Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Funny How Time Slips Away"?~Time Slip # 2

Following yesterday's theme, another oft-repeated time slip story, this from 1979. It was also featured in a British TV series Strange But True. Highlighted words are my own thoughts. Astro chart for the date and time the occurence began is at the end of this account. The exact location of these happenings in France isn't known, so I've used Bourges, a mid-country location, to discover where the planets would have been on that date at that time of the evening.

Coincidentally this is yet another event which is said to have taken place in France, as did yesterday's time slip feature... as well as the fictional events in the movie Midnight in Paris.

In October 1979, two couples in Dover on the south coast of England, set off on a vacation together, intending to travel through France and Spain.

Geoff and Pauline Simpson and their friends Len and Cynthia Gisby travelled by boat across the English Channel to the coast of France. They then rented a car and proceeded to drive north. (I don't understand why they'd drive north if heading for Spain - or anywhere in France really!) Around 9:30 that evening, October 3, they began to tire and looked for a place to stay. They pulled off the autoroute to a decent-looking hotel.

Len went inside and in the lobby encountered a man dressed in an odd plum-colored uniform. The man said they were fully booked, but there was a small hotel south along the road. Len thanked him and he and his companions went on. (Some versions of the story indicate that this first hotel was a known, named, establishment the party had picked as a stop-over place. The version used here indicates "something not quite right" about it, and doesn't mention it as having been a pre-planned stop.

They were struck by the oddness of the cobbled, narrow road and the buildings they passed. They also saw posters advertising a circus. "It was a very old-fashioned circus," Pauline would remember. "That's why we took so much interest."

A long, low building with a row of brightly lit windows came into view. Some men were standing in front of it and when Cynthia spoke with them, they told her the place was an inn, not a hotel. (How much French did the visitors speak ? - I had understood that it was minimal) They drove further down the road until they saw two buildings: one a police station, the other an old-fashioned two-story building bearing a sign marked "Hotel." Inside, everything was made of heavy wood. There were no tablecloths on the tables, nor was there any evidence of such modern conveniences as telephones or elevators.

The bedrooms were also strange. No glass in the windows - just wooden shutters. Beds had heavy calico-like sheets, no pillows. No locks, only wooden catches on the doors. The bathroom the couples had to share had old-fashioned plumbing. (No direct mention of the loo (lavatory). I find this strange. Was it an earth closet, in an out-house? This would have been a very very strong clue that something was seriously wrong. It'd be highly unlikely for a water closet to be available in rural France, if time had slipped back to early 1900s as later indicated, yet no mention seems to have been made of this.)

After they'd eaten, they returned to their rooms and fell asleep. Next morning they returned to the dining room and ate a simple breakfast with "black and horrible" coffee, Geoff recalled. (Some versions of the story state that they were served steak, egg and fried potato) As they were sitting there, a woman wearing a silk evening gown and carrying a dog under her arm sat opposite them. "It was strange," Pauline said. "It looked like she had just come in from a ball but it was seven in the morning. I couldn't take my eyes off her."

At that point, two gendarmes entered the room. "They were nothing like the gendarmes we saw anywhere else in France," according to Geoff. "Their uniforms seemed to be very old." The uniforms were deep blue and the officers were wearing capes over their shoulders. Their hats were large and peaked.

Despite the oddities, the couples enjoyed themselves and, when they returned to their rooms, the two husbands separately took pictures of their wives standing by the shuttered windows.

On their way out, Len and Geoff talked with the gendarmes about the best way to take the autoroute to Avignon and the Spanish border. The officers didn't seem to understand the word "autoroute," and the travellers assumed they hadn't pronounced the French word properly. The directions they were given were poor; they led to an old road some miles out of the way. They decided to use the map instead and take a more direct route along the highway.

After the car was packed, Len went to pay his bill and was astonished when the manager asked only for 19 francs. Assuming there was some misunderstanding, Len explained that there were four of them and they had eaten a meal. The manager only nodded. Len showed the bill to the gendarmes, who smilingly indicated there was nothing amiss. He paid in cash and left before they could change their minds.

On their way back from two weeks in Spain, the two couples decided to stop at the hotel again. They had had a pleasant, interesting time there and the prices certainly couldn't be beat. The night was rainy and cold and visibility poor, but they found the turnoff and noticed the circus signs they had seen before, and decided this was the same road they'd travelled before. It was, but there was no hotel alongside it. Thinking that somehow they had missed it, they went back to the first hotel where, on their earlier journey a man in a plum-colored suit had given them directions. That hotel was there, but there was no man in the unusual suit and the clerk denied such an individual working there.

The couples drove three times up and down the road looking for that old hotel, but began to realize it really was was no longer there. They drove north and spent the night in a hotel in Lyons. Room with modern facilities, breakfast and dinner cost them 247 francs.

Back in Dover, Geoff and Len had their rolls of film processed. The photos of the hotel (one by Geoff, two by Len) were in the middle of the rolls. When they got the prints back, those taken inside the hotel were missing, even though each film had its full quota of negatives, and prints, none spoiled. It was as if the pictures had never been taken, except for one detail that a reporter for Yorkshire Television noticed much later: "There was evidence that the camera had tried to wind on in the middle of the film. Sprocket holes on the negatives showed damage."

The couples didn't mention their strange experience to many others for three years, telling it only to friends and family. One friend found a book in which it was revealed that gendarmes wore the uniforms described prior to 1905. Eventually, a reporter for the Dover newspaper heard about it and published an account. Later, a TV dramatization of the experience was produced by a local station.

In 1985, Manchester psychiatrist Albert Keller hypnotized Geoff Simpson to see if he could recall any more of the peculiar event. Under hypnosis he added nothing new to what he had remembered.

Jenny Randles, a British writer who investigated this bizarre episode, wonders, "What really happened to the four travellers in rural France? Was this a timeslip? If so, one wonders why the hotel manager was apparently not surprised by their futuristic vehicle and clothing, and why he accepted their 1979 currency, which certainly would have appeared odd to anybody living that far back in the past."

The two couples have no explanation. "We only know what happened," says Geoff.

Information from "World of Strange Phenomena" by Charles Berlitz, published 1988 by Wynwood Press (VIA:


The matter of the hotel keeper accepting modern money without question is curious, but a case could be made that these were foreign tourists in rural France - the hotel keeper might have thought that the notes were some newly designed currency not yet seen in his isolated part of the country. Regarding the modern car driven by the visitors: likewise, I guess - though less believable.

The gendarmes' uniform: from photos and illustrations I've seen online it'd seem that the headgear (the képi), hasn't changed a great deal since the early 1900s, and whether a cape is worn probably depends on weather conditions. Uniforms are still dark navy blue. I can imagine uniforms the tourists saw looking slightly different from those seen elsewhere, because this, again, could be due to the rural location where the guys, in 1979, had not quite caught up with the other areas of France. Photo below showing present-day gendarme uniforms, from a 2011 blog Kathy in Paris

Here's an astrological chart for the date and time this strange "event" began, set for a location in mid-France, at 9:30 PM.

Neptune (illusion, dreams, delusion, creativity imagination)was on the descending angle - one of the strongest positions in a chart. The astro "atmosphere" was ripe for illusion, then.

I find the travellers' tale more than a wee bit suspect to be honest. I can easily see how these tourists might have stayed overnight in a rather old-fashioned run-down roadside hotel in the middle of nowhere, then conjured up a tall tale to tell their friends back home. Once the story leaked out they'd have needed to further embellish it...and stick to it, especially after press and TV got wind of it!

A straight time slip, for a few moments or even lasting an hour or so, I could accept as a mysterious but not impossible experience. Contact between parties on either side of the time-slippage is the sticking point for me. For me believe stories of this kind of experience, it'd have to be described as a "viewing only" kind of event. But a happening such as these travellers described, stretching overnight, with plenty of contact between parties on each side of the time slip? Very hard to believe, much as I'd love to do so. Sorry!

More tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

GP: Saturn/Moon/Neptune quite angular at the time and for that night in a T-Square could have made for a spooky experience. Also this happened in Bourges, a "Haut-Lieu" of pre-christian mysticism in France.

And why not give the benefit of doubt to the "forces" at work in such occurrences. They may have been not totally adroit (if only chosing maybe the wrong, un-precise victims/beneficiaries). But at least they were paid, having spent a cheap night with dinner/breakfast for 4!

Twilight said...

Anonymous/Gian Paul ~~

I'm not sure about the location being Bourges, GP. I used that town as a place for setting the chart, because it's in the middle of France, likely to be, at least, somewhere around the general area they were likely to have been.

I didn't know Bourges had any links to mysticism. When I was still in school I had a pen friend who lived in Bourges. She was selected for me as a pen friend because both our fathers were master bakers. :-) She wrote letters in English, I in French.

Anyway....back to time slips...

I'd love to believe this travellers' tale, I really would.
I'm enjoying this little detour into time slips, whether all are 100% true or not, I still find them fascinating.

I know that in rural France there are (or used to be) some very old-fashioned lodgings. In 1968 or 9
I went on a lone adventure to France (by boat and train) to stay in Tours, in the Loire Valley.
The little lodging place I stayed in had very, very basic facilities, it wouldn't have been a stretch for me to have imagined having entered a time slip there!

Anonymous said...

GP: The net is in shambles today, try to be brief: In Bourges I once had a very strange experience: Leaving the hotel in the morning to visit the cathedral there I had a stong wistling sound in both of my ears, and it increased the more I approached the cathedral and even more so when the guide took us down to the foundations, which he said were a celtic, pre-christian temple.

When I told him about the (persisting) wistling in my ears, he said that a few days before some Americans had come with equipement to measure telluric forces there. And they said that Bourges was at the center of a whole network in France which they were investigating.

I concluded that the "sounds" I was hearing were somehow related to telluric forces. But left it at that.

Twilight said...

Anon/Gian Paul ~~

Yes, I guess it's because some sites (Wikipedia for instance) are staging protest against SOPA or PIPA - US bills against piracy on the net etc.

Interesting info about Bourges - thanks. I wonder if those telluric forces are connected to ley lines, or a similar concept.

Wisewebwoman said...

I'm with you on this one, T. Far too many questions and not enough answers.

anyjazz said...

Good pair of posts. I like things that ask more questions than they answer.

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~~ Yes. I do believe they had a rather strange experience, but not a time slip.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~~ Thanks. I think it's good to dig out these weird topics from time to time. They've been around for a long time, and lay mouldering at the backs of our minds. A fresh 21st century look at 'em might clarify a few things......or not. ;-) Probably not, actually!