IT haPPeneD To me...
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
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’  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
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