A Community Network for Bowes Park and Bounds Green
I Don’t Believe In Ghosts, But…. By Andie Phillips
I don’t believe in ghosts, but….. when I left college, joined a nascent community theatre group, we rehearsed our first play, ‘The Soldier’s Tale’, on Dartmoor. All the latest acting techniques: warm ups, character backgrounds, motivations, improvised inter-actions, and we were camping out in the open air for a couple of weeks.
There were two young men I had known at college, who feature in this story. Both sort of boyfriends. Mark had been Pat’s boyfriend, who had come down from London to be with her, but he fancied me as well, was very attractive with curly black hair and the 70’s moustache, a real, close charmer, and his kisses were like deep rose petals. I showed him how to read poetry when he was lonely. He had come off heroin, but got very drunk quite often. I remember a morning in bed, listening to Astral Weeks and him persuading me to go to the offie for some booze.
Barry was different, quite shy. I’d never met anyone with epilepsy before, but he was kind and physical. A type I went for. He had stupidly spent all his grant on two pairs of shoes at the beginning of term. I visited his hall of residence room and brought muesli to top up his jar. He asked me to choose music. I chose an album I liked because of the front cover: it was a requiem. The card he sent thanked me for the ‘muse-a-lay’. The following year, when I finally got him to agree to a date, I called round at his digs. He had shut himself in the wardrobe and wouldn’t come out.
Back to Dartmoor. One Sunday morning, I woke early, feeling restless, driven. I got up, while the others slept, and started walking. My being, seemed taken over by something. I didn’t know this strange feeling, but felt something pervasive, pushing me along. Not knowing where I was heading, I came to a village and walked towards the church. It was open, but empty, or maybe one or two shadowy forms in the background. I sat in a pew and contemplated the weird state of consciousness. I imagined it was a sort of spiritual affinity with Mark; his fluctuations on the edge, taking speed, come downs, falling out with Pat; all that instability, recklessness, booze. I walked around a column and there was an altar. I lit a candle, and then became aware of a serene release. The hold on me melted away. I walked back to camp.
Two weeks later, back home, my mother phone me with some sad news. Barry had died while I had been away. He had had an epileptic fit in the bath and died. So, was it his ghost that had caused me to light a candle for his troubled soul? Was he a restless spirit, who needed release?
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