Review of ‘Living With Ghosts: An Investigation’, by Paul Gater

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by Paul Gater
Published by Anecdotes Publishing of Buxton
ISBN 1-898670-154-5 (2009)

When this title was first published in 2003, Paul Gater admitted that he was writing not as an expert but as a fascinated wanderer into the realm of ghosts. His growing awareness during the intervening years is reflected in these lively tales from the Peak District, where he now lives, and further afield.

Historical research is an essential part of his investigations but Paul knows that ghost stories best come alive, so to speak, with first-hand experiences. One of his many reports centres on 'a very haunted house' near Ashbourne, describing its effects on the occupants and how the unquiet spirits were dealt with. By contrast, some houses have a resident 'happy ghost', a contented presence causing no trouble at all. A hairdresser near Buxton, for example, is very fond of her resident ghost, saying, 'She's happy, and I'm quite happy to have her.'

One line of thought considers the role of exorcist versus investigator. Bear in mind though, that Paul asserts how 'ghosts can con you'. He keeps his own feet firmly on the ground in the knowledge that all places claimed to be haunted share one simple common factor (not to be revealed here).

Apparently, sightings of ghosts and spirits are dwindling. The author offers possible reasons and also endeavours to answer two pertinent questions: Do ghosts run their course? And if spectral Roman soldiers have been reported in the Peak and elsewhere, why not a single caveman in a region so rich in prehistoric sites?

Paul Gater has not had direct input with all the cases he quotes here but regularly confers with others in the field. These include his wife, Dilys, whose newly published case histories are reviewed separately.

Review by Julie Bunting

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