In 1973, Robert Cowe was on leave from the Merchant Navy when he claimed to witness the ghost of an elderly woman appear in his bedroom, the unexplainable sighting happened as a group of youths played with a ouija board in the flat above.
It is surprising how often we receive emails and letters from those claiming to have had experiences while using a ouija board - strangely enough, generally as a side issue or explanation of an apparition rather than in the more usual context of communicating with "the spirits". Several correspondents mention the appearance of an apparition to someone not connected with the "seance", which is often being conducted in a half-serious way by adolescents in another part of the building, or even in a nearby house, and quite unknown to the actual witness. one of the best-described incidents of this unusual manifestation comes from Fraserburgh in Scotland. Thirty-three-year-old Robert Cowe had just returned home from the Merchant Navy in 1973. He was, he said, in excellent spirits, with no worries, no strain, and was delighted to relax in his parents' flat at 12 High Street - a building erected in about 1820. After coffee, he went to bed, slept soundly, but woke around 2.30am with that intense craving for a cigarette that comes with such overpowering strength when you know you have none. The awful struggle between lying tormented by longing in the warmth and comfort of bed, and the cold uncomfortable journey downstairs and out into the night to the vending machine some 55 yards away, raged in his mind for some minutes until he was cruelly wide awake and acutely conscious of his dilemma.
Gradually, as the cosiness of the blankets began to retreat in the face of the nicotine forces, Robert sat up in bed and immediately became aware of a vague unrecognisable presence in the room. But before he could really start logically to analyse what he thought it might be, a figure started to form, rather like those titles in some animated films that build themselves into recognisable words from a random mass of dots and lines. The most clearly defined areas at the beginning were near the floor, where Robert to his complete incredulity could make out distinctly black shoes with large silver buckles, and black stockings. Gradually a blue and white check dress and a white apron settled out, and finally the head and features of an elderly woman with gingery hair drawn to the back of her head, apparently into a bun, though this was not visible. The figure, now sharp and clear in its entirety, stood about a yard from the bed, stooping and leaning forward. The woman, aged between 60 and 70, looked intently at Robert and seemed to be fighting to say something but was unable to do so. The impression that the apparition had something to communicate became so intense that Robert mumbled, "What do you want?" This seemed only to increase the figure's frustration and anxiety, and it leaned further forward, though not over the bed. But as still no sound emerged, Robert repeated his question, and then, thoroughly scared, he shouted, "What do you want?"
Immediately a remarkable change came over the phantom. Robert described it: "Still keeping its outline the apparition began to glow in what seemed tiny particles of electrified dust - and then disappeared completely. The room felt intensely cold..." He leaped from bed to switch on the light, but as he had expected, there was absolutely nothing that could have accounted for what he had seen. Nothing Robert could remember in his own life seemed to have led to the haunting, and certainly, it does not seem to have been the herald of any great change. He did discover later, however, that Gina Wiseman, the owner of the building, and some young friends had been holding a ouija board session on that night in the flat above, and without any prompting, she told him that they had contacted a lady who had lived in the house a century earlier.
The two incidents may, of course, have been nothing more than coincidence, but the similar experiences happening at the same time does make one wonder.
This is the story of Robert Cowe, Fraserburgh.