I BLOODY LOVE ghosts, right? Great big wafty reams of woo, pale Victorian schoolchildren, headless women in grey, stubborn old men smoking pipes, Patrick Swayze, Slimer and all the dead Royals. I love them so much that I considered studying Parapsychology at the University of Edinburgh in order to become a ghostbuster and you can shut up.

There is a reason Paranormal Activity grossed several gazillion dollars and that is because everyone loves a good scare. Your adrenaline spikes, your heart races, you laugh manically, scream and gurgle like a toddler with a chainsaw. I became so morbid at one point that I used to hang out in Highgate Cemetary in North London like a big Goth, wearing flowing black and spiky eyeliner, nodding knowingly and reading gravestones with my cruel and bitter eyes, and heavy heart. I was an ACES Goth, by the way.

In order to prepare myself for what I perceived as my future successful career as Britain’s UltraGhostbuster – sort of like Peter Venkman with tits – I went to Truro Library one rainy afternoon to seek out a book on Borley Rectory – once notably described as ‘the most haunted house in England’ and infamous for ghostly nuns, writing appearing on walls and the skulls of young woman being discovered in cupboards. It was the subject of much investigation by members from the Society of Psychical Research in the 1920s and 30s and was probably the closest thing society had at that time to Most Haunted, although sadly lacking in Derek Acorah, the fraudulent ghost botherer and white haired buffoon.

The librarian, a kindly woman in oversized spectacles and an orange sweater took pity on me as I stood, bedraggled and soaked, my pale face glowing like a moon from beneath my hood, as I awkwardly asked her if she had any books on the subject of ghosts.
“We have plenty of fiction.” She replied, heavily implying that all ghost documentation is a work of fiction. For all I know, she’s right. It’s slightly ludicrous to admit you believe in ghosts – I get a mixture of reactions from mild surprise (“But you don’t really believe that Daisy, right?”)  to total outrage (“You’re a total dick and so is your wife. I hope you both get ectoplasmed to fuckery and then bummed to death by bears”)

I’ve had milder reactions to my planned attempt at re-writing Mein Kampf for toddlers.

The librarian took pity on the frail creature before her who was breathlessly asking about ghost books instead of sniffing glue round the back of the cathedral like her peers.

“This poor girl is clearly never going to get laid’ – she thought, and lent forward as if to whisper to me a secret.

“We have the audio files on Borley Rectory if you’d like to listen.”
As part of the 1937 investigations into the Rectory haunting a tape recorder had been placed at various sites throughout the building including the nearby Church from which was often heard mysterious music. What it supposedly captured was the sounds of footsteps and running feet in the empty building, doors slamming and heavy iron bolts being drawn. There is some speculation that a ghostly voice was captured on the tape, and a blast of heavy organ music which flares and then disappears just as quickly.

Did I want to listen? She asked again.

So I sat with the headphones on in the tall imposing ‘listening’ room of the library, the rain gusting fitfully against the windows, the gloom outside making the air oppressive and the light dim. It poured into my ears. The hissing and crackling of aged tape, the atmospheric noises and creaks of the ancient house decades previously, before it was obliterated by fire. The jarring cries of birds, now ghosts themselves. At one point I thought I could hear the pattering of fleeing footsteps but that my have just been my imagination. I had no visual reference and no documentation to support the noises I was hearing but even so it represents one of the CREEPIEST THINGS I HAVE EVER DONE. I will never forget it, because all I was hearing was played out in ghostly high definition in my head.

Afterward I went to thank the librarian. I spoke to a man stacking shelves there, tall and thin like a Quentin Blake illustration. He frowned at me from over his half moon spectacles.

“There is no-one of that description here young lady.” He said, “Unless of course you mean Clara.”

“Yes,” I answered, “It might have been Clara. Did she wear glasses?”

“She did.” He replied. “But you see it can’t have been Clara. Because she HAS BEEN DEAD FOR ELEVEN YEARS.”

And it turns out the library was built on an Ancient Indian Burial Ground.

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