It’s almost Halloween, which is my most favourite time of year. Think about it, can you really beat getting dressed up and running around door to door getting free candy? No, no you can’t. Fact. Halloween TV specials rarely disappoint, and there’s nothing better than Halloween movies. Can I please get a “hell yeah” for Hocus Pocus? Also, ghosts, vampires, pirates, zombies, ninjas, robots, witches and fairies all totally kick ass.
The traditions of Halloween vary form country to country and culture to culture, but the basic principle remains the same, whatever separates the spirit world from our world breaks down for that one night and spirits, good and evil, can cross over. And with that in mind, I present to you my one and only encounter with a ghost!
It was my first year at boarding school in England. I lived in Beevor’s House, a very old building that had no doubt been around for a couple of centuries at least, as the school itself had been around since 1596. As with all old schools there were many tales of hauntings and ghosts. McGill’s House apparently had a lady ghost that was often seen descending the staircase. Riding’s and Leeman’s even had a hazing ritual for the new boys involving a midnight run to the dining hall and back. If the boy failed to return to his bedroom by the time the clock struck midnight the ghost of something-or-other would get him. Beevor’s sadly had no such stories. Maybe it was slightly newer than the rest of the buildings? I don’t know. But I felt ripped off, having come all the way to England and everything.
My room was a cosy, recently refurbished room on the top floor. It had 15ft ceilings, a huge beautiful window, and a fire place. I shared it with my good friend Nora. We both had loft beds with our desks below, and our heads met in the corner. Her bed faced the window, mine the door. Our room was in a separate alcove which also included a bathroom, and another bedroom shared by three other girls: Lilly, Thalia and Celia. If you left our alcove and went down the hall you would find the bedrooms of the rest of the girl boarders.
Every night Nora and I would climb up into our beds, turn off the lights, chat a little and then fall asleep. One night however, at 1am Nora woke up, having heard the sound of our door opening and closing. And apparently I also awoke, and sat bolt up in bed staring at the door. According to Nora, at the door was a small girl dressed all in white, just standing there. Nora looked at me, I looked at the girl, the girl look at both of us. Then the girl left. I lay back down and passed out. And she did too.
The next morning at breakfast Nora mentioned to me how weird it was that clearly one of the other boarders had come into our room. I, unfortunately, had only a vague memory of the incident, so I couldn’t really comment. Lilly, who slept in the room across the hall, also heard noises, and said she woke up around the same time. As Nora and Lilly discussed what they heard and saw, Nora came to realise that none of the other girls was that small, so she figured it was maybe one of Mr Boothby’s (our Housemaster) children had wandered up into our bedroom (his family’s living space was connected to ours). And then she realised that Mr Boothby only had sons. We all finally came to the conclusion that our midnight visitor was clearly a ghost. Rumours like this in a boarding school spread faster than herpes in a brothel, and by the end of first period the whole school knew, and more importantly believed, that Nora and I had been visited by a ghost.
Mr Boothby, who was a rather devout Christian, started freaking out a little, and asked Nora and I to come to his study for a chat. We arrived, and he was there with the school Chaplain. He sat us down, gave us some tea and biscuits, and then asked us to tell him the story of last night. “Are you sure it wasn’t Amy?” He pleaded.
“No, sir, the girl in our room had lighter hair.” Then Mr Boothby turned to the Chaplain, and back to us, and said, “Well girls, the Chaplain and I will call up Father So-and-So and we can get him in to do another exorcism.” Nora and I looked at each other, horrified, and then turned to Mr Boothby, and said “Another?!?!?”
Yes my friends, ANOTHER. Apparently our floor had been exorcised before by a local Catholic priest. Sadly our room was not the room that had the priviledge of being exorcised. The exorcism took place next door to our rooms where the house-tutors had their flats. Maybe 15 ft away, through the big metal alarmed door, which we affectionately called the “rape door” (it was alarmed with the intention of keep the boys out of the girls area…) Upon hearing Mr Boothby’s suggestion, Nora and I immediately decided that having our bedroom exorcised was way spookier than having a little girl ghost come visit us every once in a while. We politely declined Mr Boothby’s generous offer. In retrospect however, it would have been interesting to see a live exorcism!
For those of you who want to geek out listening to an interview with Dan Aykroyd and his father on CBC’s Q, talking about their family’s history with the paranormal – click here! It’s the Friday October 16th edition!