IT haP­PeneD To me...

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Par­al­lel Life?

I had a bizarre ex­pe­ri­ence last year of what I can only call a Par­al­lel Life. If I can make sense of it in or­der to ex­plain it even to my­self, it is based upon the fol­low­ing no­tion: that in the quan­tum uni­verse, every­thing that can hap­pen does hap­pen; that there are par­al­lel lives, some of which are only slightly dif­fer­ent from each other. This might be pseudo-sci­en­tific tosh, but it is the only way I can put it into shape.

My wife Mar­garet and I were on a boat trip up the River Wye in Wales, about an hour both ways. Most of the time I was ex­ist­ing in a state of what I can only call ‘dual con­scious­ness’. I’ve had frag­ments of this be­fore, but this time it was on­go­ing. Not fright­en­ing in any way, but fas­ci­nat­ing. Although I was fully awake and sit­ting di­rectly op­po­site Mar­garet at a small ta­ble, and fully aware of the com­men­tary by the boat driver about how we were sail­ing be­tween dif­fer­ent types of rock of two dif­fer­ent coun­ties, it was as if the Par­al­lel Alan crossed over into me, with all of his lay­ers of mem­o­ries and ex­pe­ri­ence. Or maybe it was me cross­ing into Par­al­lel Alan’s world?

The first cross­over lasted a few min­utes and I kept think­ing I must re­mem­ber this, must bring it all back with me, but only frag­ments of mem­ory stayed. Then I came out of it and told Mar­garet what had gone on. I knew she wouldn’t think me a nut­ter. But then I (or he) kept drift­ing in and out. Each time there was a mass of mem­o­ries and ex­pe­ri­ences that were sim­i­lar to, but not ex­actly the same, as those I have now and here. Par­al­lel Alan had a dif­fer­ent house, dif­fer­ent car and lived in a dif­fer­ent part of the coun­try. for the du­ra­tion I had the full backup of his mem­o­ries. I tried to re­mem­ber them but they floated away. I know that M was in that Other Life too. And that was also a happy time, as I have now, so it was not a reverie of thwarted wishes. There were three of us go­ing up that river and I only paid for two.

A sim­i­lar but much briefer ex­pe­ri­ence hap­pened some 30 years ago, at the gates of king Al­fred’s Col­lege in Winch­ester. When I was 17 (I’m 65 now) I be­came ob­sessed with go­ing to this teacher-train­ing col­lege even though I knew noth­ing about Winch­ester, nor could have pointed it out on a map. I day­dreamed about the place in­tensely, but equally in­tense fam­ily cir­cum­stances stopped me ap­ply­ing and so I went to New­cas­tle in­stead. Many years later when I vis­ited the writer Chris­tine Hart­ley in Winch­ester Hos­pi­tal, I wan­dered out the back and was as­tounded to find my­self at the very gates of the col­lege. for a mo­ment I felt as though I were in a pul­sat­ing stream of en­ergy and im­agery, as if all the pos­si­bil­i­ties, per­son­al­i­ties and events of the life I would have ex­pe­ri­enced had I gone there were cours­ing through me. This was not a case of a poignant, gen­tle ‘But... What If?’ This was vis­ceral, more like hav­ing my hands clenched on an elec­tri­fied fence as I tried to go over to some­where that I shouldn’t. Any­one watch­ing might have thought I was do­ing a kind of St vi­tus Dance be­cause I was drunk. But a whole Other Life which had run par­al­lel to my own seemed to criss­cross in­side me, like a piece of Celtic knot work.

I’m sure many oth­ers have had sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences, and I’d be in­ter­ested to hear about them, with any ex­pla­na­tion they might have. Alan Richard­son By email

Dirty Talk

Back in the late 1980s I man­aged to track down a copy of a fairly ob­scure dance record that was be­ing played in cer­tain un­der­ground Lon­don clubs of the time. The record was ‘Dirty Talk’ [1982] by klein & MBO, and for a short while it be­came a favourite of mine which I played to death, even­tu­ally tir­ing of it and rel­e­gat­ing it to a stor­age box where it has lain for­got­ten ever since. On wak­ing one morn­ing re­cently, for some rea­son the record was on my mind; so strong was this im­pres­sion that I won­dered why I should sud­denly be think­ing of it af­ter all these years. Soon af­ter ar­riv­ing for work at my art stu­dio I turned the ra­dio on to BBC6 Mu­sic as usual, just in time to hear DJ Lau­ren Lav­erne an­nounce the next record, a lis­tener’s choice... ‘Dirty Talk’ by klein & MBO! I have never heard this record on the ra­dio or to my knowl­edge any­where else for al­most 30 years. I was so stunned that I had to sit down. Mark Wardel Lon­don

Clearfield noise

In July 2015 I was vis­it­ing friends in the four Cor­ners re­gion [in the west­ern US]. One week­day every­one was busy or at work, so I de­cided to visit Moab, Utah, for some sight­see­ing and hik­ing. I’d been to Moab a few times be­fore and de­cided to have a pic­nic lunch at a place called Wil­liam’s Bot­tom. It’s along the Colorado River to the north­west of town. Wil­liam’s Bot­tom has a camp­site amongst some sparse trees at the bot­tom of tall, red sand­stone cliffs. I had camped there be­fore sev­eral times. It re­ally is a beau­ti­ful spot and the rocks and cliffs are a mag­nif­i­cent Mars-red colour that South­ern Utah is renowned for.

Upon ar­riv­ing I no­ticed that I had the place to my­self as there were no other cars, campers or tents. An­swer­ing a call of na­ture, I headed to­wards the base of the cliffs amongst some bushes. Sud­denly the air was filled with the most aw­ful din. It ap­peared to be com­ing straight down from the sky and res­onat­ing from the very cliffs. My first feel­ing was that I wasn’t wel­come and that I was some­how be­ing sac­ri­le­gious by pee­ing there. I felt as if I were be­ing watched from above and bolted for my car. The noise was very loud and sounded a bit like the fight­ing ma­chines in the 2005 War of the Worlds movie. I dived into my car and headed away. My iPhone was plugged into the car but I never for a mo­ment thought to record the noise – I just wanted to be away from there. I drove a few hun­dred yards and paused, rolled down my win­dow and lis­tened. The sound had stopped. I can’t re­ally con­vey how loud and all-per­va­sive the noise was. I looked around to see if I could find the source of it. Noth­ing. There were no other cars, ma­chin­ery or peo­ple around.

On re­turn­ing home that evening I’d mostly for­got­ten about the ex­pe­ri­ence, which seems very odd. Later I re­mem­bered it and also re­called hear­ing of other strange sky noises en­coun­tered around the world. A quick YouTube search iden­ti­fied a clip called “Strange sounds in the sky over Clearfield, Utah, March 16th 2013”. This was the same as the sound I’d heard ear­lier that day. Upon hear­ing it, the hairs on the back on my neck stood up and I felt very spooked. I don’t know what the cause is. Could it be at­mo­spheric or ge­o­log­i­cal? In any case, it scared the hell out of me that day! Ian Ch­es­ney Ed­in­burgh

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