"Bold Street Time Warp" & "There's a War on!"


Jedi Master
Here are two interesting little stories from Tom Slemen's Haunted Liverpool 2:

The following story is an account of a man who inadvertently strolled into the past early in July 1996 in Liverpool city centre. Frank, an off-duty policeman from Melling and his wife, Carol, were in Liverpool shopping one Saturday afternoon. At Central Station, the couple split up. Carol set off to what was then Dillons Bookshop in Bold Street to purchase a copy of Irvine Welsh's book, Trainspotting, while Frank headed for a record store in Ranelagh Street, to look for a CD. About 20 minutes later, he was walking up the incline near the Lyceum, which emerges into Bold Street, intending to meet up with his wife in the bookshop, when he suddenly noticed that he had somehow entered an oasis of quietness.

Suddenly, a small box-shaped van, that looked like something out of the 1950s, sped across his path, sounding its horn as it narrowly missed him. Frank noted that the van had the name 'Caplan's' emblazoned on its side. When the policeman looked down at the ground, he noticed that he was standing in the road. He immediately thought that this was strange, because the last time he had seen the bottom of Bold street, it had been pedestrianised.

Frank crossed the road and was immediately struck by the fact that Dillons bookshop was no longer there. In its place, stood a store with the name 'Cripps' over its two entrances. He was understandably confused. He peered into the window of Cripps and found no books on display. They had been replaced by a large collection of women's handbags and shoes.

The policeman scanned the street and saw that the people were wearing clothes that would have been worn in the 1940s and 50s, which really unnerved him. He realised that he had somehow walked into the Bold Street of 40-odd years ago. Suddenly, Frank caught sight of a girl of about 20, dressed in the clothes of a mid-1990s girl; hipsters and a lime-coloured sleeveless top and he breathed a sigh of relief. The bag she carried had the name Miss Selfridge [a brand] on it, which helped to reassure him that he was still somehow partly in 1996, but it was still a paradox. He smiled at the girl as she walked past him and entered Cripps.

As he followed her through the entrance, the whole interior of the building changed in a flash to that of Dillons bookshop. The policeman was back in his own time. Without considering his actions, he grabbed the girl by the arm.

"Did you see that?" he asked her.

"Yeah. I thought it was a new shop that had just opened. I was going in to look at the clothes, but it's a bookshop," she said, calmly.

She then just laughed, shook her head and walked back out again. Frank later described how the girl had looked back and shaken her head again in disbelief. When he told his wife about the incident, she said that she had not noticed anything strange, but Frank was really adamant that he had not hallucinated the episode.

I have an account of this strange timeslip on the Billy Butler Show. Within minutes, people were ringing in to the station to confirm that, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, there had been a store called Cripps, situated in the exact location where Dillons bookshop now stood; there had also been a local firm called Caplan's in existence around the same time. What's more, I also received letters and telephone calls from listeners who had also experienced strange things in the same part of Bold Street where the policeman had stepped into another era.

A man who worked on the renovation of the Lyceum building in Bold Street, said that his digital watch went backwards for two hours one day. On another occasion, he put down his safety helmet and when he looked down, literally seconds later, it had vanished, yet no one was within 50 feet of him.

Emma Black, a radio Merseyside listener, sent me a fascinating cutting from a 1970s magazine, concerning a timeslip which apparently allowed a telephone conversation to take place between two people spaced 30 years apart. The following summary of this strange story may seem like an episode of The Twilight Zone, but I have heard of three other similar cases.

* * * There's a War on! * * *

An old woman named Alma Bristow of Bidston, tried to ring her sister (who had recently lost her husband) in Frodsham, Cheshire. Alma always had difficulty dialling numbers on the old British Telecom analogue telephone, because she suffered from stabbing arthritis in her fingers. Alma had evidently mis-dialled her sister's number, as a man's voice answered.

"Captain Hamilton here," he said.

Alma asked if her sister was there, but Hamilton cut her short.

"This is not a civilian number," he replied haughtily. "Who are you?"

Alma gave her name and, as she did so, she heard a sound at the other end of the telephone that she had not heard since she was a young woman: an air-raid siren sounding.

"Sounds like World War Two over there," she joked.

There was an uncomfortable pause, then Captain Hamilton replied, "What are you talking about?"

"The air-raid siren. Sounds like the war's still on," Alma said, about to hang up.

"Of course the war's still on. Where did you get my number from?" said Hamilton, growing steadily more exasperated.

"The war ended years ago, in 1945," said Alma rationally, suspecting she was a victim of the Candid Camera Show.

Captain Hamilton could be heard whispering to an associate, before resuming the surreal conversation.

"It isn't 1945 yet. If we trace you, you'll be thrown into prison for this lark you know. You're wasting valuable time, woman."

"Eh? It's 1974. The war's been over for years," Alma retorted.

Then she heard the unmistakable rumble of bombing coming over the telephone.

"We'll deal with you later, make no mistake!" said Captain Hamilton, slamming down the phone. Alma listened eagerly for him to pick up the handset of his telephone once again, but he never did. Alma never knew if she had been the victim of an elaborate hoax, or whether she really had talked with someone from wartime Britain.

The two previous stories of timeslips suggest that the events of the past are still going on somewhere along the fourth dimension. Is it not ironic how the clock rules all our lives, yet we know virtually nothing about time itself? Our ignorance regarding the nature of time reminds me of a thought-provoking remark which Einstein once made: "What does a fish know about the water in which he swims all his life?" [Tom Slemen, Haunted Liverpool 2, 2000]
If Alma's story is true, and she really did speak to someone from another time, then wouldn't it be funny if she synchronistically came across an elderly gentleman a few days later called Mr Hamilton. They strike up a conversation about the war, and he makes a remark about receiving a strange phonecall from a woman back in 1945. Alma in surprise responds: "It was me, and I only made the call a few days ago!" ;)
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