|The Glebe in spring|
This is the first of a few spooky - and mostly TRUE - stories, for the week before Hallowe'en. Feel free to add your own true ghost stories in the comments.
Many years ago - although it seems like yesterday - we looked after my parents' dog while they were away in Vienna. Dad spent a couple of years working at the International Atomic Energy Commission there, before his retirement. I would walk the dog in the morning and afternoon, usually taking her up one of the roads out of the village. She had a particular tree that she liked to get to before turning for home again.
It was autumn, just about this time of year, and not-quite-twilight when we were heading for home together, passing the field that you can just see in the photograph above, the Glebe, that used to belong to the old manse. It's very much a part of the village, with a low wall, and a driveway leading into old and new manses. The dog was a rescue dog with a very sweet nature.
We were walking along the pavement and a fine drizzle had started, when I saw an elderly gentleman on the other side of the road, standing up against the wall in the picture. He wasn't unwell or anything. Just standing looking over the wall.
Because this is a village where people are friendly and the road was empty and quiet, I began to cross over, to speak to him. The odd thing was that the dog crossed over before I did. She tugged me across in his direction, pulling on her lead, so she clearly saw him too.
When I got there - seconds later - he disappeared.
He disappeared as swiftly and suddenly as a picture disappears when you switch off the television. It was so odd and so unexpected that I found myself looking over the wall, which was ridiculous, because it's not a high wall, and even walking the few yards back to the manse entrance, peering around the length of the wall, just to make sure nobody had bobbed down on the other side. The dog looked confused as well. She wagged her tail and looked up at me.
There was nobody there at all.
When I got home, slightly bemused, I told my husband, describing what I'd seen.
'I think you've seen Jock,' he said.
Jock McBlane was the village chimney-sweep, general handyman and elder of the kirk. My husband remembered him well although I had never known him. But he knew all there was to know about all the houses in the village, where the drains ran, how the old houses were constructed. A useful person. He always wore white gloves in the kirk. And he liked to walk about the village in the evening, checking that all was well. He once told my husband that ours was one of the most soundly constructed houses in the village. It was built back in 1808, but Jock had definitely done some work here in the intervening period.
The cafe in our village shop is called Jock's Cafe in his memory. It's situated in the village hall now, but it used to be in the old building that had once been Jock's workshop, over the road. Back when it was a restaurant, one of the previous owners told me that she would often come in in the morning to set up for the day and turn on the radio so that she could hear it in the kitchen, only to have somebody turn it down again. She assumed Jock didn't approve of loud music!