Monday, 28 October 2013

A Ghostie Post

One of the many things I love about this time of year is the proliferation of all things spooky. The darker nights lend themselves to creating the perfect atmosphere - light some candles, stoke up the fire and off you go.


As a child I devoured ghostly tales. Usually they were compilations of short stories - read under the sheets with a torch - they were just enough to scare me into not wanting to go to the bathroom on my own! I remember 'The Waxwork' about a man who took up a dare to stay overnight in a wax museum, and 'The Doll's House' with it's slightly too realistic inhabitants. Later on I delved into some Edgar Allan Poe and M.R. James but it wasn't until I found 'The Woman in Black' a few years ago that I was able to revisit those early feelings of being genuinely spooked.

Of course this was also the heyday of Hammer Horror films. Each Friday night we would settle to watch Peter Cushing fight off some demonic beast whilst amply bosomed ladies wilted in the background.


Tales of the Unexpected provided more fuel - the hypnotic title music was often the best part - but it was relished nonetheless (the man who turned into a bee, the wife who 'tidied' her fastidious husband away into his own filing system of screw topped jars).

Several years ago the BBC ran a series of ghost stories running up to Christmas and each one was a treat. If you have never seen the Michael Hordern adaptation of Whistle and I'll Come to You it's a must see. Alongside Dicken's The Signalman. Both call for a nip of brandy to steady the nerves afterwards!

So - have I ever seen a ghost?

For many years I thought I had. At the age of six I woke in the dead of night to go to the bathroom. The door was directly opposite my bedroom and only a few steps away. Alongside the landing was a banister - the solid type that was popular in the 1970's. At the end it opened out on to a smaller landing at the top of the stairs with a window that allowed in the natural light. As I passed this section I froze. Standing in front of me was a young girl. She had a short silver coloured bob and was wearing no shoes. Her sleeveless mint green dress had no sleeves and a pocket with a large white daisy on it. I screamed and to this day remember how long it seemed to take for me to get back to the safety of my own bed and under the covers. Mum and dad were so convinced that someone must have been in the house that they searched high and low but, of course, found nothing. This mystery stayed with me until fairly recently. Watching one of these nostalgic 'let's remember all the kid's shows we grew up with programmes' there - alongside Mr Benn and The Clangers -was my ghost. Frustratingly I can't now remember the name of the character but she was a young girl who used to press the daisy on her pocket to grant a wish. Her clothes and hair were exactly the same as I remembered. I'm pretty sure the hairs must have stood up all the way down to my toes. After all these years the mystery of the girl on the landing was solved. So why even now, sitting in my sunny kitchen with a fresh coffee and Mr K's home made tea loaf, do I still feel a bit shivery?

Mum also has a ghostly tale. When she was three she had a particularly nasty bout of chicken pox. She was tucked up on the old sofa which was pushed up against the window. Outside the snow was falling but through the blur she saw a lady standing on the garden wall. The lady looked down at her and was smiling. Mum called her Grandma over and asked her to look. Of course her Grandma could see nothing so mum went on to describe a young lady with short dark hair and kind eyes. Grandma said nothing. Later on mum discovered that the lady she had been describing was in one of the family pictures - it was in fact her own mum who had died two years previously from tuberculosis. A combination of fever, memory and the hypnotic swirl of the snow - or was it something more?


Grandma Irene - looking after her poorly daughter?

There are many other tales. A close friend tells of hearing his dad having conversations late at night with his Grandad who had died several years before. Mr K once though that his glow-in-the-dark mummy was growing and chased him out of his bedroom! 

Do I still believe in ghosts? Not really. I believe our mind and imagination are incredible things and given the right conditions they will produce experiences that we have no other explanation for. So why is it that I still see things out of the corner of my eye, still imagine that that pile of clothes could be a figure and still have to - on occasion - ask Mr K to accompany me to the bathroom in the middle of the night?

I think there's someone behind you!




Jane

28 comments :

  1. This was a fascinating read! Your grandmother was beautiful, what a nice photo. A lot of people in my family believe in ghosts but I'm not sure if I do. It seems possible though. I remember as a kid hearing a terrifying story in school, of all places, and it bothered me for a long time. The school librarian read it to us from a book of ghost stories. It was about a guy who had to sleep in a cemetery for some reason and "died of fright" because of one of the monuments, a black marble angel named Black Aggie. I don't remember all the details. But what I remember best is that I had just barely gotten over the terror of this story when I went to a slumber party and one of the girls decided to tell it and I went into the crippling fear all over again.

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  2. I do love a good ghost story, loved reading this! I'm open minded about these things, I've never seen a ghost but I've friends who are convinced they have and most of them are pretty sane.....so whooooooo knooooooows! :) x

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  3. I've had several experiences of knowing things I had no rational way of knowing, and various occurances of wierdness like water splashed all over a room and a light outside a window when no one was there. Since being here in this house I've experienced one episode of a possible ghostly encounter. And if it was all in my imagination, it was also in both of the cats too! They could see something/someone that I couldn't. But I could smell him. (Very strong mens aftershave.) I wasn't scared, just baffled as I was alone in the house with my daughter who was asleep.
    It's funny, the story of your 'ghost.' As a child I saw one like a sheet over someones head. Just how a child imagines a ghost!

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  4. Great post today, do I believe? You bet I do.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  5. I loved watching all those spooky shows as a kid! I used to seek out ghosts, every creak at my grandma's house must surely have been a spirit...I love all of it, sure I still believe, why not? I love the mystery of it all...though since having children I don't have the nerves for scary movies like I once had - the film versa of The Woman in Black totally freaked me out, it was brilliant! Thanks for sharing! Chrissie x

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  6. I don't do scary movies, they scare me!... but I do believe there are/can be ghosts, or at least Spirits with unfinished business? A concerned family member checking on their loved ones perhaps?... I rule nothing out in this big wide amazing world, including "other" worlds....
    *Feel free to queue spooky music here...

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  7. OOo or should that be Whoooo! I do love a good ghost story. I have since a child loved all things from the darker side of life. Loved tales of the unexpected too the one I remember most vividly is the one where two men end up at a bording house and never leave. Largely because they are poisoned and then stuffed and join the other missing "guests". And have always been fascinated by vampires too! Loved The woman in Black by Susan Hill also a proper slow burn ghost story.

    We have had some pretty weird experiences here in our house and animals have sensed 'something' too. I wholeheartedly believe in ghosts and other wordly things. How boring would life be otherwise!

    Loved your stories they were brilliant.

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    1. Oh that episode sounds fab - must be available somewhere! x

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  8. oooo ooo spooookeeey ...! but please tell the story of those lovely tiles surrounding that fireplace....they are gorgeous! are they yours?
    bestest Daisy j x

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    1. Thanks Daisy - Mr K made those tiles when we moved in many years ago. We had replaced an old gas fire with one from a reclamation yard but it was 'tileless' - the designs are based on pictures he used to see in the flames as a child (and goodness don't they need a good clean?!) x

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  9. Wasn't it Busy Lizzie from Watch with Mother? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE9dsOu3oE8 <3

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    1. Oh my goodness you're right!!! I've just Google imaged her and there she is - a spooky little string puppet! Thank you so much - although I must admit it's brought back the shivers! xxx

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  10. I remember Busy Lizzie too! You must have had a vivid imagination!
    My brothers both saw my grandad at the same time sat in an old armchair in their bedroom smiling at them. He died when they were very small (2 years and a few months old) but they both picked him out on old family photos in later years.Mum and dad reckon it was grandad's ghost come to watch over them.

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  11. OOhhh spooky!
    I must admit I'm too much of a scaredy cat to watch anything remotely scary, and even reading your post, and the comments, made me shiver! I don't like to thin that such things as ghosts exist, I would never be able to sleep at night if I did!
    Really like the fireside tiles too, so imaginative and colourful.
    Gill xx

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  12. I lived in a spooky flat share once...record player switched off mid song...cooker did the same. Had to sleep facing the window or had nightmares...footsteps up the stairs and no one there... :-O ...will you come to the bathroom with me now? xx

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  13. Oh what a spooky post! I felt all shivery reading about your experience when you were six..the same age my daughter is now. I agree with you, I think our imaginations are wonderful things. However, I am very open minded about it and have experienced a few spooky things myself whilst on night shifts at work!
    Marianne x

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  14. I'm definitely not into spooky stories. I'm spooked just by reading your post! Eeeeeek! :oO

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  15. Oh so spooky!! ... made the hairs on my neck stand on end. x

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  16. ooh of course I just had to comment! LOVE this eery atmospheric post...~ And what a pretty stylish lady, grandma Irene was...I love those tiles too and was catching your comment on Miss Daisies comment...~ I haven't had many day jobs, as I always enjoy my work and stay until my calling calls me. to move on.....But in every work place I have been we have had an energy or presence of some kind....My first job was in Freeman Hardy Willis, shoe shop! many, many years ago....I was only a Saturday girl.. Ooh i could write a book about this...There was a large crucifix at the top of the stairs and various Poltergeist activities......the kettle in the staff room used to turn on and off and lights flicker, it was such a spooky place to work! It was believed some one had taken his life through hanging from the balcony where we kept training shoes and PT shoes.......I often wonder if the Crucifix or indeed the spookiness is still there I couldn't really explain it....the shop is now a Building society. I love a little bit of mystery and like to believe there are many things that are unexplainable...tis all part of the bigger picture!....Happy Witchy week, dear Jane! have fun....hugs Maria x

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  17. I love the Woman in Black...the book is better than the recent film although I also saw it as a play and that was excellent.
    We have a few ghostly tales passed on in the family, maybe I will share them later in the week.
    xxx

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  18. I've been scared out of my wits at times but don't have any ghost stories to share. I do think our mind is incredibly susceptible. I used to watch all those scary movies but no more! Just reading this post might give me nightmares. Ha! Have a great rest of the week. Tammy

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  19. I do love a spine tingler, not the gory gratuitous films that come on now, but the ones where there is a plot twist or the unexpected. The Hammer Horrors even though cheesy, frightened the life out of me. Woman in Black was seen through fingers and even The Others with Nicole Kidman completely freaked me out towards the end. Ones that play with the mind are brilliant! As to the 'real' ghosts, when I was two (and I can still see him to this day), we were staying in my aunt's holiday caravan, in the evening when I went to sleep, I suddenly woke and there was a face immediately above mine, it was the most evil face. I screamed as any two year old would do and my parents came to me straight away. Years later we spoke to my aunt and she explained that there was a ghost of an evil man who used to live there! In my old cottage there was a lady called 'auntie' who lived there 50 years before us. Our neighbours said that she was friendly and I didn't believe it at first, but occasionally, just occasionally, she made her presence felt - gently. When we left my son, then 5, said as we drove away, 'I'm going to miss the lady at the top of the stairs'. Enjoy Halloween xx

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    1. Oooooooooo I've just gone all shivery!

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  20. Oooo great Post Jane! Love a spooky tale. Having Halloween in the southern hemisphere just doesn't have the same level of spookiness with the warm, sunny weather and daylight savings means it doesn't get dark till super late so we are all out there trick-or-treating in the daytime in our shorts :-) Love the photo of Grandma Irene - what a beautiful lady! Mel x

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  21. Hi Jane what a fabulous post - got me thinking about my own 'ghosts'. I can remember when I was about 5 getting up in the night and going into the living room and seeing some little children playing ring o roses around my Mum's chair. I watched them for what seemed ages and then went back to bed - I wasn't afraid - I used to sleep walk all the time when I was young but grew out of it in my 30s. My parents just said I was dreaming but to this day I know I wasn't - I have an open mind about these things.........Thanks for a wonderful read Jane, really enjoyed it. Big ghostly hugs!!
    Dorothy
    :-)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  22. OOOOH what a fantastic post, all those tales reminded me so much of my experiances of spooky unexplained things in my life, and i do remember Tales of the unexpected, the music used to start and i was scared from the off......it still haunts me now that music.
    Hugs Pixie xxxx

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  23. I enjoyed reading about ghosts. When I was a very young child, I used to see shadows of men outside my bedroom door in the middle of the night. I remember telling my mother they had rifles and they frightened me. Later, as an adult, I was listening to the radio in the car about the effect the movie Bambi had on young children. I got chills as I drove, realizing that the shadow men I used to see in the night were the hunters who kill Bambi's mother. ! Pretty deep psychology there, eh?

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