Sunday, 27 September 2009

Dark pitch

After several of our cunning plans to trick the authors of the spam siege against our "time slip" mailbox went awry, we recently discovered that a few of our readers have experienced unseemly "time slips" of their own - thanks to us and to our apparent callous unresponsiveness...

There is no way we can express our regret for this time (banana) slip. But we can - and gladly will - publish some of the best personal accounts sent in by readers.

What follows -
verbatim - is a personal account from S. E., England.
(And it is almost exemplary in its completeness. It's not often that people record the
weather - even though they absolutely should!)

Photo: The Unpredictables, 2006

In their own words...

DATE: I can only be very vague. It was possibly 1994, in either late spring or summertime.

TIME: early evening, it would have been around about 6.40 to 6.45pm.

LOCATION: a cricket pitch in the grounds of a mental hospital in central England (it was a mainly staff cricket team but with additional friends & family to make up the numbers - my father had got me involved - I swear I wasn‘t a patient!!).

: a storm had recently passed over no more than an hour earlier. It had left the ground quite wet but the sun was now out and it had become a pleasant evening.

Unsure if the rainstorm would mean the cricket training for that day was cancelled or not, I decided to chance-it and made my way to the ground arriving at the cricket pitch around 6.30pm. In the middle of the pitch there was a rope held up by small poles which marked off the main playing area (the square) and was designed to discourage people from entering there in order to preserve the playing surface.

As I arrived, I saw that someone had lifted several of the poles from their holes and dropped them on the ground (it wasn’t unusual for things like this to happen - the very nature of the hospital meant that patients would often do quite odd things for no apparent reason). I made my way to the middle of the pitch and replaced each pole (there were only 5 or 6 of the 8 poles removed) and looped the rope back onto some of the poles as it’d become dislodged.

Having done this, I continued across the pitch to the far side where there were two small huts a small distance apart, one of which was used as a changing room (Hut 1) and one of which was used for storage (Hut 2).

Nobody else had so far arrived so after a few minutes I was pleased to see a friend of mine arrive on his bicycle. Cycling around the pitch, he dismounted and leant his bike up against Hut 1 on the side which faced Hut 2.

After some discussion we agreed that it appeared training had been cancelled, however with 20 minutes or so until opening time at our local social club (where the team met after training), we decided to try and find a ball we could toss to one another to kill some time. My friend decided to search in the hedgerow where we were knew many balls had been lost in the past while I tried my luck at forcing entry to Hut 2.

The door to the hut to was a split door - rather like you’d find in a stable - and being wooden and exposed to the elements wasn’t in good condition. Using a stick I was able to prise the two door sections apart and push the lock on the inside of the bottom half of the door open allowing me to crawl inside.
I knew there was a kit-bag under a table to my left, so crawled that way and fumbled around in the darkness for 30 seconds or so until success, I found what I’d been looking for. However, I could feel it was a bit gnarled and old and generally not in good condition and after backing out the way I came and back into the light, this was confirmed.

Standing up, I turned to face the pitch and was a little puzzled. The sky had darkened and there were now grey clouds rather than it’s previous sunny blueness. The poles in the middle of the pitch I had returned to their holes not 10 or 15 minutes earlier were once again on the floor and in exactly the same positions they‘d been in as I first arrived.

Turning to my right I could see that my friend’s bike was now gone. I quickly scanned the hedgerow but he was not in sight and moving toward Hut 1, I could see through the windows neither he or the bike were on the far side of the hut. I looked to see if he was cycling away but there was no sign whatsoever.

At the time, I was unable to grasp what I was seeing and assumed it to be a practical joke being played on me. I felt very angry over the events - probably more so than was reasonable and I recall swearing before heading back to Hut 2 and crawling back inside to return the ball I’d found.

Backing out of the hut once again I stood back up into sunshine, turning to see the poles back in their holes. My friends bike was once again against Hut 1 and he was coming from the hedgerow having given up his search.

I remember asking him what he was playing at and why he’d moved his bike and the poles, not once but twice. My mind initially seemingly ignored the sudden weather changes and the shortness of time in which he’d had to carry out the supposed practical joke! Of course, he could only deny any wrongdoing but he had experienced some oddities…

In conversation as we left the pitch my friend told me that while searching the hedge he’d noticed a sudden change in the weather, that it’d become gloomy and cold. He’d also turned to witness me come forward from Hut 2, take a look around for a few moments (including looking right at him), mutter something and return to the hut.

Over the years I’ve tried to explain the events of those few minutes without success and a time slip is the closest to an explanation I’ve ever come. And if I did experience one, how far backwards I saw I cannot say, though it was more likely minutes or hours rather than days or years. Whatever it was, it was highly unusual."


It certainly was unusual in the sense that such things do not happen - or are perceived - very often. But within the context of timespace distortions it sounds quite typical: the "unsettled" weather, especially, seems to have played a role, even though one can only guess how.

Was this oddity in the perception of timespace somehow influenced by the discharge of the storm that had recently passed?

Did this discharge perhaps affect the neural paths - and thus the perception of timespace - of those involved?

It does seem more than a coincidence that such experiences are often - albeit not always - associated with stormy weather. (See, for example, this story; or this one.)

More (speculation, of course ;) on the possible influence of electricity on neurons in a future post.

If you want to report a perceived dimensional anomaly, please do, but read this first.

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