Join me for a trip down memory lane, to the bygone days of early summer, 1984. . . York Minster’s south roof was set ablaze by lightning, the miners were on strike and the largest onshore earthquake recorded in the UK hit the Llŷn Peninsula in Wales.
But for those of us about to sit our O levels life was good. Maturing into young adults we felt invincible and were craving excitement.
“What we should do, is go to my house,” suggested Debbie thoughtfully.
The rest of us took little convincing to take that fateful Friday afternoon off from school. We were all around sixteen years old that summer and were ready for an adventure, so when the bell rang signalling the end of lunch break we headed out of the gate to freedom.
As is usually the case in these sorts of situations we quickly became bored, we could watch the television anytime, no one fancied a snack and we’d decided against raiding the drinks cabinet as that wasn’t the kind of fun we were after, but we dared not venture outside for fear of being spotted during what should have been a school day.
Somebody, I don’t recall who, suggested playing ‘Ouija’ most of the group were unfamiliar with the practice so after giving a brief explanation I took it upon myself to gather the necessary apparatus. I repositioned the coffee table whilst Debbie searched for pen and paper and found us a glass tumbler to use.
With varying degrees of anticipation, we each placed a finger on the glass, furtively glancing around the circle. As no one seemed keen on taking the lead I myself asked the infamous question . . . ‘is there anybody there?’
The room erupted into stifled giggles, some girls were hiding behind cushions or had covered their faces with their palms, others looked ready to cry – although the two boys present put on a good show of false bravado.
Undeterred, I continued my questioning of the spirits and those who wanted to re joined the circle. After a short while the glass began to slowly orbit the letters, you could have cut the tension with a knife as we watched it travel past the alphabet, searching for the characters it required to convey its unearthly message.
A lot of the communication was such utter gibberish, the lads in our midst began to act the fool . . .asking ridiculous questions; which girls might grant them sexual favours? Who in the room was still a virgin? Displaying the kind of rashness adolescent boys so often do.
But some one, or something was in the room with us that day, the beaker picked up speed and quickly spelled out SILLY – BOY – ACCIDENT and although the boys brushed off the comment it was evident their courage was waning.
Subsequently, we received further garbled messages, but the only other which had any significance was the final communication of the day, for just as we were thinking of packing up and returning to our own homes the glass was off again. We all stared in trepidation as the phrase NANNA BURN PAN was revealed!
Not unduly upset by this latest proclamation we all parted the ways, leaving Debbie to tidy up before her parents returned from work, but not before arranging to meet up at the local recreation ground later that evening.
Once safely back at home all thoughts of the Ouija session were gone from my mind, I ate with my family before changing out of my school uniform and heading to the park. Upon arrival I noticed Susan, one of the girls who’d been present that afternoon, appeared to be genuinely distressed. It transpired that earlier in the day her grandma (nanna] had scalded (burn) her arm quite badly on the kettle (pan?) and was currently in the local accident and emergency department awaiting treatment.
Understandably we all became a little hysterical upon hearing such news, we were terrified to think one of the Ouija predictions had come to fruition.
By eight o’clock almost all of the kids who had been at Debbie’s that day had regrouped, we were just awaiting the arrival of Kevin and Jason. Just when we thought they weren’t coming a figure on a bicycle became apparent in the distance, pedalling so fast it seemed the devil was chasing him. As he skidded to a halt we realised it was Jason, he was as white as a sheet and his face appeared snot streaked and tearstained. As we had all secretly feared, further misfortune had transpired. Kevin had also become a casualty of our ill-considered dalliance with spirit.
His words punctuated by gasps and sobs Jason explained what had happened; as they travelled to the park together, Kevin who was on his skateboard, began riding recklessly, there were some girls on the opposite side of the street and he was showing off trying to impress them, suddenly he lost his footing and his board slipped from beneath him, then as though propelled by unseen hands Kevin was thrown into the path of an oncoming car!
Although he sustained a fractured femur and a broken wrist you’ll be pleased to know Kevin made a full recovery. The rest of us vowed never to use a Ouija board again . . . but some of us didn’t keep that promise!