The day of the dead is here and today I’ll be all about the spook. Apart from taekwondo, live music, wine and my hamster, there’s nothing I like more than a jolly good ghost story. I like a shiver up my spine and for once, I’m not being smutty. And we’re not short of them this year; there’s a glut of ghost stories that have just been published and I’m going to dive in a roll around in all of them.
Who else would a ghost hunter want to hang out with at this time of year? Why, C L Raven of course, the most gothic of gothic – they are so God-damned gothic – there’s two of them! So when we decided to go ghost hunting around my neck of the woods, I had to think of the place that would provide the most amount of ghosts and that would be Cambridge. Centuries old colleges to explore and as I’m a Cambridge alumni – I have hidden depths apparently – I have a Cam Card and a licence to explore, without being chucked out, ‘cos I is allowed to be there, innit.
The ladies of darkness made it in their lovely little pink Smart car and, with kind permission of Keith the caretaker, managed to park it under the skip outside of my flat. My flat is much nicer on the inside that it is on the out. On the guided bus we jumped and they saw the delights of the Oxmoor estate, which is enough to scare any ghost straight back to the afterlife. As soon as we arrived in Cambridge, we were barred from a spot of shopping by a bomb-scare and we couldn't get inside of the colleges because it was graduation day. Bugger.
But never fear! There was always the punting and a ghost tour and my rather organised pre-booking of everything, thus saving loads of money. We started on the punts, Cambridge is full of them, I’m sorry I couldn't help that one, and extremely pleasant it was too. There were lots of engaging stories to hear and my favourite non-spooky one I heard was of the bodyguard who accompanied Prince Charles during his studies at Trinity College Cambridge. Apparently, he had to accompany the prince during all of his lectures and when the prince sat his exams, they gave him the exam papers to do while he was waiting for the prince to complete his. Not only did the bodyguard get a first, but the college awarded the degree to him as well. And as it was graduation day and drunk people were around, someone fell in the river. Bonus.
The ghost walk was really good. It wasn't the most frightening one I've been on but it was one of the most interesting. I liked the stories about Corpus Christi College and Queen’s Lane was quite creepy. The woman who accidentally locked her boyfriend in the wardrobe, only to have his corpse fall into her arms, and the stories of the seventeenth century witch hunter/serial killer Mathew Hopkins were good, as were the stories of Oliver Cromwell’s head. The story that made me scribble down ideas for further story use was the one about the Corpus Christi clock and it’s reminder that we are all a few seconds closer to death. The relativity of time, when it passes faster when we are having fun and slower when we’re not, is something I’m definitely exploring in a new story. So in my case, time goes quicker when I’m a bit pissed and either listening to one of my favourite bands or playing with Rusty the hamster and drags like hell when I’m forced into watching Titanic. I’m sorry, I can’t abide that film. I also don’t recommend doing taekwondo when you've have a couple, I've tried it and it doesn't work.
A good day was had by all, and I got to eat some squid at a tapas restaurant, which was quite rubbery yet strangely pleasing.
I’m rambling now so time to tell you the Halloween related news.
My ghost story, The Listening Post, is free to download Thursday 31st October to Friday 1st November.
The excellent C L Raven have brought out a new anthology of ghost stories, Deadly Reflections, and they’re highly recommended.