Read No.1 Branch Line: The Signal-man by Charles Dickens
Watch The Signalman produced in 1976 for the BBC Ghost Story for Christmas series and starring Denholm Elliott
Read Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad by M.R. James published in 1904
Watch the 1968 adaptaion of Whistle and I’ll Come to You directed by Jonathan Miller for the BBC
Watch the 2010 BBC adaptation, Whistle and I’ll come to you Ghost Story for Christmas starring John Hurt
Our 13 week picnic marathon started on Friday 13 April, we’ll be visiting a haunted location every Friday until Friday 13 July 2018. Each week we set off armed with sound recording equipment, digital cameras and an original Polaroid camera – to take an unfakeable and unique Polaroid image at each location.
Photo by Dara Jasumani / Parc Howard museum / CC BY-SA 2.0
This week we headed off to Llanelli to visit Parc Howard Museum and Art Gallery. Our regular thirteenfridays guest, Sam Knight, is a fantastic woodworker and he has a beautiful handmade chair in a curated exhibition Pair //Pâr showing in the museum until July. Serendipitously, Parc Howard is also said to be haunted by a number of ghosts. So we popped in to the exhibition keeping our eyes and ears open at the same time for any uncanny fellow visitors.
The building was used as military hospital in both world wars and it is said that the ghosts of a nurse and a soldier are seen together on the main stairs. There has also been scratching and scraping noises at the back of the building which is said to be the ghost of a young man; a lover who hid in the chimneys of the house to avoid detection but who became disoriented and trapped, subsequently losing his life in the narrow network of passageways. Lady Howard herself is also said to wander in the house seen as a ghostly white lady and sometimes appearing at the windows. Lights have also been recorded at night in the empty house after the building has been locked by staff.
We unpacked our 13 themed picnic in the grounds of the house.
13 Crustless mini quiches flavoured with a selection of 13 ingredients (Spinach, Rocket, Asparagus, Red Chilli, Green Olives, Tomato, Cheddar, Parmesan, Basil, Oregano, Sundried Tomatoes, Spring Onion, Black Pepper) served with 13 slices of cucumber; 13 ingredient smoked chilli salsa (Red onion, Garlic, Green chili, Chipotle chili, Sun dried tomatoes, Red pepper, Lime Juice, Tomatoes, Smoked paprika, Salt, Thyme, Parsley, Sugar) served with tortilla chips; 13 ingredient vegan slaw (White cabbage, Red cabbage, Carrot, Fennel, Celery, Olive oil, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Green Olives, Parsley, Lemon juice, Salt, Pepper); special 13 ingredient Bara Menyn sourdough loaf; 13 baby plum tomatoes on the vine; 13 ingredient ginger and walnut loaf with dates and figs (Flour, Baking Powder, Brown Sugar, Ground Ginger, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Golden Syrup, Butter, Eggs, Milk, Dates, Walnuts, Dried Figs).
We really enjoyed Radio 3’s The Essay in the week leading up to Halloween. Novelist, Andrew Martin shared his thoughts about ghosts and ghost stories in five 15 minute episodes called The Further Realm – his introduction was particularly pertinent for Absent but not Forgotten:
“Anyone who has the dubious pleasure of getting to know me is likely to be asked at some point ‘Have you ever seen a ghost?’. It is not something to be asked of doctrinaire empiricists and sometimes I miscalculate. I once pitched an idea for an article about an apparent haunting to an editor I thought I saw eye-to-eye with, ‘Sorry’ he replied, ‘we are a ghost free zone’. I should have guessed, because he’s also a humour free zone. I’ve never heard from him since. I suppose he assumes I believe in ghosts, which to his mind is like believing in fairies.
Do I believe in ghosts? I certainly believe in, that is to say I appreciate ghost stories whether avowedly fictional or purporting to be factual.
The ghost story writer M.R. James once said: ‘I am prepared to consider the evidence and accept it if it satisfies me’ and that goes for me too; and I enjoy considering the evidence.”
Andrew Martin – The Further Realm: Episode 1 – Radio 3 The Essay first broadcast Monday 26 October 2015