Fun at the Optician’s

While taking my parents for their annual eye test appointments at the local optician, I found myself hanging around in the waiting room for around 45 minutes. A lady brought her elderly mother for a similar eye test; the old dear sat in the chair next to me, I can only describe her as a funnier and chattier version of Catherine Tate’s “Nan”. After she inflicted her personality on the receptionist, she turned her attention to me; at the time, I was surfing the Internet on my iPhone just for something to do. The conversation went like this:

Nan: “What are you doing?”

Me: “Just browsing on my phone.”

Nan: “What are you watching on that thing?”

Me: “Some dog videos.”

Nan: “I love dogs, will you show me one?”

Me: “OK, would you like to see a sausage dog puppy having its first bath?”

Nan: “That’s brilliant. Is that your dog?”

Me: “No, I do have dogs, but that’s not mine. Look, here’s another video, it’s a dog on a surfboard.”

Nan: “Oh, I love that, is that your dog?”

Me: “No, that’s not my dog. Would you like to see 10 Labrador puppies rushing to their feeding bowls?”

Nan: “Sure.”

.. at this point, she took my phone from me, and I showed her a video of a ranch in America where 10 golden Labrador puppies ran inside, all skidded and fell on the vinyl floor before arriving at their feeding stations and munching their food at a breakneck pace.

Nan: “That’s fantastic. Are they your dogs?”

Me: <out of devilment> “Yes they are!”

Nan: “Really?”

Me: “Oh yes, they live in my holiday home in Nebraska.”

Nan: “That’s amazing; do you really have a home in Nebraska?”

Me: “No.”

… She laughed really loudly and gave me a thump on my shoulder. Her daughter and the receptionist were in hysterics.

Nan: “Will you show me a picture of your dogs?”

… I found a photo of my beautiful 3 black Labradors with my equally, perhaps even more, beautiful wife, Angela, in the middle of the picture. Before handing the phone back to her, I zoomed in on the Labradors so the top part of Angela was not visible. This is the picture in full.

Angela and the Boys

Nan: “They are gorgeous. Ooh, will you show me a picture of your wife, I might know her? Is she from Clayton?”

Me: “No, we don’t live in the village, but a few years ago she did work for a while at the Wool Board just down the road.”

Nan: “Well I’m bound to know her then?”

Me: “How’s that? Did you know people at the Wool Board?”

Nan: “No, but I often popped into the butchers on the other side of the road.”

She cackled hysterically, so did her daughter, so did the receptionist; she was messing with me, if this were a football match it would have been one goal each. We kept each other entertained for the next 30 minutes; I reckon it ended in a 3-3 draw!

My parents returned from the examination room. My Dad’s eyesight had neither improved nor worsened, so the glasses he had were still OK. For some obscure reason, my Mum’s vision had slightly improved, and she needed new lenses; she decided to buy some new frames at the same time, so she accompanied the receptionist to choose some, and my Dad sat beside me. I had planned to take them shopping straight after the trip to the optician. Dad said to me “we might get to Tesco’s fairly soon if your Mum frames herself”. As Mum was choosing the frames at the time, I thought this was really quite a high-quality pun joke until I realised my Dad was having a grumble, and there was no joke intended whatsoever. I laughed, Nan’s daughter laughed, the receptionist laughed. Dad remained stony-faced in the chair.

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Poltergeist

No jokes, no twist in the tale, this is the true story of the freakiest thing that has ever happened in my life.

In the early-1990’s, I rented a small terraced house for 6 months in the beautiful small town of Haworth in West Yorkshire. I won’t tell you the name of the street because I know what you are about to read, however, here is a picture. I lived about half way up on the right-hand side.

Sand Street Haworth

When I first moved in, the landlady gave me a little tour of the old house. It was very small with a tiny entrance behind the front door and a living-room with a micro-cooking area at the back. There was a double bedroom on the first floor and another smaller spare bedroom in the attic. From the kitchen area, there was a door leading to stone steps down to a dark, musty cellar. It stored some old brooms, some essential tools and spider-web covered wine bottles. It was the first of only two occasions I ever went down there.

Every house has its own sounds, and I eventually became used to what was normal. As the months went by, I became increasingly aware of other strange sounds. Floorboards would creak in the middle of the night, the door leading to the attic would slam at unexpected times and every time I checked, it was closed solid. I would occasionally feel a temporary breeze flow through my bedroom, and yet all windows and doors would be closed, there were no vents in the walls. These events were more frequent when my 3-year-old son stayed with me. I have no idea why but that was an undeniable fact.

Those who know me will understand there is a logical scientist inside, trying to get out. I have little time for UFO enthusiasts, ghost-hunters and anyone attempting to convince me about religious creation theories. It is for this reason that what I’m about to tell you cannot be dismissed as the ramblings of someone who wants to believe in the unbelievable.

Towards the end of my six-month tenancy, the strange unexplainable happenings had escalated to daily occurrences. I admit I always thought it was an odd house but at no point was I ever worried or scared. My son was not with me on this one particular night. I was awoken at around 4 am with a loud bang in the kitchen right beneath me. I genuinely thought there was a burglar downstairs, so I hurled myself out of bed, out of the bedroom, launched myself down the stairs in the darkness and burst into the living room/kitchen. High on adrenaline, I turned the light on ready for a confrontation, but there was no-one there. I scanned the room, even looked behind the settee in case someone was hiding, but I was on my own.

I checked the front door, the only way into the house – it was locked – then returned to the living room. Somewhat puzzled I walked into the kitchen, and my heart literally skipped a beat; that’s when I noticed the weirdest thing I’ve ever witnessed. On the draining part of the kitchen sink was a wooden chopping board. Slammed into the board was my super-sharp bread knife, recreated in the picture below. It was swaying from side-to-side.

Chopping board and knife

I had not used that knife in the days leading up to that night, nor had I ever kept the wooden chopping board on the sink. I looked to my right and saw that the door to the cellar was ajar by about three inches; it had been shut since the day I moved in.

Now I admit that at this point I was starting to worry. Using more force than I thought I would have to, I extracted the bread knife from the chopping board pushed open the cellar door and turned the light on before descending, holding the knife in front of me. It was only a small area, and all I could see was the broom, the tools and the spider-webbed wine bottles. There was no other way in or out.

I cannot explain the events of that night. I promise you there was no alcohol involved that might have clouded my judgement and there’s absolutely no exaggeration for story-telling effect. A few days later, I handed the keys back to the landlady. Of course, I recounted these events to her but she just smiled in puzzlement and said that she’d never experienced anything like it while living there herself, her previous tenants had never mentioned anything either. She probably thought I was a nutter!