Friday, 27 April 2007

Astral doorways and axe murderers

Why is it that dogs see ghosts when you’re all on your own in the house? Adrian is off in the Isle of Man and of course, Asbo is going all spooky on me – you know, that horrible fixed staring at a spot by the door, eyes moving as if following some spectral dog. Or I’ll let him out and he’ll go ‘on point’ at the hedge and growl, menacingly. Despite being isolated, this is not a spooky house, but I suffer from an over-fertile imagination, legacy of an early diet of classic horror films and the entire oeuvre of M R James.

Our old house, on the other hand, was seriously scary. At that time Adrian was up in London every week and, even though it was in the heart of the village, surrounded by neighbours, I was absolutely terrified every night. There was a feeling of menace somehow. Every time you walked down the curling staircase something seemed to try to trip you up. Things moved – without any logical explanation (and, trust me, we tried).

Then one day a feng shui expert pitched up on the doorstep. Turned out her mother lived in the village and had told her about the house (obviously had a reputation in arcane circles). She had heard I’d moved in and decided to offer her services.
Standing on the doorstep she gave an uncannily accurate list of what we had experienced since moving in.
‘Astral doorways,’ she said, doing the equivalent of a plumber sucking his teeth.
‘Nasty. You want that sorted. Need a clearing.’
Then, as I was wondering how much she charged for such services and how I’d explain it to my accountant, she offered one ‘on the house’. I snuck a look right and left, to make sure the nets weren’t twitching (this came hot on the pig blood/satanic worship episode) and yanked her inside.
She proceeded to do her stuff, lighting incense, ringing bells (‘keep it quiet, eh? A light tinkle rather than full-on clanging?’) and clapping round the house. I kept my mind wide open and - you know what? – it worked. The house felt better, much better. I slept properly for the first time in months.
But, cleared or not, it still felt good to move to a place without, to our knowledge, any astral anythings. The farm felt solid and sensible and safe – until the night of the axe murderer.

Adrian was off on another beer trip, leaving me, James and Asbo Jack alone in the house. It was about 11pm. James was asleep, Asbo was doing the twitching thing, and I was trying to watch TV. Then the phone rang. It was my mother. Hysterical.

‘Have you seen the news? Oh my God. There’s been a murder at Winsford and there’s an axe murderer on the loose. Tell Adrian to get out his gun. Lock all the windows. Don’t let the dog out. Oh, I’m in such a state. Winsford!’ And she put down the phone.
What??? Even if I’d managed to get a word in edgeways I wouldn’t have dared say Adrian was away. She was probably battening down the hatches, ten miles away in Bampton. The worse thing was, I couldn’t find out what had really happened. By some weird anomaly we don’t get local news on the TV – we get Welsh TV. It was too late to phone up any of the ‘neighbours’ – who are all tucked up in bed by 8pm. So I spent an uneasy night, jumping at every creak. The next day I found out that, yes, they had found a body – up on Winsford Hill – but it had been dumped there months before. Unsettling, but no cause for panic.

Anyhow, to cut a long story short we made it through the night. The morning has dawned bright and hopeful. There are catkins on the hazel and the birds are attacking the feeders with gusto. We live to fight another day. Though whether I’ll make it through aerobics is another matter altogether.

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