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Nan Young 

Again, there are no biographical details of this writer.

Highland Culture

Ballymanny Herald, April 1 2001

THE RISE OF JOHN CHALMERS CHAPMAN

Caldogan Street in Ballymanny, Southern Ireland will never be the same again.

One could walk along its roughly tarmacadamed pavements, taking care, always, to avoid the potholes littered with their hidden treasures - weather-bleached rubber bands dropped by the postmen, cigarette ends, crisp packets. It was a normal, small-town street.

And would have remained thus, forever, readers, had it not been for John Henry Chalmers Chapman (aged 42) and James O'Reilley MacGeehan (39).

John and James are neighbours. Individually, they are very average, hard-working, faithful husbands and fathers. Together, however, they have proved to be a lethal mix. They have, you see, a mutual obsession - an unnatural and insatiable thirst for a fuller knowledge of the occult.

They were not inward looking, however, neighbours told this reporter. When they dabbled, unsuccessfully, in seances, they invited all their friends to participate. The group would sit round a table, fmgers touching, John Henry, dressed in a cloak, calling to the spirit world in a whining, high-pitched voice. I suggested to the neighbours that perhaps the cloak was a mistake, but they were all genuinely sincere in their belief in the two men.

When interviewed John Chapman's wife told me that he is a very shy man. The only vain action he ever took in their married life was to let his few remaining strands of hair grow very long so that he could then comb them forward from the back of his head to conceal his baldness - a bad decision as events proved.

James MacGeehan was the stronger of the two in this dangerous partnership, in this almost jolie-a-deux scenario, and it was he who gave John Henry books on the occult, articles on the supernatural; they explored and experimented with all things mystical, and, despite many failures, never once did their faith and determination ever waver.

Neighbours report of vans delivering bulky, strange-shaped packages to both men and of weird chanting sounds coming from both houses. When asked, these sources denied any of these unusual occurrences affecting the ambience of Caldogan Street, however.

Until one fateful evening.

The evening when the street became, reluctantly and regrettably, famous throughout Britain and, indeed, the world. The evening James MacGeehan keyed in the word 'levitation' on the web. What he read there transformed him, and more unfortunately, John Henry Chapman.

"Sure." Mary Catherine MacGeehan (37) told me, while Mrs Kathleen Chapman (36) nodded vigorously in agreement. "We wish we had never bought that computer."

Their initial levitation trials were painfully unsuccessful. John Henry was perpetually black and blue.

"James could raise him up." Mrs MacGeehan told me proudly.

"But he always fell back down." Mrs Chapman said.

Would that this reporter could have written that that was how the situation remained, unsuccessful.

But, on that fateful Friday evening, two months ago, John Henry Chalmers Chapman, 'rose' to the occasion, and stayed. Whatever James MacGeehan did that night, John Henry was levitated to just below ceiling height of James and Mary Catherine MacGeehan's living room. Where he is now, as I write.

Television cameras, film units, reporters, scientists, spiritualists, churchmen arrive daily on the tarmacademed pavements of Caldogan Street, making even greater potholes and leaving even more litter.

Unfortunately, readers, I have not been able to interview John Henry. His secretary could give me an appointment next week, too late for this publication.

But I was able to talk again to the two wives and I am pleased to report he is perfectly happy.

"Feeding and dressing were the most diff1cult things." Mary Catherine MacGeehan explained, "and, of course, his personal hygiene." I could see white-coated figures just visible through the MacGeehan's new venetian blinds.

"And," Kathleen Chapman added tearfully and angrily. "They had to cut his poor hair." As John Henry's body rose, so his careful nurtured strands of hair fell, straight downward. Kathleeen maintains he found that more disturbing than.the incredible ascension.

"He is eating very well. Some of the nurses go up on special ladders to his level. There is a private chef," Mary Catherine said proudly, "and he is on a normal diet."

`'Except beans and fizzy drinks, of course." Kathleen MacGeehan whispered to me, wmking.

To date, readers, there is no solution to the phenomenon. John Henry is still up there telling his story to every nation. He is not unhappy and has, in fact, according to James MacGeehan, his recently appointed personal manager, acquired a glow of saintliness, especially in the golden robe now covering him in place of the more inconvenient trousers and shirt. The queues continue to grow; he is still a worldwide news item.

The only unhappy people are Mary Catherine and, naturally, Kathleen Chapman. Mary Catherine says it is difficult to sleep with John Henry in such close proximity below them. Kathleen simply misses her bed companion.

"I even asked James if he could levitate me as well. At least we could have held hands." She told me.

When interviewed, the other inhabitants of Caldogan Street admitted that they are not too happy either at what has happened to their quiet neighbourhood, though Mrs O'Reilly (62) is doing well with her teas and home bakes in her front garden, Mrs Kelly (49) is providing bed and breakfast. Matthew Riley (44) at number eight has asked me, through the auspices of this newspaper, to inform readers he is available as driver/guide every day except Mondays when he has to report to the Unemployment Office.

I, personally, have found the whole situation to be very sad for our small town. I hope there will soon be a 'descension' for John Henry Chapman, not just for the man himself, but for my profession, so that less discerning readers will no longer have to suffer headlines like the one in the Ballymanny Banner recently - 'You can't keep a good man down.'

Should readers wish to learn more of the ongoing news of this miraculous event, contact my Web Site at wwv.levitation@Ballymanny.com, or telephone Ballymanny 22684, calls 50p per minute.

Nan Young

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