GHOST busters have failed to drive out the souls who drift in and out of an 1820s Settler house in Bathurst. The house was bought on a whim by Johannesburg businesswoman Marilyn Michau in December 2005 – she had not even set foot inside the boarded up St John’s Church rectory at the time she decided to purchase the building.

The building has since been exorcised several times by some of the best ghost busters in South Africa. “When I brought my son to see the place for the first time, he overheard in the pub about a crazy Joburg woman who had bought the haunted house … he was so frightened, he told me to cancel the sale immediately,” Michau told the Daily Dispatch this week. Reputedly haunted for the past 140 years by the ghost of a pregnant nun who committed suicide in the house soon after her illicit relationship with a slave or soldier was discovered, the history of the place did not spook Michau off.

An avid ghost buster herself, Michau called in the best Catholic exorcist in South Africa, Father Larry Kaufman , in February 2006 to clear the house of unhappy spirits. “He arrived with his incense and robes and we prayed up a storm in all the rooms,” Michau said. “Upstairs, a lot of entities presented themselves. “There were bad smells and winds. When we got to my son’s room there was a smell that would not go away, it just got worse.” According to Michau, Kaufman explained that the room had once contained the bodies of dead, “legless” soldiers.

“When we renovated the room, we found pentagrams and other satanic emblems made from copper under the wooden floors. I removed them and threw them in the ocean.” Although Kaufman ridded the house of most of the entities, Michau also called renowned white sangoma Bokka du Toit to help cleanse the house. “I fell in love with the place … the house chose me – there was no way I was going to just run away.”

Strange events in the house include lights switching on and off, doors being flung open by winds, mystery shadows, chopping sounds from the kitchen, foul odours, bed covers being ripped off and the occasional sighting of the “nun” ghost.

Another unexplained incident occurred when an American artist friend, Nancy Noel, painted her a picture of an angel and posted it to South Africa. A day after hanging the artwork, a friend arrived at the house and asked why she had a painting of the dead nun on the wall. “The angel had a rope painted around her neck that was not there when I opened the parcel. “I phoned Nancy and she said she never painted a rope around the angel’s neck.” With most of the ghosts now gone, Michau said the nun was the only entity left.

Soon after buying the house, Michau dropped her daughter, Michaela , at a medium’s house in KwaZulu Natal for a consultation. “When I went to drop her off the medium came running out and asked if I was coming to see her as she had some messages for me from a nun. “I was overwhelmed by this bit of news and sat down immediately to hear what my nun had to say.”

According to Michau, the nun had told the medium to “thank me for listening to her and buying the house”. “She had waited for over 100 years for someone to come along that could love the house as much as she had, and she had chosen me.

“She described the house exactly and asked me to renovate and restore it to its former glory particularly by making the upstairs windows into doors again.” Michau followed the nun’s instructions “to the letter” and restored the house.

“This is my home, I never want to leave,” she said. “I have grown quite attached to my ghost.” ”

“the writing of some
is like a vast bridge
that carries you
the many things
that claw and tear.”

Charles Bukowski

Thought for the day

April 16, 2009

“Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.”


Well you may have read some of my earlier Blog entries touching on this subject – and I’m certainly not alone in my suggestions!The BBC’s Home Editor, Mark Easton had this to say on the subject:

“Heroin and cocaine cost Britain billions.

From Cabinet Office, Strategy Unit Drugs Report Phase One: Understanding The Issues,
12 May 2003

Five years ago, a Cabinet Office report estimated a figure of £24bn a year – £16bn of that from the costs of acquisitive crime by users funding their habit.

But what if those drugs were legal and regulated? What if heroin and cocaine were available on prescription or at affordable prices?

Today’s report by the campaigning Transform Drugs Policy Foundation (TDPF) argues that government must look at the current drugs policy with the cold eye of a cost-benefit analyst. If they did, it is suggested, ministers might save the taxpayer close to £11bn a year. (The figures in the table below relate to England and Wales.)

TDPF admits that the sums are back-of-an-envelope calculations because much of the information is simply not available. The conclusions involve, they concede, some “heroic assumptions”.

But at the centre of the analysis is the claim that prohibition itself is the root cause of almost all drug-related acquisitive crime. If government took control from the pushers, dealers and gangsters, they suggest, levels of such crime would be “negligible”. Even in the “highly unlikely” event that drug use doubled, suggests Transform, a regulated market for cocaine and heroin would see almost £7bn of savings in the cost of crime.

A relatively small amount of property crime is directly related to people’s demand for cigarettes or alcohol, it is argued. Take other drugs away from the criminals, and the greatest driver of property crime in the UK largely disappears.

But what about demand? Wouldn’t legalisation, as the Home Office suggests in a statement this morning, “risk a huge increase in consumption with an associated cost to public health”?

Drugs are controlled because they are harmful. The law provides an important deterrent to drug use and legalisation would risk a huge increase in consumption with an associated cost to public health.

The legalisation of drugs would not eliminate the crime committed by organised career criminals; such criminals would simply seek new sources of illicit revenue through crime. Neither would a regulated market eliminate illicit supplies, as alcohol and tobacco smuggling demonstrate.

Transform accepts that “whilst some pressures towards increased use may occur under a regulatory model, these would be moderated by effective controls on availability, price, and marketing”.

The bottom line, though, is that we don’t know. We don’t know because government has never done a cost-benefit analysis of its drugs strategy, or conducted an “impact assessment” to ensure that policies are cost-effective.

This, argues Transform, is contrary to Treasury rules which state that
…no policy, programme or project is adopted without first having the answer to these questions:

(1) Are there better ways to achieve this objective?
(2) Are there better uses for these resources?

In its statement above, the Home Office explains that the law “provides an important deterrent to drug use”. But does the law achieve this end?

In 2002, Tony Blair was told by drug policy analysts in Number Ten that “attempts to intervene have not resulted in sustainable disruption to the (drug supply) market at any level”.

Last year, a report from the independent UK Drugs Policy Commission concluded that “law enforcement efforts have had little adverse effect on the availability of illicit drugs in the UK”.

Today’s Home Office statement offers another reason for not considering the legalisation/regulation model.

The legalisation of drugs would not eliminate the crime committed by organised career criminals; such criminals would simply seek new sources of illicit revenue through crime.

This strikes me as an odd argument, as it implies that it is pointless trying to eliminate any area of criminality because the bad guys would simply go and find something else bad to do.

What this is really about, surely, is a moral and political argument being challenged by a methodical and technical one. For generations, we have been told that recreational drugs are “wicked” (although alcohol is omitted from the axis of evil), and few in Westminster want to appear “soft” on sin.

It is interesting, however, that the Liberal Democrat Shadow Justice spokesman David Howarth has said this in response to the Transform report:

For far too long, drugs policy has been dictated by what sounds tough rather than what works.

We continue to pursue the same policies, despite the fact that the availability and use of drugs are up, prices are falling and drug-driven crime remains rife.

If the government are sceptical about these figures, then they should come up with their own cost-benefit analysis immediately. It would be a welcome nod towards evidence-based policy.

The UK has used up all its “home grown” natural resources for the year, and it’s only April! Not only that but consumption is steadily growing!

“The UK is becoming increasingly reliant on imports at a time when economic instability, climate change, competition for resources and growing consumption elsewhere in the world means the chances of the rest of the world providing for us is lessening.”

Is there any hope for us?

Well, we’re trialing Carbon labelling schemes…it’s a start, isn’t it? Apparently not. “The problem is that many of us don’t want to be green if that means missing out on a weekend in Barcelona, heating a bigger house or running a bigger car; all the stuff we aspire to.”

There’s an additional problem in that our huge dairy herds which provide us meat and other dairy products, emitted tonnes of greenhouse gases and contribute to an upsurge of obesity and heart disease. They’ve simply got to go! We can’t stop them farting!

Then there’s the issue of population growth and consumption: the more people you have, ultimately the more you’ll consume! One person in the US for example produces carbon emissions equivalent to 250 Ethiopians! The US population, like the UK population is growing; consumption will grow, despite arguments to the contrary.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure Gordon Brown’s Electric Car Initiative is the answer…I mean where do we get the electricity from? Don’t we burn fossil fuels to generate the power to charge all the batteries…our have I got that wrong?