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    December 2021
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    Do You Believe In Ghosts?

    Do You Believe in Ghosts

    Stone's inscription : "Ecoutez le fantôme qui pleure" (Listen to the weeping ghost) Massif Central, France


    Don’t ask me to answer that question though I have more reasons to say YES than NO !

    A black crow is cawing on the top of a pine-tree in front of my window as to agree with me…

    Old Rustic Cottage, in Massif Central

    Old rustic cottage - Massif Central, France

    Old Rustic Cottage, in Massif Central

    Old rustic cottage - Massif Central, France











    A few years ago, we rented an old rustic cottage, in a very lonely place on the edge of the Massif Central, in France, and for a couple of days we could try and imagine what it had been like to live there without fone, TV or computer. Flickering flames conjured up images of people gathering by the fireside with family and neighbours, at the end of a hard day of work, on the evenings when there was a “veillée” and it was as if we were listening with them to the blood-chilling stories told by the grand-father. Wind blowing outside, life quietly going on inside. What we call in France a “veillée” must be the equivalent of the “ceilidh” in Scotland…

    Campbell Tales

    Popular Tales of The West Highlands - J.F.Campbell - 1983 (First published 1860)

    Most countries  keep in memory lots of tales inherited from their ancestry  but some of them seem to be richer than others, like  Scotland and Ireland.  Brittany, in  France, which has so much in common with these countries  is particularly rich in celtic legends and tales and shares with them a gift for story-telling.

    Scottish Stories Tales and Traditions

    Scottish Stories Tales and Traditions with Hugh Miller, Angus McLella, and Donald Macdonald

    Old story-tellers have long gone by and new ways of life have created types of society which have little in common with the old ones. Fortunately enough, some people did realise in time that a priceless cultural patrimoine was in danger of being lost forever and they devoted their life to collect all they could. Let us mention Hugh Miller and the other contributors of Wilson’s Tales of the Borders, JF Campbell and its Popular Tales of the West Highlands…the list is long and we can now find, in very interesting books, a great choice of folk tales. Still better, a new generation of story-tellers seems to have been born who are ready to entertain crowds of people eager to listen to thrilling stories. Just have a look at Wigtown Book Festival Programme. Here there’s something that could well interest those who love ghost stories !

    Wigtown 2009 Festival poster

    Wigtown 2009 Book Festival Programme

    Late-Night Spooky Stories on 25 September 2009…

    Ghostly tales for adults and teens with story-teller Marion Kenny.

    Be afraid, be very afraid.

    Comfort is provided in the shape of hot-water bottles. 🙂

    And you can go and discuss spooky matters with Christopher Brookmyre who will be present on the Festival on 27 September to introduce and dedicate his last book Pandaemonium.

    Brookmyre Pandaemonium

    Pandaemonium - Christopher Brookmyre - 2009

    Did you know how he began one of his most successful novels Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks?

    Brookmyre attack of unsinkable rubber ducks

    Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks - Christopher Brookmyre -2007

    Do you believe in ghosts ?

    I’ve always liked mystery fiction. ‘You’re too young, you can’t take that book” they used to tell me when, as a young girl, I arrived to the librarian desk with some awe-inspiring book I had picked up on the adult shelves. But I’ve made up for lost time since, I can tell you…

    GMB Winter-Tales

    Winter Tales - George Mackay Brown - 1996 (First published in 1975)

    What I would like to add as a conclusion  is that if I do like ghost stories it’s not only for the mere sake of suspense or for what Virginia Woolf calls “The strange human craving for the pleasure of feeling afraid’ though I delight in such feelings but also because I find in them something more that makes me read and re-read my favourite ones.

    But for now, I will leave you in very good company. Bonne lecture. A bientôt.

    Ics on the Island 1st ed 1979 Cover

    On The Island - Iain Crichton Smith - First Edition 1979

    “I’ll tell you something,” said Daial to Iain. “I believe in ghosts.”

    It was Hallowe’en night and they were sitting in Daial’s house – which was a thatched one – eating apples and cracking nuts which they had got earlier that evening from the people of the village. It was frosty outside and the night was very calm.

    “I don’t believe in ghost,’ said Iain, munching an apple. ‘You’ve never seen a ghost, have you ?’

    ‘No,’ said Daial fiercely, ‘but I know people who have. My father saw a ghost at the Corner. It was a woman in a white dress.’

    ‘I don’t believe it,’ said Iain. ‘It was more likely a piece of paper.’ And he laughed out loud. ‘It was more likely a newspaper. It was the local newspaper.’

    ‘I tell you he did,’ said Daial. And another thing. They say that if you look between the ears of a horse you will see a ghost. I was told that by my granny.’

    ‘Horses’ ears,’ said Iain laughing, munching his juicy apple. ‘Horses’ ears.’

    Outside it was very very still, the night was, as it were, entranced under the stars.

    ‘Come on then,’ said Daial urgently, as if he had been angered by Iain’s dismissive comments. ‘We can go and see now. It’s eleven o’clock and if there are any ghosts you might see them now. I dare you.’

    ‘All right,’ said Iain, throwing the remains of the apple into the fire. ‘Come on then.’

    And the two of them left the house, shutting the door carefully and noiselessly behind them and entering the calm night with its millions of stars. They could feel their shoes creaking among the frost, and there were little panes of ice on the small pools of water of the road. Daial looked very determined, his chin thrust out as if his honour had been attack. Iain liked Daial fairly well though Daial hardly read any books and was only interested in fishing and football. Now and again as he walked along he looked up at the sky with its vast city of stars and felt almost dizzy because of its immensity. (…)

    On the Island , Iain Crichton Smith – Chapter 4

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