Sunday, October 30, 2011

Waking the Dead

Konstantin Raudive did some experiments which involved taking a tape recorder, running the tape and then isolating the device in a Faraday cage. When the tapes where subsequently analysed he noticed "interference" or "background noise" in which he was able to discern the voices of people speaking from beyond the grave (including Winston Churchill). He published Transcripts in a book called "Breakthrough".

In May 1971 the Late Late show featured this item and so great was the response that they came back to it again the same month. I actually bought and read the book following the first show and thought it a load of cobblers. When I heard there was to be another show I rang up for tickets.

I got talking to Pan Collins, who, Gay Byrne apart, was the Late Late show. She told me that the tickets were all gone by then but that they were holding back a pair until they got an assurance from the people to whom they had promised them that they would be prepared to contribute to any debate that arose in the studio. She explained that there was a tendency for audiences at spooky shows to clam up and for the show to go dead. I said I'd be only too happy to participate vigorously in the debate and that I thought the whole thing was a load of cobblers.

Apparently the people to whom the tickets had been promised funked it and they were mine for the taking.

On the night, I was up in the back of the audience (much smaller than today's, I think). I don't know if I remember all the panel but the man of the moment was Dr. Peter Bander PhD, who had written the preface to the recently published English version of the Raudive book. Also present were an Italian priest, probably Fr. Pistone, and Terry Prone.

My recollection is that, having introduced the "professor", Gay went straight to the audience for a spiritual health warning. He spoke to two men in the front row whose niece (I think) had been messing about with a Ouija board and got into severe mental difficulty as a result. This duly raised the studio atmosphere.

After a bit of initial chit chat with the "professor" he turned to the priest and asked him for his views. "Do we not believe in God, in the saints, and in the devil? Do we not believe in the spirits?". Or something along those lines, which Gay interpreted as a strong endorsement of the current phenomena by the Vatican no less.

The discussion was eventually thrown open to the studio audience and I duly raised my hand. I need not have bothered. Despite even loudly clicking my fingers at a later stage Gay studiously ignored me right through the item. Needless to say the thing was going swimmingly in an ever rising cloud of hype. Not a dissenting voice to be heard.

By the end of the show I was steaming through every orifice and dying for a go at the "professor". So when the show finished, I sidled up to Terry Prone, whom I knew ever so slightly, engaged her in conversation and proceeded unchallenged all the way to the Green Room, where I buttonholed the "professor". He had been flaunting his doctorate all during the show to give authority to his answers so I asked him what he was a doctor of. Psychology, apparently. I pointed out that this did not actually qualify him to authenticate supernatural phenomena. I further pointed out that many apparent supernatural phenomena through the ages eventually turned out to have natural explanations. By his logic, the Romans should have venerated a sword and shield hanging on the wall if they just rattled every so often.

At that point, when he was clearly beginning to find me tiresome, one of the blue rinse brigade with an American accent caught him and asked if the spirits understood French. Now, clearly in his element, he dispensed with me and took off across the room with this silly person.

Bander later wrote a book about his evangelistic tour in which he devoted a chapter to his appearance on the Late Late show. I must check out the attic one of these days. I think I might have bought it at the time.

Bander died in 2004 and is now in a better position to authenticate these phenomena. I'm waiting.

Anyway, it's Halloween, so let's not be too fussy.

Update 22/5/2017 If you want to read more, check out Bander's book and this later one on the subject.


blackwatertown said...

I admire your chutzpah - pursuing the charlatan into the haven of the green room.

Póló said...

Thanks Paul

He clearly came into his own in haven :)