no ChurCh in the Wild deep in the heart of north Wales there lives a man who used to talk to ghosts. now retired, he spoke to us about the paranormal, drug addicts, and manuka honey. his name is J. Aelwyn roberts, and this is his story. You know the saying: when life gives you exorcists, you make magazine features.On a quiet Tuesday morning, an emåail from a man claiming to be a retired ghost hunter somehow landed in our inbox. Not a scrawled letter laced with dirt jammed in the letterbox; not a threatening throaty phone call; not a dark prophecy delivered to the media office via a possessed ventriloquist dummy acting as a mouthpiece. It was a polite email containing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, apart from the extraordinary subject matter. Clearly our supposed ghost-hunter was a man ignorant of classic horror-film convention. It would later become apparent that Joseph Aelwyn Roberts was a man who didn’t particularly care for convention of any sort. The Quench mailbox gets a wide variety of emails every month. An array of pitches from aspiring writers, a barrage of promotional material from PR robots who can’t spell our names, as well as occasional hate mail from people can’t spell their own names. The last thing we expected to find nestled there was an invitation to interact with a man who previously cast out demons for a living. The natural reaction isn’t to take this sort of stuff seriously, and for a long time we didn’t. We joked about getting him to exorcise the media office, or even our own houses, tossing coins to decide who would take on the risk of giving their address to a potential lunatic. If nothing else, we figured we could always try and sell it to VICE. But eventually, fuelled more by curiosity than a desire for content, we did a little digging. Our man had written books. Quite a few of them as it turned out. Maybe we were onto something? Anyone can email you and tell you they’ve talked to ghosts, but it takes dedication to publish such an extensive list of literature on the subject. We wanted to meet him. After a number of failed attempts to contact him we finally
managed to speak to Aelwyn on the phone. It transpired that he wasn’t in his seventies as we had initially thought, but was in fact ninety-six years old. Our dreams of witnessing an exorcism on our own turf were immediately destroyed as we realised he wouldn’t be travelling all the way to Cardiff at such an age, let alone performing a ritual as strenuous and demanding as an exorcism. It also emerged that his sidekick, a medium confusingly named Elwyn Roberts, had died ten years previously. Finding this out during our very first conversation, after directly requesting that Elwyn attended the interview session, was painfully awkward. Elwyn had acted as the middle-man in the ghost hunting machine, allowing Aelwyn to communicate with the dead despite his own lack of psychic ability. Without him, Aelwyn could no longer partake in investigations. The whole idea had morphed into a logistical nightmare. If he couldn’t come here, we’d have to go there. “There” being the (very literal) other end of the country. Challenge accepted.
“You know the saying: when life gives you exorcists, you make magazine features.”