Does a tree falling in the wood make a sound if there's no-one around to hear it?
Remeber Reverend Jim's comment in Taxi: "Of course it does. People try to make that complicated."
I believe there is a combination of factors that are necessary for a road ghost to be encountered - the obvious one being the presence of a witness, preferably in 'unconscious' mode.
Other factors appear to relate to a combination of liminal - boundary - features, where roads intersect lonely or remote hilltops, water courses, other roads, places of sanctity, and notional boundaries like parish boundaries, to name a few.
Be there in the appropriate state of mind within a liminal time-frame (the isolated, early hours of the morning, commonly 11pm-1am, spanning, you've noticed, midnight), and you just may find out what these spooks are up to when you're not there - waiting for you to come along, of course!
From some accounts, these things smoke cigarettes and discuss the weather with people who pick them up. I mean they must do something in their spare time! I reckon they must be actual intelligences and not mere recordings or impressions on the psychic landscape...
or maybe they're manipulations of our perception of reality by intelligences and therefore are mere representations and I suppose, recordings... baffling.
Heres a story for you all, of a headless man on a cycle, I at time like a good ghost hunt, and I was not that long in Sussex, and decided to Visit Buxted, which has a legend of Nan Tuck and a headless man on a bicycle. So went up to buxted and got of a train, and the first thing I see is a pub, and nothing else, theres houses big one's, so I settle in the pub and its a bit like the American werewolf in London, every one stop's drinking to look at the stranger by the door, gave me shivers it did.
Walk up to the bar, and get a pint, nice landlord I tell him i am searching local legends, he is helpful and points me to two old locals, in a corner, you want to ask them thay been here the longest, So I look at the old fellas and thay ask me to join them for a pint, I give them what thay want to drink, its only right. Thay give me lots of information I need for a night vigual
I find tucks lane and set up equipment Minolta 7000 Camera and Minolta 4000 flash and sit and hope.
At around 1:30 am I hear a noise, not unlike a cycle that's not been oiled for years, its getting nearer and louder, nearer I charge flash and slip the the camera to Auto power, I see him god its the cycle man, I shoot of a picture, the cycle in a flash is gone, then the voice, you little bastard i gonna rip your fucken head of, I legged it.
( Pls note as I have been told, profanities are not too welcome by some members of this forum, the profanities are used as thay were at the time and used as part of the story)
People are always asking “Are ghosts psychic tape recordings, or hiccups in time, or are they spirits of the dead, or ultraterrestrials etc?” I think we’re probably using the word ghost to encapsulate a variety of phenomena, which may include all of the above. So what is a road ghost doing when it’s not freaking people out? Depends on the road ghost, if it’s a psychic tape recording, it’s waiting to be played. If it’s a time distortion then it probably depends on local physical conditions, if it’s the spirit of a dead person then it’s hanging out at a ouija board somewhere, and if it’s a UT, who knows what it’s doing in some bizarre alternate dimension.
A few years ago, myself and some mates of mine used to meet up at night and go on our own 'ghost hunts'. Inverted commas because they weren't really ghost hunts in the scientific sense, they were just a form of amusement late at night. Sometimes we got quite a good turn-out of ten or more people, depending on how many of us could drive and the size of the cars.
Anyway, this one night we went round a few places in Sheffield and the locale, suck as Lozley Common (for the White Lady), the site of the old Middlewood hospital (we couldn't get in there), Eyam and Peveril Castle in Derbyshire and Stocksbridge Bypass. It we here we had she stangest experience.
It had been my suggestion that we go there and as we were driving along we were talking about the legends surrounding the area. Suddenly, out of what seemed like nowhere, the figure of a man appeared on the opposite side of the road. He seemed to be in his 20's or 30's, wearing a white shirt and black trousers. Bearing in mind that it was very late at night and the Bypass is a long road. There was no other traffic about at the time and the bloke didn't look like someone that had left a nightclub and wound up in the middle of nowhere. The friends I was in the car with screamed, including the driver and the other passenger was very close to tears. It made me quite angry at the time that someone was out there at that time of night and had scared my friends so much, so I wound the window down and shouted something to the effect of "you tosser!".
We saw nothing else eventful on the way home and I don't think I went on many more ghost hunts after that one.
That occurred to me too. Having worked in mental health I'd've wondered if he was missing from somewhere or was having an episode of some kind. I'd've certainly stopped and asked him questions if I wasn't alone in the car or rung the police if I were.
In fact I've done the second and waited nearby and saw the police arrive, never heard anything more though.
Also, you wouldn't think twice about offering help if it were a young woman.
On the young woman thing I often have to travel in very quiet places on a motorcycle and will sometimes stop at the side of the road for a coffee from the flask, many times over the years cars have stopped to ask if I needed help, all have been young woman even when there have been 2 of us it still happens, I am always great full and thank them but do think they are trusting.
I have to say that I do not believe that we had a road ghost encounter that evening, however around 7pm on New Year’s Eve the family and I were driving to a restaurant situated about 15 miles from where we live.
The road that links my village and the town where the restaurant is located is a fast country road, and seeing as It was a dark night and not a lot of traffic around the missus (who was behind the wheel) was driving with full beams on.
As we rounded a bend, an elderly gentleman was caught in the cars headlights, shuffling along on the side of the road towards us. It was me who saw him first and shouted a warning, so the missus had to swerve slightly to avoid him.
Although we went past quite fast, I could tell this old chap (who must have been in his eighties, and carrying a walking stick), was dressed only in trousers and shirt, so completely unequipped for a walk in the country after dark at that time of year.
We were in between villages and in the middle of the countryside, no houses were nearby, so I assumed that the old boy had somehow become disoriented, (maybe even intoxicated it being New Year’s) we didn’t want to stop the car as we were near a bend in the road, so I told the missus to keep driving.
Within a minute or so we saw a turn off that lead to a village, so turned the car around there, and went back to make sure he was okay – I personally was quite concerned, no elderly person should be anywhere near a fast country road like that especially after dark.
We drove until we reached the next village with no sign of him whatsoever. I can only assume that he left the road and made his way across the fields to wherever he thought he wanted to go.
I checked the local papers online over the next few days, half expecting to read a headline like “Old man found dead in field” etc., but no nothing.
What do these road ghosts do ? They return to zeros and ones.
How so ? you may ask.
Let us look at this from a different perspective. Mass storage.
When you watch a film (or anything else) on a CD, what are you watching ? And what happens to it when you are not watching it ?
Well, the film isn't 'real'. It exists as a huge collection if digits. Zeroes and ones, that are coded as a series of hexadecimal numbers. They exist as tiny magnetic charges on the disc.
They only become 'real' in a form you can understand when the appropriate technology brings them all together. I.e you play the CD.
When you are not watching, the bits are still there.
So, maybe our road ghosts exist in a similar form. And are only brought into existence by an interaction with an observer.
And when the observer is gone, they return to the quiescent state to await the next person who triggers the right conditions to 'play the recording'.