Random Anomalous Phenomena
by Michael J. Hallowell

Some paranormal researchers specialize in investigating a particular phenomenon. It might be ghosts, it could be UFOs or it might be telepathy. I've been in this game for nearly forty years now, and I gave up on the idea of focusing on one enigma only many, many moons ago. I prefer to specialize in cases, not types.

Let me explain myself. Some mornings I'll wake up, switch on my computer and read about a UFO sighting that absolutely enthrals me. The next day I might read about a UFO sighting that leaves me cold. Its the same with apparitions. Some ghost sightings rivet my attention whilst others do nothing for me at all, I'm afraid. Life, I think, is too short to restrict oneself to a particular genre. Focus purely on apparitions, say, and you might miss out on cryptozoological stories that really deserve one's attention. And vice-versa.

Every investigator, of course, has his or her own favourite hobby-horse. I'm not sure what mine is; possibly cryptozoology, but I wouldn't bet a fortune on it. Like I say, I prefer to focus on interesting cases as opposed to interesting subjects.

Of course, most paranormal phenomena can be neatly cubby-holed into types. But not all. Some seem to be “one in a field of one”, and defy all attempts at classification. Some years ago I invented a classification for events that simply can't be classified, and started to call them Random Anomalous Phenomena. Within the archives of this type are some of the strangest tales you're ever likely to come across.

Take the case of the remote control with a mind of its own. A correspondent once wrote to me and told me that the remote control for her video recorder simply refused to obey commands that she punched into it. If she tried to record one program, it would record another. If she attempted to change channels, it would never change to the one she wanted.

Of course, my first reaction was that the woman simply had a remote control that wasn't working properly, but that doesn't tell the entire story.

Suppose she wanted to video Channel 4, for example. The remote would switch to BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV, Channel 5 or Sky. The only channel that it refused to access would be the one she wanted to record. So reliable was this sequence that it seemed to me that there must have been an intelligence at work behind it. If anyone else in the household tried to use the remote it would work perfectly, but when Mrs. E tried to use it, it would immediately start to act mischievously.

Eventually she purchased a new video recorder and it worked fine. The old one was given to her nephew, who had no problem with it whatsoever. Two months later, Mrs. E visited her nephew and tried to use her old machine to record a program on ITV. The control was happy to switch to BBC 1, BBC 2, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky – but it stubbornly refused to switch to the one she wanted to record. Her nephew picked up the remote and pressed button 3; the ITV channel came on immediately.

The mystery was never solved.

I recall one incident wherein a woman purchased a new carpet for her lounge. The fitters came and measured up and the new carpet arrived four days later. To the fitters' horror, the carpet was several inches too short. Baffled, but assuming they'd made a mistake in the measurements, they ordered her another carpet. Whilst waiting for it to be delivered, the woman decided to put her old carpet back down on the floor. She merely shook her head in disbelief when she saw that her old carpet was now too short by almost the same number of inches. It was as if her room had grown – something that, of course, is absolutely impossible at least by scientific rationale.

Random, bizarre phenomena such as these are fascinating because the very inability to classify them comfortably only adds to the enigma. I don't pretend to have any answers; just a deep, abiding knowledge that without such weirdness the world we live in would be a much duller place.

Mind you, switching channels and laying carpets would probably be a lot easier...

© Mike Hallowell, 2008

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