Do you believe in ghosts? No, nor did I until recently.
I once visited what is alleged to be ‘Britain’s most haunted house’ in Pontefract, Yorkshire. There was even a film made about it in 2012 called When the Lights Went Out. I went to investigate it for a work assignment and, to be honest, found the people on the surrounding estate much more intimidating than any supposed ghouls or spectres. Some of the locals told me the whole town was haunted and that the ghost of a small Victorian girl appeared in the boozer every night at 10ish, throwing glasses around and screaming at people. “We’ve got used to her now,” a regular at the pub told me. “We just ignore her until she gives up. All she wants is attention.”
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My time in Pontefract was fun and interesting but, ultimately, I concluded that all the stuff about ghosts was almost certainly bollocks. And if the most haunted place in Britain wasn’t really haunted then, I supposed, nowhere is really haunted. It’s all a fantasy conjured by bored and frustrated humans to make themselves feel as if there is more meaning and mystery to this dreary existence of ours.
But recently I have had cause to reassess my cynicism. My brother’s house has had a ghost rumour surrounding it for a while now. My younger sister claims that she stayed overnight once and awoke to see a shadowy, transparent figure hovering over her. My sister is easily the most trustworthy person in my bloodline. Unlike the rest of us, she doesn’t talk non-stop bullshit just to fill time or show off. When she speaks, I listen. So when she says she’s seen a ghost, I have reason to believe she has actually seen a ghost.
But it is a gigantic claim so, being the meticulous journalist that I am, I required a secondary source to verify my sister’s story. This week, I found that source, in the form of my one-year-old cockapoo, Cookie.