Hanging baskets, murder and ghosts somewhere near Pendle Hill
It is ruined and it is perfect. Prettily greenly ruined and without the unpleasant detritus ruins often attract such as suspiciously sodden and bulbous looking condoms, smashed Vodkat bottles and colour bled Walkers crisps bags shoved into ancient crannies.
And there are so many ghosts here that I can’t breathe for fear of inhaling a Grey Lady. There is obscenely good homemade cheese and onion pie, mushy peas and gravy for £3.50.
I am now suspicious. This is too good to be true and thus I am probably annoyingly dead, smashed under a Vauxhall Vectra in an embarassing part of town and not even wearing clean pants. I am sad about this but appreciate the irony of an afterlife full of ghosts from another dimension written about enthusiastically on plastic covered information boards.
Then the badness comes. ‘Is there a pub?’ ‘No.’
Fuck. I am clearly in Hell.
But such a lovely hanging basket bedecked one. Wycoller is a village prettily planted deep in East Lancashire, the perennially dark hump of Pendle Hill nearby. But Wycoller is ablaze with flowers, Cotswold grey stone quaintness and death, murder and vandalism.
It is a place that is mired in tradition, village life and industry but where high heels from Burnley replace the tired clip clop of centuries of weavers heels and dark dark deeds still occur at night.
Wycoller Hall is paradise in decay. A ruined manor house is the epitome of smugness to an alive and financially broken viewer-ha ha you are dead and someone has had sex and a Snickers bar in your fireplace. It makes the Conservatives’ evil financial thrust almost bearable. Almost.
Yes, the fireplace in your hall that servants had to knock to timidly enter now has the working class from industrial towns poking about in short skirts whilst drinking Pepsi Maxx whilst you are dead, dead, dead.
Oh how I love it. There are the most worn steps in the world (and you can quote me on that) leading to nothing and well worn steps leading to nothing are probably my most favourite thing on earth (I would not be good at speed-dating) and you have to envisage what once was by looking at grand heraldic shields where the emblems on the shields have dissolved due to time and East Lancashire weather and nothing but the generic shield shape remains, truly the most ludicrously lucid and stonily obvious sign of wealth, fame and mortality being so pathetically transient.
Ha! You are still dead! And I am alive and poor and laughing because I can.
Despite the peach tiles in my small bathroom, you now envy me because I am alive and you are not except in a weird way because all the dead in Wycoller are now ghosts. It said so on the well displayed laminated board in the barn. Even the animals.
Yes! If I thought a well priced quaint tearoom (although sadly unlicensed) selling the aforementioned cheese and onion pie with glistening metal trophy-like tureens of pickled red cabbage, raw onion, mushy peas and gravy (it’s a Lancashire thing) for £3.50 was not quite wondrous enough, now here is a man who is a manager or owner or something (I forget easily these days) who tells me in a no nonsense Lancashire way the story of how a regular at the tearoom sensed the bad vibe in the backroom where we are now stuffing chocolate fudge cake down our gullets and would never enter.
When the renovations were over and the bull keep was uncovered, from a previous farmer notorious for his ill treatment of his animals, she walked in and without knowing what had happened, said she felt she could be in this room again. This is an appalling third hand transcript and I can see you rolling your eyes from here. I am not good at relaying anecdotes and my badly recollected memory has made you all now disbelieve in ghosts. Sorry. But if you were in that tearoom, listening to the dark haired, dark eyed owner/whatever talking soberly about That Experience you would be shitting yourself every time you ate a Big Mac. Good.
The barn next to Wycoller Hall is donated to information and harking at well kept beams. A woman talks sourly about vandalism. There is so much vandalism we can only wonder at what was ‘chucked into the river’ to a Greek chorus of sighs. There is an animal missing from the wicker garden. The inner globe is missing from the Atom, a top of the hillside sculpture, all eyes and mirrors of the encompassing four dimensional landscape with the inner globe for you to gaze upon, witchlike to see all the countryside reflected in its mirror sheen, Well, you would of, it had had not been merrily broken and stolen. Again.
But Wycoller is multicultural when it comes to its ghosts – there is also a West Indian lady, a bride of a Wycoller who chose her in her native country, married her and then thought ‘fuck that’ and threw her overboard. We’ve all been there…
But rather than just be dead or have a whine on Mumsnet, she followed him home and apparently still haunts the place. I would go back to where it’s warmer, love.
More ghosts! This one is spectacular as it is not just a ghost. Everyone gets a bit bored of just one ghost misering about the place. Wycoller Hall has a ghost murdering another ghost and you can hear him kill her and her scream and die and everything! This is pure ghost porn!
It apparently happens but once a year upon the darkest most appallingly weathered day of the year and that ghost must be really suffering right now studying the long term forecasts or just be prosaic and pop out doing a light stab every week or so when the sky is yet again black and cold. I suspect he was not counting on global warming or just does not want an audience.
There is a Grey Lady too who flits about sadly, the epitome of passive aggressive, “I was wronged, I am sad, I hope you are scared when you see me, that’ll learn him…”
The Neolithic slab bridge in the village is a gloriously slumped and sturdy ancient rare thing and is said to be where Druids lead their human sacrifices over but I think the Romans used the whispered rumours of face eating chanting Druids in some kind of propaganda method to hide their own barbarity. I still quite want the Druids to have existed though. They are such romantic sounding murderers. And I do love a good ritual.
But hark! Dear reader, Wycoller has yet more tricks up its heraldic Druidic Romantic well priced cheese and onion pied sleeve- There is yet another ghost and it is the spectre horseman who goes galloping along that ancient packhorse bridge by the ruins of Wycoller Hall and that self same bridge and Hall is also said to have been the inspiration for Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Make of that what you will. A man imprisons his mentally ill wife in the attic then lies about it and has an affair. That is no romance, that is sordid but the best a woman could possibly ask for.
Apart from a well-priced cheese and onion pie whilst gazing misty eyed out at ancient misery.
It was a good day.