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Sidey’s Weekend Theme is this photo…

Sidey's theme 01.03.13

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This corridor was where it had happened, the most astonishing thing that Sir ffrederick Montfort, 15th Earl of Claremont, had ever seen.

The Manor was quiet now, and ffreddy breathed a sigh of relief tinged with awe. In the cold atmosphere of the corridor his breath should have emerged in a small visible cloud, like what California would regard as an overcast day, but nothing appeared.

There was a reason for this. ffreddy had actually died in the 17th century, following an unfortunate incident involving a matter of honour, the calling of a duel and the fact that ffreddy’s sword had got tangled in his trousers, with unfortunate consequences for his codpiece.

Ever since he had roamed the halls of Claremont Manor, alone but not lonely. These days the Manor was unoccupied, as in the 1940s the 28nd Earl had moved to London to avoid the bombings (he wasn’t very bright, there was a lot of in-breeding among the Claremont family), and when the war ended he had decided to stay on in the city, near Harrods, Covent Garden and the streets where the hookers worked.

For a while the National Trust used to organise tours, and ffreddy was able to entertain the visitors with long sighs, chain-rattling (he had to use the toilet chain, since he hadn’t actually been in chains when he’d died), and his favourite, the donning of all-black clothing in a dimly lit room to give the impression that he was just a floating head.

But the tours died out as people realised that occupied houses were more entertaining, and had more stuff that you could nick. The house fell silent, then into disrepair. The chandeliers had been replaced by functional round lights, there was a hole in the roof of the grand hall through which rain fell through ffreddy, and the visors of the suits of armour had rusted shut. Each of these had belonged to an earl with a title-number in single digits and each was a testament to the stupidity of trying to fight, lift a sword, or indeed walk while wearing the weight-equivalent of a Mini Cooper. Yes, arrows had bounced off them, and yes, swords had clanked harmlessly against them (mainly because the foe in the other suit had been barely able to swing his), but eventually you fell over, no-one was able to lift you, and you got stood on by a horse.

He had had occasional company. A young maid, done horribly to death by the dastardly 19th Earl after she had spurned his advances, had been his girlfriend for a while, though she eventually left for a better haunting job in a castle in northern Scotland as she was a career girl at heart. ffreddy had been a bit disappointed, but then the term “till death do us part” had never really applied to them.

But the last few days had been bedlam. Four days ago a man had appeared (no, I mean he’d walked through the front door, not that he’d materialised), had looked around the house and had pronounced it “perfect”. When he saw the above corridor he had almost burst with excitement.

“This is where we can have The Chase!” he’d exclaimed.

The next day a film crew had arrived. Lights, cameras and action were set up all around the building. A man was put into the most ridiculous ghost costume ffreddy had ever seen (he’s wearing a sheet over his head, thought ffreddy, how did he die? Walked into a washing line and then walked blindly over a cliff?) and four young actors and a huge dog arrived and had stars stuck to the doors of their allocated rooms. There then followed two days of filming of a story with less substance than ffreddy himself, the girl with the glasses and knee-socks (he could just picture her in thirty years time, a spinster with a collection of Aynsley china and forty-two cats) revealed the ghost to be none other than Mr Burrowes the caretaker, and that he’d been trying to scare potential investors away because Creepforth Castle, the role being played by the manor, had buried treasure underneath it. This had presumably been left there by pirates, the idea of taking it with them and fencing it obviously hadn’t occurred to them. Mr Burrowes was led away muttering something about having gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those pesky kids, the group had all packed up and left, and ffreddy had been left alone with his thoughts, and with his memory of The Chase.

He had stood at the end of the corridor and watched open-mouthed as Shaggy and Scooby were chased by the “ghost” from one room into the one opposite, and then emerged from another room farther along. Sometimes they chased the ghost, sometimes the ghost chased them. At one stage they were actually chasing themselves, at another they crossed the corridor from left to right while simultaneously in view crossing it from right to left three doors further along. ffreddy had never seen anything like it.

He had the ability to walk through walls, to hover just above the ground, to materialise at will, but the abilities of these two had shaken him to the core.

For the first time in three hundred years, he felt like a useless old ffart.

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