Death in Grimsby – 50 Years Following Brighton & Hove Albion now published in paperback

BLOG COVER 2

Burning cows at Carlisle, Meeting Ernie Wise in Leeds, Joking with Gazza in Glasgow, Bribing Match Stewards in Birmingham, an Ovation at Doncaster and Death in Grimsby

BRIGHTON & Hove Albion FC were founded in 1901 and for all but six seasons of their 118 year existence have played their football in the lower divisions of the Football League.

A new book Death in Grimsby charts one man’s passion for his far from ordinary home town club over 50 of those years.

Among 50,000 words and 115 images Death in Grimsby is a collection of personal stories which will resonate with every football supporter, no matter which club they may follow.

I have been following my beloved Brighton & Hove Albion since I was a very small kid, and like a fan of any club, whether that be Arsenal, Accrington Stanley, Aston Villa or Alloa Athletic, once you are hooked you are well and truly hooked,” explains author Nic Outterside.

“My passion was conceived on a sunny Saturday afternoon in September 1967 when I was just 11 years old, as I stood wide-eyed at the front of the North Stand of the Goldstone Ground watching these huge men battle for a crisp, white football on the green turf before me.

“It is a passion which has never dimmed with greying hair, crows’ feet etched lines and a free bus pass just three years away.”

Death in Grimsby is a collection of short stories which charts the first 50 years that Nic supported his beloved Albion, starting with that first game at the Goldstone in 1967 and finishing with a match against Wolves at Molineux in April 2017, when his club all but mathematically secured promotion to the promised land of the Premier League.

Each chapter is a separate story related to 21 different matches and events, including Nic’s first night game against Portsmouth in 1969, a record 8-2 defeat against Bristol Rovers in 1973, winning promotion to the old League Division One in 1979, an FA Cup Final in 1983, Football League survival against Hereford United in 1997 and much more.

These are knitted together with many personal recollections such as meeting Ernie Wise in Leeds, trying to explain the Foot and Mouth Disease funeral pyres to his young daughters before a match against Carlisle United in 2001, interviewing the England legend Paul Gascoigne, bribing match stewards with slices of home-made flapjack at Birmingham City and being hospitalised with hypothermia after a game at Grimsby.

“I hope the reader finds something to inspire them, laugh at, wince with or cry… and recapture their own memories of a game which as the great Bill Shankly said: ‘Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that,’” adds Nic.

Death in Grimsby – 50 Years Following Brighton & Hove Albion is available in paperback from:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1095979752/
£10.49 Large Format paperback with FREE UK delivery

Other ways to order and purchase the book will be announced at the end of May.

The full launch with book signings will take place at venues (TBC) in Brighton and Hove during week beginning 5 August prior to the start of the 2019/20 Premier League season.

A Kindle e-book edition of the book will also be available later in the summer of 2019.

Gripping new book charts 50 years in the life of a football fanatic…

Burning cows at Carlisle, Meeting Ernie Wise in Leeds, Joking with Gazza in Glasgow, Bribing Match Stewards in Birmingham, a Standing Ovation at Doncaster and Death in Grimsby

BLOG COVER

BRIGHTON & Hove Albion FC were founded in 1901 and for all but six seasons of their 118 year existence have played their football in the lower divisions of the Football League.

A stunning new book Death in Grimsby charts one man’s passion for his far from ordinary home town club over 50 of those years.

Among 50,000 words and 115 images Death in Grimsby is a collection of personal stories which will resonate with every football supporter, no matter which club they may follow.

I have been following my beloved Brighton & Hove Albion since I was a very small kid, and like a fan of any club, whether that be Arsenal, Accrington Stanley, Aston Villa or Alloa Athletic, once you are hooked you are well and truly hooked,” explains author Nic Outterside.

“My passion was conceived on a sunny Saturday afternoon in September 1967 when I was just 11 years old, as I stood wide-eyed at the front of the North Stand of the Goldstone Ground watching these huge men battle for a crisp, white football on the green turf before me.

“It is a passion which has never dimmed with greying hair, crows’ feet etched lines and a free bus pass just three years away.”

Death in Grimsby is a collection of short stories which charts the first 50 years that Nic supported his beloved Albion, starting with that first game at the Goldstone in 1967 and finishing with a match against Wolves at Molineux in April 2017, when his club all but mathematically secured promotion to the promised land of the Premier League.

Each chapter is a separate story related to 21 different matches and events, including Nic’s first night game against Portsmouth in 1969, a record 8-2 defeat against Bristol Rovers in 1973, winning promotion to the old League Division One in 1979, an FA Cup Final in 1983, Football League survival against Hereford United in 1997 and much more.

These are knitted together with many personal recollections such as meeting Ernie Wise in Leeds, trying to explain the Foot and Mouth Disease funeral pyres to his young daughters before a match against Carlisle United in 2001, interviewing the England legend Paul Gascoigne, bribing match stewards with slices of home-made flapjack at Birmingham City and being hospitalised with hypothermia after a game at Grimsby.

“I hope the reader finds something to inspire them, laugh at, wince with or cry… and recapture their own memories of a game which as the great Bill Shankly said: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that,” adds Nic.

Death in Grimsby – 50 Years Following Brighton & Hove Albion is available in paperback from:

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR DETAILS OF PRICE AND ORDERING/PRE-ORDERING PLUS BOOK SIGNING LAUNCH DATE

A Kindle e-book edition of the book will also be available later in the summer of 2019.

Notes:

  1. Nic Outterside is an award-winning editor, journalist and author. Among more than a dozen awards to his name are North of England Daily Journalist of the Year, Scottish Weekly Journalist of the Year, Scottish Daily Journalist of the Year and a special national award for investigative journalism. He was twice editor of Weekly Newspaper of the Year. In 2016 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in written journalism.
  2. Death in Grimsby is his seventh published book.
  3. For interviews or further information Nic can be contacted by email on seagullnic@gmail.com

Child sex abuse survivor’s long awaited second book now published in paperback

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A CHILD-SEX abuse and cancer survivor’s long awaited second book of poetry is published worldwide in paperback today (Monday, 18 February 2019).

Multi award-winning writer Nic Outterside quit his 28 year career in newspaper and magazine journalism following a nervous breakdown in June 2013.

He began the slow road to recovery under the watchful eyes of his doctor and the support of his family. Part of the suggested therapy was for him to begin writing and talking about the life experiences which had led to his breakdown.

His first paperback book The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light, published in November 2014. It was met with international acclaim and the first 1,000 print edition has almost sold out.

From childhood sexual abuse, through cancer, bereavement, bankruptcy, divorce, repossession of my home, the loss of two of my children and an assault which almost took my life, I guess there was a lot to write about,” says Nic.

Last May, after a three year wait, he published its sequel Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft as a Kindle e-book.

Such was the positive response that it has been published today as a 134 page large format paperback, complete with illustrations by Moscow artist Helene Vasileva.

“When I released The Hill in November 2014, I was struggling to get back to a life of sorts and fighting my way out of the corner,” explains Nic.

“By the middle of 2016, I was more than halfway through writing a raft of poems for the new book and by this time I was out of the corner, but still fighting.

“But by the time all the work for Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft was concluded I was so far out of the corner you wouldn’t find me… I had found my way home.

“I am so grateful to my close family and many friends who have given me support, inspiration and encouragement over the past six years,” he adds.

Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft

In paperback is priced at £6.99 and available from:

www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Hill-Songs-Poems-Theft/dp/1796807575/

The Kindle e-book is also available at £2.21 from:

www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Hill-Songs-Poems-Theft-ebook/dp/B07CXYJTV4/

Both versions are also available on other international Amazon platforms.

 

 

Proof of life after newspapers – former editor publishes 5 books in just one year

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A FORMER weekly newspaper editor has just edited and published his FIFTH paperback book in the past year.

Multi award-winning editor and writer Nic Outterside quit his 28 year career in newspaper and magazine journalism following a nervous breakdown in June 2013.

He began the slow road to recovery under the watchful eyes of his doctor. Part of the suggested therapy was for him to begin writing about the life experiences which had led to his breakdown. He did a lot of this through poetry.

His first paperback book The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light, was published in November 2014. It was met with international orders and the first edition has almost sold out.

Nic spent the next three years writing for himself and doing PR and subbing work for online clients.

Then a chance meeting with a young Indian author from the Himalayas set in train an express of book publishing.

“In November 2017 I was approached by a 25-year-old writer from Almora in Northern India, who asked if I could edit her first novel,” he explains.

“I agreed, but the problem was she wanted it ready to publish in just five weeks… and she hadn’t even written the first word!

“It was at times hectic – communicating endlessly through emails and Skype calls – but we managed to publish Gauri – A Sin Between My Legs on time, on 9 January last year.”

The publication set in motion a chain of more contacts and other book projects from Nic’s small office in Wolverhampton.

Over the next 12 months Nic edited and published in paperback and Kindle e-book: Luminance – Words for a World Gone Wrong – an anthology of international poetry by 14 writers from as far afield as Australia, Japan, Palestine and the USA, and Asian Voices – an anthology of essays, letters and poetry by 20 writers from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan – both books have been met with widespread critical acclaim.
Nic also found time to write, edit and publish his second book of songs and poems called Another Hill, plus a homage to his musical hero Bob Dylan entitled Blood in the Cracks.
He is currently working on a seventh book, with a working title of Death in Grimsby – a collection of short stories about following his home town football club Brighton and Hove Albion over 50 years. It is set for publication in May this year.

Further titles are scheduled for later in 2019 and 2020.

“I enjoyed a fabulous career in newspaper and magazine journalism,” says Nic.

And along the way also edited all kinds of publications, including leaflets, brochures and football programmes.

“But, book publishing was a whole other world and I had to teach myself as I went along; especially with things like pagination and measuring the correct size margins and gutters for large format paperbacks. I am also lucky that my partner is a superb proof reader

“Now I am getting as much fun out of books as I did with newspapers or magazines.”

The books are available from:

Gauri – a Sin Between My Legs

Kindle e-book – £2.21

www.amazon.co.uk/GAURI-SIN-BETWEEN-MY-LEGS-ebook/dp/B078XMK42N/

Blood in the Cracks

43 page slim-line paperback – £3.99

www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Cracks-Nic-Outterside/dp/1794666001/

Luminance – words for a world gone wrong

123 page large format paperback – £7.50

www.amazon.co.uk/LUMINANCE-Words-World-Gone-Wrong/dp/1796270032/

Asian Voices

240 page large format paperback – £6.99

www.amazon.co.uk/Asian-Voices-anthology-Pakistan-Afghanistan/dp/1795571217/

The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light

100 page paperback – £1.99

www.ebay.co.uk/itm/The-Hill-Songs-and-Poems-of-Darkness-and-Light-Nic-Outterside-Paperback/223163293082

Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft

134 page large format paperback – £6.99

www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Hill-Songs-Poems-Theft/dp/1796807575/

Poetic homage to the greatest LP of all- time now available in paperback

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A POPULAR poetic homage to Nobel prize-winning songwriter Bob Dylan is now published worldwide in a slim-line paperback.

Blood in the Cracks by award winning writer Nic Outterside was first released as a Kindle e-book last September, to rave reviews.

The book tips its hat both lyrically and stylistically to Dylan’s critically acclaimed album Blood on the Tracks – originally released in 1975.

Nic describes his own work as a “lifetime labour of love”.

“It’s almost a journey’s end,” he says. “The works of Bob Dylan are the soundtrack to my life.

“I was a mere teenager when I first discovered his music, his words of truthful vengeance and his vignettes of love and theft.

“For me Blood on the Tracks, remains a lyrical and poetic touchstone. And my soul is forever wrapped within its entire 51 minutes and 42 seconds.

“Overtly autobiographical, the LP is full of tales of a lover relating a series of unrelated events, set in a mythical America. Like a series of impressionist paintings of life the tales are without geographical or chronological boundaries.

“Over 10 iconic songs, Dylan alludes to heartache, deception, anger, regret and loneliness. It’s a world-weary, nostalgic and ultimately a poetic Bob Dylan; and that is what makes Blood on the Tracks so timeless.

“The poetry is in each and every song,” adds Nic.

“So to create my own poetical homage to that album – in places borrowing the patterns of some of Dylan’s songs – is a true labour of love and a dream come true.”

Blood in the Cracks is now available worldwide in paperback at just £3.99.

United Kingdom: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1794666001/

Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1794666001/

Germany: https://www.amazon.de/dp/1794666001/

France: https://www.amazon.fr/dp/1794666001/

Italy: https://www.amazon.it/dp/1794666001/

Rest of the world: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1794666001/

It is also still available on Amazon Kindle e-book at just £1.70

www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Cracks-Nic-Outterside-ebook/dp/B07H4S3DSM

Notes:

  1. Nic is an award-winning editor, journalist and writer. Among more than a dozen awards to his name are North of England Daily Journalist of the Year, Scottish Daily Journalist of the Year and Scottish Weekly Journalist of the Year. In 2016 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in written journalism.
  2. You can buy Nic’s first poetry book The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light on Amazon Kindle, priced at just £1.43 at: www.amazon.co.uk/Hill-Songs-Poems-Darkness-Light-ebook/dp/B07CNZ75MZ
  3. You can still buy the First Edition paperback The Hill – Songs and Poems of Darkness and Light at £1.99 with £1.80 for UK post and packing via Ebay at: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/The-Hill-Songs-and-Poems-of-Darkness-and-Light-Nic-Outterside-Paperback/223163293082?hash=item33f5919d9a:g:3O0AAOSwdjha6DvY:rk:1:pf:1
  4. Nic’s second book: Another Hill – Songs and Poems of Love and Theft is priced at £2.20 on Amazon Kindle at: www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Hill-Songs-Poems-Theft-ebook/dp/B07CXYJTV4/
  5. The full story behind his first book of poetry can be listened to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2N2X7t7awo

Printer’s Ink, Dreams of Dylan and the Road Home

REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2018

The world is old
The world is grey
Lessons of life
Can’t be learned in a day

It’s the last day’s last hour
Of the last happy year
I feel the unknown
In this world is so dear

AS the clock ticks towards midnight on the last day of the year, I pull some ragged guitar strings to sharpen my senses and recall the time retreating.

This year has been unlike any other… a curate’s egg of good, bad, poisonous and beautiful. But while crows’ feet and grey lines etch the passage of my life line, 2018 is a year I will never forget.

  • Four remarkable holidays in Dorset (twice), Northumberland and Argyll – where I buried my heart many lifetimes ago.
  • A prostate cancer scare, which turned into something more insidious, but far more treatable.
  • The hottest UK summer in 40 years.
  • The death of two amazing musical friends.
  • The publication of five books – yes FIVE!
  • Featured in the book Dreaming of Dylan alongside my hero Patti Smith.
  • Watching my son grow into a fine young man.
  • The redemption of spirit with a family of writers some 5,000 miles away.

But, any review of the year, has to be about the people who made it unique and so very special.

So stay with me as this will be an OCD review on turbo charge, month by month…

 

JANUARY

I have never made an edit like this before, but after receiving new verifiable information about the nominated person (3 March 2019), and following careful consideration I have deleted the entry for January 2018.

 

FEBRUARY

Caroline Outterside is a second cousin who has many closer family links with me. Her husband is the son of Billy Outterside, my father’s first cousin, who grew up alongside him, attended each other’s weddings and remained close for more than 60 years.

Caroline is a joyous and astute counselling psychologist, but more than that a wondrous mum to three adult children and a dear friend.

But 12 months ago her world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a malignant cancer of the tongue and tonsils.

Her bravery during surgery and radiation treatment from February onwards is a testament to her spirit and the love of those around her.

She is an inspiration and a true hero.

 

MARCH

John Leach has been a friend for more than 10 years.

We were colleagues together at NWM Media and although I was a journalist and he in Credit Control our friendship grew closer after we had both left that part of our working life.

We share a similar passion for football, rock music and corny humour, which ensures a bond.

We are also both dads of amazing kids… but John is a super dad: a foster parent to more lucky children than I can count.

He is also someone who has always been there for me, even when my life is at its darkest, offering friendship, succor and even a roof over my head if ever needed.

John could have been any month of the year, but I chose March, because he encompasses the Spring Equinox of my year.

 

APRIL

I first met Komal Arshad in January 2014.

She is a young doctor, currently finishing her studies at a medical college in northern Pakistan.

She hopes to train to become a cardiologist here in the UK.

We met through our shared passion for the liberation of Palestine and have remained close ever since.

She may live 4,000 miles away, but she could equally live next door.

Our friendship is close and over the past few years barely a week goes by without contact either by text, email or video call.

I am often the first person she has turned to with everyday problems such as arguments with her university room-mate, worries about marriage and the aftermath of a house fire in April this year, from which she and her mother miraculously escaped with their lives.

Komal is my adopted daughter and she lovingly regards me as her second father… for that I am so full of gratitude.

This year was made so special when she said she wanted me and my family to attend her wedding… with the proviso: “I need to find a husband first!”

 

MAY

I first met Annabel James in 2017 as a fellow poet on social media.

Articulate, intelligent, beautiful and musical, this spirit from Tulsa, Oklahoma quickly became a great friend and was the first recruit to my poetry anthology Different Voices. When that book was hijacked by others upon publication, she was one of the first to rally round a new project we called Luminance in May this year.

Annabel was a driving force for Luminance and even recruited a new writer from Kentucky to help the project achieve its goals. Her unswerving loyalty and friendship will be rewarded with a first paperback copy of the book in February 2019.

Through my own health problems and further writing during this year, she has remained a lovely and true friend across the breadth of the Atlantic and time divides.

 

JUNE

Kirsty Scott and I were newspaper colleagues in Scotland some 24 years ago.

While I reveled in hard news, Kirsty was growing into one of the finest feature writers and novelists I have ever known. The last time I saw her to speak to was in an Asda supermarket in Perth in 1995, while she was carrying her first child. We wished each other well before the ensuing years our lives and careers took different tracks.

I caught up with Kirsty about three years ago through the wonders of Facebook and Instagram and we both swapped news about our respective lives and those of our children.

But I was rocked when I discovered in 2017 that she was battling breast cancer. Her battle throughout that year and into 2018, involving surgery and courses of chemotherapy, was relentless. But Kirsty maintained her humour and indomitable spirit, keeping everyone in her circle of trust and friendship with light and laughter.

She is a true beacon and one of my heroes of the year.

 

JULY

Sometimes in life you meet someone who you know instantly was carved from a different rock than the rest of us.

Vonny Tuzio is one such person. I have known Von for more than 10 years. Football and rugby crazy, she is also a besotted lover of pugs, cats and all animals. She is also the most generous person I have ever known. Besides writing Christmas cards which I will never throw away, she has also showered us with many remarkable gifts, each sealed with genuine love and affection.

So when she turned up at our back door in July, laden down with beer, cheese, plants, chocolates and pickles plus two of her adorable pugs it was like having a second Christmas.

Vonny stayed for four days, enough to swill a lot of beer and wine and cheer on England in two World Cup games.

In years to come when asked about July 2018, I will recall two people: Harry Kane and Vonny Tuzio!

 

AUGUST

My younger son Nathan Outterside has been the apple of my eye from the day he was born at 4lbs 10oz on Christmas Eve 2001.

Sadly my marriage to his mother broke down when he was only three-years-old and he came to live with me 24/7 after he had just turned four. For the next nine years, as his single parent, Nathan was my sole focus in life… teaching him to read, taking and fetching him from school, endless trips to taekwondo classes and tournaments, playing, supporting and everything else any parent does for their child.

Sometimes it was hard work, but the rewards have been many, including him gaining his black belt in taekwondo in 2016.

But the biggest reward and an enormous moment of personal pride was in August when he achieved nine GCSEs all at the top A grade.

Now he is studying for his A Levels with a focus to become an engineer.

He really is my new clear star!

 

SEPTEMBER

This was the month when I kicked off my latest book project: Asian Voices – an anthology of poetry, prose, letters, essays and drawings from a team of 20 incredibly talented emerging writers from Pakistan, Afghanistan and India.

The fact that this team has, in four months, become a family of close friends and embedded souls is a testament to the lyrical journey we are all still carving.

So I salute and embrace you all: Minnie Rai, Agathaa Shelling, Nicky Das, Anshul, Anjali Kumari, Elly, Janvi, Fahmida Shaikh, Shaheeba, Sakshi Walia, Shiraz, Pratik, Alankrita Singh, Sobia, Sanya, Aditya, Shilpa Goel, Shahreen Inftikhar, Pratibha Aasat and our cover girl Jasleen Kaur.

 

OCTOBER

Ian Hine and I have been good friends for the past 15 years through our shared love of Brighton and Hove Albion FC, our passion for music and the quiet joys of parenthood.

We also lived in a similar part of Sussex as teenagers and bonded as adults with our Fans United campaign to save Wrexham FC from its asset-stripping owners.

But much more than that, Ian has been a confidante and close friend through all of life’s troubles, and though he lives 160 miles away he is one of the first people to offer support when I am struggling.

And as a collector of umpteen million football programmes, he is also an amazing literary and football fount of knowledge.

So when in October I decided to write my current book Death in Grimsby (my decades of following Brighton and Hove Albion)… Ian was the first person I turned to for advice and historical facts.

And as always, within a few minutes he came up trumps, and offered ongoing support.

 

NOVEMBER

Sometimes people just fall into your path and you stand star-struck at their talent and personality.

So it was on a grey November day when I first came across movie starlet Priyanka Singh.

Priyanka, from Kolkata in India is the close friend of one of my Asian Voices’ writers ALankrita, and the first time I saw her was her beautiful spoken rendition of one of ALan’s poems.

As a refugee from Drama courses, both at first degree and postgraduate studies, I seem to have surrounded myself with thesps all my life. I am humbled that three great friends are professionally trained and accomplished movie actors.

Priyanka has no such formal training, yet her acting and miming across dozens of TikTok videos will entrance and delight the most hardened soul.

Behind her masquerade she is a beautiful, reserved and gentle soul… and has begun to teach me Hindi!

 

DECEMBER

In my life I have cried far too many tears of sorrow and loss that I have drowned happiness.

But twice in December I shed tears of pure joy.

One occasion was when I opened my Christmas present from my son Nathan. It was not the amazing gift of a pair of Levi 501s that made me cry, but his beautiful words written on the wrapping paper which will stay with until I die.

The second occasion occurred a week earlier when one of my treasured writers of Asian Voices asked if I would be her adopted father.

Knowing of the loss of my own daughters, the amazing Nicky Das (who ironically is the same age as my youngest daughter Shannon) simply asked me to be her dad and to promise to fly to Jodhpur in India for her wedding and then to “dance with me like fathers do with their daughters”.

The tears of joy and love flowed freely on both occasions.

What a way to end 2018!

 

Supernatural – the spirits of Plympton Cottage

Cottage

I AM a logical thinker and follow no particular religion, but I now know there is something unexplained and spiritual in our world which we simply do not yet understand.

This story begins over half a century ago when I was still a small toddler, playing in my bedroom at our home in Hull.

While playing, I suddenly heard a noise outside. As any inquisitive child might do, I looked out of my first floor window. I glanced right to see the unfamiliar hairy arms of someone emptying a large wooden pot of faeces out of a neighbouring window.

The vision was scary.

I cried and called for my mum to tell her what I had seen. I can still remember her chastising me for climbing on a chair to look out of my window and ordering me never to do it again as it was dangerous and I might fall.

The second experience was about three years later. I was five years old and off school with a high fever and tonsillitis. I was sick and sweating, waiting for the doctor to arrive.

I remember staring out of my ground floor front bedroom window to see a man walking across the street wearing a long brown leather coat and dark Donald Duck type mask. He was carrying a large bag. It was daylight and the vision was real and it has stayed with me ever since.

Only when I went to high school some seven years later did I learn that before proper sanitation in the 16th and 17th centuries, people would throw their waste excrement into the street, often from upstairs windows. I also learned that physicians or ‘quacks’ wore long leather coats and duck-like masks during outbreaks of plague. The beak was filled with pot-pourri to cover the stench of the dead.

Had these been visions from a previous life? Or were they memories locked in inherited DNA from my ancestors?

I do not know.

But unconnected events during 2013 and 2014, made me revisit these earlier memories.

It all started on the warm evening of Tuesday 4 June, 2013.

My wife Gill and I had signed for our new cottage in the sleepy Shropshire market town of Whitchurch the previous day, and had visited it twice over.

At the time, we were still ensconced in my old house in the North Wales’ hills, albeit perched like two flightless birds amid a host of packing cases and rolls of parcel tape and newspaper.

That evening we settled down to watch for the first time the movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose – starring Laura Linney and Jennifer Carpenter. We had spontaneously bought the DVD the previous weekend.

It was dark and the film was gripping. Two thirds of the way through the movie, a priest, played by Tom Wilkinson, begins reciting an exorcism in Latin.

Then it happened… the DVD froze for 10 seconds and both Gill and I smelled the distinctive scent of fresh roses. There were no flowers in our house and neither of us were wearing perfume or after-shave.

It was bizarre.

But the following day, ‘bizarre’ became a bit frightening, as we discovered the scent of roses often accompanies the passing of spirit into the other world and the words recited in the movie were read from a true Latin script on exorcism.

Genuinely shaken, we laughed it off as something weird and unexplained.

But we had no idea about what the next few months would bring.

Just over a week later – on Friday 14 June – we received the keys for our new home in a small market town across the border in North Shropshire.

The house removal was set for Friday 28 June.

We were excited and began moving bits and pieces and undertaking some cleaning of the new house in preparation for the big move.

On Tuesday 18 June, I picked up some gorgeous old pine shelves for our kitchen – perfect for displaying my wife’s collection of TG Green Cornishware pottery.

That afternoon I attached the shelves to the end wall in our kitchen. The shelves looked good and I packed away my tools and cleaned up the dust from the drill holes.

Then, without warning, my large jar of screws – which I had had for over 20 years – suddenly slipped through my hands and smashed all over the quarry tiled kitchen floor, scattering screws almost everywhere. I cursed, but thought nothing of it other than just a simple accident.

But this was just the beginning.

On Friday 28 June, we finally moved house.

At about 2pm, the removal lorry arrived outside our cottage, and Gill and I started by carrying a few boxes through to the conservatory and shed.

Twenty minutes into our task, my dear wife suddenly screamed in agony as she fell into a small hole in our back lawn.

We rang for an ambulance and they rushed her to hospital.

Within a few hours doctors diagnosed that she had ruptured the tendons around her left knee and broken the knee cap… all in a fall into a small and previously unseen hole in the garden.

Six weeks of bed rest followed during our hottest summer in years, while I unpacked our belongings, filled drawers, put up pictures and started to experience something very strange.

The cottage was warm, cosy and above all full of character and charm.

Over the years, it had been extended and undergone several alterations, including the transformation of a side passage into the main body of the house, which was in turn enlarged the kitchen.

And it is in this extended area of the kitchen where the unexplained started to happen.

In the same area of the kitchen where I had dropped the jar of screws, I also dropped a plate full of food, and a week later a bag full of peas and numerous smaller items.

In September 2013, Gill was mobile again and my mother came to stay.

While she was sitting at the kitchen table, I offered to show her Gill’s prize piece of Cornishware pottery from the display shelves: a small blue and cream striped cheese pot.

It is a piece of pottery I had handled many times before, but on this occasion, its lid suddenly flew from the pot and smashed on the kitchen floor.

It was after this that we began to note the accidents in this corner of the kitchen.

In just under eight months, we individually and collectively (my wife, my son, my mother and I) dropped over 50 items in this small area of the kitchen, including a glass of wine, a stack of baking tins and a tub of cooking oil.

I also dropped and broke a mug and a wooden box of incense sticks in the zone and one evening an ironing board fell on my wife’s head in the same area.

We christened the area our “Drop Spirit Zone”.

In November 2013, we began some amateur investigations into what might be going on.

With the lights turned off, I walked slowly into the darkened kitchen and as I passed the threshold I felt a vibration pass across my shoulders.

I stood still. Suddenly a plastic pot of vitamin pills fell onto the floor behind me.

Then events took another twist.

I took my £400 camera phone to photograph this area of the kitchen, hoping to catch something.

As I held the camera ready to shoot, it fell from my grasp onto the floor. Thankfully, it was in a padded case and did not break.

But then weird got weirder…

Since we started the investigations I began to experience a recurring dream – the first such dream I have had since I was a small child.

The dream is plain in its simplicity… I walk into our kitchen alone at night and sit at the breakfast table.

I look down at our cat in his basket (the basket is placed in the Drop Spirit Zone at night, for no other reason than it is close to a radiator).

Alongside the cat and kneeling down is a young girl, aged about seven-years-old. She is stroking our grey haired moggie.

The girl has unkempt light brown hair, a freckled face and sad blue eyes. She is wearing a beige coloured dress with a distinct tie band around her waist.

She looks up at me and says: “I like cats”.

She tells me her name is Edith. Then she asks me: “Do you have any bread, Sir?”

I stand and walk to our bread bin and get a crust of thick-sliced white for her. When I return she is running into our pantry and down a steep staircase out of sight.

It is at this point I awake.

I had this exact same dream at least a dozen times over a period of three months.

But it doesn’t end there… on 19 November 2013, my wife and I were drinking mugs of coffee while finishing our breakfast in our kitchen.

I was sitting on one side of our old pine table and Gill was sitting three feet to the left of me. We were talking blandly about the day ahead.

Suddenly, and without warning, Gill’s almost full mug of hot coffee leapt upwards in her hand and spilled down her clothes, scalding her lap.

I looked at her amazed and she returned the look with an added look of fear in her eyes.

Together, we mopped up the spilt coffee and checked she was not badly scalded.

I commented: “Do you realise you are sitting in the Drop Spirit Zone?”

“Yes,” she replied. “It was like some small hand suddenly pushed my mug upwards.”

A few seconds before the incident, Gill had just finished eating the last piece of bread on the table.

Five weeks later we were again eating breakfast at our kitchen table. Gill was sitting to my left – inside the Drop Spirit Zone – and I was sitting slightly outside it.

Our old cat Frankie was sat on the quarry-tiled floor next to my wife.

Suddenly our normally docile cat leapt into the air, meowed loudly and darted into the living room, where he hid under the coffee table.

My wife and I stared at each other in amazement until we both simultaneously uttered: “The Drop Spirit Zone!”

Following that event, Frankie stopped sitting on the floor in the kitchen, preferring to perch on our old pine settle to watch us eat breakfast.

But something else started to rattle our sense of the explained.

From December 2013, we both heard strange sounds at night emanating from our kitchen.

Often sitting bolt upright in bed, we listened keenly.

It sounded as if our kitchen chairs are being dragged across our quarry tiled floor.

So we set up our own experiment to try and clarify whether this was the case or whether it was all in our collective imaginations.

Before retiring to bed one night, Gill placed a small marker on the kitchen floor, next to the chair which sits inside the Drop Spirit Zone.

That night we heard the usual scraping sounds.

The next morning, to our amazement, we discovered the marker had moved about two inches from its spot… but the chair had moved over seven inches!

Chair

But it was in the New Year when events took a twist in the most bizarre way imaginable.

On the night of Sunday 12 January 2014, I experienced a vivid dream in which I was helping three older men bury dead bodies in a huge ditch, by a dusty road. My job in the dream was to shovel white powder over the bodies as they were thrown in the common grave.

The mens’ names were Parcel, Coppice and Huddlestone.

The next day (Monday, 13 January) I made a startling and mind-blowing discovery!

As part of a Google search, I discovered through the Shropshire county archives that our house and garden lay on a ‘cemetery of unknown origin’.

The archive states that there had been an archeological excavation sometimes during the previous 70 years and seven extended skeletons were discovered.

I spoke with an expert at Shropshire Council Environment History Team, who looked at the files surrounding the excavation work here.

The seven skeletons were unearthed sometime between 1938 and 1950 while the foundations were dug for the kitchen extension!

At the time, they were thought to be Roman remains, but as there was no Carbon 14 dating techniques back then, there was no way to precisely date how old they were.

Another hypothesis was that it may have been a plague pit, possibly dating from the huge outbreak of bubonic plague in the town in 1650.

The council guy said there was no way of knowing what happened to the skeletons when they were unearthed.

He thought they might have been given a Christian burial in the local churchyard OR left in place.

And without further excavation work there was no way of knowing how many more there were – or are.

Further internet searches, combined with a brief scour of some 3,400 graves at our local cemetery led to the next heart-stopping discovery… Purcell, Coppage and Huddlestone are all common and historic surnames in the town.

We also found the grave of an eight-year-old girl called Edith!

So why did those names and the burials occur in my dreams before I had any knowledge of any of them?

Were spirits invading my sleeping senses?

On Tuesday 14 January 2014 another surprise was awaiting me.

I spoke to a lady at our local heritage centre about the skeleton find and was shocked by her response.

The young woman I spoke to was almost dumbstruck when I told her where I lived.

She stuttered slightly as she told me she used to live in this same cottage a few years earlier.

And one of the reasons she moved out was she believed it was “haunted”.

She spoke at length about objects dropping to the floor, mirrors and pictures falling from the wall, objects disappearing and the sound of footsteps on the landing when no one else was in the house.

She also said areas of the house were distinctly cold, even in the summer… something we had also noted.

Like us, this lady thought she was going crazy or imagining things.

But from that moment we knew we were not alone and were far from crazy.

On the night of Tuesday 14 January I awoke from another odd dream.

In this edge of darkness mind game there was a horse in our house and it kept rearing up on its hind legs to cuddle me.

I was comforted in the dream by my wife telling me that: “horses are affectionate pets and enjoy cuddles.”

It was just after lunch on Wednesday 15 January, that I first spoke with a local history and archeology expert called Mary.

She was deeply intrigued about the skeleton find… especially as her grandmother used to live in our cottage!

Her grandmother moved away from the cottage in 1938 and no human skeletons had been unearthed prior to then.

But it was what Mary told me next that shook me.

During the 1930s the bones of a shire horse were unearthed from our back garden. Her grandmother discovered the horse had been buried prior to 1902 by the people who owned the adjoining rectory.

No obvious link to the buried human skeletons, but yet another haunting appendage to a dream!

On Friday 17 January 2014 I mentioned the skeleton discovery to the husband of another former occupant of our house.

He was deeply curious and wanted to know more before saying: “You don’t think you are haunted do you?”

I hadn’t even mentioned the unexplained phenomena to him!

Then on Tuesday 21 January I tracked down yet another former occupant.

The lady wished to remain anonymous as she too fears people will think she is crazy.

She said: “I only stayed for six months. The cottage was lovely but it spooked me completely.

“Things were always falling and there was a clanking sound downstairs at night. My dog would suddenly bark at shadows in the kitchen and I never felt I was alone… it was like someone was watching me all the time.”

She was not alone… at least seven people have so far admitted to experiencing the hauntings of our home.

Then, under advice from a spirit expert, I took a series of photos on the Drop Spirit Zone in our kitchen.

One particular picture rocked me. It appears to show more than half a dozen orbs floating in that area of the kitchen.

Orbs night

The lens of the camera was clean and the images only appear in one frame… all the others are clear.

Then something fascinating happened… For as long as I have known I sometimes talk in my sleep.

On the night of Saturday 1 February (my birthday) I had drunk a few glasses of wine and slept very deeply.

But not as deeply as I imagined it seems.

Around 4am, Gill was woken by me muttering words and phrases in Latin. She used her iPhone to record my ramblings which included disturbing words such as spiritu sancti (holy spirit or ghost) and malum (evil).

I later woke around 8am with the words Dominy miseree nobise rattling round my skull.

Gill and I talked at length about my dream and these words, in particular the words I awoke to.

We looked them up and they appear to be Domine Miserere Nobis, which means: Lord Have Mercy Upon Us.

I must make clear that I have absolutely no knowledge of Latin.

The mysteries of the dreams and the unexplained activity in our former kitchen remained, but shortly before I moved house in January 2015, I gained some clarity about the origin of the skeletons.

While talking to an elderly neighbour, I discovered that our kitchen extension was built at the same time as the large detached house to the north of our property.

It was during the building excavations for this house and our kitchen – which lies some four feet lower than the footings of the property next door – that the skeletons were unearthed.

The large detached house was built on the foundations of an old Victorian lunatic asylum, which originally adjoined our property, but had been demolished some years earlier.

The asylum was privately owned and associated with the workhouse/poor house which is situated some 800 yards away to the east of our former cottage.

The workhouse now forms part of the town’s community hospital.

Anyway, it transpired that the owner of the asylum regularly buried bodies in the grounds of his property.

As these poor people were considered to be inhabited by demons, their bodies could not be buried on sacred church grounds.

It was assumed by the builders who unearthed the skeletons in the 1940s that there were likely to be many more buried in the same vicinity both in the gardens of our cottage and the large house.

When we moved away from Whitchurch we were left no wiser as to whether the skeletons were removed and reburied somewhere else or were simply covered with rubble and concrete.

Up until the date of our move we still experienced dozens of things falling in the Drop Spirit Zone – a box of six eggs sliding across the kitchen table and smashing to the floor, followed by a pack of bacon, were all quite memorable.

It was all part and parcel of living in that cottage.

Then 10 months later, the unexplained became bizarre and unearthly.

On Wednesday, 11 November 2015, I drove to Whitchurch to spend the evening with an old friend.

We had arranged to meet at 7pm and I arrived early in the town.

Spontaneously, I decided to park the car outside my former home and pay some last respects to our lovely cottage. I got out of the car to stretch my legs and looked at the front of the building.

Suddenly my mobile phone buzzed in my back pocket.

I took the phone out to see if there was a text or email message for me.

To my surprise the phone was frozen with only the time displaying on the lock screen: 18:43.

I tried to unfreeze the phone, but with no luck. Even removing the SIM and Memory cards failed to jog the phone back into life!

Two hours later with the phone still frozen, I explained my predicament to my friend as we supped a beer in the local pub.

Together we finally managed a Hard Reset on the phone and brought it back to life… but I had sadly lost over 200 saved photographs!

Then the penny dropped: the cottage was built in 1843… so the spirits are still active!

And they probably still walk that twilight zone, which we have yet to understand.