Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life: Jeremy Clarke

Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life: Jeremy Clarke

Article excerpt

Denis was my guide to and from the new out-of-town Lidl superstore at Salernes in Provence. I drove. The road was a smooth ribbon of asphalt newly laid through an ancient forest of dwarf oaks. The in-car conversation with Denis was, as usual, easy and undogmatic and wide-ranging, which is the only sort of conversation I am capable of, for I can never remember what my opinions are, let alone which set of beliefs gave rise to them. In this uncommitted way we drifted aimlessly on a gentle swell until we bumped up against the subject of ghosts. I had never seen or heard or felt a ghost, I said. Neither had I met anyone who had. So no, I didn't believe in them. Denis had and did, however, claiming to have frequented two houses that were quite definitely haunted.

He once rented a house in Hampshire and became friendly with a neighbouring family who lived in a very beautiful old house that was, in his words, 'haunted to buggery'. The husband was, among other things, a musician with an academic interest in medieval music. One day his son, who was then about nine or ten years old, sauntered into the house from the garden singing a quaint song, which his father recognised as an obscure old English folk song. He asked his boy to sing it again for him, which the boy did. 'Where on earth did you learn that?' said the flabbergasted father to the son. 'That friendly lad in the garden wearing funny clothes taught it to me,' said the boy.

One Sunday, the musician and his wife invited friends over for lunch at one o'clock. One o'clock came and went with no sign of their guests. At two o'clock they gave up waiting and started lunch without them. At three the musician rang the home of the missing couple to find out what had happened. They were in. The wife answered. 'We drove up to the house at ten to one,' she said, 'and there was such a colourful crowd in fancy dress on your lawn that we thought it was a children's party or something and that we'd got the wrong Sunday. So we turned around and came home.'

At Lidl we filled our trolley mainly with Lidl's own-brand gin at an incredible six euros a bottle. Coming back, Denis said, 'Would you like to see the first house I bought when I came to the area? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.