I saw a ghost once. And then I went down the pub to tell everyone. Turned out I was feverish. The exhilaration of the hallucinations had given me a moment of clarity, like in the eye of a storm. I was soon back in bed tossing and turning, issuing secretions and expletives, like the protagonist in a Dickens novel.
Granted, it didn’t last three weeks and end with me discovering Miss Haversham was long dead, but for a few insane minutes, in a bomb shelter that was also the kibbutz’s pub, I was adamant ghosts exist.
So you could say it’s a rationale I understand, and that might explain why I keep an open mind. Unlike spiritualism, which I would wholly dismiss, I think a lot of ghost sightings have something to do with inhabiting space. When a person, or even an animal, follows the same routine day after day, I think they might leave their presence there, a bit like electricity. There’s a reason why the night watchman is a favourite occupation among ghouls.
I remember sensing my dog like that after it snuffed it. I heard the door being pushed open, the sound of her heavy carcass crashing onto the sofa, and then a whimper as if to say: “Oh I forgot, I’m dead.” Sometimes I worry I’m going to haunt the Copenhagen Post offices as I live only 90 seconds away. On the CIA’s satellite surveillance, I’m a blip that moves back and forth, ever so slightly, endlessly.
Bringing us terror this autumn is Ian Burns, whose production of The Woman in Black runs for a month from October 23 (see billetten.dk). This means there will be a performance of the play – which is very different from the movie and really inhabits the whole theatre, so prepare to be spooked – on Halloween, and Burns would like to invite our readers to send in their favourite ghost stories (to email@example.com), of which the best will be read out on the evening by a special guest, printed in the paper and win the writer four tickets to the show (with two pairs for the best runners-up).
Maybe Ian McEwan might fancy it – he’s in town for Louisiana Literature – although it’s not really his genre. Or HC Andersen, who always liked a good haunting. He won’t miss The Little Mermaid anniversary celebrations.
But if you see him: a word of advice. Don’t brag about it down the pub.