…..'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'…..

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menooffski [me-noo-off-and away]; the condition of being spooked


Who?  The character mentioned at the end of Friday's post. In the shop.

If at all I have mentioned I am prone to weird and wonderful experiences, it has perhaps not been made a big mention.  It is simply a part of my life since ever I was a nipper.  A sense of the otherly. Feyness. Mostly tied in with place.  Buildings.  Not necessarily old, either.  

The shop I worked in, though, was most definitely old.  The tenement building in which it was situated would be at least 300 years of age.  The ground floor shops would have been purpose built even at that time, as it is situated close to the city centre.

A largish shop area, the ceilings were over 12 feet high and there was a cellar, reached by a tiny stair.  It contained the staff toilet, a kitchen area and the rest was used for storage. There were enormous metal hooks protruding from the beams down there and when I asked Frances about them she was, at first, somewhat dismissive.

Then the happenings.

We were busy restocking during a quiet spell.  For me, this meant shinning up and down those enormous ladders to keep the wallpaper bays looking pretty and regimented.  They filled one entire wall behind the counter, from floor to the full march of that ceiling. There is no elegant way to climb a ladder, particularly with one's arms full of paper rolls. It develops the muscles too.

Anyway, this particular day, having nearly finished, there was a great clattering behind me.  I thought Frances may have dropped the paint brushes she was sorting.

Except she wasn't there.  One brush on the floor, yes.  No Frances.

She appeared from outside seconds later, having been along the front to check window stock.  I enquired as to the possibility she had rather loosely stacked the brushes.  Taking the fallen item from my hand she silently placed it where it belonged. Clearly there was no way it could have slipped from the pile, for the box set-up held it now, firmly in place.  Frances shrugged and went about her business.

About two months later, something similar happened.  This time though, there could be no question of a slip.  I was up the ladder having just finished stacking the larger heavier rolls of contact paper (that sticky stuff for shelving and such).  BANG!!!

The top roll of that rack was now on the floor.  Frances came running, thinking I had fallen from the ladder.  Looking at the roll then at me she muttered, "He's back."

That demanded explanation.

The shop had originally been a butchery.  Hence the hooks downstairs.  Alfred William MacBride had, it seems, something of a reputation as a ladies' man.  Rumour had it that he invited them to the cellar...

Frances had encountered some mischief with the spectre several years before this, but it had all just stopped one winter.  She had resisted telling me till then as she had wondered if it was only her imagination.  Large, heavy rolls of sticky plastic do not simply rise out of their holders and jump to the floor.  That two of us were aware of it without actually seeing it was interesting.  The ghost-buster in me was on full alert.

It was another couple of months before the next incident.  It was summer and the door was being kept open.  This meant folk could enter without ringing the bell, so one needed to be on the ball as to comings and goings.  Frances had gone for lunch so I stood to attention at the counter. Needing to get a wallpaper down to check a batch number, I turned around and then had the distinct impression I was not alone.  Turning swiftly to my right I saw him!

Tall and very stockily built, wearing a black cape and fedora-style hat of all things...in the middle of a heatwave!!!  Mind you it is cold in purgatory we are lead to believe. The huge, florid face had piercingly blue eyes. 

I turned full-on to him and said "Time you took a rest, sir!" firm and clear as you like.

He made a big theatrical bow and left...via the cellar stairs!!!

As soon as Frances got back I told her.  I also asked permission to bring some items.  Next day, before opening, we went into the cellar, where I lit a candle and some incense, rang a bell and then walked the entire space with my pendulum.  The request was for Alfred to be at peace.

Do I think those things affected change?  NO.  What they do, like any accouterments of service, is focus the mind on the task.

Was Alfred, then, a figment of mind?  NO. There was a traceable history and joint experience. For as long as I remained at Johnsons', there were no more ascensions of Alfred.


  1. Not sure I would have had the courage to utter a word….

  2. We have some experience in this house; the builder hangs about a bit. Just curious how the house he built in 1940 is being treated.

  3. Wow glad he has been laid to rest.

  4. We would have run for the hills!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley


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