Saturday, 20 February 2010

He told them I was valiant, and that became my name.

Wow. Tiger Woods cheated on his wife? When did this happen? You'd think it would be a bigger story.

One of the things many people enjoy doing is testing themselves on a regular basis. Like jumping off tall structures with a piece of elastic tied around their ankles, or running from one specific point to another and seeing if they did it any quicker than the last time they tried. I'm not one of those people (Gee Note: I mean why would I need to test myself? I already know what the result would be. That's right ladies. Awesome). Still this past week I decided to put my good self through it's paces by doing something that, if I'm honest, terrified me to my core. I was going to watch an entire episode of American Idol completely sober.

Now this initially presented two obvious problems. One, there's only so much of judge Kara Diag… Diogua... Deogi… Kara the song writing lady I can stomach before pitching a fit and throwing things at my television. It's the way she incessantly bobs her head from side to side when she's listening to the contestants sing, like she's being worked from underneath by Jim Henson's Creature Shop or something. That and her blatantly patronising use of the term "Honey" every 30 seconds when someone falls below her lofty expectations at the auditions. You know, the type of person who turns up wearing cymbals on their knees and murders a rendition of My Way, completely oblivious to how useless they are? "Oh honey," she'll say "I really don't think singing is for you." When what she really means is "Honey forget singing, procreating isn't for you. No really, I haven't seen anyone this pitiful since watching Jersey Shore. Your best bet is to kill yourself right now". In fact considering the ratings slump Idol is going through at the moment I'm surprised they haven't tried that already just to see if anyone would bite.

Secondly, the law of diminishing returns appears to have struck once again, as this years Idol line up is worse than ever before. Throughout the entire process not one single person has stood out. Last year we had the lunacy of Norman Gentle (Gee Note: Seriously, any guy who can scare the crap out of Paula Abdul by taking an ill advised leap from the stage to the judges table is money in my book) and the amazingly odious Tatiana Del Toro, let alone Adam Lambert and his campy shtick (Gee Note: Campy shtick? Ooo er). This year we've got… umm… well… there's a guy with a tattoo on his neck. And a big dude who had a baby recently. Oh and that woman. You know, the one with the thing. Yeah her.

See this is why it remains impossible to stay sober during this programme. Get drunk and you can have a whale of a time shouting at the vacuous masses as they're herded on to your screens, complaining that the warbling mess in front of you simply doesn't have the "stones" to carry off that tune (Gee Note: As if I would know. I mean I made a date cry by singing at them once. And not in a good way either. More in a "please stop doing that or I'm going to stick a fork in my eye" kinda way). Sadly if you don't get drunk you end up bored out of your mind, while each identikit Mariah/Justin wannabe wins over everyone in the live studio audience and leaves you at home feeling slightly empty inside.

Speaking of empty on the inside, The Sun recently caused all kinds of waves in the paranormal community. Now for our overseas readers who aren't familiar with such things (Hi…er… Jenny's mum and dad. Or should that be mom and dad? I don't know. Americans confuse me. I mean why call mathematics "math" instead of "maths"? Makes no sense. Anyway...) The Sun is pillow stuffing passing itself off as a newspaper. Dedicated to bringing the reading public the best in celebrity scandal - as well as flag waving, chest pounding, beer swilling nationalism - it takes the meaning of "lowest common denominator" to a brand new level.

By it's nature however The Sun is a fabulous research tool for blogs such as this. Seriously anything with even a whiff of the spooky about it is eagerly pounced upon by the hacks there. For example, remember the creepy gnome business a couple of years back, where a group of Argentinean teenagers videoed, well, this:

Well that was brought to the world's attention largely by The Sun screeching about how an "Evil Gnome was TERRORIZING a small Argentinean village". Sadly it was discovered that this video was a fake when the teenagers Youtube account was unearthed with two very different "takes" of the footage.

Still you can't keep a bad news rag down, and The Sun has continued to bravely ply us with half baked paranormal stories every other week or so. The 8th Jan 2009 report that a UFO had ploughed in to a wind turbine in Lincolnshire, being no exception. So excited by this event were the journalists at this esteemed organ that they lead with "A WIND turbine stood wrecked yesterday with one of its giant 65ft blades torn off - after it was hit by a UFO." even though there was actually no evidence to support a collision with anything and that the likely cause was water retention and freezing cold temperatures.

Anyway, on the 15th Feb this year The Sun out did themselves yet again with the following "exclusive".

SCREAMY WINDOW (Gee Note: Yuk yuk yuk)

A PALE young woman appears at the window of a ruined castle - in a photo said to show a GHOST.

The spooky snap was taken at a building hailed as one of Britain's most haunted.

And the shadowy girl appears to be on the first floor, in what used to be a magnificent banquet hall.

The floor in that room crumbled away years ago, meaning there is nothing for a person to stand on.

Company boss Kevin Horkin took the photo at Gwrych Castle in Abergele, North Wales, but only saw the ghostly figure when he downloaded his pictures later.

Kevin, 48, said: "I did feel a presence there. It was a cold day when I visited, but it seemed warm near the building.

"There seems to be a sense of tragedy there."

Kevin, believes the figure is someone who once lived at the castle. He plans to investigate further with a ghost-hunting team.

The North Wales Paranormal Research Group says many sightings have already been recorded at Gwrych.

And, like that, off to the races we went.

Basically here's the hook up on the downlow. Gwrych Castle was built in 1819 by Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh (Gee Note: A man who obviously believed that the more surnames he had the better). In it's topsy turvey existence it changed hands many times. In 1989 the Castle was sold to an American businessman, who in 1996 allowed it to be used as a location for the film Prince Valiant, starring Ron Perlman and Warwick Davis. No, I don't remember it either. After that point however the American businessman apparently lost interest in his building (Gee Note: I blame that MTV. Kids today. So easily distracted) and since then it has become derelict, having been abused by travellers, vandals, and the weather.

In 2006 the site was purchased by hoteliers Clayton Homes. With a ton of fan fair they announced that the ruined structure was to be given a £6,000,000 make-over and turned in to a five star luxury hotel. Except this didn't happen, mainly because when the global economic crisis turned up it kicked Clayton Homes's ass harder than one of those Kung Fu monks who break bricks with their eye lashes. So in August 2009 Clayton Homes went in to administration and Gwrych Castle began being pimped around as an asset to be sold.

Which is where we come in. You see The Sun mentioned that Kevin Horkin was a "company boss", but didn't really go in to too much detail as to which line of business exactly. With good reason too, as according to the North Wales Daily Post Kevin Horkin's line of business appears to be, well, psychics.

You see this Kevin Horkin is also the same Kevin Horkin who is the managing director of “Parallel Management”, a management service for psychics doing the rounds on the television and stage circuits. Horkin has recently been touring around the country looking for a suitable spot to set up an academy for psychics, which was what brought him to Gwrych to begin with.

Now I’m not saying that Kevin Horkin faked the photo of Emma Watson a ghostly figure peering out the window of Gwrych Castle. But the man’s own website claims that his “wealth of experience encompasses expertise in artist management, events management, sponsorships, public relations, media relations, marketing and artist liaison.”. And, you know, nothing boosts the profile of someone who makes money out of those that contact the dead more than proving ghosts exist.

So the lesson for today kids is that while Horkin may, for all we know, be on the level as far as the Gwrych Ghost goes the truth is it's pretty tough to believe him when he has a vested interest in the publicity it generates.

That and the next time you try reading The Sun, you may want to get drunk first.

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