Talk about weird experiences …
As a treat to the kids and to granddaughter R’s friend who was on a sleepover, we went on Friday evening to our ‘local’ which serves the best pizzas in the world. After the owner had come over to say hello, and after I had given the kids a session in the playground area, we were sitting chatting when a lady came over and plonked herself down. ‘You are the Nobles?’ she stated rather than asked. Much Better Half confirmed this. ‘You live at …?’ and she gave our address. After another surprised confirmation, she barged on with, ‘Have you ever felt uncomfortable in the middle bedroom?’
We all blinked at her. A gobsmacked Younger Daughter nodded and said, ‘It was supposed to be my room, but I refused to sleep there so my elder sister took it over.’
Our minds were taken back thirty-six years by this brief exchange. The swap of rooms had been rather unfair because YD got a room twice the size of the other – but that one has been her room ever since, right up to the present. It stayed that way when she got married, and when she had two daughters. When those two daughters refused to move into the other bedroom, their beds were also accommodated in the larger room with mommy and (late) daddy. There was still space to spare.
Our home has actually had four generations of our family living in it. Late Mother-in-Law sold a house which we had shared with her, and after we bought our seaside dream we converted outbuildings into a flat for her. Our kids grew up here, and all four grandchildren have lived here at some stage.
Now, dwindling finances have forced us to sell, and sadly we are moving out very shortly.
It has transpired that our much-loved home was known as ‘The Haunted House’ by schoolboys of the generation when we bought it. This, in spite of the fact that a few houses along stood a far more likely-looking candidate known as ‘The Black House’. We never did find out exactly why ours had gained this reputation amongst the boys – following some conversion from typical fifties-style, it is mainly open-plan, light, and airy. After we moved in on 21st July 1978 we did, however, hear footsteps in the passage from time to time when there wasn’t anyone there to account for them. Even Elder Daughter, who had swapped rooms philosophically under duress, admits she never really liked ‘her bedroom’.
Anyway, our table visitor then introduced herself as the daughter of the widowed lady from whom we had bought the house – (who had been most accommodating on price partly because she quite definitely didn’t want to stay in it alone any more). The visitor went on to say that when she and her sister had been growing up there had been a serious dispute – she had refused to sleep in that room so her sister took it over. Thus, the same sort of thing had been happening even before our time! Indeed, when later her mother had rented the room to some of her students to make a little extra income, on many occasions they would invade her own bedroom in the middle of the night and sleep on the floor rather than stay there.
The cause? Nothing specific. Just a strong preference to be somewhere else. Anywhere else.
Right up to the present, 6-year-old R refuses to go down the passage alone. She has to be escorted past that bedroom doorway to the toilet. Her younger sister does not share this phobia – but still won’t spend a night there.
It has taken us a long time to realise it, but it seems true that we have been living in a haunted house all these years. And not only by the monkeys, mongooses, bevies of birds, and elongated slithery creatures. Oh yes, and crabs.
Of course, there is no such thing as the supernatural, or that a place can have an atmosphere, or that anything can happen without having a sound scientific explanation. Isn’t it funny, though, how wild imaginings so often follow the same route?
Naturally, too, coincidences are completely random things and there is no such thing as synchronicity. There is therefore nothing remarkable in the fact that, in a particularly large suburb, it transpires that the braver daughter of the lady who sold us the house ended up by buying the house Mother-in-Law had sold to someone else when she moved out of it. Thus it happened that while we had bought her mother’s house, she had bought ‘our’ mother’s house – and she still lives there!