Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Good Reasons to Remember Rothesay.

My uncle,John Macleod (Iain Glass) was an intelligent,educated man, held in high esteem by all who knew him. The story which follows was told to me by my uncle personally,on one of his trips to the U.K. in the late 1950s.For one who has grave doubts (unfortunate pun) about the supernatural, I still wonder at what he told me that day,the more so because you knew that he was an intelligent man,and certainly not given to lying or romancing. The following happenings occurred in the town of Rothesay in the Firth of Clyde,sometime during World War One. The address and number of a house in Rothesay were chosen by me,without knowing this town at all,and having forgotten any address which John may have used. The address for our purposes is No.13, High Street,Rothesay,which Google Earth tells me does in fact exist. So,if you live at present at 13 High Street, relax - it's only a story !
During this war,soldiers would return home to Britain for rest and recuperation in the homes of ordinary households,while still under the command of their officers. Lieutenant Macleod and his company of men were billeted in the homes of the good people of Rothesay,and it was John's duty to place the men in the homes according to a list he was given. Each soldier had to present himself at the designated billet,and hand over his ration book to the head of the house who would buy the soldier's groceries etc. The Army would answer for the bills.
With all the men now placed in their "new homes",for a time at least, John saw to his own billet with a family residing at 13 High Street. This was a large detached house situated in an overrun garden of about half an acre. Here was a large family, and John was told that he would have to sleep beside their eldest son,in an attic room at the top of the house. Not what John would have wished, but a dreadful conflict was taking place,all over Europe and beyond,and so, when needs must! John was obliged to shop for his foodstuffs in the shops around Rothesay,for as little as his rations would permit.and hand it to the mistress of No.13 High Street, that she might cook his food at the same time as she saw to her own family. A strange thing happened in each shop which John visited. When John handed over his ration book,he noted that invariably the address was read aloud in a halting fashion,with a murmur or a facial grimace from an onlooker. After a couple of days,John confronted a shopkeeper about the events surrounding the ration book and the address printed on it. "Don't you know ,sir,that there are ghosts in the house at 13 High Street". That evening at dinner,around which the whole family were seated, John broke the silence by making the bold statement "I am told that there are ghosts in this house". No one looked up from the table,nor did anyone say a word. Later that evening when John and the eldest son were preparing for bed,the young man said in quite a relaxed way,"John, would you like to see the ghosts? They usually appear in the early hours so if you wish,you get some sleep.and I will give you a shake as they are about to come". God knows how John enjoyed any sleep,but it seems he did until he was wakened by the young man of the house. It should be noted that the bed was hard against a wall,with the youth on the outside,and John behind him placed next to the wall.The following were John's words,as best I remember. He had barely heard the words "John,they are coming!" when a cold white mist began to form at the foot of the bed. This continued and now out of a dense mist evolved the figure of a very old man with long white hair and beard,who made his way up the side of the bed,leaning over the youth with his watery eyes fixed on John. "What did you do ?",I demanded. John told me that he was at that moment paralysed with fear. He could not move. The old man left the bedside,only to be replaced by a succession of "spirits"each younger than the last (John reckoned there were about 20 different spectres). The penultimate "visitor" was a beautiful young child dressed in a fabulous costume,who had to rise on tiptoes to gaze into John's face. There was a return visit from the self same old man who had petrified John at the outset,before finally disappearing into the aether. Before anyone asks, Iain Glass neither smoked nor imbibed alcohol throughout his life. Often,as a secondary school teacher,nearing the end of a term,pupils would ask to hear my "ghost stories" This story was often repeated to a hushed audience, but what happened at the end of one such telling amazed me. A young girl,over on the left in the front row,waited until there was quiet and then said." I have an aunt who lives in Rothesay,and I often stay with her on holiday. She has told me that there is a house in Rothesay which is haunted with many ghosts".So there we have John's story about "13 High Street,Rothesay",and I am none the wiser.

No comments: