The Unexplained

I don’t have any particular faith, not what you’d call an organised one anyway. I write about ghosts, but I wouldn’t class myself as a true believer. I do, however, love to read about things that can’t be explained. These days that means a subscription to the always fascinating Fortean Times , but when I was thirteen it was The Unexplained.

First published by Orbis Publishing in 1980 it was an early part-work that carried the full title of The Unexplained: Mysteries of Mind, Space and Time.
What a tag line!

I was hooked from the very first tv advert. Hot on the heels of tv shows like Arthur C Clarke’s Mysterious World it covered all aspects of matters unexplained. The first issue dealt with UFOs and had the most wonderful photographs of sightings. In those pre-internet days it was nigh on impossible to find articles about things like this, they were reserved for crack-pots in obscure self-published niche magazines. Now I could just buy it from the newsagent and carry it around in my school bag. And I did, and read it aloud to my friends with dramatic emphasis on key points.

Issue one was thrilling – Man Beasts, Close Encounters and Kirilian Auras! This was a time long before Photoshop allowed everyone to dismiss things instantly. I sat with a magnifying glass squinting at blurry images trying to see strings.
And the issue about Spontaneous Human Combustion still haunts me! I remember lying in bed wondering if my feet were just hot, or if I was about to combust.
And ghosts! Oh the wonderful ghost stories and sightings that the magazine covered in great detail – just the perfect reading material.

They never tried to fully explain these stories, they simply told you the facts as they understood them to be, and let you make up your own mind. I’ve never really wanted to know if these were true or not. I’m no fool, but sometimes I think that life is more interesting if there are some things we don’t know. Does it matter? I know, for example, that magicians don’t really have magical powers, but that doesn’t stop me enjoying the show. I don’t want to know how it’s done, it’s enough to have the mystery and the momentary suspension of disbelief.

As for what I believe? Well I want to believe that there is a world that exists out of the corner of my eye, that there is something…magical? Maybe?
That’s the world of faery tales, fantasy and fiction – and it’s a wonderful place to hang out. I’ll see you there…..

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Tardis Destinations – Part One

This will be a recurring theme on my blog. I’d like to introduce you to some of the amazing sights that we have missed out on simply by being born too late.
If I had a Tardis, these would be the places I would visit….

To start us off – Cafe de L’Enfer, Paris

L’Enfer was an infernal hell-themed establishment, with a heavily sculpted demonic facade. It opened in the late 19th century in the fashionably seedy red light district of Paris and rivalled the Moulin Rouge in attracting the dangerously decadent young set of Paris. The scandalously rich and glamorous young Parisians who managed to secure admission to L’Enfer enjoyed devilish drinks and even more devilish company. The clientele spent evenings with many “attractions diabolique” but, as the evenings were deeply clandestine, little is known about what this entailed.

It is known that the waiters were dressed as devils, and the doorman (Satan, of course) welcomed members with a cheering “Enter and be damned!” The interior was elaborately constructed to resemble the pit of hell with demons and tortured souls reaching out from the ceiling to those seated below. Those who entered were warned (by capering imps dressed in scarlet) that the heat inside the inferno would make them thirsty, and so they should be prepared to drink well…and be wicked.

By the early 20th century the Cafe had vanished, the facade stripped and never found again. A few fragments remain from the interior and can be found at the Musee de la Magie in Paris, but the rest is confined to whispers and stories.

What happened at L’Enfer, stayed at L’Enfer….

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