If you visit The Grenadier pub in Belgrave Square, London, this month, you might just see a ghost.
According to Peter Underwood in Ghosts and How to See Them, every September the ghost of a 19th century guardsman returns to the scene of his murder. Apparently many drinkers over the years have seen a spirit in the pub that had nothing to do with any alcohol consumed there.
Ghosts and How to See Them is a classic book on ghost hunting. Although it was written more than a decade ago, it is a better book on the subject than many written in the wake of the TV show Most Haunted.
The title is, however, a bit misleading. It does not offer lessons in how to see dead people. What it does do is tell you where to see them, when to see them and what to do if you do see one.
It firsts looks at the evidence as to whether ghosts exist or are just illusions, delusions or dreams, with entertaining tales of seemingly reliable witnesses mistaking ordinary objects for apparitions. This is followed by an examination of the evidence for the existence of ghosts, again with stories from around the world. Even the advice for would-be ghost spotters is full of great anecdotes, both about famous frauds and unsolved mysteries.
It is Peter Underwood's ability to tell a good story, keeping the right balance between scepticism and an open mind, that makes the book such easy reading.
Obviously, technology has changed a bit since Ghosts and How to See Them was first published in the early 1990s. In particular, we now have digital cameras and recording equipment. However, most of the advice given is still valid today. If you are in a supposedly haunted house it is more important to be observant and to try to find the true cause of any disturbance than to have a truckload of the latest scientific equipment.
As to whether ghosts really exist, the book simply says that many people claim to have seen ghosts; often their accounts cannot be verified scientifically, “but the accumulated total of so much well-attested experience must surely count for something”.
Ghosts and How to See Them, by Peter Underwood was published in 1993 by Anaya Publishers. Copies are still easy to obtain. The copy I read came from my local public library.
Ghosts and How to See Them,