Monday, June 01, 2020

A Tribute To Peggy Hodgson

(From left to right: Janet, Billy, Peggy, Johnny, and Margaret Hodgson.)

(I'm going to be citing Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair's Enfield tapes below. I'll use "MG" to refer to tapes from Grosse's collection and "GP" to refer to those from Playfair's. So, MG12A is Grosse's tape 12A, GP58B is Playfair's tape 58B, etc.)

The one person involved in the Enfield case who probably witnessed and suffered more than anybody else, and contributed to the good that's been done through the case more than anybody, is Peggy Hodgson. Her story ought to be told more than it has been.

In early November of 1977, apparently while at his own house one day, Maurice Grosse recorded some of his thoughts on the Enfield case:

"Mrs. Hodgson has been a very strong character…if it hadn't have been for this strength, I doubt whether we would have continued with this investigation as far as we have gotten….I think that in some respects this case has been remarkable for the amazing way that the people involved in it - the Hodgson family, the Burcombes, and the Nottinghams - have behaved during the whole of the investigation. They have behaved with an enormous amount of common sense. The incredible lack of hysteria at any time has been quite remarkable, considering that some of the things that have happened have been very frightening indeed." (MG14A, 17:29)

Guy Playfair opened his book on Enfield with a description of what it's like to experience a poltergeist:

What would you do if a piece of your furniture suddenly slid along the floor on its own in front of your eyes? Think for a moment and be honest with yourself. What would you actually do?

Maybe, after getting over the initial shock, you would shrug your shoulders, assume it must have had something to do with mice or an earthquake, and just hope it doesn't happen again.

But it does happen again. And again. And all sorts of even odder things happen as well. Stones fall on your kitchen floor, as if they had come through the ceiling. Somebody - or something - starts banging on the wall. Things disappear and reappear somewhere else. Before long, you realise that it can't be anything to do with earthquakes or mice, but must be something else, something wholly inexplicable and very frightening. You know these things can't happen yet you also know they are happening.

Whatever you would do next, or like to think you would, I can tell you what people who have found themselves in this predicament have done….

As word spreads around that something spooky is going on in your house, you suddenly find your friends pointedly looking the other way when you pass them in the street. People give you funny looks in the local shops. Passers-by stop and stare at your house. You receive malicious phone calls and threatening letters. In short, your life is ruined.

(This House Is Haunted [United States: White Crow Books, 2011], vii)

He's addressing poltergeists in general, not just Enfield, and different aspects of what he refers to happened in the Enfield case to different degrees. But the general thrust of what he's describing is applicable to Enfield.

Later in the book, he wrote concerning Peggy's reputation:

"A social worker gave her opinion of [Peggy], whom she knew well. 'She strikes me as a four-square, foot-on-the-ground type of woman, not prone to hysteria,' she said. 'It's a close-knit family, and she keeps the place clean and does as well as she can with slender resources.' The [Hodgsons] clearly had a good reputation in their community, and were liked by all who knew them….Here I should emphasize, at the risk of repetition, that of all the many people who met [Peggy] throughout the case, including a number of highly sceptical journalists (and indeed researchers), not one ever suggested that she struck them as other than thoroughly honest, with a habit of describing things exactly as she saw them." (52-53, 221)

Playfair's quote of what a social worker said about Peggy comes from a meeting Grosse had with some officials affiliated with Janet's school in early October of 1977. Another individual at the meeting, whose name I don't know, said of Peggy:

"I agree, she's always struck me as the sort who's very, sort of, down-to-earth type. She's certainly not the sort to ever ask for help." (MG4A, 6:47)

Go here to watch Mary Rose Barrington commenting on how impressed she was with Peggy. And Douglas Bence comments on her integrity here and here.

Melvyn Willin's recent book on Enfield provides some examples of others involved in the case speaking highly of Peggy. For example, John Stiles referred to her as "sensible and sincere" (The Enfield Poltergeist Tapes [United States: White Crow Books, 2019], 78). Alan Gauld referred to her "good faith" (81). Bernard Carr found her an honest person (90). Richard Grosse referred to her "honesty and integrity" (91). Hugh Pincott described her as "a lovely uncomplicated Cockney lady" (121).

The first chapter of Playfair's book is titled "Blitz". He mentions that Peggy compared living through the poltergeist to her experience living through Germany's assault on England during World War II (5). That experience during the war, the unusually difficult divorce she went through, and some other aspects of her background probably helped prepare her for what she went through later with the poltergeist. But I want to focus on one factor.

There are a few comments you often hear her make on Grosse and Playfair's tapes, all of them in response to the poltergeist:

"Don't you dare!"

"Oh no, you don't!"

"I'm watching you!"

She often reacted to the poltergeist as if it was an unruly child who needed to be disciplined. On one of Playfair's earliest tapes (September 21, 1977), you can hear her talking to Playfair about how she thinks the poltergeist is the spirit of a deceased child (GP2B, 32:12). But she expressed other views on other occasions and acknowledged that she didn't know much about who the poltergeist was. Still, she often responded to it as though it was a child, and I suspect that was largely because being a mother was such a big part of who she was. She carried that mindset into other areas of her life, even when interacting with the poltergeist.

It's evident on the tapes that she loved her children. She was especially protective of Billy. Much of what she did with regard to the poltergeist was done for her children's welfare. In his book, Playfair mentions something significant that happened in the opening days of the case. George Fallows of the Daily Mirror told Peggy that he thought it would be a good idea to contact the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) for help. Just after he mentioned the SPR, Peggy fainted. Playfair explains:

"She had misunderstood what he had just said. She thought he was going to call in a psychiatrist. She had some reason to be wary of members of this profession, for the local child welfare psychiatrist had apparently been responsible for having [Johnny Hodgson] sent to what his mother always referred to as 'residential school', which was in fact a school for problem children. Yet neither the psychiatrist nor anybody else had ever explained to Mrs. [Hodgson] what [Johnny's] problem was. All she knew about psychiatrists was that one of them had taken her eldest boy from home. And that was all she wanted to know." (9)

Her reaction to Fallows' mentioning of the SPR suggests her sincerity. I'm not aware of any way she had of anticipating what Fallows was going to say, and, even if she had anticipated it, who would go to the trouble of faking a fainting in response? The best explanation for why she fainted is that she sincerely misunderstood what Fallows said, apparently in the manner described by Playfair. And she probably wouldn't have misunderstood his comment if she was faking the poltergeist. Given the high quality of the Enfield case, such as how well it aligns with the characteristics of other poltergeist cases, a lot of research would need to be done in order to fake something like that. How would you do that level of research, yet have not heard of the SPR before and have mistaken "psychical" for "psychiatric"? As I mentioned in an earlier post, there were other occasions on which Peggy made similar mistakes, such as getting the SPR's name wrong and referring to a Ouija board as a "Luigi board". It seems that she was sincerely ignorant about such matters, and that doesn't go well with any fraud hypothesis for the Enfield case. The fainting incident illustrates both the concern she had for her children and her sincerity about the poltergeist.

Go here to watch Graham Morris and Douglas Bence of the Daily Mirror commenting on how disturbed Peggy was about the poltergeist when they began covering the case for their paper. Here's Grosse making similar comments.

In my post last year about the trance states the children experienced, I mentioned how Peggy was affected by seeing what her children, especially Janet, went through. During one of the episodes, she commented that "It cuts you in pieces inside." (GP20B, 13:35) The situation with these trance states was especially bad in mid to late November of 1977. Peggy was ill at the time, so much so that she couldn't take care of her children. (See the segment here in a November 1977 television program that alludes to the situation.) In his book, Playfair refers to how Peggy had "collapsed in total exhaustion" and had a "breakdown" around this time (81, 88), and it's sometimes said that she had a nervous breakdown at least once during the case. Notice, again, what sort of skill, planning, and such it would have taken to have faked all of that, and notice how counterproductive it would be, how it would put Peggy at risk of losing access to more of her children. In fact, at a symposium held by the SPR in March of 1978, Playfair commented, "There was then a week off at the end of November, when the two kids were put into council home, because the mother was simply not capable of coping. And I assure you, she really wasn't. And that wasn't fraud." (MG83B, 40:18) It's far more likely that she was sincere than that she was faking everything.

There were at least two occasions when she came close to committing suicide. On the day of the first instance, in early 1978, Peggy Nottingham commented about talking to Peggy that morning:

"I see her coming down the road, and I just called her in, just to see how she was. And she came in, and she sat down on the chair, and, as I say, she's really gone through a lot, hasn't she? She really has, and I think she's put up with a lot, too much for anyone. And she sat on the chair, and she just sat there and broke down. And she said, 'I got up this morning, and I see some tablets in the cupboard, bottle of tablets,' she said, 'and I got a hold of them in me hand. And I thought of the children.' She said, 'Otherwise,' she said, 'if it hadn't been for my children,' she said, 'I would have took the lot of [the tablets] and finished my life.'" (MG79A, 16:04)

The other occasion when she contemplated suicide was in the middle of 1979. John Burcombe referred to it in a conversation with Grosse (MG95B, 17:08).

It's unlikely that she was putting on an act, for a variety of reasons (the humiliating nature of admitting a suicide contemplation, the danger of losing access to her children if she was known to be in that sort of condition, etc.). If she was putting on an act, why did she tell so few people about it and, according to Playfair (GP39A, 35:37), why was there initially an attempt to try to prevent other people from finding out about it? I don't recall seeing anybody discuss it publicly before Melvyn Willin mentioned it in his book on Enfield that came out last year.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, John Rainbow made some significant comments about Peggy in an interview with Grosse. He remarked that he felt sorry for Peggy and had noticed that the poltergeist seemed to be taking a toll on her, that her physical appearance had been deteriorating lately (MG84B, 14:19). The way Grosse worded his question to Rainbow, asking whether he'd noticed "the deterioration" in her appearance, suggests that Grosse had noticed it as well. So, it wasn't just the perception of one person. That deterioration in her appearance is further evidence of her sincerity.

Keep in mind that Peggy was in the house alone, which is a difficult experience to go through under such circumstances, more than anybody else and continued to live in the house, with ongoing paranormal activity, until the time of her death in 2003. (For an explanation of why they didn't leave the house, see the opening paragraph of the post here and the opening section of the one here.) Grosse and Playfair (and David Robertson) were frequently at the house during the height of the poltergeist's activities, in the late 1970s. But when they weren't present during that timeframe, it usually fell to Peggy to lead the family and make decisions under such difficult circumstances. Those are heavy burdens to carry.

I don't want to give the impression that she was perpetually morose or anything like that. Like others involved in the case, she went through a variety of moods. She was often cheerful, and she was carrying out her normal daily responsibilities during most of the case. But she did go through phases like the ones described above, and they provide strong evidence for her sincerity about the poltergeist. I've given many other lines of evidence for her sincerity in previous posts (e.g., here).

I've cited the positive comments many individuals made about Peggy. But some made more ambiguous or negative remarks about the family as a whole or Peggy in particular. Willin's book on Enfield that I cited earlier provides some examples. Francis Huxley commented on how Peggy didn't do much to control the situation inasmuch as the poltergeist voice would often swear and be rude without being admonished by her (79). He also mentioned that Peggy was "almost like the stage-manager of the show" (79), to quote Willin's summary of Huxley's comments. Charles Moses, though he thought the case was genuinely paranormal, considered some of the phenomena inauthentic and referred to Peggy's loneliness as a contributing factor to the situation (81). Peter Dear commented on how "The general feeling I got was that the family enjoyed the attention and the visitors they were getting" (85). Carr's reference to Peggy's honesty, referred to earlier in this post, was accompanied by the qualifier that she possibly was gullible as well (90). Eleanor O'Keefe referred to how the family "were enjoying some satisfaction in being the centre of attraction for so many experienced people, in fact, people they would not normally come in contact with" (90). Some of the individuals cited by Willin referred to a visitors' book the Hodgsons kept, apparently something they had visitors sign (85, 123). Their keeping such a book is considered suspicious.

I don't think those more ambiguous or negative assessments of Peggy amount to much. All of the individuals in question only spent a small amount of time at the house, and none of them interacted with Peggy much outside of that context, as far as I know. They also visited after the case had been going on for months, which means that the family had had time to become much more accustomed to the poltergeist than they were initially, had been calmed down by the investigators, etc.

The judgment that the family enjoyed getting so much attention doesn't have much significance. There's nothing inherently wrong with enjoying attention. The judgment that they enjoyed it in an inappropriate way is somewhat subjective. And even if Peggy was wrong in some manner in that context, it wouldn't be much of a problem. If she was interested in attention in some inappropriate way, then you can criticize her for that. But it would be a relatively minor flaw in her character that would be outweighed by the other factors involved, some of which I've discussed above.

I don't know much about the visitors' book. On the basis of what little I know, I suspect it was a bad idea. However, keeping such records (visitors' books at weddings, visitors' books at funerals, etc.) is common practice, and I don't know much about Peggy's motives for keeping the book (e.g., how much she did it at the initiation of one or more of her children).

Huxley's comments about Peggy not admonishing the poltergeist voice need to be evaluated in a larger context. He visited the house during the second half of February of 1978. The voice had already been active for more than two months at that point. Peggy and others had tried many times to change the voice's behavior, which often made the situation worse. There were occasions when Grosse and Playfair recommended not responding to the voice. If Peggy was following their counsel at the time of Huxley's visit, or had decided on her own initiative that it would be better to not respond to the voice or not respond as Huxley wanted her to, I think that's understandable and justifiable. As I argued in my article on the voice last year, saying that the voice should be silenced (or admonished) is one thing. Doing it yourself is something else. See the section of my article titled "Janet's Resistance To Testing".

What Willin cites from Moses, regarding Peggy's loneliness, is highly ambiguous. There are some tapes in Grosse's collection featuring Moses' visit to the house in January of 1978, and Moses sent Grosse a tape of his (Moses') thoughts on the case shortly after that visit. Though Moses is, in these contexts, generally positive about the paranormality of the case and Grosse's work on it, he occasionally reaches some negative conclusions. On the issues most relevant here, he's highly speculative. When he visited the Hodgsons' house and in his taped comments to Grosse afterward, Moses gave a lot of attention to psychological issues, often ones of a largely speculative nature (how difficulties in the lives of the family may have brought on the poltergeist, what psychological interests different members of the family may have had in various contexts, etc.). In his taped comments to Grosse, Moses puts forward a lot of possible explanations for various aspects of the case, and part of what he discusses is how Peggy might have been "involved" in faked events "consciously or subconsciously" (MG69A, 9:43), though he didn't have any evidence that it was probable that she faked anything.

The closest he gets to that kind of evidence is an occasion when he asked Peggy if anything paranormal had happened that day, and she responded that she didn't recall anything, only to later mention that she'd seen a container move by itself (25:24). Moses mentions that it's suspicious that she didn't initially remember the event. But I see no reason to be suspicious. Moses' interaction with Peggy in this context was recorded on one of Grosse's tapes (MG67A, 27:58). Moses and Peggy had been discussing many paranormal events, including ones that happened recently. He then asks her if anything had happened that day. There's a pause of about five seconds, then Peggy says, "Nothing I can call to mind." Grosse then asks about a book moving, and asks Peggy when it happened. She explains that it occurred "last night". She then comments, "Oh, yes, something did happen…", at which point Grosse laughs and remarks that it's hard to recall precisely when some things occurred, since they happen so often. Peggy then goes into a lot of detail about the container moving earlier that day. Moses asked her the question at 27:58, and she commented on remembering an event earlier that day at 28:12. So, it took her less than 15 seconds to remember it, even though she didn't initially remember the event. Given the amount of detail she goes into afterward, her difficulty in remembering what happened probably was a matter of pinpointing the timing of the event, not a matter of forgetting the event altogether. And Margaret participates in the discussion, mentioning how she was around when the event happened. It would be unreasonable to dismiss the agreed testimony of two witnesses just because the first one Moses talked to didn't initially remember that the event occurred earlier that day.

Though Moses raises the possibility that Peggy was consciously or subconsciously involved in some way in faking incidents, misremembering them, and so on, he also affirms the paranormality of the case, acknowledges that Peggy was "frightened" by some of the events (MG69A, 25:14), and refers to how "she is a wonderful, and she is a warm, woman" (26:04). So, I think Moses' concerns about Peggy are so insignificant, and his positive comments about her and the overall case are so much more weighty, that his objections don't amount to much.

The most formidable and sustained negative assessment of Peggy that I'm aware of is Anita Gregory's. For example:

"In my experience, and also during the broadcast interview she gave (118) she made virtually no claims and rather passively and miserably treated each new manifestation with mildly unhappy resignation, as yet another misfortune such as her ill-health (it seems she was or had been an epileptic), and her ex-husband's disgraceful treatment of her. Although I too found her an intelligent and ostensibly accurate informant when she provided factual information (e.g. about dates of her own life, her daughters' periods, the fact that phenomena had started at the [Nottinghams']) my estimate of her role coincides roughly with that of her brother which I have cited above (p. 193) (119). She was far too inert, passive and generally unwell to be thought of as an 'investigator'." (page 195 in Gregory's doctoral thesis)

Regarding Gregory's experiences interacting with Peggy, see my recent post on what Enfield skeptics actually experienced at the Hodgsons' house. Not only did Peggy make significant claims about paranormal events in Gregory's presence, but you can even hear Gregory, on tape, responding as if she's impressed. The "broadcast interview" she's referring to is a 1978 documentary that aired on BBC Radio. You can listen to it here. If you listen to Peggy's claims beginning at 1:00, 6:09, 15:11, 19:04, and 39:05 (click on each time marker to listen), you can hear her referring to a large number of paranormal events she experienced, some of them highly significant. Furthermore, I've read a lot of books and articles on Enfield, have listened to hundreds of hours of tapes recorded in the Hodgsons' house, have discussed the case at length with David Robertson, etc., and there's a vast amount of paranormal activity Peggy claimed to have witnessed outside of the contexts Gregory cites above. On the tapes alone, there has to be at least a triple-digit number of paranormal events Peggy is recorded or reported witnessing, many of them highly significant (e.g., seeing the poltergeist rip a fireplace out of a wall on October 26, 1977; seeing Janet dragged out of bed by the poltergeist multiple times on December 3, 1977; seeing Janet levitate in a horizontal position several times on May 30, 1978). So, Gregory's assertion that Peggy made "virtually no claims" is demonstrably false in the context in which Gregory made that assertion and even more false in the larger context of the Enfield case as a whole.

Concerning Peggy's alleged misery, unhappiness, and such, there are many occasions on the tapes (and in Playfair's book, etc.) when she's happy, carrying on normal conversations, and so forth. That includes occasions when she showed interest in helping the investigators research the case, discussed paranormal issues without the sort of misery and resignation Gregory refers to, and sometimes even found amusement in the activities of the poltergeist and people's interactions with it. Gregory herself referred elsewhere to how the Hodgsons "always welcomed me most cordially" (Journal Of The Society For Psychical Research, vol. 50, 1979-80, p. 540). Earlier in her thesis, she refers to how, on her May 21, 1978 visit, "Mrs. [Hodgson], Janet, Margaret and Billy all seemed pleased to see me" (172). Gregory goes on to mention that "I also, whilst talking to Mrs. [Hodgson], probed for possible stressful events prior to the onset of the case" (173). It's to be expected that Peggy would discuss some of her bad experiences in life when people like Charles Moses and Anita Gregory put so much effort into probing for that sort of information.

On the one hand, concerns are raised about how Peggy is so unhappy, lonely, etc. On the other hand, we're told that she was getting too much enjoyment out of the attention she was receiving and was like the stage manager of a show.

Regarding how inert, passive, and such she allegedly was, keep in mind that she was a single mother raising four children in a low-income home, with significant health problems, while experiencing an unusually active poltergeist and everything that went with it (many visitors, interacting with the media, etc.). In December of 1977, she estimated that the poltergeist's activities at the time were keeping her up "half the night" five nights a week (GP20A, 3:19). She spent months going to bed with her daytime clothes on instead of changing into more comfortable clothing (MG61B, 21:18), because the poltergeist tended to keep her so active into the night (rather than "inert", as Gregory put it). Peggy frequently took notes on what the poltergeist did while the researchers were away. She also provided many taped interviews for Grosse and Playfair, in which she went into a lot of depth about what she and others had experienced with the poltergeist. She would often participate in discussions of a more abstract nature, such as her views on the identity of the poltergeist and other paranormal issues (e.g., her discussion with Matthew Manning and others on tape GP26B). She took the initiative to do things like following Playfair upstairs when something was heard up there, so that there would be an additional witness if anything paranormal occurred (GP2B, 30:33). In February of 1978, she commented on how she "always" looks around the house when she comes in, to see if anything has been disturbed by the poltergeist while she's been away (GP34B, 28:04). In the spring of 1979, she referred to how she had implemented a regular practice of checking the children's clothes and beds for any hidden items before bedtime (MG95A, 11:05, 12:30). She would often stay up until one or more of the children had gone to sleep, in order to monitor what was going on (13:59, 23:45). In addition to her responsibilities as a mother, she cleaned up after the poltergeist, which frequently made a mess of the house, often late at night. I could go on, but shouldn't need to.

Peggy is sometimes accused of not disciplining her children enough. No parent is perfect, and I don't agree with how she handled every incident recorded on the tapes and elsewhere, but more ought to be said in her defense. Anita Gregory wrote in her doctoral thesis, "According to my subsequent recollections, as I entered the house [on September 18, 1977] there was a loud slap followed by louder howling on the part of a small boy: Mrs. [Hodgson] had cuffed Billy's face for breaking something or other….on no other occasion did I ever see Mrs. [Hodgson] even quite mildly self-assertive, let alone punitively aggressive" (159). The fact that Gregory witnessed even one such incident is significant. It's common for parents to put off discipline until after guests have left or to discipline their children less when guests are around than when no guests are present. And Gregory only visited the house a single-digit number of times (seven times, I believe). Furthermore, there are quite a few times on the tapes when Peggy is "mildly self-assertive" or more. On one occasion, Peggy commented to Janet, "If I hit you, I'm going to hurt you. You're asking for it." (GP57B, 22:52) Peggy goes on to refer to how Janet will "feel it" (23:11). I seem to recall another occasion when she made a comment to one or more of the children about how they'll "feel it" if she has to get up to discipline them, though I unfortunately don't seem to have written the location of that comment in my notes. The threat that "you'll feel it" seems to have been one she used somewhat often, at least a couple of times on the tapes. So, what Gregory experienced when she visited the house for the first time, when she heard Billy being slapped by Peggy, wasn't an isolated incident. Peggy also reprimands the children verbally on many occasions: angrily saying "This is no game." when the girls are behaving frivolously (MG19A, 35:54), telling Janet that she's not to play games and that they need to get to sleep (MG31B, 5:05), etc. Again, my point isn't that Peggy handled every situation perfectly. Who would, especially under such difficult circumstances? But she conducted herself far better than Gregory suggests.

Elsewhere in her thesis, Gregory writes of how John Burcombe allegedly told her that Peggy "didn't have the strength, and never had had, to say what was to happen in her own house. Just as she had knuckled under to the father all along the line, [she] now just gave in to all the visitors. She should occasionally say 'no, not tonight - go home!' but she never did and never would: she enjoyed all the attention far too much." (167) Burcombe denied that he said everything Gregory attributed to him, though I don't know how much of what I just quoted he would have denied having said, if anything. But the sentiments Gregory attributed to Burcombe are inaccurate, regardless of whether he expressed them.

And notice that Peggy could be criticized either way. If she's highly accommodating to visitors, she can be criticized as Gregory does above. If Peggy is less accommodating to visitors, she can be criticized for being inhospitable, uncooperative, trying to hide something, etc. For example, in a 2015 article on Enfield, Deborah Hyde wrote:

"In fact it was hard to see how more rigid data-collection could have occurred at all, as the site was a home with an understandably protective mother. 'Mrs [Hodgson] made it very clear to Grosse [the other investigator – DH] and I … that while we … were welcome at any time, she did not want the others in her house again' wrote Playfair in the aftermath of a visit from doubters who thought the girls were playing up."

Notice how much Hyde's criticism of Peggy contradicts Gregory's. Hyde claims that Peggy prevented any significant data collection, was "protective", took the initiative to prevent a group of investigators from returning, etc. In a response to Hyde a few years ago, I demonstrated that she's wrong about some of what she says above. See here.

But she's right about Peggy responding negatively to the visitors in question (for different reasons than the ones Hyde cites). Peggy did say that she didn't want those investigators back in the house. And that's an example of Gregory being wrong when she claims that Peggy never exerted control and never said "no" to visitors. Playfair gives another example in his book, recounting an occasion when a man offered Peggy some money to let him spend a night in the house, which she declined (112).

She was generally accommodating to visitors, though. And for the most part, that was a virtue, not a vice.

I want to make one last point about her alleged complacency. Near the beginning of this article, I mentioned a few comments she often made to the poltergeist: "Don't you dare!"; "Oh no, you don't!"; "I'm watching you!" Those comments, as well as a lot of other remarks she made and what she did in other contexts, reflect her defiance toward the poltergeist. There are many occasions on the tapes when you hear her saying that she's not going to move when the poltergeist is prodding her, that she's not going to give it what it wants, that she's not going to accommodate it in one way or another. For all of her accommodating of her children and investigators and other visitors, which seems to have been primarily motivated by good intentions and good aspects of her character, she was defiant toward the poltergeist. She had the ability and willingness to be defiant. For the most part, the fact that she directed her defiance so much at the poltergeist, and so little at her children and visitors, should be commended, not criticized.

It ought to be said that though I've cited some negative comments Gregory and others made about Peggy, my sense is that the large majority of the relevant sources held a positive view of her. Most of the people I've cited who made negative comments weren't saying much, and what little they said was based on little knowledge of her and little time spent at the house. As far as I recall, none of them accused her of faking any paranormal events, and they never interacted with the large majority of her testimony about what she experienced.

She never recanted her claims about the poltergeist. And she never got the sort of attention and money she could have gotten from the case if she had been making things up for attention or money. In fact, the lack of attention and money is striking. A 1978 documentary on BBC Radio concluded with Peggy commenting that although the phenomena had largely diminished, "You always get the feeling when you go up there [the upper floor of the house] that you're never alone. I lie awake, and my eyes go all around the room, and I think to myself, 'Where is it?' You know what I mean? 'Where is it, and who is it?'" She would live in that house for another 25 years, until her death in 2003, and phenomena continued to the time of her death and afterward, when the next occupants were there. Near the end of a 2008 documentary, Playfair commented, "Mrs. Hodgson, who, sadly, died recently, she was very much affected by the whole thing, and it's very, very upsetting. It's something you can't ever really get over."

In a discussion with Hans Bender in April of 1978, Playfair commented on Peggy, "I know this woman very well. She is 100% honest, very, very honest and simple, sincere." (GP39B, 7:06) On the tapes (and elsewhere), she comes across as not only an unusually honest person, but also unusually careful and kind. In his book, Playfair wrote, "Peggy was a woman of great courage, strength and determination who survived an ordeal that no mother should ever have to face. She was wonderfully cooperative and hospitable throughout the case" (x-xi). The first edition of his book had no dedication. The final edition is dedicated "To Peggy and Maurice". It's fitting that she be mentioned first, not only because she witnessed more and suffered more than anybody else involved in the case, but also because the investigation and much of the documentation wouldn't have occurred without her allowing it and doing so much to advance it.

In his contribution to Melvyn Willin's recent book, Hugh Pincott refers to Enfield as "one of the classic cases - if only because of the sheer volume of recorded high-quality evidence - which should repay careful detailed study by future researchers." (124) I consider Enfield the most important poltergeist case in history, and Peggy is the most important witness in that case. Her legacy will benefit not only future researchers, but also the general public and people who go through experiences like what she and her family went through.

Well, see, the one thing, Robbie, that made me really quite angry on this case, and also Maurice, was that during the worst of the activity, this [Hodgson] family was under very severe stress. They were having a terrible time. Now, if they had been, let's say, suffering from, I don't know, flu or typhoid or something, they would have had all kinds of help and sympathy from the neighbors. Just because they happened to be suffering from a clinical syndrome which is not understood, they get ridiculed and laughed at.…

I would like to say that Mrs. [Hodgson] and her family have really made a very major contribution to human knowledge. They were an extremely cooperative and very nice family, and they have done a tremendous lot for everybody. (Guy Playfair, GP43B, 11:08)

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