Spirited away on an Edinburgh ghost tour - Janet Christie
With the Festival over I’m planning peaceful sessions in front of the telly with a bag of taco chips in Youngest Child’s tiger onesie (well, she’ll be out on the razz). Ah, autumn.
My pals have different plans however, and arrive in the capital with an itinerary. Skittles and lunch in a pub, a distillery, Old Town tour and proper fish and chips - they’ve been craving salt ‘n’ sauce - then back to the pub.
Sign me up I’d said to the out-of-towners, not paying attention to the details, which comes back to haunt me when I find myself on a “ghostly underground” tour of the Blair Street Vaults.
“You mean you’ve never been here?” asks one of my mates, mystified, the one wearing the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine T-shirt.
Too right. Poke around one of Edinburgh’s most haunted sites, me a suggestible claustrophobe, with a far too open mind, why would I?
Deep under the city streets, it’s dark and damp, candles flicker and as my imagination scuttles the only thing that’s missing is a ghostly organ as the guide leads us through chambers, recounting tales of the restless spirits who linger.
I consider a Scooby Doo exit, fleeing on all fours, but only the guide knows the way out. Better to stick closer to her side than the lining of her creepy cloak as she lists the location of presences in gloomy, dripping corners, invariably right where I’m standing.
“Cobblers,” calls out my pal, let’s call her Velma, as the guide describes a ghostly presence in one corner. Bit harsh I’m thinking, but there’s a sign on the wall. This is where the spirit of an old shoemaker resides.
Reason prevails and I’m calm as we continue, even during the tale of the child ghost who tugs at coats while my pals pull the back of my jacket. I’m not falling for it, I can be as rational as the rest of them.
But then, “Are you OK?” says the guide to one of Mystery Inc who is standing opposite me.
“NO! I’m FREEZING! Absolutely FREEZING!” she says, shuddering and shivering, despite her woolly coat and the fact it’s not at all cold.
“Yes, a cold presence is often felt right there,” says the guide, and my pal shoots across the chamber faster than Scooby chasing a snack.
But ‘We all know there’s no such thing as… GHOSTS!’ Or do we? Ruh-roh.