Follow by email

Friday, 11 November 2011

A ghost story

The ghost story holds a long pedigree in horror cinema and literature - indeed it stretches back to the start of storytelling itself. When early man gathered around the campfire to tell stories it wasn’t Harry Potter or chic lit they were talking about but ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night. The ghost story is a perennial favourite and still provides inspiration for film folk and writers – The Paranormal Activity series and Chrtistopher Ransom’s writing anyone.

In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the spirit of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, life-like visions. 

I can’t remember what the first ghost movie I ever saw would have been, but I can make a good guess that the first ghost stories I would have read would have come from the pen of James Herbert or Stephen King, and it was only later when I started exploring the genre that I came across many of the old masters. Writers like W W Jacobs (and I still class The Monkey’s Paw as one of the most scary stories I’ve ever read), Algernon Blackwood and Henry James would be presented to modern readers in one or other of the anthology paperbacks that were popular in the 70′s and 80′s.

There is something about ghosts that fascinates us deep down on a primal level – for all our modern ways, our technology there can not be many of us who have not at one time or other felt a delicious chill as we cogitated on the possibilities of spirits returning to haunt the living. As children we all knew some house, some old building that was supposedly haunted. Every village, every city, has its own legends passed down from generation to generation. I grew up in the small Welsh village of Gilfach Goch and we had our own legends, many of which were collected in a chapter in Katie Pritchards Story of Gilfach Goch - The White Lady and the headless horseman seemed to haunt the coal scarred mountains.

Ghosts fascinate us - According to the National Research Federation, the number of Americans planning to visit a haunted attraction this year spiked to 20.8 percent, up from 2009's 17 percent and just 14.9 percent five years ago.

Ruins St. Peters Church - haunted by a white lady
There are many more legends of hauntings in my own locality – Pontypridd’s Maslter’s Arms is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a servent girl, Porth’s Wyndham Club is reputed to be haunted by one of its old landlords and perhaps most terrifying of all is The Griffin Inn just outside Tonyrefail which is haunted by a screaming skull that appears at the stroke of midnight each and every New Year’s day - or so the old stories go.You know it’s a safe bet that anyone reading this post will know a ghost legend or two from their own area and leaving details in the comments section of this post would be really cool and anyone fancy writing a guest post, a ghost guest post, along these lines would be even cooler.

No comments: