearly see the expression on his face change from a grin to one of concern. As the flying stick entered the centre of his chest he lowered his head and watched as it passed through. For a moment, the advance had been halted, but as the stick hit the shed door with a very loud bang the entity raised his head resumed his grinning expression and continued drifting towards me. It was at this point I heard a shout from my left and looked over to see Peter and his family all coming out of the back-door of the house. I looked back to the entity who was now stopped around 2m in front of me. He too had heard the shout for he had also turned his face towards the back-door. His expression had changed to one of shock. In an instant the same process which had created him was reversed and he was sucked back under the door. 

I suddenly found myself swept off my feet in the arms of my friend’s mother and with deep concern was whisked into the house. I was later told by my rescuers that they had been alerted to my plight by my cries and screams and that they had found me harshened faced and hysterical. The only adult present listened attentively and in amazed silence as I poured out my story. The only thing I can remember of the conversation was my feeling that I had somehow done something wrong and my complete insistence that my parents were never told of the events. As far as I know, they never were. 

The Boggart 

‘A Close Encounter of the ‘Furred’ Kind’. 

This is the story of my encounter with a boggart, although I did not know it as such at the time. I first published this story in the journal of Northern Earth Mysteries Group, in early 1981. It was ‘picked up’ by the Ufologist Jenny Randels and appeared in the part-work magazine, the Unexplained in 1983. In 1989, Paul Devereux used it in support of his theory on the U.F.O. phenomenon, in his book, ‘Earth Lights’. From then on it quickly passed into modern folklore and now appears on several web-sites. 

 In the mid 1960’s Britain was in the grip of U.F.O. fever. Up and down the country there were reports of lights in of sky and other unidentified objects. For several weeks the media reported strange goings-on in the town of Warminster, in Wiltshire. Nottingham too had its’ fair share of U.F.O. activity.  This was a fascination to a boy in his early teens and together with a group of around 10 school friends, we started a U.F.O. Club. Well, at least it kept us out of mischief, – but it lead to many a strange adventure. The adventure related here happened with two of my fellow club members, – whom I will call W. and M. 

On a fine autumn afternoon my friend W. and I walked the mile or so up Chalbury Road to meet with fellow club member M. It was our intention to carry out what is known as a ‘sky watch’, – looking for U.F.Os. From M’s house, the three of us crossed Woodyard Lane walk along the north bank of the disused Wollaton cannel to the site of the Wollaton Colliery. Here the old ‘slag-heaps’ line the cannel bank and we thought it would be a good vantage point for our activity. 

 We spent the next couple of hours scaling and sliding down the heaps and swinging out over the cannel on a rope tied to the branch of a tree, – always with an eye on the sky. At about 4 o’clock as daylight gave way to twilight, we decided, – as we had seen no ‘flying sauces’, – to head back to M’s house and perhaps play some records. 

 At this site, the cannel opens into a wide oval basin, – a former passing place for the coal barges. Although the cannel had been drained the old bed was still marshy with a small channel of water running down the centre. As we crossed the basin to the opposite south bank, we were aware of a slight ground mist starting to rise within the basin. 

Climbing up the wall and bank onto the tow-path, we stood watching the mist as it began to thicken. As we watched a ‘cloud’ of mist, – doughnut shaped, around the size of a fair ground dodgem car, – formed and rose above the bed to the height of around 4ft. The remaining body of mist, which now covered most of the basin, stayed within inches of the ground. 

The cloud began to sparkle with a myriad of tiny pearl coloured lights which blinked on and off with an incandescent glow. At this point I suggested this was the natural phenomenon known as ‘corpse candles’ or ‘will o’ the wisp’, – the spontaneous combustion of methane gas. 

Suddenly, the cloud began to slowly move towards the bank and two balls of light, – the size of water melons and around two and 3ft. apart, – formed at its centre. In a controlled way, the cloud came to a halt on the tow-path around 30ft. away. 

 All around, afternoon was giving-way to evening. In the growing darkness the spheres became more obvious, seeming to ‘bob’ up and down like corks on water. No malevolence appeared to emanate from the cloud, just curiosity. It seemed that we, as observers, where in-turn being observed.  However, discretion got the better of valour and turning in unison we walk away. 

After a few paces curiosity got the better of us and we stopped to look back. To our horror, the cloud had followed us and was now just 20ft away. Panic now set in and we retreated, this time at a jogging pace. 

The cannel now took a gentle turn and then a straight course to a point where Old Coach Road once crossed via a stone bridge. The bridge had long since disappeared and the road was now carried over the cannel on a high bank, which the tow-path climbed over on either side. 

I had the sudden feeling that the ‘thing’ would not follow us across the road and voiced this fact to my friends. Frequent glances over our shoulders told us that the cloud was keeping pace behind; – in fact it was gaining with every step. 

Reaching the bank, we turned to see our pursuer was now just a few feet behind us. Seconds later, we mounted the bank and found ourselves looking down on the cloud, which had moved to the foot of the bank. 

It seemed that the cloud would not follow us further. With relief, we crossed the road and descended onto the path. Now, with the bank between us, we felt safe to stand and look back. For a few seconds the road above was clear and then slowly the cloud came into view. Now hovering over the road at the top of the bank, ‘it’ was looking down at us! 

We took-off in full retreat, running in terror, the cloud still gliding effortlessly behind. At the pace we were travelling, it was not long before we reached Wood Yard Lane and the end of this part of the cannel. 

Here we turned to face our pursuer, – now only 6ft. away – safe in the knowledge that just across the lane was M’s house. With me in the middle, we stood in silence, like gunfighters waiting for the next move. I broke the spell as tacking a step forward I said, “If you are a friend come forward”. 

A few seconds silence followed as I paused for a response. With my eyes fixed on the swaying orbs I began to say “If you are an enemy ….” My words were cut short as B. tapped me on the shoulder and saying in my ear, “When I say run, run!!” My eyes followed his pointing finger to the hedge on my left. 

There only feet in front of M., – silhouetted by the light from the orbs, – was the black shape of a hairy figure. Around 6ft. tall, its head appeared to be directly on its shoulders, whilst its arms, – which seemed to be long, – tapered to a single finger. Each of these ‘fingers’ curved inward around a glowing red rod the size of a pencil. The legs seemed to disappear from around the mid calve and something of the mist from the cloud swirled around where the feet should have been. 

I had absorbed all of this information in seconds, for in an instant B. had shouted the word ‘run’ and like an Olympic athlete taken off. I followed with the same turn of speed, leaving M. alone calling out repeatedly, “Can you see it lads? Can you see it?” 

M. must have quickly realised he was alone and soon caught us up. The other two began to blurt-out their experience. I silenced them saying that we should independently draw what we had seen. It turned out that the three of us drew identical pictures of the cloud, whilst B. and I drew almost identical pictures of the figure. Because his attention had been entirely on the cloud M. hadn’t seen the figure. 

Years later I was to discover that our encounter had not been with some alien being. The ‘hairy creature’ fitted the classic description of a class of ‘fairy’ known as a ‘Boggart’. 

                                     The Little Man

Although memory of events that day are as clear to me as if they happened last year, I have never been able to ‘pin-point’ its exact location. That is perhaps more to do with the fact that I never really knew the name of the shop.  All that I could remember is that the shop in question had an unusual frontage in that it had a double set of windows. This formed a sort of arcade through which the shopper could walk, more than doubling the window display. In doing my research for this book I found an image of the famous HMV store on Oxford Street and at once identified it as being the place. At the time (and since) I have had the feeling that the face of the little man was one that was familiar to me. I now know that it was the face of the famous comedian Arthur Askey. My recent research has shown that It was around this time that images of Mr Askey were being used to advertise a certain brand of TV’s. 

“At around the age of five, [1956/57] I was taken by my parents on a visit to London. Towards the end of a busy day  site-seeing, we found ourselves among the shops and bright lights of ‘Oxford Street’. Carefully supervised by my mother I was allowed to ‘trot along’ a little way in front, exploring for myself the wonders of, to my mind this magical street. Not looking where I was going I ran head-long into a 7′ stuffed bear outside what I now suppose was an antique shop. Naturally I burst into a flood of tiers but was quickly comforted and sent on my way. A little further on we came to a large shop window displaying electrical goods like TV’s and radio’s. Again, a little way ahead of my parents, I ran to the nearest entrance to the double window display. I remember gazing into the nearest window which seemed brightly lit. Almost immediately my attention was draw to the figure of a little man with a very broad smile on his face. Around 12” tall, his colourful body appeared to be ‘made of light’ and transparent, [something like a modern hologram], whilst his head and hands were ‘black and white’. On his head, which was slightly to large for the body, was an old fashioned ‘H’ shaped TV aerial. His face was somehow familiar.  At first he appeared to simply stare back at me with a friendly grin, but then began to cavort amongst the window display sometimes moving through objects and at other-times around them with equal ease. 

At this point I became aware of the fact that my parents were right behind me and I assumed that they too had seen the little man and I ran over to the next window. To my surprise, there he was again with the same smiling expression. This was repeated in each of the windows I looked into until, closely followed by my parents, I ran out of the arcade. As I did so, I had my second encounter with an object on the pavement that day. This time it was the back of an advertising board, a 5′ tall, black and white cut-out figure of the same little man. Full impact was avoided by my fathers hand on my shoulder pulling me back. Taken to the front of the ‘board’ I was able to see that it was in-fact a much slimmer and better proportioned version of my little man. The face was that of the famous comedian with his familiar friendly smile. He was posed as if doing a ‘star jump’, with legs apart and arms and hands outstretched. Mounted on the top of his head was a full size ‘H’ shaped TV aerial. The lettering across his chest, I was told, indicated that it was an advert for the same aerials’. 

 I never did tell my parents about the little man I had seen in the shop window and this is the first account of the encounter I have written.

An Excerpt of a book in progress by Frank Edmund Earp

Footnote: Author seeks/welcomes Peer Reviews