Saturday, 25 October 2014

Ghostly Music for Hallowe'en

     It's Hallowe'en this coming Friday, but as I usually post on
A 'Spirit Photo': public domain
Saturday, I shall miss it. And it's no use posting about Hallowe'en on Saturday, November 1, as that is, of course, All Souls Day, when the bogies and boggarts are all banished away - until sometime around Christmas,
when they seem to come back, in time for our tradition of telling Christmas ghost stories.
     All fine by me, as I'm always ready to tell ghost stories.
     I think I've blogged before about my family's stalwart efforts to remain sceptical and hard-headed despite all the yammering from the other world.
Wikipedia: The Fairy Bridge

     There's my cousin, for instance, Alan Hess. Studied chemistry, worked in the computer industry and is a man of science. When he lived on the Isle of Man, and was told that, when crossing the Fairy Bridge, you always have to politely wish 'good morning,' to the fairies - or ill-luck will befall you.
      Naturally, being a man of science, he scoffed. And the next time he drove across the Fairy Bridge, he called out - well, this is a family-friendly blog, so I won't say what he called out. But he was dreadfully rude to the fairies.
       And lost control of the car, skidded across the road and ended up in the ditch. After that, he was always very polite to the fairies. But ask him about it now, and he maintains that it was coincidence. Pure coincidence.

        But my main tale today is unseasonal. Davy and I once went for a walk along the river Teem. It was August, and about as hot as August can be. We walked through pasture and cornfields, climbing stiles and crossing bridges over small streams. It was beautiful, but we became very thirsty.

      It was a long trek back to the pub where we'd left the car, but I saw a church spire rising over the tree-tops. The church was much nearer. "Where's there's a church, there's probably a village," I said. "Maybe a pub - or a least a shop where we could buy a bottle of water."
      So we walked on, and came to a wooden bridge that would take us across the river to the church. The banks were thickly wooded, so we couldn't see anything of the church, or any neighbouring buildings, except the spire.
      Once over the bridge, we came on an oddly desolate scene. There was no village - or any other building at all except the church.
     But there had been a village. We could see the raised, roughly square and oblong platforms where the buildings had stood. You could see the streets that ran between them. Sheep wandered here and there, walking the sunken streets and clambering over what had been houses.
       We wandered around the church, noting the changes to it, the walled up doors and windows. Davy said he'd like to see inside, so we went around to the porch.
        I was struggling with the big iron door handle when Davy said, "Don't!" I looked over my shoulder at him, a bit puzzled. "There's a service going on," he said.

        I was even more puzzled. I didn't think my hearing was that bad. I hadn't, and couldn't, hear anything except the sheep and the river. I put my head close to the door and listened. I could hear nothing from inside the church.
        "No, there's not," I said, and tried again to open the door.
        "There's somebody practicing on the organ then," Davy said. "We shouldn't disturb them."
         I gave him a funny look. Was he having me on? There was no organ playing, and no other sound at all from inside the church. I opened the door - and immediately forgot about everything except investigating the place.
         The church was dim, cool, silent and completely empty. It was a beautiful old place, and plainly dated to before the Reformation, as it had an old rood-screen, and steps that had originally led up to the gallery above it.  We had a good poke around, and then went outside and wandered over the vanished village, speculating about what had happened there, before trudging back to the pub through the heat, and finally getting that drink.
          It was only hours later, when we were home, that I thought back over the day and remembered that conversation in the church porch. I thought it over, remembering Davy's tone and manner. He hadn't been joking: I was certain of that. He had simply been stating something obvious to him: something - a service or an organ practice - had been going on in the church.
          So I asked him about it. "There was someone in the church," he said. "I thought we shouldn't disturb them.But you never listen."
          "But there wasn't anybody in the church," I said. "There wasn't a soul in there."
          "Whoever it was must have gone out by the other door when we went in," he said.
          I thought about that.
         Nah. Not a chance.
         There had been another door, but it had been big, old, heavy and closed. If, on hearing me push open the door, someone had jumped up from the organ and nipped out the other way, it would have been impossible for us not to have heard them. They would have had to scurry across a tiled floor, open a big, heavy door, and close it after them - all in an eye-blink.

          I put this to Davy. "I heard music playing in the church," he said - again, a simple, plain statement of fact.
          Knowing him as well as I do, I am completely convinced that he did hear a service or, at least, music playing. I am equally certain that there was no one in the church, and hadn't been for hours, and that there was no music playing.
          Davy will not countenance any idea of ghosts. As far as he's concerned, he heard someone playing the organ, who then, in a moment, silently left the church as we stepped through the door (since the music apparently continued until we entered.)
          I think I will just mention that although born in Edinburgh and raised in the Lowlands, Davy is of pure Highland descent. Just saying.

          When I told my brother about this, he said, "Davy must have tinnitus." Typical Price.
          I invite all my readers to contribute their spooky stories below, in honur of the season. Winter is coming.

           And if you're looking for some suitably ghostly reading...

Overheard In A            Hauntings                 Nightcomers



Lesley Watts said...

Years ago, when our sons were small, we stayed in an old Welsh longhouse for a short holiday. One night my husband and I were reading in bed when we both became aware of our son outside our bedroom door. He would frequently wake in the night at home and sleepily come to our bedroom door, thumb in mouth, breathing quite heavily as he was asthmatic. 'Come in!' we called simultaneously. But he didn't. I jumped out of bed immediately to get him but he wasn't outside the door. I dashed down to his bedroom where I found him fast asleep in the bed next to his brother, who was also sleeping peacefully. There is no way he would have had the time to get back to bed that quickly, so why had my husband and I sensed his presence outside our door? If it wasn't him, who or what was it?
I am sure there is a rational explanation but I was spooked for the remainder of the night.

Susan Price said...

I can understand that, Leslie! - I think you were quite brave to stay.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Great story, Sue! I love ghost stories and have heard quite a few 'told as true' stories over the years. I have one of my own, but I think this one is better.
It was told by a friend who is probably the least prone to 'visions' of anyone I know. He was one of a group of adults supervising a scout camp at a nearby castle, and for family reasons - a wife going into labour - he and another young man had to go back to Maybole in the early hours of the morning. They hadn't been drinking because they knew they might have to make a speedy exit and besides, they were supervising kids. They walked - it's only a couple of miles and it was a fine summer night. The back road they were following was the route of the old post road from Ayr to Girvan. About half way between the castle and the town, they heard the clip clop of horse's hooves and saw a horse and rider approaching. They were curious as to who on earth might be out riding at this time of night, but decided that it was an acquaintance from the town who kept a horse and was known to ride out occasionally when he couldn't sleep. The other young man walked ahead to speak to the rider, but as he drew level with horse and rider he suddenly 'took to his heels and ran like a maniac!' as our friend told the tale. When John, somewhat alarmed, drew level with the rider, he saw that the figure was dressed in a cloak, and wore an old fashioned wide brimmed hat. Unfortunately, (as he put it!)there was no face at all between the hat and the cloak - just empty air! He told us that he also felt compelled to take to his heels and run like a madman, and by the time both young men stopped for breath, the horse and rider had disappeared into the distance, although the hooves could still be heard clip clopping slowly along. This is not a man given to fantasy - so we believed him!

Susan Price said...

Wow! That's a real ghost story - a headless rider! Thanks, Catherine.