Alexander Averin

Saturday 1 November 2008

Ghost Story

A Ghost on a Stair?
Maybe. Maybe not.
(Not my ghost though but do read on.)

Dear Diary

By the way, before I start, if you want to listen to my Music Library as you read, click on the Play list (top left of player) and then when you reach the page click Library. For some reason the Playlist is not playing but the Library is.

Halloween was a lovely day weather-wise. I ventured out into the sunshine to sweep up yet more leaves from the back yard, much of them are a soggy mess.

But it is perfect and even though the Wind is coming from the north-east, He is warmed by the rays of the Sun and I spend a Happy Hour sweeping, but not with my besom for I shall be needing that later tonight when I take off into the skies. I did tell you I was a witch!

Sweeping all done I have a quick tidy-up, more of a lick though and a promise to carry on at the weekend.

It’s the end of Autumn now according to Pagan traditions and I will be putting my garden to bed soon, making her nicely cosy and then it really will be my time to start enjoying a partial hibernation with Winter. I do not fear this though because if time goes by as quickly as it has been this year then Spring will be here before we know it.

The Spirits arrived in the far too early hours this Halloween morn; it was still dark of course and hours to go before dawn but my clock radio came on all by itself. I listened to about three sentences of news from the World Service (BBC news about the BBC again!) and then it switched itself off. M and I both heard it so it was not my imagination.

I am used to family spirits making themselves known so I was not worried at all; usually they make our chiming clock do strange things or interfere with my CD player. This is the first time that clock and radio were affected simultaneously and they actually woke me. They say the veil between this world and the Spirit World is thinnest at Halloween.

Speaking of which, I promised you a Ghost Story and a true one. It may not be much of one but I shall tell you what happened and you can make up your own mind. However, you are honoured to hear it as I only tell special people, those who will trust me and will not think I am being delusional or lying.

I have experienced many psychic experiences in my life, ever since I was a child in fact but I have only ever seen one ghost (so far).

Hereford General Hospital (originally known as the Infirmary)

Hereford old General hospital is no more as it was demolished a few years ago but I was lucky (?) enough to be sent there for my orthopaedic ward placement in the mid-nineties during my RGN training. The building was a huge Victorian brick building in the middle of Hereford and it was set alongside the River Wye. My main place of training was the nearby County Hospital, parts of which were the old Victorian workhouse. Gilbert Harding was born there actually as his parents ran the workhouse - only those of a certain age will know who I am talking about, he was a radio personality, long before the Ross and Brands of our day but well known on the BBC Home Service and also BBC TV, none the less.

The ward I was to work on in the General was on the top floor and to reach it I had to climb many flights of stone stairs. As soon as my feet were on these stairs I felt uneasy, my ‘otherworldly’ feeling came upon me and the feeling increased at each turn on the staircase. Finally at the top the discomfort increased even more.

The ward was large and a bit of a sprawl, obviously as the result of old walls having been removed at some stage of ‘modernisation’. Not that the hospital was very much modernised; it still had the air and the appearance of the life it had in Victorian times. There were several generously-sized side-rooms used for wards for single-occupancy patients.

The staff were friendly, the ward well-run and the actual nursing I was to carry out there was much enjoyed during my month-long stint. They seemed geared to Project 2000, the nursing course that, for my sins, I was studying. This course was academic-based, not a bad thing in itself but it did not teach us enough of the practical hands-on skills needed for basic nursing. Sure, I enjoyed the academic side and did very well but I lacked confidence where the nitty-gritty practicalities were concerned. The course has now been scrapped/altered, thank God.

I digress.

Each day as I would come on duty I would feel uncomfortable in this one end of the hospital and especially on the stairwell. I also felt the same un-ease in the lift which I avoided using unless I was forced to - accompanying patients to and from theatre for example.

Another funny thing on that ward were the patients’ buzzers that would go off in the side wards quite often. I would hurry along to see what was wanted and the patients would swear blind that they had not buzzed. These rooms seemed ‘cold’ to me and I would have hated to have been a patient in one of them. I felt pity for these people, it was a far ‘warmer’ atmosphere on the main ward, even though that ‘sprawled’ and was made up of little ‘areas’ all tucked in little corners.

The training was good. I learned a lot about orthopaedics - this branch of surgery has a very good reputation in Hereford. I observed a hip replacement operation, (noisy stuff!), took patients down to theatre and cared for them pre and post-op. I had no complaints on that score and as I say the ward’s staff were all genial and kind.

After my first week had nearly ended I was set to work a couple of late shifts (1.30 to 9 pm).

After my first late shift I was tired (of course) and eager to go home as I made my way to a little side room where my coat was hung. It was in the deep of winter and I was not looking forward to my hour’s drive back to our smallholding in the Welsh hills. I washed my hands at a little sink and as I stood there all alone with the open doorway behind me, I ‘felt’ a person behind me. I’m sure you have all felt this sort of thing when something makes you look round?

So, drawn to look round, I did so and half expected to see another member of staff, a cleaner or someone. As I looked at the doorway I saw a figure walk by, but she was incomplete, she was grey and misty but still recognisable as a figure. She seemed to glide yet she moved in a nurse-like fashion, a kind of slow bustling, controlled, it’s hard to explain. I could make out she was female by her dress.

What did I feel? Acceptance and certainly not fear. I was used to psychic phenomena and I had experienced several during my nurse training. I instinctively knew there was nothing to fear from this woman. What I did fear though was mentioning it to my fellow nurses on the ward in case they might think their new student nurse was a little cranky or mentally deranged. I wanted a good report! Also I was desperate to get home. So I made my way back down the stone staircase (there I did feel afraid) and out into the cold, dark night. I couldn’t wait to get home to Wales and to tell M. Funnily enough, only a few weeks before this happened, I had been saying that I had never seen a ghost (M has on more than one occasion) and kind of wishing that I could.

My next shift the following day was also a late one so I could have a lie-in and recover my strength before I would make the journey back to Hereford.

The following day my afternoon and evening shift passed well and without incident nursing-wise but buzzers still occasionally went off with people saying they hadn’t buzzed. The whole building breathed its history and I could sense its voices round every corner. The canteen area was terrible, I only went in there once. It was not a comfortable place to work but the brightness of my colleagues and also the lovely friendly Herefordshire patients lifted me. I knew I had only three more weeks to endure.

At the end of my second late shift I did exactly the same thing as I had done the night before; I went to get my coat and wash my hands. Once more all alone, I stood at the sink and this time I looked round first before I felt anything. Yes, you’ve guessed it….. the ghost walked by again! It was exactly the same time as the previous evening. Feeling braver this time I rushed out after her but she had turned a corner of the corridor and she would have gone on to the main ward and I could not very well re-appear there in my coat. I would not have been able to explain myself to the newly-arrived night shift.

So I made my way home, eager to tell M that I had seen this ghost again!

I had three more weeks on this ward but I didn’t see her again. Straight after that I was back in nursing college, back ‘in school’ as we called it. I was back with my friends and fellow students again, always a pleasure to be free from the hard physical work and the stress that being a student entailed. Whilst sharing my orthopaedic experiences with J. a woman who like me was a mature student, I told her about my ghostly experience; she was the only person outside my famiy that I told.

J seemed totally accepting and she nodded knowingly.

‘Ah that’s the Grey Lady’ she said.

(I must tell you that J is a Herefordshire ’native’, a community auxiliary nurse who was doing the RGN course. She is an absolute treasure of a person, a real ‘angel flying too close to the ground’ if ever there was one).

‘The Grey Lady is well known in the General‘, she said. ‘But only some nurses actually see her‘.

She then told me the story of the Grey Lady.

Apparently she was a nurse working there at, if I am correct, the time of the First World War. It could have been the Boer war, I can’t remember what she said. She was however, over-conscientious and had experienced a complete nervous breakdown because of stress and over-work and it ended with her throwing herself from the top of the huge stone stairwell (the creepy stairwell) to the bottom.

Her spirit will not leave, she is still too conscientious and will not give up work. Apparently she tours the hospital helping out as she goes, from Accident and Emergency where she moves heavy equipment about, to the Orthopaedic wards where she still cares for patients. On the wards she will open or close windows, place blankets on patients in the night etc. It is quite common for patients to thank nurses for some such task that has been done for them in the night only to hear that the nurses have done no such thing! She sets buzzers off though as her ‘energy’ is so strong and seems to cause all sorts of electrical goings-ons - as spirits do. Only a few nurses actually see her though.

J said that one of the consultants, then soon-to-be-retired, was compiling a book about her and I did mean to contact him to tell him I had seen her but I never did. I still have to seek this out.

So that is the end of ‘my ghost’. It was only a fleeting sight but a memorable one! And it was heartening to know that she did exist and I was not the only one who saw this poor soul. I think her spirit should have been exorcised, in a kindly way of course; perhaps I should use the phrase ‘put to rest’ rather than exorcise. But there was something nice about the fact that a spirit could still be around caring for poorly people while they sleep.

But I don’t need convincing, I know that spirits are always around us and they make themselves ‘known’, especially at times of need.

I haven’t seen a ghost since and I have no desire to do so. But the Grey Lady wasn’t evil which is why she didn’t scare me. I was however very uncomfortable in the area where she had ended her life, the stairwell, that still carried the traces of her deep depression, her lone desperation and her untimely tragic death.

The building is no more and new buildings are in its place. I wonder what happened to that poor woman’s spirit? Where will she go now her place of work is gone? Will she remain in the same area? Does she still come on duty each evening in some other place?

I would love to know,

God Bless her.

Bye for now,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


Fennie said...

How interesting thee stories are. I have never seen a ghost, though we get many unexplained sounds in this (modern) house. The sound of the front door opening and when you go to look there is no-one there - that sort of thing. But I've never seen a ghost as such. I abslutely believe your story Cait and don't see how anyone could not believe it. Just because we can't yet explain the spirit world it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I am quite interested in regression stories - have you come across any of those?

DAB said...

What a wonderful story Cait. I hope she is at Peace TFX

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Love, love, love this and I'm printing it out for my husband to read over his tea this afternoon!

Happy weekend to you Cait!

Ciara Brehony said...

Hi Cait. I followed the path from The House of Edward through the woods of Blogland, to your door. What a wonderful find!

Faith said...

As Fennie says, it is all completely plausible and I certainly believe you. Very interesting story. I have met other people who have seen ghosts - incl. my husband. Not sure if I'd like to see one myself. It's bad enough picking up atmosphere which I do sometimes. Thanks for the story Cait. I do hope that nurse rests in peace now.

Frances said...

Cait, you told that story so well. I am very glad that you did feel comfortable letting us know about the Grey Lady.

I was very intently reading your remembrance, and then all of a sudden I heard a very loud sound, followed by another. My head jerked up from the screen. I thought ... that cannot be a thunder storm, and then ... I realized that what I had heard at that suspenseful moment were fireworks over in Central Park, being set off to honor the runners who will compete in tomorrow's marathon race.

I have to say ... the timing was exquisite, and really amplified the touching story behind your store of that Hereford hospital.


Kim said...

Cait, I just love that you shared this story. I've never had such an experience, but things like this just fascinate me. I hope that perhaps the Grey Lady has been able to rest now that her place of work has gone.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

Fascinating story cait. i have never seen a ghost myself as i don't count the sense of someone moving about to the bakehouse outside. that seems to me more of a memory that the place holds if you know what I mean.


Oooh, Cait - how interesting, and the way you told it had so much atmosphere. I love Hereford, it has so much history. Beautifully told, as always.

Elizabeth said...

What a fascinating story which I find completely understandable.
I'm so glad that she was a kind nurse - as you sound to be.
Yes, I do think people's energy stays where important things happened.
I quite understand the staircase being cold.
I just returned from 2 years in Morocco where lots of strange things happened - but mostly not to me.
I came to your blog via Frances.

CAMILLA said...

Dear Cait,

What a very interesting fascinating story of your life as a student nurse at Hereford Hospital and the sighting by you of The Grey Lady, who I hope is at peace now. I think she is still keeping an eye on the ward, her spirit is still there, and she is keeping watch as a guardian angel.


Lane Mathias said...

What a story. A great read Cait and what an experience for you.

Exmoorjane said...

Fabulous story, Cait....I loved it. I have never seen a ghost (yet) and I am quite envious. jx

Annieye said...

What a fantastic story Cait. But not one to be read at five am. It's made me go all tingly, so I'm going back to bed!

Edward said...

Great story, beautifully told. My younger brother and sister saw a ghost many years ago, and I completely believe them (and, of course, you!)

Irish Eyes said...

Fantastic! I truly enjoyed this Cait. I must blog soon about the Monk in the lane...getting time to do it is the bogey...if you'll pardon the pun!!!

S said...


Woozle1967 said...

Oo, I did enjoy this, Cait. We know Hereford well, as it's only half an hour from here, and I know the spot where the old hospital was.

I have always "wanted" to have an experience like this but am also quite terrified at the thought too - probably the reason I haven't!!xx

Leanne said...

hi cait! found your blog by chance, and loved your ghost experience! as a believer in Spirit and as someone who also has had an experience, i know these things happen.

leanne x

Carah Boden said...

Hi Cait - I need no convincing. I have experienced something rather similar in a house I once lived in and there is something about the house I live in now - positive, though, rather than negative. Beautifully told story. That staircase would have freaked me out too!