Transcript of the Cardiff Poltergeist episode of 'Strange But True'

Another transcription - this is from Strange But True, Series one, Episode one, first broadcast in October 1994. 

Michael Aspel, Narrator: Behind a street in Cardiff, down an alley, the quiet life was about to be shattered.

John: We started in this building about fifteen years ago, repairing all sorts of grass-cutting equipment. And later on we started to sell mowers.

MA: John and Pat Matthews, helped by Pat’s brother Fred, ran a thriving business here, no real worries, just ordinary everyday irritations.

Reconstruction: (Noise from the roof) It’s those blasted kids throwing stones. I’ll go see to them.

MA: John went to catch the young vandals red-handed. But there were no vandals. The stones seemed to be coming from nowhere.

Reconstruction: Pathetic, John, haven’t you got any control over them?
There’s nobody there!
Pull the other one. Come out of thin air, did they?

John: We were baffled that there weren’t any kids around here and nobody that could throw stones. We just couldn’t understand it. We just couldn’t understand where they were coming from.

Fred Cook: I thought he was a nutter to be honest. I thought he was mad. I thought ‘people throwing stones, it’s got to be. Can’t be anything else.’

John: I started to get worried that there was something strange here in this building.

MA: Whatever it was, it was about to move in at Mower Services.

John: I would see little things flying across the room.

Fred: It used to throw stones and things like ball bearings.

Pat: Then suddenly, in this one corner of the shop it got ice, ice cold. And then there was a terrible smell of burning.

MA: Somebody or something seemed to be playing childish tricks, like hiding keys.

Fred: We searched high and low for these keys – it went on for five or ten minutes or so, and then all of a sudden these keys came shooting across the floor.

MA: Then money began appearing.

Pat: Every morning, it got in turns we were having it turns, each had a fiver or a ten pound note, and it was stuck in the ceiling tile.

MA: Unable to believe that one of them wasn’t responsible, the family set up a test.

John: I said to close the doors, both sides, and we’ll see what’s happening.

Reconstruction: Right we’ll settle this once and for all. Hands on the bench. Fingers touching. (The three men are lined up). Right. Come on then – throw us a stone. (One rattles onto the floor).

John: There was no chance of anybody being in that shop except us three.

Reconstruction: Hang on, I think if we’re going to do this as a proper test, we should be writing everything down.

John: With that, a pen dropped. And I started saying things like engine parts.

Reconstruction: What about a plug? (A spark plug falls)

Fred: We knew then, it wasn’t one of us. We were looking at each other and our hands were on the bench.

John: We were there two hours. And I went home and told my wife I had just spent the most fascinating couple of hours in my life. I couldn’t believe it. We were never really afraid of it. It became part of the family.

Fred: We decided we’d name him. We called him Pete the Polt, Pete the Poltergeist.

MA: A poltergeist called Pete? Could there be such a thing? And why was it favouring Mower Services with its attentions? The family needed expert help. They called in David Fontana, a university professor with an interest in the paranormal.

Prof. David Fontana, Psychologist: Most of my visits were unannounced, so they didn’t know that I was coming at any particular time.

MA: With the element of surprise, the professor would surely get to the bottom of what was really happening.

DF: As I entered the workshop, at that very moment a stone was thrown across the room and bounced off a piece of machinery. John was sitting there talking to one of the sales representatives but there was no question that either of them was involved in this. John looked up at me and said “There – see what I mean? He’s greeting you.” I think I was very pleased actually, because it’s so rare for investigators to be there when things actually happen. That made me take things very much more seriously than perhaps I otherwise would.

MA: Professor Fontana was so convinced that he filed reports on what he called “the responsive poltergeist.” He said it possessed both “intent and the rudimentary intelligence necessary to accomplish this intent.” And he drew diagrams showing how, when objects were thrown into a corner he called ‘the focus of activity’, some force catapulted them back.

DF: You don’t see the things in midair, you hear them hit the wall and clatter to the ground, you look round and the stone is there, but you don’t actually see it in flight. Which, in the sense rather strengthens the idea that nobody’s playing tricks, because if they were, you would see the things in flight.

MA: With Professor Fontana’s reports, the case began to attract attention across Wales.

Pat: I wouldn’t want people to get the wrong idea, and we were afraid that if we started advertising about it, we would frighten customers away.

MA: But the customers kept coming, and so many people became eye witnesses that this became one of the biggest poltergeist cases ever.

Joyce Glenn: I was just as sceptical as everybody else and heard all about this ‘poltergeist’, but I was in the shop one day and little nuts and bolts sort of were just flying around and dropping from nowhere.

MA: After thieves broke into motor services one night, the insurance assessor who came witnessed it too.

Gareth Lucas: When I was there I heard the stones or noises coming from the back of the shop. When I asked them what it was about, I was told “Oh that’s Pete the Poltergeist.” I didn’t really believe him. So I opened the door and looked through, and I could see a stone whizzing around on the floor. There was nobody else out there.

MA: When Gareth Lucas went back to the office and told his story, the other insurance staff not surprisingly laughed. Until a colleague went, and the same happened to him.

Reg Jenkin: Quite to my amazement, small stones and things were flying around and pinging off shelves, and I was able then to go back to the office and confirm his story!

MA: Even the Baptist Church, one of two chapels either side of Mower Services, began to experience poltergeist phenomena.

Rev Mike Fuller: Before I knew anyone else had problems, one evening I was working up here in the office, and stones started hitting the window. I did everything I could to find out what it was – there were no people down there, I went down and looked round. There was nobody there that could throw stones, but when I came back upstairs the whole business continued.

MA: But the minister believes he has an explanation.

Rev Mike Fuller: As a Christian I believe we live in a visible and seen world which has a supernatural dimension wrapped round it.

MA: So what might that supernatural dimension be? Maurice Gross is a leading poltergeist expert. He’s been investigating cases for the past seventeen years.

Maurice Grosse: There are two main theories of poltergeist phenomena. One is that some people have the ability to exteriorise a force which affects their physical surroundings without physical means. And the second theory is interference from outside entities. Now we don’t know what these entities are, but sometimes they appear to be spirits of dead people.

MA: Nobody knew what the Mower Services poltergeist might be, until one day Fred says he saw it.

Fred: We were fixing this mower on the floor, and I looked up and there was a tiny boy.

(reconstruction) John, don’t do anything too violent.
 What are you talking about? I’ll have to be violent to get this thing off.
No, I don’t mean that. Do as I say. Don’t turn round quickly, but look up gently and look up at the shelf behind you, okay?
What are you talking about?
He was up there! On the shelf. A little boy. It must be Pete!

Fred: Half a house brick came hurtling down, and we both panicked with amazement. You can imagine he was all grey. No face, but the face was there. It’s hard to explain. And all you could see was his hand waving.

MA: From then on, the poltergeist never left Fred alone. Last year, Mower Services outgrew its old premises and moved to a new industrial estate. Pete the Poltergeist didn’t follow. He moved in with Fred instead.

Fred: And there’s countless things that happened at home. Pictures tilting in the frames. Spoons being thrown up the stairs. Pound coins. Oh it’s amazing.

MA: Fred Cook and his wife have moved home to escape their unwanted guest. They took the precaution of breaking a piece of pottery that had kept appearing and disappearing. So far there’s been no sign of anything happening again.