Sitting, feeling slightly hassled in the Castle office on Friday, I was trying to meet a number of deadlines and as usual could not seem to fit everything into a day. I asked whether Paul Mac and Louise, my PA, would help me by kindly going to find some of the old toys and the pram stored on the top floor of the Castle as I needed them to be photographed. Both of them find the top rooms of the Castle quite spooky, thus Hannah G from Press and PR, who overheard, said she would go up with them for moral support. They also took the puppies, Stella and Freya, for reassurance. It would be fun.
Blithely, Hannah led the way upstairs, passing by the bottom of the Charles Barry Tower and along the long, red carpeted corridor. Unbeknownst to any of them, Josh the Joiner was also upstairs on that particular floor. They met and explained what they were doing. Standing some four feet behind Hannah, Josh delicately touched the top of Hannah’s head with an extended tape measure.She screamed and screamed – (she could have been auditioning for a part in a “Mummy” film) – and leapt around thinking someone (or something) had touched her head. We heard the screams downstairs and John G the Castle Manager immediately went up to investigate and to help – after his own fashion.
Nervously, the party proceeded around the next corner where, unfortunately, Gladys the mannequin’s hand was jammed in the door of the cupboard in which she lives, and it was slightly ajar. Louise at this point leapt into Hannah’s arms, who bumped into Paul, who also jumped and yelled. John G arrived on the scene and suggested to Paul that the pram might be in a room on the right. When Paul had plucked up the courage to go in John shut the door on him. Paul said “please let me out” knocking frantically on the door, and pulling at it to try to open it, with John claiming the lights had gone out all over the Castle. Actually Paul needed only to have turned the handle to escape.
The ever larger party now continued along a further corridor which was now just dusty floorboards. Louise and Paul tried to push the puppies into each room ahead of them on the basis that the dogs would sense any ghost first (which reminded me of the Scooby-Doo cartoon) but they felt there we some rooms they could not look into at all. The chances of finding said pram and toys were diminishing rapidly. Louise looked cautiously round into a room, caught sight of her own face reflected in a mirror, leapt back and screamed.
By now Josh, thoroughly enjoying himself, had crept ahead and noiselessly opened a white panelled interconnecting door at the back of a particularly dark bedroom. Puppies or no puppies, Hannah and Louise exited at a run only to come face to face with an old wooden rocking chair which John G had managed to get going as if some ghost had just stood up from it. Paul by now would not enter any room and was desperate to run back along the corridors but could not face passing Gladys’s hand.
Josh then insisted on showing the team a ‘head’ he had found – in fact he just meant some antlers but John decided that this was the point that he needed to return to his office immediately and contemplate his piles of notes and paper in endless brown paper folders and endeavour to add to them. He refused to let Paul Mac go with him.
Eventually, triumphantly, Louise and Paul Mac found the toys that I had wanted to reference and Hannah found the big old pram. They carefully closed all the shutters, turned off any lights and retreated.
Curiously enough, I had followed exactly the same routine when I had been looking for something up there the previous week, making sure nothing was left switched on, only to be told by John the next day that a light had been left on at the top of the Castle. Just not by me……