Urban Myths no. 5: tales from a ghost club.

Props outside the Old Vic, London, 1989.Props outside the Old Vic, Waterloo. © David Secombe 1989.

From Ghost Club by Andrew Martin and David Secombe:

Synopsis: The three members of the North Yorkshire Paranormal Investigation Society are engaged in a night-time vigil at a country house on the southern edge of the Yorkshire Moors.

Act Two, Scene 1:

It is now 11.30 pm. We find the three in the middle of their second ’session’. They occupy the three disparate seats, as before. Everyone looks jaded and more disheveled, but at least the electricity appears to have been restored – the lighting is from the Anglepoise lamps set up on the table. Quite atmospheric. As before, the aim is to maintain silence in hopes of contacting the beyond. PETE has commandeered a second seat, for the purpose of resting his legs and is reading a paperback – Elmore Leonard or similar. 

                                                        IAN:
Pete … have you had any experiences that really gave you the, like, willies?

                                                        PETE:
How long have you got?

Pause; considering something.

Actually …  No, forget it.

                                                        JOHN:
No, actually – what?

Pause. PETE looks at both his companions in turn. Puts his book down.

                                                        PETE:
I worked as a security guard once. In London. After I left college.

                                                        JOHN:
Yes, Classics is hardly the most useful degree –

                                                        PETE:
On my first day, they sent me to an abandoned maternity hospital in Finsbury Park that was waiting to be demolished. My job was to sit by the front door and patrol the place twice in an eight-hour hour shift. That’s all. I arrived at seven a.m. on a bright summer’s day, relieved the night shift – who I noticed was sitting outside – and sat down in the old reception booth and tried reading P.G. Wodehouse. But I couldn’t shake off a feeling of being watched. There was a telephone ringing somewhere in the building, but all the lines were supposed to be dead: I had to communicate with my manager via a callbox in the street. My first round was at ten. The place was an absolute shambles. God only knows what had gone on in there. It was a hot day but a storm was brewing. By the time I did my second round, at three, the sky was so dark it was difficult to see into the corners of the wards. Up on the second floor the heat from the day seemed to vanish and the air was very cold. That’s when I heard footsteps. First I thought they were my own echo: but they seemed to carry on after I’d stopped. They seemed to be getting closer each time, gaining on me.

                                                          IAN:
Then?

                                                          PETE:
I felt it was time to leave. I ran out of the building and used the call box to phone in my resignation. They were very apologetic: seems it was someone’s idea of a joke to send me there on my first day, as no-one liked working the place.

Pause – then PETE tells another one:

Later on, I was working at a club in Shoreditch. Used to be a pub, but it was all leather and sparkly lights when I knew it. The building was Georgian, but you’d hardly guess from the front. It had been bombed in the war and during rebuilding they came across medieval corpses. An unhappy spot. Didn’t stop them turning the basement into a dance floor. It was always cold; we’d try turning up the heating but the walls just ran with condensation. The landlord’s rottweiler refused to go down there. Once, I found some traumatised queen bleating that he’d followed someone into the toilet and seen them walk through the wall. Not quite the encounter he was expecting.

                                                            IAN:
Oh …

                                                           PETE:
I was cleaning up one morning-after-the-night- before, and I distinctly heard a voice close to my ear say “This one’s not afraid to be down here on his own”. … You’d have some nights down there and I used to wonder how many live bodies we had in and how many from the other side. You’d be hard pressed to tell them apart.

Silence. JOHN pours himself some more wine.

© Andrew Martin & David Secombe 2008-2013.

Ghost Club has yet to have a proper airing, although an earlier draft was presented as a rehearsed reading at the Jermyn Street Theatre in 2010, featuring David Warner as JOHN, Miles Richardson as PETE and Kieran Hill as IAN. We present this excerpt as our annual Halloween offering.


Ten imperatives.

Nuisance(c)DavidSecombeBorough. © David Secombe 2010.

Camden Lock 1980sCamden Lock. © David Secombe 1985.

Protestor at the trial of Peter Sutcliffe, Old Bailey, 1981Protestor outside the Old Bailey on the final day of the Peter Sutcliffe trial. © David Secombe 1981.

boroughcdavidsecombe1Banksy stencil, Borough Market. © David Secombe 2003.

Props outside the Old Vic, London, 1988 Props outside the stage door, Old Vic. © David Secombe 1988.

Pet shop sign, Brockley, 2003Pet shop, Brockley. © David Secombe 2003.

Items-of-valueAbandoned pub, Bermondsey. © David Secombe, 2010.

Toilet, WaterlooPub toilet, Waterloo. © David Secombe 2008.

Eat Eternal JerkSign outside a cafe, Brockley. © David Secombe 2010.

Sign in Abney Park Cemetery, London N16Abney Park Cemetery, N16. © David Secombe 2010.