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Gavin Greig [userpic]

The Ghost of Tiger Bay

March 28th, 2009 (11:34 am)
current location: KY16 8SX

A mysterious figure caught on camera by Google Street View is inflaming the imaginations of, er, gullible people throughout the land; an allegedly ghostly woman in Victorian clothes (more Edwardian, as it turns out) has been spotted in the centre of Cardiff. You can read one of the resulting news stories in the Torygraph. Given the lack of any basic analysis or criticism in the story, I find it amusing – and slightly worrying – that it’s in the Science and Technology section.

Tiger Bay Ghost

Take a look at the alleged ghost on Street View for yourself. Looks pretty solid to me.

The local medium quoted in the Torygraph story is all worked up because:

  1. “she is dressed in clothes that you just don’t see these days unless it’s in a period drama on TV”
  2. “what is really strange is that she doesn’t appear as a full figure – you can’t see all of her.”

Point 2 is easily addressed; in fact I’m amazed that it isn’t obvious even to the medium and the journalist. Her feet are obscured by graphical artefacts (flaws caused by the processing the picture has undergone) where photos have been poorly stitched together. Sometimes it’s unavoidable due to camera angles, and of course you can see the same effect in many other places on Street View.

You can see the lady more clearly by moving one stop down the street and looking back:

Tiger Bay Ghost 2

Still looking pretty solid, and wow, she has feet!

Point 1 has me slightly mystified too. A very obviously real-looking person – OK, let’s downgrade it to pretty obviously real, to allow for ignorance of stitching artefacts – has  been judged to be a ghost because of the clothes she’s wearing.

First of all, I’m not familiar with Cardiff myself, but it has at least one university. It’s not unusual to find unconventional dressers in a university town. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone dressed like this in St. Andrews, at least not more than to think “Ooh, nice gear. And chutzpah.”

Secondly, anyone who’s seen Doctor Who or certainly Torchwood in recent years might just have an inkling from that distinctive building in the background that the involvement of “period drama on TV” is not entirely out of the question in that location.

Thirdly, it’s interesting to note that what’s currently on in the main theatre inside that building is a production of Mary Poppins. Mysterious figure beginning to ring any bells?

Unfortunately, “thirdly” is a bit of a red herring, as the photos were taken in June last year. It’s probably just a coincidence. But it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that it’s all part of a grand conspiracy with the production dates taken into account, because:

Here’s the real explanation behind that image. It “really is” Mary Poppins. Google planted her there, as they did with other fictional characters in other locations. (I wasn’t able to find Sherlock Holmes in Oxford, I’m afraid. Edit: Turns out it was Cambridge.)


Posted by: silverwhistle (silverwhistle)
Posted at: March 28th, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC)
Smiley Rosa

It’s not unusual to find unconventional dressers in a university town. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone dressed like this in St. Andrews, at least not more than to think “Ooh, nice gear. And chutzpah."

Well, it wasn't me.
They might have problems wih some of my wardrobe...

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: March 28th, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
Black Hat

You crossed my mind while writing that! :-)

Although I think it's fair to describe older dress styles as unconventional, because now they are, I get quite impatient with people who go on to make unwarranted assumptions based on unconventiality. This case is a pretty ludicrous example.

I guess I'm a bit unconventional myself - hat-wearing is not the social requirement it once was!

Posted by: silverwhistle (silverwhistle)
Posted at: March 29th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC)
Unicorn Lady

A chugger on Byres Road once called me "Mary Poppins" because I was wearing a straw hat.

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