Saturday, August 11, 2007

Story: The Hunter

So have I caught any? It's a bit of a strange question, if you don't mind me saying; they're not the sort of things that like to be caught. I've recorded plenty of signs – I've got quite a nice collection of tools for that, now. And, yes, I've seen a few. But I've never been tempted to put one in a jar and bring it home, if that's what you mean. That would be mucking about with the environment!

Talking of which, they turn up in the strangest places, environments you'd never expect to find one. For instance, a couple of years back I was visiting a cousin down in Kent. She lives in an ex-council house – one of those terraced jobs built between the wars; a proper house, I'd say, not one of these overnight builds you get today with cardboard walls. She'd been living in that house for nigh on 30 years and had never mentioned having one to me, even though she knows they fascinate me.

Well, after their last boy had moved out, her and her husband decided they'd do some DIY on the house - knocking through a wall to join their sitting room to their dining room, that sort of thing. It was a nice job, too; their eldest is a builder by trade, so he'd helped them out at weekends, but most of the work they'd done themselves.

Now listen, if there's one thing that's guaranteed to stir things up, its a bit of building work. They don't like it, see. Change is not what they're about, and if you go round changing their environment – their home – then that's when they're more likely to show themselves. So there was me, sitting with my china cup perched on my knees in their new room and admiring what they'd done, and there was it, perched on the end of the mantle piece over the fake fireplace they'd installed. I didn't notice it at first – I mean, I'd seen it a couple of times before on previous visits so it didn't occur to me to question its presence.

So me and my cousin, we were chatting away about this and that, as you do, and I said to her: "Missy certainly likes the new layout. She can get a good view of both gardens from the mantle". And do you know, my cousin gave me the strangest look. "Oh, no", she said, "Missy's gone now. We lost her 18 months ago. It was her kidneys, you know, and we couldn't let her suffer anymore".

Well, blow me down! Me and that cat, we'd been eyeballing each other for a good ten minutes and it turns out the damned thing was a ghost! Of course, I couldn't say anything to my cousin; they'd doted on that cat for years. And typically I didn't have any of my equipment with me – not even a camera. But it just goes to show that they turn up in the most unexpected places, do ghosts.

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