Saturday, 22 October 2011


          More bedtime stories my family told me…
'Hauntings' by Susan Price
          When I come to think of it, my family were great story-tellers.  There were the stories in books – and then there were stories about our uncles and aunts, our grandparents, and great-grandparents, and even great-great-grandparents.
          I said I’d tell you more about why my Mom hated the house I was born in.  She often told me about an incident that happened a few weeks after I was born.  My Dad was working late, and she was lying in bed, reading, while I slept in my cot beside her.
          She looked over at me and saw me open first one eye - and close it - and then open the other eye.  I was too young, she said, to be able to open one eye at a time like that - and anyway, I was asleep.
          It was more as if someone had lifted up my lids to see what colour my eyes were.  She'd often seen the old ladies in the street do that with new babies.
          Mom jumped out of bed, scooped me up, took me into bed with her, and pulled the blankets over both of us until Dad came home.  Why are blankets such a protection against ghosts?

          My aunt told a ghostly tale about lying in bed too.  She had a terrible time nursing her parents through their final illness, and came near to a nervous breakdown herself.  My grandmother died first, and spent her last hours talking, in the voice of a little girl, to her own, long-dead mother.  My grandfather lived for several more months, enduring great pain.  When he died, my aunt was exhausted, grieving and depressed.
'Nightcomers' by Susan Price
          Two nights after the funeral, she was in bed when she felt the end of it sag as someone sat on it. Propping herself up on one arm, she saw the vague outline of a man in the dark: and knew it was her father.  She knew the way he sat; she smelt his tobacco; and although she heard no words, the words he’d so often said to her came to her in his voice: ‘Don’t be silly: everything’s going to be all right.’  She felt comforted.
          She told no one, not wanting to be told she'd been dreaming, or thought hysterical.  She didn’t mention it at all until about ten years later, when she and my father, who had always been close, were talking about their parents.  Then, hesitantly, she told my dad.  He was astonished.  On that night, he said, two nights after their father’s funeral, he’d been working late in a small engineering works.  He’d been alone in the place when he suddenly had a strong sense of someone standing close behind him.
          He’d whipped round, and had seen a vague shape, and smelt tobacco, while in his head the words formed quite clearly: ‘Tell your sister not to be so daft; everything’s going to be all right.’  But did he pass on the message?  No – because he did not believe in ghosts.
          I should have it put into Latin for our family motto: Despite All: Believe Not In Ghosts.

          I love hearing your ghost stories, so if I've reminded you of any, please share them.
         I'm going to e-publish my two collections of ghost stories, Hauntings and Nightcomers, on Hallowe'en.  It seems appropriate...

           My website is here:

 And he-e-e-e-re's Blot


JO said...

I live in a house that is 180 years old - and comes with the creaks that you'd expect. Though not, necessarily, the sound of footsteps. Nor the impression - in the middle of one night - that someone was sitting on the bed beside me . . . (My reaction - to say, out loud, and very firmly, that, while I was more than happy to share the house with whoever, waking me in the middle of the night was not acceptable! Sounds bonkers now, but it made sense at the time!)

My daughters headed over the County Hall, to research the history of the house. And yes, someone seems to have disappeared - in the sense that they fell off the records and we don't know what happened to him.

The house has settled - I've been here for 15 years, and so maybe we are friends now? Or maybe the house was creaking, and I was dreaming . . .

Susan Price said...

Jo, that's a great story - and if it had happened to me I'd have sprung from the bed and straight through the window! In a beautiful parabolic curve. I admire your presence of mind and courage!

madwippitt said...

I liked the stories about the dads ... I'm not telling you my experience, though, it's far too close and personal to share ... But whether they are real happenings or imagined - a way for our brains to deal with and cope with loss, grief and depression - what a comforting thing it is.

Incidentally, the word verification throws up some great words sometimes, doesn't it? Better and more convinicing than any I could invent - I must start noting them down!