Hayley is a Ghost

I went to Bristol and all I got was a 10:23 t-shirt!

Posted on: February 2, 2010

One minute. That is how late I was for my original train to Bristol Temple Meads – the station I was heading to so that I could participate in the Bristol 10:23 homeopathy overdose. It was one of those ‘you have to be kidding?’ moments as I watched my train depart on its way without me. Even the guy at the ticket barrier laughed.

It had already been one of those mornings for me. I had to be awake at 7am in order to have enough time to catch the 8:14am train (which I obviously failed to do.) Yet I awoke into one of those zombie-like states that sees time whizzing by whilst nothing happens.

I managed to get the next train to Bristol and at every stop on the way I kept wondering to myself if the other people in my train carriage were going to be taking the overdose. I wondered if they were fans of homeopathy, or how they would react if they knew that I had a bottle of Nux Vomica 30C in my pocket that I was going to down in one go at 10:23am that morning outside of Boots in protest?

I tend to hate train journeys when I’m alone because the boredom sets in really quickly but it wasn’t long before I arrived at Bristol Temple Meads. I love that station by the way, it’s stupid, but every time I go there I can’t resist staring up at the huge ceiling like a child. That wonder was soon replaced with humiliation though as I failed to get through those security barrier things that swallow your tickets four times before realising I was using the ones with a big X on it to signal they weren’t open.

I hoped at this point that the people around me weren’t going to the event because otherwise I’d be ‘that girl from the station.’

Anyway, I was soon on a bus on my way to the city centre (after a slight row with the driver who wouldn’t take a £2 coin as payment and made me count out 50p in 5p’s and 2p’s. Git.) And it wasn’t long before we reached my stop. This was when I realised that I didn’t quite know who I was looking for.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew Richard Stelling would be there as he is the organiser for Bristol Skeptics. The problem was that I couldn’t see him anywhere. I stood there like a lemon as the bitter wind froze my fingers off; scanning the area when my eyes landed on two guys stood next to a bench with what looked like a load of t-shirts on it. I knew there would be 10:23 t-shirts available and so I figured it was likely that these were the people I needed to be with and so I made my way over to them. Yet, a small voice in my head kept telling me that they probably belonged to a religion or cult and approaching them was going to be humiliating. What if they were giving away free stress tests? Or creationist versions of the origin of species?

I actually cringed inwardly when I asked ‘Hi, are you here for the homeopathy?’ If they’d said no, I swear I would have run away crying, so it was a good job they said yes. Their names were Gavin and Oliver, Richard was getting a coffee from a nearby stand which was why I hadn’t seen him.

Over the next half an hour or so more and more people began to approach the group, all probably wondering as I had done whether this group of people were there to take an overdose too. I have to say I was impressed at how many people turned up. Fifteen of us in total I do believe which was fantastic.

Early arrivals. Me on the right looking cold 😦

We all stood there, freezing slightly when Richard climbed onto a bench and started explaining just how we were going to carry out our overdose. By this time we were all wearing our very lovely 10:23 t-shirts and getting a few odd looks from the people around us. Not that we cared though because we had gone there with sugar to make our point, and make our point we would – weird stares or not!

I can vaguely remember being pointed out to everyone as ‘Hayley from Righteous Indignation’ by Richard, he encouraged people to come and talk to me after the overdose and I remember waving my Dictaphone at them in a very awkward manner whilst inwardly thinking ‘what the hell did you do that for you Muppet? If they saw you at the train station and on the bus they’re most definitely going to think you’re an idiot now.’

My handbag matched the Boots decor. Oh yeah!

Soon we were off to the selected Boots store to try and kill ourselves with sugar. We walked in a long line while talking excitedly amongst ourselves (whilst flashing our t-shirts at passers by who stared at us as though we were dressed as tellytubbies – probably thinking “how quaint” or “idiots” or “ooooh.”)

It was noted at some point by Robert Weeks that we were following a trail of blood from someone who had clearly been hurt on Friday night. I pointed out that it was okay, we might stumble upon him/her and we were all equipped with homeopathy to help them with. An awkward silence followed this and I hoped that this didn’t happen because that would have been embarrassing really.

Yours truly interviewing Oliver. One of many participants.

We arrived outside of Boots and it appeared we had been expected because there was a police presence in the store, the security guards had build some sort of barricade too as though they expected us to charge the store and start eating the homeopathy like ravenous lunatics. Ha. It was too cold to even move, let along charge any store. It did make me feel a bit notorious though.

I vaguely remember somebody standing on a bench and instructing us all to shout ‘Homeopathy! There’s nothing in it!”

This video is online, you can see in it that I am clearly distracted by the people who all stopped and stared at us. I kept smiling at them to try and convince them we were sane. I don’t think it worked, mainly because it was freezing and I wasn’t smiling, I was grimacing in a scary manner. Hmm.

Soon 10:23 struck and it was time for us all to down our pills. The only problem was that none of us could get the damn bottles to dispense them properly. One attendee even went INTO Boots to ask for a replacement bottle so that he could overdose and THEY GAVE IT TO HIM!

“How… how the bloody hell do you… help! I can’t open it!”

At one point a police officer came over and asked us if we were going to be disruptive to which Rob Weeks replied “I have to get home and look after my child. My wife would kill me if I got arrested.”

I think that summed up just how much of a threat we were really. People then proceeded to explain the police officer just what we were there for and why, but she seemed a bit confused. I think it probably sunk in for her that they weren’t dealing with crazy people – just science geeks.

Forget your ‘baffled scientist/doctor.’ We had a baffled police officer.

We overdosed, we spoke about it (listen to next weeks Righteous Indignation!) and we took pictures and stuff and then we all went home. It was wonderful though. I met some fantastic people and like to think I made some friends. I hope they’ll all be attending the Bristol skeptics in the pub event in February because I’m going to try my hardest to get to Bristol for it. Even if it does mean running for my train, arguing with ticket barriers and bus drivers and nearly dying of frost bite.

I should also point out that on my way home I arrived at my platform 1 minute too late to get the train home from Bristol. Can you believe it? I had to spend £.179 on a hot chocolate that tasted of sugar to kill the time.

I did get home eventually though and I still have my empty Nux Vomica tube as a memento of the time that I went to Bristol, stood in the streets, shouted ‘Homeopathy, there’s nothing in it!’ and proved a point. It might make me a geek, but then a geek I am because it was bloody good fun. Well done to everyone who was involved in making the 10:23 overdose event a success all across the nation!

Caption contest time! What is Robert saying to me?

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Hayley is a ghost

Hayley Stevens is an advocate for science-based research into seemingly paranormal experiences and occurrences. With a background in the pseudo-scientific research into ghosts, Hayley offers a unique insight into the strange world of ghost hunting through her experience.

She describes herself as 'a ghost hunter who doesn't hunt for ghosts' and this is her personal blog where she writes about ghosts, people, and other interesting things. Read more here.

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