I am dedicating this post to Bethan Blake and her mad dachshund, Rockatansky. It’s a rather perplexing yet engaging paranormal peccadillo from April 2003 involving a pair of pewter Deco dachshund knife rests and a sparkly necklace.
The Deco dogs had come into my life back in 1991 when I’d bought them as a Christmas present for a work colleague. At the time I worked for a design agency, a job that entailed the wearing of many hats, the prominent one being glamorous pit pony-cum-dog’s body. At one end of the spectrum, I was the new business getter, the ‘face’ of the company who power-flirted her way into companies and charmed them into giving me all their marketing business. I was exceedingly good at this, although it was a job I loathed. At the other end, I was little more than one step up from the cleaning lady, probably paid less, and was invariably tasked with collecting my boss’s dry cleaning and buying the Christmas presents for all the staff.
I’d got the Christmas present-buying lark down to a fine art. At the time, there were about thirty people in the company. I’d leg it over to Bath antique market and, with a budget of £30 per person, I’d allot five minutes per present and then spend the rest of the afternoon window shopping, a slap-up lunch thrown in. (I believe, on occasion, that my own company Christmas present may have exceeded the £30 budget. It was only fair.) The colleague for whom I’d purchased the Deco dogs was extremely posh, the offspring of a wealthy Greek shipping family. He was bombastic, politically incorrect, racist, opinionated, sexist, grumpy, intolerant and, actually, quite adorable. There were so many reasons to find him odious but he was a breath of fresh air, like a creature from a disappearing world. His house was full of antiques and I was certain he’d love the dogs. It transpired that he hated them and would have preferred a cigarette lighter. I appeased him with a Zippo lighter and, in return, he gave me the dogs. I thought there was something quite magical about them and so I was thrilled with the outcome. I am obsessed with anything Deco and even more obsessed with dogs, preferably live ones.
About eight years later, I moved house – the house that I was later to discover had a dead woman living in my bedroom. It was another four years before I learnt of her presence. When I moved to the house, circa February 1999, I didn’t have a paranormal thought in my head. The house move was done and dusted with items scattered rather haphazardly, still awaiting proper resting places. I like to unpack everything immediately and promptly return packing boxes to the removals company.
After about a fortnight of living in my beautiful Georgian house, I had the distinct impression that something strange was going on. As a temporary home, I’d placed the two dogs on the windowsill of the first floor landing. Each evening when I returned from work, for some reason my sight would be pulled to the windowsill – I could have sworn that the ornaments had moved since that morning. This went on for several days. Each evening I was convinced that the dogs had definitely moved. It was only a matter of a few centimetres but it was enough to get my attention. I was so fixated on these ruddy dogs that I’d literally burst through the front door and rush up to the windowsill, jaw tightly clenched, anticipating their slight trajectory.
This was really beginning to bug me. After about a week, I even asked my husband if, perchance, he had moved the dogs. I knew what the answer would be. It wasn’t very polite and was along the lines of “Don’t you think I’ve got better things to do with my time than fiddle around with rearranging animal ornaments?” Nevertheless, I had to ask in order to eliminate it as a possibility. In the end I decided I was probably over-tired as a result of the house move and so I picked up the dogs and placed them at the back of a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind and there they remained until about 2002/2003. I can’t remember removing them from the drawer but by 2002, I’d clearly forgotten about the earlier incident.
It was March 2003 when my sixth sense unexpectedly erupted onto the scene and all manner of paranormal goings-on began to take over my life.
That Easter, which fell around late April, my family were having a lot of fun at my expense, teasing me about my odd experiences. I love a laugh, me, but I was feeling slightly drained: nobody really appreciated the hell I was going through. The strangest things were happening to me and yet there was no explanation as to what was going on. I felt very isolated because nobody amongst my peer group had ever experienced anything like it. I thought I was losing the plot and was a tiny bit on edge.
I recall coming downstairs on Easter Sunday morning to discover that one of my Deco dogs on the living room mantelpiece had somehow mounted the other dog. It wasn’t long before I discovered that my husband and sister had been up to mischief. They could hardly wait to witness the look of total bemusement on my face. At that point I decided to remove them from the living room and plonk them out of harm’s way on my cluttered bedroom mantelpiece.
Easter came and went with me providing the entertainment for my family. I had a constant supply of paranormal anecdotes. They were highly intrigued, as was I, at this mystifying change in my life. They were especially interested that I’d had contact with my father who’d been dead, at that point, for over 13 years. We weren’t the type of family to talk about life-after-death or anything supernatural. We didn’t really talk about anything much at all apart from very day-to-day, practical issues. The word ‘spiritual’ had definitely never been uttered in our house. On reflection, I reckon that what was happening to me was some kind of rapid spiritual awakening. I’d tended to assume that ‘spiritual’ had something to do with God. From a very early age, I’d had a complete aversion towards anything involving the Divine or religion.
A few weeks after Easter, something quite unusual happened which was so jarring that I repeatedly had to pinch myself. It involved the pair of pewter Deco dachshund knife rests that were, by now, residing on the mantelpiece in my bedroom. After getting in quite late one evening, I’d removed a beautiful sparkly necklace, (designed by an Argentinian man, Rodrigo Otazu, who also designed the jewellery for the film, Le Moulin Rouge), haphazardly draping it over the dogs that were standing side by side amongst assorted lipsticks, earrings and other paraphernalia. I’d normally have laid it carefully back it its box but I was too tired to be bothered.
The following day I went to the mantelpiece to put on the necklace, and, to my total astonishment, the necklace had somehow become completely wrapped around one of the dogs. I was flabbergasted because I was certain that I’d literally lain the necklace across the backs of the dogs. Recalling Dominic’s playful antics at Easter, I assumed he was behind this prank. However, I needed to be sure and so I called him down to the bedroom to ask if this was his doing.
No, he hadn’t touched the necklace. He was as baffled as I was. What was most puzzling was that the necklace was very stiffly jointed and so it wouldn’t have been easy to wrap it around the dog, even if I’d wanted to. Also, it was an expensive necklace and needed to be stored flat and so I really wouldn’t have been likely to wind it around anything. There was absolutely no chance it had become entangled on its own. In the image at the top of this post, I’ve mocked up a reconstruction – same dogs and necklace, although different house and mantelpiece. (N.B. unintentional product placement – Dr Jackson’s face cream and face oil. It’s brilliant. Dr Jackson, if you happen to read this, could you send me a case of aforementioned cream and oil? I’m totally susceptible to bribery.)
Dominic had complete faith in me and knew I’d never make anything up. As he immediately pointed out, my life was already interesting enough without the need to fabricate any offbeat stories. Nevertheless, he was already struggling to get his head around the notion of there being a 150 year-old dead woman in the bedroom who was causing me sleepless nights. (He was a sensitive person, but he had never heard or felt anything in that bedroom. He had to take me at my word that something ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ had been disturbing my sleep for such a long time.) This latest jewellery/dog conundrum was really testing his suspension of disbelief.
I asked Dominic what he thought was going on with the necklace scenario. He thought about it for a minute or two and offered his interpretation. He reckoned that something was trying very hard to get through to me and get my attention, knowing it could have moved anything else in the house and most likely I wouldn’t have noticed. I was particularly drawn to those ornaments and so it increased the likelihood that I’d notice if they had moved. It was possible that something had been trying to get my attention on numerous occasions – Dominic recalled something similar occurring in our former house. However, I’d probably been so numb and depressed at the time that if the dogs had leapt off the mantelpiece and started barking at me, it’s doubtful I’d have noticed.
The incident with the necklace combined two of my favourite objects: the dogs and the pretty necklace. I couldn’t fail to notice if something had happened involving these objects. It wasn’t as if anything unpleasant or threatening had occurred, but it ultimately challenged my perception of reality because the incident had shifted reality slightly.
What Dominic also emphasised is that I shouldn’t get too stressed, because ultimately nothing bad had happened. He felt that I was too logical and analytical, always struggling to understand the meaning behind what was happening to me. (Well, yes. Who wouldn’t.) He felt that we shouldn’t always try to find a reason for everything and that life would be very dull if there was no longer any sense of mystery and everything could be explained scientifically. Sometimes we need to accept that things happen that defy our sense of reason. This was my husband speaking, a man with a brain the size of three galaxies, a physics degree from Oxford and a PhD from Cambridge. I decided that if he was satisfied with the situation, then so was I. Although secretly, I was still pretty freaked out by this paranormal puzzle. Could objects really move without human intervention? Nah, don’t be daft. That couldn’t possibly happen. But it did…