The Shop Down the Fourth Dimension

Rigbys sweet shop in 1977

Elsewhere on this site I related the strange tale of the Merseycabs radio dispatcher Billy Wilson, who heard his own voice coming through the speakers of his radio transceiver, reading out instructions from the computer screen to taxis all over Liverpool. Billy was stunned an hour later when the computer lined up the jobs he'd heard earlier in the exact order that the voice had recited them. How Billy had heard transmissions of his own voice from an hour in the future is a mystery that continues to perplex him. Such incidents are known as timewarps, when the past or future intrudes into the present. In 1997, a 10-year-old boy named Thomas went to visit his grandmother off Crown Street in Edge Hill, and as soon as his Gran gave him two pounds' pocket money, the boy sneaked out and went in search of the nearest sweetshop. He found one on the corner of Smithdown Lane and Grinfield Street, and after gazing in awe at the array of unfamiliar sweets, he decided he'd buy a 'lucky bag' and he'd also have a bag of sherbet-filled 'flying saucers' from a huge glass jar. However, the woman behind the counter gave a puzzled look at the pound coin Thomas was tapping on the counter, and when he gave it to her, she studied it, then handed it back. The woman apparently believed the coin was fake, or perhaps unfamiliar foreign currency.
Thomas complained to his Gran about the shopkeeper, and she told him there was no sweetshop on the corner of the street he mentioned. Thomas became so upset, his Gran decided to go and see where the shop was that he was talking about, but Thomas was dumbstruck, because the sweetshop had apparently vanished, and modern houses stood in its place. Thomas's grandmother suddenly recalled that a shop called Rigby's had once stood exactly at the location her grandson mentioned, but that shop had been demolished a long time ago. She wondered if Thomas had somehow strolled back in time to that shop. That would explain why the shopkeeper rejected his currency; the pound coin was not introduced until 1983.
Stranger still, in Haunted Liverpool 4, I documented the case of two students, who, in 1999, were walking back from a night out in town when they came across a fish and chip shop on Oxford Street, in the same area where Thomas entered the shop from yesteryear. The aroma of chips and battered fish drew the ravenous students into the chippy, but they soon discovered there was no one behind the counter. The décor was green marble tiles, and a huge mirror with a ship etched into it hung on the wall. The prices on the menu board were written in pre-decimal pounds, shillings and pence. The students waited and called out for the staff, but no one came, and the two young men suddenly felt a strange tingling sensation in their limbs. They left the outdated premises, and when they happened to glance back, the chippy had vanished. Way back in the 1960s, Joe Coates's fish and chip shop stood on the spot where the students entered the ghostly chippy, and through research, I have discovered that Coates's premises had a mirror with a sailing ship etched into it - just like the one the students saw. Crossing the barrier of time may be easier than physicists imagine.


©Tom Slemen 2004.