Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “My First…”
I haven’t always haunted this castle.
There’s a pecking order and I’ve had to work my way up to here. In my time I’ve haunted a garden shed, a phone box, a puddle, the cafe of Waterford’s branch of Marks and Spencer and the “Goods to Declare” corridor at Knock Airport.
My first ever haunting was in a three-bedroom semi-detached house in Clonakilty. I walked in through the front door (literally), made a few objects fly about the kitchen and slammed a couple of doors, though annoyingly I’d had to open them first.
There was silence. It is a tradition that we do most of our haunting after midnight, which unfortunately coincides with people being asleep. I sighed (eerily) and glided upstairs. I was faced with a rectangle of closed doors, chose one and passed through it.
In the room was a little girl of about nine, sitting upright in bed holding a pink toy rabbit. I felt bad that my first haunting would be a small child, but I had to do my job.
“Boo,” I said.
Even I knew it was feeble. The girl gave me a look of utter scorn. I’d swear the rabbit gave me a look of utter scorn.
“I’m not afraid of you,” she said, “because there’s no such thing as ghosts.”
“Then you’re talking to yourself,” I pointed out.
She considered this gravely.
“Ok,” she said, “then you are a ghost. But you’re rubbish.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Ghosts don’t say ‘boo’”, she said.
“Woooh?” I ventured.
“No, it’s “Oooowaahooaahhh!’ said the girl, with startling ferocity. She’d have made a great ghost, were it not for the fact that she was alive.
“Why are you here?” she asked. “Were you horribly murdered?”
“No,” I admitted. “I died from an attack of gout, and it’s very hard to haunt your own foot.”
“And why are you wearing ordinary clothes? You’re supposed to wear a sheet.”
“Is that so?” I said snootily. “Scooby Doo is not a documentary, you know.”
“You’re not very nice” she said. “I want a proper ghost, like a mummy, or a pirate, or a lady in black who came to a tragic end.”
“Well, this isn’t exactly what I wanted either,” I said. “I was expecting something along the lines of Jennifer Love Hewitt.” (In something diaphanous and revealing, I thought to myself, I don’t know how the woman doesn’t get pneumonia).
“Ghost Whisperer isn’t a documentary, you know,” she said.
“Look, I didn’t come here to get involved in a slanging match (which I’m losing badly, I thought), I came here to scare people.”
“Pity,” she said. “You’d have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for this pesky kid.”
I knew when I was beaten. “Ok, I’m off,” I said. “Goodbye, little girl.”
“My name’s Sarah,” she said, “and this-” she waved the rabbit – “is Mr Wrinkly-Nose.”
“Goodbye, Sarah, goodbye, Mr Wrinkly-Nose. And woooh.” I drifted towards the door.
“Wait!” she said. “You haven’t told me your name.”
I’d been dreading this bit. “My name’s Jasper,” I muttered.
She burst into giggles. I sighed (eerily) and exited haughtily through a wall.
It is not widely known that ghosts are bound to the earth, which is why they don’t sink through the floor. Therefore a ghost walking through the exterior wall of an upstairs bedroom will drop twenty feet into a rose-bush.
Trust me on this.
I slunk away with my head in my hands, though not in the headless horseman meaning of that phrase. I could still hear her laughing “Jasper the Unfriendly Ghost!” as I left.
I’ve improved over time, of course. Tonight I’ve just watched a group of people run screaming from my castle, terrified by a suit of armour that suddenly raised its visor, a chandelier the candles of which flickered off and on to the inaudible beat of “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim and a portrait whose eyes followed them around the room by moving off the portrait and following them around the room.
But it’s on nights like this, when I’m feeling really smug about myself, that I think back to that first night and how badly it all went.
It haunts me still.