Ghost Stories.

I would first like to thank everybody that told me about the phonautograph being deciphered. I understand that it’s a wonderful thing but to my mind it’s like inventing a camera with film that can’t be developed. I think I still regard Edison as winning this one. Also the Talking Clock cylinder is one of the 100 best albums of all time, so I’m biased. Frank Lambert, you rock my world. Or whatever world you are in now. Which leads to the next bit.

I have been reading endless ghost stories – Method Research to understand the Method Filming and Method Acting that goes into The Blair Witch Project which is a wonderful documentary about torturing three young actors out in the woods. In case you didn’t know, the film makers used a range of torture on the people on screen to make it real. Like hiding out in the woods, spraying slime and playing tape recordings of babies crying. Never mind the fake documentary itself, which is excellent fun, the film making process is very interesting and I hoped my charges at KUNST KAMP would find it so. Not sure they did.

This leads to my ghost story, which is my gift to people who have written in.

In the early 80’s I was living on Liverpool Street in Darlinghurst, Sydney in a standard terrace with two others. Upstairs was two bedrooms, a large front room that belonged to a She and a smaller back room that was mine. My room had a matress on the floor, with a window right behind it, which let in constant light and air conditioner noise from the restaurant behind us. The ceiling sloped at a crazy angle to the left as seen from the bed, and there was room for a clothing rack at the right and not much more. Downstairs the kitchen, toilet and another small room that belonged to a He. Darlinghurst was yet to be gentrified and there was a fair amount of homeless that wandered around at night, decent enough drunk old men. Brothels and cars.

When I moved in I was impressed by the number of footsteps that slowly marched up the stairs to my room, and suddenly poised at my door. Seemed that every beastie was lining up outside the door to have an argument whether to eat me or put a knife through my guts. But it didn’t take to long to work out that the stairs in our house were the mirror image of the stairs next door and so the footsteps were communicated through the wall.

So one night I was asleep. Light coming in the window, hitting the opposite wall, air conditioner running next door. Noise from the street had died down, it was I guess about 3AM. I woke up. At the end of the bed stood a man. Now, you know how memories get encrusted with details over the years so even though I can vaguely picture him in my mind I am going off details I described at the time. He was old, thin and short, he had a bald head with a few hairs still in place. He had on a jacket, the grey ones that every derelict seems to get from a church hand out. He was completely solid and coloured and not at all ghostly, the light from the window was hitting him fully. The magnificent detail was he had on black and white checked trousers. “Golfing pants” is what I thought. He was looking at me.

“Fuck” I thought. Then I did what you do – I shook my head wugga wugga & cleared the dream from my mind. Looked again and man was still there, still looking at me. I was fully awake now, and thinking clearly. A derelict guy had somehow wandered up the stairs to my bedroom, which was very odd but not crazy, somebody had left the front door open and up he comes. OK. Pain in the arse have to get some clothes on and get him out.

Pulled the bedclothes back. Man was there still. I start to crawl towards the pile of clothes over at the right side of the bed and this is where it gets interesting. The gent basically folded inwards, like the edges folded towards the middle and the whole pulled itself inside out. Like water going down a drain, but it folded towards me before away and out. Anyway the end result was no man.

So I’m kneeling on my bed now and the first thought I have is – “oh good I don’t have to sort this out then”. Back to bed and soon to sleep. Until morning when I wake and start to wonder – what the hell was that?

I’m fortunate in that my dad is a psychiatrist with a heart condition. He knew what most likely went down when I phoned him. When he takes a prescription that lowers his blood pressure he gets very calm, even though the situation is worrying, and when he sees something out of the corner of his eye, it stays put, instead of resolving itself into the chaotic assemblage of light and dark that suggested the illusion in the first place. He pointed out that my sudden awakening probably was a sudden drop in blood pressure, which then leads to the illusion staying put. I stay calm, and when I start moving it pumps up the pressure enough so that the brain gets working again. Not fun, but no spooks needed.

That’s been a comfort to me over the years when very sporadically I have similar, usually less involved scenes. The most amusing one from a year or so ago was to suddenly wake up, walk down the stairs in my current terrace and find – just as I had suspected – somebody crouched on the floor who was trying to rob my house. Damn you! Fearless I walk over to this crouching figure and have it do the ‘down the drain’ disappearing act. Bloody disappearing spook bastard.

Oh I’ve got a better one. You not bored yet? Good.

I once worked for a graphic design company and that night were all at work at about 2AM trying to get some wretched print job finished by morning. Four of us – female boss, female boss helper, male worker, me. Old old warehouse made out of Ye Olde Woode now turned into fibro office spaces, full of crazy fake companies. The office had lots of glass partitions. Anyway we had the door to the corridor open because we were getting ourselves coffee on the hour.

Cut a long story short – I’m facing towards the door and thinking about Quark when I see a dog run into the room, but not last more than a few seconds. Boss looks freaked out, looks at me and asks “Did you see a dog run into the room?” Cue frenzied argument between two dog seers, unconvinced male worker who spends much time angling glass trying to explain the illusion and very anxious other boss helper who had not seen the dog and certainly did not want to. Classic stuff.

I can’t explain that one fully, must have been a reflection of something for two people to catch it, but damned if I know reflection of what. It was fast, it ran, it was about knee height, dark but not shadow.

Good doggy.