I have to admit that today is the first day I’ve been perilously close to forgetting to post something on this blog since I started it almost eight months ago. Whilst one could argue that it’s pretty impressive I’ve managed to post something every single day for almost eight months, it could also be argued that the fact I nearly forgot is indicative of a somewhat stressed out state of mind. And that’s hardly surprising given that in three days’ time I will be moving house in London in the morning and attending a wedding in Cambridge in the evening.

Providing everything runs like clockwork – by which I mean the man with the van and our friend arrive promptly at 9am, all of the furniture easily clears the corners of the three flights of stairs it needs carrying up, nothing breaks and I remember to pack my overnight bag for the wedding before packing all of my belongings into nondescript brown boxes (which will no doubt loiter in the living room for days like a pop up shanty town) – things will be great, but there’s limited margin for error.

On another note entirely today I had my three month review at work. Fortunately my boss has seen fit to keep me on for a while longer, which means the bills in the new pad will at least be paid on time and I won’t have to sell my body on the mean streets of Stockwell to put food on the table. She was keen to point out, however, that there was some room for improvement, so I shan’t be resting on my laurels just yet. She did take me out for a nice lunch on the river afterwards though, so I must be doing something right.

Roll on Saturday, roll on the house move, roll on some time to collapse on the new sofa and R-E-S-T, because I tell you what; I’m already pooped, and it’s only Wednesday.

My earliest memory

If memory serves it was a summer’s day, the kind that has us Brits rushing for the strawberries and cream and slathering on the high factor sun lotion. My recollection doesn’t stretch to what I was wearing at the time but common sense would suggest it was some form of seasonally appropriate attire. For the purpose of adding colour to this story let’s say it was a yellow dress with white trim, matching white socks and shiny red shoes with gold buckles.

We were standing in front of a big grey house, my mother and I. As I looked up at it in wonder I thought I had never seen anything so gigantic in all my life. It had creepers growing up its walls, and large, foreboding windows which, despite their size, revealed nothing of what was within. We walked down the gravel drive and followed the path around the side of the house until we reached the garden at the back.

It was a large garden, with neatly kept flower beds containing multi-hued sprays of chrysanthemums, roses, bougainvillea and clematis (am I overdoing my artistic license here?). The air was thick with the scent of lavender, and busy little insects tended to the flowers like nurses to the sick. Dotted around the garden were other visitors like us, drawn by the fine weather and the prospect of tea and cake.

But there was another reason why they came – why we had come. Inside the house, on the upper floor, was a long landing. It wasn’t just any landing, it was also a gallery. Lining its walls were portraits of long dead ancestors of the house’s owners, the kind whose eyes follow your every movement, waiting.

We stood on this landing, my mother and I, and I felt a sudden stab of fear. I clutched her hand tightly as we began to walk, the floorboards squeaking underneath our feet. Slow and tentative steps I took, conscious that I was pulling back, not wanting to proceed – but she didn’t notice, or at least seemed not to. I remember trying not to look at their eyes, those soulless black holes that demanded attention but offered nothing but sinister stares in return.

Halfway down the corridor I stopped dead. A chill ran right through me as I looked up into the eyes of one of the paintings. Nothing happened, per se, but to this day I can remember that sensation of abject fear.

I know it sounds far-fetched and I imagine those who don’t believe in ghosts and such like will be scoffing as they read this. All I will say is that when I recounted this story to my mum a year or so ago she couldn’t believe I remembered our visit to that country house – because I couldn’t have been much more than two years old at the time. Now how’s THAT for spooky?

Image

I took this photo whilst walking around the beautiful gardens surrounding Sydney Harbour. It’s blurry background seems quite fitting for this mysterious and slightly chilling (but true!!) story.