Yesterday, I failed to climb Pendle Hill and didn’t see a ghost.
I love Halloween. I do. I love the smell of decay, the fact that parents are dressing up their children to look like they are dead and gravestones saying RIP adorn Specsavers windows.
I love reading the newspapers ‘Top Ten Haunted Places’ and goshing and gasping at haunted places I have been to and never witnessed a ghost.
I love that slight sense of anarchy, the shock and awe at seeing a broken egg on the pavement, the sudden collective worship of death by large supermarket chain-stores and ITV breakfast television.
Most days are my Halloween, I tend to lurk in semi-darkness reading MR James but that is mostly because I have very inferior carpets so a low light is more flattering and hides the stains.
The Number One most haunted place now suddenly according to a possibly hastily produced unscientific article in The Independent is Pendle Hill.
I have tried climbing its summit before two years ago but on a suddenly boiling day with a small fair child wrapped so badly in a sling, they risked a sudden immediate propulsion to another country, it was merited a bad idea by everyone but me.
I shall try again.
We drive through the Trough Of Bowland on the way to our epic climb. Halfway along, the toddler projectile vomits and by the time we have cheaply and badly dressed him from charity shops in Clitheroe, the time left to climb Pendle Hill before the oncoming rain drenches us has evaporated.
Never mind! We shall go on the Pendle Sculpture trail instead!
I fail to see most of the sculptures due to oncoming rain drenching us.
But I have my lucky ticket! A ticket to a paranormal investigation in the Judges Lodgings in Lancaster, the place where the Witch Hunter Thomas Covell, lived, died and still, according to many, still resides.
I have never been on one of these tours before and I utterly expect something, just something, fake or not to occur. The tour through the Judges Lodgings and the hidden cellars with the narrative revolving around mania, misery, witches and death made me happy to be alive, guilty for revelling in past misfortunes and utterly fucked off that no ghostly entity was around to tell me that the main aim of the afterlife was probably not to leave marks in carefully placed trays of flour.
The fact ‘nothing’ happened made me trust in the tour, believe in the narrative as they did not produce or fake a sighting, just used the past, the actual real past to create a horror far more terrifying than any amount of cheap witches outfits made in China,purchased in Lancashire and worn by grinning children in Lancaster Caster gurning and giggling by the dungeons.
Now they are a tourist attraction, Mother Demdike (who died in a pitch black cell) is now a hook nosed jolly woman used by the council to entice children to pay an entrance fee to make fake spells with a friendly cackling witch underneath some bats made out of bin bags.
Past agony is a fun for all affair and I am complicit in that. Because what I love the most about Halloween is that sudden glimmer into the past, the shaky candles, the tiny procession and the small flicker of a fire somewhere.