I used to love this time of the year as a kid. Hallowe'en, Bonfire Night, then the always enjoyable run-up to the madness of Christmas festivities. Yet as time passes they all fade into insignificance; a barrel of anti-climax, which I always felt but always managed to conveniently forget.
One Hallowe'en in 1992, we visited my Nan in the midlands, and it is still possibly the most terrified I have ever been in my life. I had always been convinced this large, spacious, cold house on the top of a hill was haunted. Ever since I had known it. It looked slightly odd, looming, had a spiky feel. We visited that Hallowe'en and it was even colder, darker, and more atmospheric than ever. And this was before I had seen Psycho to corrupt my young mind.
During the evening, my sister played the violin - a violin that had once belonged to our dead grandfather. My Nan made a passing comment that she hoped he could hear it...she thought he could. A passing comment became cemented in my brain, filling me with an excitable terror, and I became convinced he was there. Haunting.
Later that night, with the eerie echo strains of the violin still in my ears, I snuck downstairs and put on the TV. The BBC were showing Ghostwatch - a now infamous TV programme, that convinced a nation that Michael Parkinson had become possessed. Of course, we all know now it was not real. It was the Blair Witch Project of its time. But as a 10 year old, already scared by the idea of ghosts and ghouls, I was petrified. But I couldn't stop watching. Car-crash TV. I believed everything - here was a real life ghost vigil on TV, a scary ghost named Pipes terrorising. It could happen here. To me.
I scampered up to bed and hid under the duvet covers. I was shaking with fear. I honestly do not think I have ever been as scared as that since, not even when I saw Celebrity Re-Hab on cable. I didn't sleep at all that night. I was convinced there was something in the room with me (there was....my sister, we shared a room). There were shadows crawling the walls, knocks and bumps on the floorboards; the wind was howling around the house, engulfing nooks and crannies. I could still hear the echos of the violin, straining from somewhere in the pits of my fear.
In a way, I miss that. I miss believing. The utmost terror wasn't admittedly, fun, but at the same time it was more excitement than being a boring skeptic. A skeptic's world is rather flat and colourless. I try to believe sometimes, but...it's just not the same. I miss a good haunting. Do ghosts exist? I have yet to see any hardcore evidence. I saw a 'ghost' once, and it was a bizarre experience, but was it real? Was it actually a ghost? I cannot trust my own foolish imagination. But there's a lot about the world, our brains we still do not understand....that's a given...