I maybe saw a ghost in the late 1990’s.
Marshall and I were exploring a then abandoned church on Balls Pond Road in Islington. I found a small anteroom on the side of the building, and was peering through a crack in the boards which covered its windows, trying to see what might be stored inside.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see that the door which connected it to the main body of the church was sealed. A dark shape at the back of this room attracted my notice, so I focused on that, and saw that it looked like a person.
I exclaimed and jumped back, calling to Marshall to come and see what he thought it might be. We both stared at this hunched silhouette, nervously discussing in voices rather louder than usual what it might be. We thought it might be a cardboard cutout or an old mannequin. We agreed that it must be something of that kind, as we circled the anteroom and saw there was no available entrance.
What else could it be, standing silent and motionless in the dark at the back of a dusty empty church building?
We had just agreed on this, and were both back gazing directly at it, when it moved, stepping forward.
It appeared almost as a white faced mime. It seemed to be wearing a striped top, and to have a dark cap partially pulled over its face.
We both shrieked slightly and stepped away. I looked back in, and it was much closer, almost nose to nose with me. I could not make out any features. The face was in shadow, I could only see that it appeared to be grinning.
We legged it, fast. And didn’t go back. I always thought if I saw a ghost it would be a drifting vague shape in the corner of my eye, but this was different, and bad scary, not fun scary. I may be no M. R. James, but this is what happened to me.
If this is ghosts, I think I’m cool for seeing ghosts for right now.
This Halloween I’m settling for making an Ectoplasm cocktail.
Absolut Vanilla vodka 1 shot
1 white of egg
Lychee syrup 1/2 a shot – I used Monin syrup but you can use the syrup from canned lychees
Lemon juice 1/2 a shot
Bob’s Vanilla Bitters
Chill the glass and the vodka ahead of time. Combine ingredients in a chilled shaker without ice (a dry shake), agitate very thoroughly for 2 minutes and pour. Dot with vanilla bitters. Garnish with something terrifying. I used a fake spider Marshall had made for the TV show Rosemary & Thyme a long time ago. It’s still good.