Had a telephone call earlier from some free lance journalist who wanted me to talk about the Highgate ‘vampire’. He was a bit surprised (well, ‘disappointed’ really) when I told him I did not accept the existence of vampires in their literal sense but that there were very real psychic entities that took on ‘vampire-like characteristics. I won’t discuss the conversation anymore here as I am anxious to keep that subject off my blog; but it did set him thinking about my last sole visit to Highgate Cemetery – where a notorious ‘vampire’ was once said to lurk
It was 2001 or so, and I had cause to pass through Highgate Village on my way to The Highgate Bookshop., and I couldn’t help noticing that that it was virtually unchanged in appearance since I had frequented it many years ago. The pubs were all the same, at least, from the outside anyway (although I never went inside any) and the old Georgian buildings and shops had changed little, if not very much.
I had walked up the steep hill from where I lived – about a quarter of a mile away – and was ‘catching my breath’ in the Village itself.
The bookshop was all downhill now, so it was not so much of a task.
Finishing in there, I decided to walk back to the Village back up Swains Lane; that dreaded ‘haunted lane’ that ran alongside Highgate Cemetery and where I was first reported as seeing a ‘vampire’. All nonsense, of course. I had seen ‘something’ there outside the top gate of the cemetery back in late 1969, but this was just some unexplained apparition (the same as had apparently been reported by many local people) but it certainly was not a ‘vampire’. Certain other people might have maintained that it must have been a ‘vampire’, but I always disputed such claims saying that it was just another unexplained phenomenon or ‘ghost’.
Half way up the lane, I stopped for a cigarette on the dangerously narrow pavement. It was much steeper than I had remembered it, and the 15 foot walls on either side almost seemed to ’entrap’ you. Not that much traffic at that time in the afternoon, but in the rush-hour it was almost lethal; people used it as a ’short-cut’ to escape Highgate Hill which was behind me at the other side of Waterloo Park.
A funny memory was prompted as I stood looking down the lane.
In 1999 an American film crew making a documentary on the Highgate Vampire had used Swains Lane as a ‘location shot’. It was late afternoon and dark and they had wanted a ‘take’ of myself walking down the lane alongside the wall. The timing happened to fall right in the middle of the rush hour. The takes had to be done over and over again due to the speeding traffic, and as there was no protection in the darkened lane, I had to keep crossing over to the ‘Park side’ every time I saw car lights coming. In the end, I’d had enough, and told them they’d just have to make do with one of the ‘takes’ they’d got. It was really dangerous and there was a real chance of being accidently hit by some speeding car (and I didn’t even have an injured foot then!).
Finally, I reached the top gate. It hadn’t changed much since I did the TV filming outside it way back in March 1970, except that at some stage, they had widened the small ’walk-way’ in front of it.
It was here that I’d seen that mysterious black apparition in late December 1969, I had gone to the cemetery one night in an attempt to find some logical explanation for the reports of other local sightings, but I had certainly never expected to witness THAT! ’It’ had suddenly disappeared after several seconds but had led me to instigate the original Highgate investigation It had also led to the TV filming and the apparition being dubbed as ‘David Farrant’s ghost’ – a title it retained for some time in the local press and in other local circles.
There was no trace of it this time. And there was hardly any traffic.
Anyway, the worst of the walk was over, but there was still some way to go.
I was not often in Highgate Village so I decided to take a break in the Flask., a quaint old coaching pub where there had also been reports of a ghost I had often wondered if it had been the same one. This is always a burning question that arises during the course of psychic investigations, but these are not thoughts that I want to pursue here . . .