A CONVERSATION WITH A REAL-LIFE GHOST BUSTER
Updated: Mar 15
IS YOUR HOUSE HAUNTED? HERE'S A TEAM THAT CAN HELP YOU WITH THAT…
BY Elizabeth McCafferty
Mark from ‘South London Investigates the Paranormal’ is on call at moments notice to investigate the UK’s most haunted buildings. He’s witnessed everything from Ouija boards being thrown across the room, tables collapsing and has even had to call off investigations when things have become too chaotic! What’s it like being a ‘real-life ghost buster’? Read below to find out.
You’ve started a company called SLIP: South London Investigates the Paranormal, can you explain a bit more about how it all began?
My wife Carly and I have always had a lot of mutual interest in the paranormal; we both had experiences as children too. When we met, we used to camp out in the living room watching Most Haunted! Carly once paid to go on an investigation with a nationwide company and she raved about it when she got back and convinced me to go (I was very sceptical back then). I was gobsmacked at what happened. We spent a couple of years paying to go on investigations with other teams all over England. During that time, we sort of thought ‘why don’t we do this and take people out ourselves?’ They can be very expensive to go on, I think the most I ever spent was £150 for a 6 hour investigation and I just seemed more feasible to do it ourselves. We decided to give it ago about 5 years ago now and it was a great success, it’s now more of a full-time thing.
The core team consists of Carly and I, Carly’s brother Tom, Adam, Angela and her daughter Katie. We have others that do come along to most of our investigations too.
What angle do you normally focus on in investigations? Do you try and prove there is such thing as the paranormal or debunk things to show there isn’t?
I'm a firm believer in debunking. I will always try and find a logical explanation for it rather than jumping on the bandwagon and saying it’s paranormal. The SLIP team is made up of lots of personalities. We each bring something to the team that’s either from the debunking perspective or proving the paranormal perspective. Carly and Angela are firm believers, whereas me and Adam and a couple of others within our team are more sceptical.
We like to probe and analyse what we've got. We're constantly looking for the logical explanation as to what caused something. We like to sit down as a group and look at that piece of evidence either audio, video, or photograph, and really pull it apart and analyse from both perspectives.
How do people react when you explain that you’re a paranormal investigator?
I was worried that most people would laugh but some people have reacted with telling me their own experiences; these are people who have never mentioned it to anyone before too. They go on to explain strange things that have happened. Other people are really fascinated and want to come out and investigate with us. I've also had a few people go, you know what, I don’t believe in it- but I want to know about it!
Do you ever worry that a spirit might follow you home?
No. I’ve got no worries surrounding that. All our equipment and spirit boards we keep in the house, we’ve never experienced any issues or experiences in our home with them. I’ve got no worries about anything follow me home, I’ve never met anyone who say that they’ve had an attachment or something follow them back.
Am I right in saying you don’t charge to investigate someone’s house?
Yeah that’s right, if we are investigating someone’s property, their house or place of work we don’t charge. I think it would be wrong to charge someone to go into their home to give them answers. We get a massive kick of enjoyment from doing this job and if we can help someone it’s a bonus. We did one recently where we helped give a family some peace of mind. Carly gave them some great advice on the use of sage and white light meditation, and it really helped them. We don’t claim we can go in and get rid of a spirit, that’s not what we do, but maybe we can give you some answers as to what you’re experiencing.
Are there any encounters that have really stuck in your mind throughout all of your investigations? ….Do you ever get scared?
I'd like to say no I never ever get scared. But if you spoke to Adam, he would probably say I’m the biggest scaredy cat on the team. I won’t be first into any dark rooms and I certainly won’t be at the back! There was an encounter at Charlton House in Greenwich, there was four/five of us in the room doing a spirit board and the planchette violently flew away from the board. The table collapsed and I became trapped between the wall and the table, everyone was really scared and started shouting. I still try and find a logical reason for it, but I can’t.
There was another incident where we were doing a spirit board with some people we didn’t know, the messages it was spelling out on the board were so personal that no one could have known and again I found it incredible because there was no explanation. At another house we asked for a spirit to affect the alarm system and it went off but there was no way for us to activate the fire alarm. Those experiences have really stuck with me.
I do remember taking my children on a day out to Warwick Castle and I didn’t bring any kit with me, but I had an app on my phone which I left running whilst we were walking round. A couple of voices came through and I said ‘if something is here bang on this door’ and the handle of the wooden door next to me rattled! I did ask the staff members what was behind the door, and they said it was sealed off. That was weird.
What about Derek Acorah-esque ‘possessions’, does that ever happen?
I’m not a believer in spiritual mediums (that’s just my opinion). I have been in a private location though doing an investigation where Adam and I became physically affected. I’m not saying for a moment that we were possessed or taken over by a spirit. It might have been some form of mild mass hysteria, but we were nowhere near each other in different parts of the building. We had both asked the spirits to affect us in some way and we both became so ill we had to call off the investigation and there were even talks of calling us an ambulance. I can’t really explain what happened that night.
What do you most enjoy about your job as a paranormal investigator?
I really enjoy the aftermath of an investigation. I do all the evidence reviewing, going through hours and hours of footage, audio, collating photographs. Then I put it out to the rest of the team to get their feedback before I give it out to the rest of the team to see what they think. There is nothing worse than spending over 8 hours in a property, reviewing all the footage (x10 if that’s how many cameras I’ve got running!) and not getting anything. That has happened several times and that can be quite soul destroying as it can take months to review stuff. 9 times out of 10 we do get something though and it’s that that I enjoy doing.
What was your first experience of the paranormal?
I must have been about 6-8 years old; I was at my Grandparents house in West London around the mid 80s, their house was built around 1925…not incredibly old but it hadn’t been done up in any way. I was walking through the house, and I remember hearing something call me at the top of the stairs and there was the shape of a man. I thought it might be my uncle who also lived at home with my grandad, but I remember thinking ‘how did they get past me?’ to get to the stairs in the first place. I remember hearing mumbling voices too but there was nobody there. It was the one and only time as a child I ever experienced anything, but it really stuck with me, it’s such a vivid memory.
Where is top of your list to investigate?
The big one is the Tower of London or Hampton Court, but I know that would never happen. I would really like to go to Waverly Hills sanatorium in America if I could.
Do you have any advice for people who want to carry out their own investigations?
Keep at it. Find a good team, even one of the national companies or a small team and just get out with them. Get used to the kit and familiarise yourself. Know how to analyse what you get from it and find a location that’s reported to be haunted and go for it, you’ll definitely get the bug like I did.
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