As a child, growing up in North East England in a small industrial town named Stockton-On-Tees I never thought of ghosts as strange or weird in any way shape or form (pardon the pun). My parents managed to knock out any predilection I had towards the spiritual and/or ghostly world well and truly–probably due to their own inbuilt terror of all matters nonphysical. If it couldn’t be seen, touched or observed by the majority of the population then quite simply it didn’t exist.
It didn’t help that I unwittingly talked to the previous property owner, who to all intents and purposes was actually deceased. As a small child I had absolutely no thought or consideration that this woman was technically dead as a doornail, although I did think at the time that she was just a tad bit forceful and not best pleased with my Mother.
Padding softly along the upstairs landing and into Mum and Dad’s room due to yet another nocturnal visitor, I remember vividly lying in between them as most young children are wont to do and having trouble sleeping due to this woman/apparition moving restlessly around the bottom of Mum and Dad’s bed, gesturing wildly.
If anything she was supremely annoying if not persistent and just would not leave things well alone.
Oh for goodness sakes I said to her mentally. I’ll tell her in the morning.
But no this old dear wasn’t taking no for an answer.
Wake her up or she’ll forget.
No I won’t she’s asleep! I’m not waking her up just so you can talk to her. They already think I’m a bit touched in the head, even though kids aren’t supposed to be aware of adults talking about us like we’re not in the room.
Yes children should be seen and not heard.
Of course you would say that. So why don’t you talk to her yourself then?
You are an extremely rude and insolent young girl. If you don’t tell her I will and I don’t think you’ll be too pleased with the manner in which I inform her.
OK you old bat I’ll show you I thought. Bugger you, got back to your ‘knitting for ghosts’ handbook.
She was hovering like one of those door to door utility sales people that just ‘happened to be in the neighbourhood’
“Stop don’t do that she won’t like it. No!” I said out loud sitting up bolt upright in the bed. “No don’t try to pick that up it’s hers now not yours. You’re confused.” The old dear was venturing towards Mum’s dressing table, criticizing the items she had on there, in particular an antique hairbrush which she claimed was “crass” and “mutton dressed as lamb.”
Oooh Mum wouldn’t like that best not tell her. She’d be liable to whack me with it.
I’m sure that Mum had woken up prior to this but had conveniently chosen to ignore my ranting’s as that of an imaginative and sleep-disturbed child.
In a very un-fey like way my Mother’s voice at this point took on a noticeable tone of terror at 3am in the still quiet of morning in a darkened room with a young daughter talking to thin air.
“Eric! ERIC! Shut her up will you she’s awake.” she was trying to whisper but the raspiness in her too-quiet voice was giving her away.
Dad rolled over half way.
“Uh? Wha? What are you going on about now?”
“Andrea. Talk to her will you. She’s woken up. I think she’s dreaming.”
“I’m NOT dreaming! I’m talking to that woman over THERE. Can’t you see her? She’s right there. RIGHT THERE! Look Dad there she is!”
At this point Dad sighed, filled with the impatience of yet another nights broken sleep from an “imaginative” child and a wife that called his name whenever something needed to be “sorted out” that she didn’t want to bother with.
“Andrea” he said in his thick Northern English accent. “What’s all this then? Come on now, back to sleep eh? It’s late and we all have to get up in the morning.” His voice had taken on a kindly, “us against them” tone but I could sense the condescension creeping in.
“Da-a-ad! She’s right there, look! She says it’s her room and the furniture’s rearranged the wrong way and she keeps trying to pick up Mum’s things on the dressing table. She says this is her house and doesn’t want us here.”
At this point Dad sat up with the cloak of sleep deprivation over him.
“Eh? What do you mean she doesn’t want us here?”
At this point my strong silent Father was beginning to sound a teeny bit alarmed.
“This is her house Dad. She wants to know what we’re doing in it. She says that Mum’s dressing table shouldn’t be there, that’s where her chair goes. And she says we would be better off finding somewhere else to live.”
Dad got up and got dressed, obviously resigning himself to the fact that there was no more sleep to be had this night. He picked me up and carried me back to bed in the top bunk. My sister as usual was obliviously unconscious in the bunk below.
We had a nice long chat about how dead people “aren’t really there we just think they are.”
This was enough to introvert me up my nostrils and various other orifices for a good twenty minutes before I joined the land of nod.
Of course the next morning I forgot all about the incident. So much so that I had eggs for breakfast instead of my usual weeties. It did however necessitate a late night visit to sneak down the stairs a few nights later, only to hear Dad talking about how he was sure the last person to live there was an old woman and maybe they could find out more about it?
Little did they know.