Fringe Talk Day Eight

Haunted Sydney Ghost Tour - Friday 8th September

I’ve never seen a ghost. I’ve never had a ‘spooky’ encounter.

Fringe Talk buddy Alana is ghost-crazed. Earlier this week she sent me a video of British television’s recent Most Haunted episode in which, for the first time ever on the show (it’s been running 17 years), a ghost was spotted in a 17th century house in Yorkshire. I was skeptical, but that’s probably because I’ve never seen one.

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A translucent figure of a man walked up a set of stairs as though in slow motion, and they caught it on camera. The host claims to have seen the figure from a different part of the house.

OK, fine, you think you saw a ghost.

But then the bulldog Watson corroborated it. He stood frozen at the top of the stairs, staring down into the darkness of the room where objects had earlier been thrown BY NO ONE.

If Watson’s on board, I’m on board.

Ben and I discussed the supernatural over fried chicken at Barangaroo (a wildly unspooky place) before venturing into The (Very Spooky) Rocks. Ben thinks if ghosts do exist they won’t look like the bloke on Most Haunted, in the same way that if aliens land, they won’t look like your classic “grey”. I agreed – no, obviously they would look like heptopods from Academy Award nominated sci-fi film Arrival, starring Amy Adams. Obviously.

We arrived at the Observer Hotel and, standing outside wearing a black cape, black boots and carrying a lantern, was our guide. We were a motley crew of skeptics and believers, and I firmly straddled that fence, flip-flopping between sarcastic chortles and horrified gasps. I was all over the place.

Our guide handed out divining rods amongst us. If they crossed, a spirit was present. Yes or No questions were advisable. My rule of thumb, I might add, would be that you shouldn’t ask a ghost philosophical questions you yourself can’t answer, e.g. “what is love?”, “why do bad things happen to good people?” and “who decided chicken salt was a good idea, and does it contain any chicken?”

The first Spooky Site involved the murder of a mistress by her lover, who eventually got off the hook because he was drunk. Standard.

The second involved a ghost described by our guide as some kind of “Rat Queen” – a “hideous” woman who lived in the sewers, turned herself into a beautiful woman to lure men in and, if they bragged about their conquests, she turned them into rats. The guide commented that “women haven’t really changed.”

Next, we stood outside an old brothel where spooky things have happened to people’s photographs, including revealing melting and disappearing faces, and where women have been pushed off ledges while being called a bitch.

ALL SUPER GOOD THINGS FOR WOMEN.

We didn’t see a ghost. Our guide told us that she hasn’t seen one, but she’s had ghosts follow her home after tours and frighten her black cat.

I returned home, took off my jacket, shoes and glasses in a huff. I felt frustrated at my inability to believe, or even to be spooked.

I heard footsteps in the hallway.

Ducking my head around the corner, there he was. A pasty white figure, clutching something.

I screamed.

He screamed.

He edged closer, asking if I was OK, and my blurred vision began to clear. There was my housemate, in his comic-book boxer shorts, holding take-away food containers.

Written by Eleni Schumacher