Friday, September 12, 2014

The Wistful Rector

Big lightning storm came up and the satellite went out (during THREE ON A COUCH!) so I leafed through one of the ghost books I bought at the Strand. Good weather for it. "The ghost of Archbishop Laud is said to roll his head across the floor" is one enjoyable thing I read. (See also.) This book is called GAZETTEER OF BRITISH GHOSTS by Peter Underwood. At one point Mr. Underwood refers to "My friend Granville Squiers, who made a study of secret hiding places." I like everything about that. Mr. Underwood personally investigated many of the haunted spots in his book. I liked his description of one of his informants: "I found Mr Merryweather to be a large, astute and kindly man, then in his sixties, level-headed and sensible, with an infectious sense of humor and a gift for looking on the bright side of things." I'll say! Mr. Merryweather was the rector at a haunted church where (at the adjacent Manor House) he "turned from the window and... 'moved into the unmistakable embrace of a naked young woman.' This singular tactual phenomenon lasted only a few seconds: 'one wild, frantic embrace and she was gone' as Mr. Merryweather put it." I also liked this report from the Tower of London: "A few days later one of the sentries at the Jewel House maintained that he saw a figure which reminded him of a large bear 'issuing' from under the door of the Jewel Room!" Those quotation marks and that exclamation point really hit the spot. And a ghost shaped like a bear! Coming from under a door! "Issuing" from under it! The door to the Jewel Room! What more could you ask for? But I read the rest of the paragraph and the story had a tragic conclusion, with the poor rattled sentry coming to no good end. (Pictured, Mr. Merryweather's haunted church, which was demolished in 1962.)