I was extremely shocked to hear that Sara, my close friend, has died. We always used to chat and joke on facebook while I was doing my radio show. She loved the Monkees and this song was one of her favourites. I can't believe you've gone. I will always miss you. You really were an angel. My thoughts are with all your children at this sad time.
In My Life – An interview with John West, author and presenter
What is your full name? John Leslie West. I was named after my grandfather.
Where we you born?
In a hospital, I hope! I was born in Edmonton, North London. I’m from the
smoke, as we say in London.
What’s your height, weight and colouring?
I’m 5’9, weigh just over 10 stone and have green eyes and brown hair. I’m
white. Well, I was the last time I looked in the shower!
Do you have any brothers and sisters?
One. Gary is his name. He lives in Hertfordshire. He’s nine years older
What was your very first ambition?
I wanted to be an astronaut or John Noakes! John Noakes was a presenter on
Blue Peter. He used to do all the stunts like climbing Nelson’s Column or
falling out of planes! I did apply to Blue Peter but got turned down. Sob!
Where do you live?
In a building. It’s better than living under a hedge!
What girls are you most attracted to?
Girls who are mystical with long dark hair, brains and nice figures. In
other words, like Kate Bush. Is she available?????
Do you enjoy sports?
Yes, Kate Bush. See above!
I hate all sports. Boring, boring, boring! I never even watched the
Olympics. I had some paint that I needed to watch dry.
What would you do if you won a million?
Faint. Then I’d wake up and faint all over again!
What was the biggest thrill of your life?
Oh, I don’t know. Two probably! Getting my first book published and then
co-presenting a BBC Radio documentary based on the same book. Fab!
What was it about?
Roman Lincoln, a guide to the Roman remains of the city. I did others on
Oliver Cromwell and Victorian murders. Plus, a few articles on ghosts and
How did you get involved in writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and I decided to have a go at getting something
published. I picked Lincoln because I lived near there. The Romans had always
fascinated me and so I picked them for my first attempt! I wrote the guide and
then approached a publisher with the completed manuscript.. They said yes! I
then followed it up with guides to Oliver Cromwell, Roman York and a study of
Yes, I’ve always been interested in true crime, especially unsolved crimes
like Jack the Ripper. Blame my mum! She had books on the subject and I used to
So who do you think was Jack the Ripper?
Queen Victoria’s pet poodle! No, only joking! I really haven’t a clue. Too
many suspects, too many theories!
Who are your closest friends?
Me and a big spider that lives in my bedroom. No, that’s wrong - I hope!
Paul Salmon and Jim Corrigan. Known them for years.
Who do you admire the most?
Oliver Cromwell. Great leader, great soldier. And he kicked out all those
corrupt politicians. So good for him!
You don’t have a high opinion of politicians?
NO! I used to be one myself. I actually stood for a couple of parties. I found
the majority of politicians to more interested in making lots of money and their
motto was ‘to hell with the country’.
So you don’t vote?
Nope. I regard all the major parties in Britain as the same – awful!
How do you relax?
By not voting for David Cameron or his Labour, UKIP and Lib Dem chums! I also
watch TV, listen to music, read, go for walks, all the usual boring stuff!
You’re a DJ. How did you get involved in that?
I never intended to become one, honest! It was never my ambition at school.
I used to listen to the radio, my favourite DJ’s were Noel Edmonds and Kenny
Everett. I never imagined that I’d follow in their footsteps and end up
broadcasting to the Ze World. Ja!
I saw an advert in Ipswich about free radio presenting courses. Ipswich
Radio was the name. I went along and ended up presenting two breakfast shows.
One was with Terry Mackley, a musician and a very funny fellow! We interviewed
loads of interesting people. Neil Innes of Monty Python fame and Helen Shapiro,
60’s pop star were my two personal fav guests. The only downside was getting
I did a year with ICR and then I left to join Radio Castle, a new station
based in Framlingham, Suffolk. I do two shows with them twice a week - Sunday
and Tuesday at 9am. Terry also does the odd show for them too.
What music do you play?
50’s, 60’s, 70’s and largely 80’s stuff. I do the odd interview too. People
say they like it, so that’s good!
Who are your favourite bands?
The Beatles and the Monkees.
What are your favourite TV shows?
New ones would be Mr Selfridge, Foyles’s War and Midsomer Murders. Old ones
would be Space 1999 Series One. The Prisoner, Star Trek, the Monkees, Man About
the House, On the Buses. Loads more! Too many to list!
Charlton Heston and Errol Flynn. Love em!
Colin Wilson, Elliot O’Donnell, H.V. Morton, Conan Doyle and W.H. Hudson. A
mixture of ghost hunters, travel writers, philosophers and novelists. Look em
Tell us about the ghost hunts you do? How did that happen?
A long story! I’ve been interested in ghosts since I was a child. I was
about nine, I think. Blame my mum again! She had loads of books on the subject
and I used to read them. One of my favourite ghost hunters was this chap called
Elliot O’Donnell. He published loads of books on the subject back in the 20’s
and 30’s. I read them and thought, I’d like to do that myself!
Anyway, I joined ICR and I ended up as a guest on a show called ‘Eternal
Spirit’. I went on there to talk about my interest in ghosts. It was presented
by someone called Paul Salmon, a psychic medium. No tuna jokes please! During
the show, I asked if he’d like to get involved in ghost hunting. He said no! I
felt a bit disappointed but he later changed his mind. So off we went to Felixstowe
TV and I plugged my idea to them. They said yes and we did several shows for
the station. The format was a simple one – I picked a location, did all the
research. Paul was not told where we would be going. We’d take him to the
supposed haunted location and then see what he picked up!
Where did you go?
Leiston Abbey, Landguard Fort, Potsford Wood, Castle Inn, Woolpack. All in
Suffolk and all in daylight!
Ghost hunting at Leiston Abbey with Paul Salmon and Sara Jones
Did you experience anything at these locations?
Paul got loads of things. Names and messages from the past mainly. He also
saw a black shape at Leiston Abbey. It turned out that the site was supposed to
haunted by a black dog. We didn’t know that at the time.
I had a funny experience at Landguard Fort in Felixstowe. I was walking on
the ramparts and suddenly experienced a terrible pain in the head. It turned
out that at that very spot a soldier had been killed during an attack on the
fort in the 17th Century. He’d been shot in the head!
Why daylight? Aren’t ghosts only supposed to appear at night?
Nope! That’s a myth. Many ghost sightings have been made during the day. You
can blame certain TV shows for giving the false impression that ghosts and
spirits only appear at night!
But aren’t ghosts and spirits the same thing?
Nope again! Ghosts are recordings, like a video tape really. They keep
repeating the same actions, just as they did in life. They are not conscious
entities. It would like expecting Clint Eastwood to be aware that you are
watching him on TV! Spirits are different. They are conscious of their
surroundings and can interact with living people. Souls if you like.
What are orbs?
Balls of light, usually captured on digital cameras. Many paranormal
investigators believe that they are the spirits of the dead. Others believe
that they are just dust particles, water droplets or insects caught in the
flash of a camera. Others could be down to lens flares or even damage to the
camera. I would say that at least 80% of orbs can be explained away as the
latter. The other 20%? Who knows!
Do you only do ghost hunts?
No, I have also presented a show called ‘Joining John’. It’s an interview
show. I once interviewed Richard Felix of Most Haunted fame.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to carry on presenting radio shows. I’ve also filmed three pilot
shows on ghosts for a company called East Media. I’m now chatting to a TV
company about turning them into a series. So all my fingers and toes are
crossed for that one! And I’d love to work with Peter Underwood, author and
ghost hunter. He’s been ghost hunting for decades. Imagine what I could learn
One last question – what haunted location would you love to investigate
above all others?
The Tower of London. It’s full of ghosts and spirits. Think of all that
history. Executions, ghostly bears, unearthly groans and phantom ladies. What
more could a ghost hunter ask for!