He’s in the room below at the moment. He’s been there half an hour. I heard him go in there, and I can hear him moving around in there now. He always comes at this time of night, well morning really I suppose – am. After midnight. They don’t believe me, the children say,
‘I told you so’ and ‘why don’t you come and live with us Mum?’
but I don’t want to live with them. Why should I. I’ve been independent all my life. Gosh he is making a racket. I’ve tried to find out who he is and researched the history of the place, well looked it up in the local library that sort of thing you know. Rather fun really – looking things up. Well I’ve always liked it, looking things up. I always thought I would have made a wonderful researcher. I wasn’t of course. I worked for Woolworth’s, worked myself up to assistant manager before I retired. I wonder what he did, him downstairs. I imagine that he was some kind of local gentry, not too high up of course, it’s not that big a house. Well maybe not gentry exactly but a local doctor, although why a local doctor should be haunting the place I can’t think. You would think they would have more consideration for one’s nerves.
Still it is a nice house this is and old, which is what I wanted. The children they said, ‘Mum it really isn’t suited, what you want is a nice little bungalow that you can take care of.’ Alexandria that’s my oldest girl she offered to buy me a bungalow and put my money in the bank but she didn’t like this place. She said to me, ‘Mum it’s too far out. There’s no one to talk to and what are you going to do rattling around all by yourself?’ I said to her, ‘Alexandria I’m used to my own company, your father was never any company – too caught up in his steam railways. Wanted me to join. I said ‘No Arthur why should I, well I mean they don’t do much, do they, steam trains? They just chug along. I mean it was nice to get somewhere by train, which you could once upon a time, well there is some sense to that but to just go up and down, up and down without any purpose that’s pointless. I said why don’t we join something we would both enjoy but would he listen, more as like. That was the trouble with Arthur stubborn. He would do what he wanted and no thought for anyone but himself. If I said to him once, I said to him a thousand times, ‘Arthur you have no consideration for anyone but yourself’ and once he’d joined that steam railway of his never saw him till bedtime.
I wonder if he was a good husband, him downstairs, well I mean it makes you wonder doesn’t it hearing him thumping around down there and moaning too. Deep voice he has, kind of booming, although you can’t really hear what he says just ‘oooohhh aaahhh’ then the thumping like hob-nail boots. He might have been a soldier. They wore boots. He might have been killed in the First World War, but then again, if he was why is he haunting my house.
Arthur now he was interested in the First war, had books on it and everything. I got rid of them after he died. Well it’s depressing isn’t it that kind of thing you don’t want to think about it. This man he came round said did I have any old antiques. I said that I was a bit of an antique myself. He did laugh. He said ‘never not you, just a Spring chicken, I wouldn’t say you were a day over thirty.’ Well of course I know he didn’t mean it but I do pride myself that I’ve looked after myself. Lots of people say I look twenty years younger than I am but not thirty. Well anyway I showed him Arthur’s books and he was really interested. Then he said he’d take the small vase and that would make it up to a nice round figure cause it was an odd number of books Arthur had. I never liked that vase anyway ugly thing. Arthur’s Gran left it to him. The children weren’t happy. They said ‘Mum, we’d have had the books.’ Well, Jonathan said that. Alexandria she said that she would have had the vase valued. I said, ‘I don’t see why. Ugly old thing, I’m better rid of it.’
Mind you it is surprising what people will pay for a piece of old tat. Antiques Road Show has some right rubbish on. Arthur used to like that, always insisted on watching it - spoilt the dinner. He knew we always had dinner at that time on a Sunday but would he turn the television off? No he wouldn’t.
I wonder how old he is, him downstairs. I couldn’t find anything at the library. I went down twice – spent a good hour each time and then I met Ruby for coffee at Greg’s. We always meet up on Thursday’s, Ruby and I. She use to work with me at Woolworth’s. It used to be a really nice shop, Woolworth’s, not like today. It has gone right downhill, just crammed with old tat – well modern really but rubbish all the same. I told Ruby about him downstairs and she said to me. ‘Why don’t you have him exorcised?’ Well at first I thought she meant at one of those new fangled sport halls. I said to her, ‘Ruby,’ I said, ‘I think he gets plenty enough exercise stomping around my living-room.’ She said, ‘No love, I mean with the holy water and all that.’ Well I didn’t know what she was talking about so she explained that priests sprinkle the holy water to get rid of the ghosts. I said, ‘I thought priests were Catholic.’ I thought funny Ruby knowing about Catholics. Made me wonder really if she could be one - you know, one of those. But you don’t like to ask do you. I mean embarrassing, what if she wasn’t and I accused her of being one. So I didn’t say anything - but still funny.
I wonder if he could have been one. He might have been. I mean he might not have been from around here. I’m not from around here myself. I’m from Little Buxton myself and we only moved here after Jonathan was born, well not exactly here, but Upper Buxton. We lived in the town then but I always thought I’d like to live in the suburbs. It’s more gentile. It’s where the nice people live. I mean not like the city of course. I wouldn’t live in the city if you paid me – all those young hooligans tearing around and getting asbestos put on them. I mean, I agree with the government there. If they can’t behave they have to have an asbestos order and serves them right too. Come to think of it, I think I should apply to have one put on him downstairs, maybe he would be quiet then and I could get some sleep.