'Tis time of autumn equinox when dark descends upon the land,
And brave hearts wither with every chill wind that blows. For this is the month of Halloween when yesterday's happy home becomes a mysterious place - of fear! And every knock and rumble and bump that's heard fills living souls with fright, for ghosts and ghouls and worse this night....
Stop! Stop! Stoooppp! Sorry everybody, but we're as rational a bunch of chaps & chappeses as you could shake a particle accelerator at and don't hold with witches, zombies and all that supernatural malarkey. In fact the only thing that gives us the willies around here are the hideous little scamps at No43 'tricking' if we don't do satisfactory 'treating' (in cash mostly - kids of today hey?).
There is just one more thing that gives us the heebie jeebies and that's perfectly sensible people who don't do a bit of checking and preparing for a stormy autumn and freezing winter. A bit of prep will ensure you keep bathed in a warm, rosy glow until spring and also, we humbly suggest, banish a few less, ahem, corporeal demons than a dodgy thermostat, such as knocks, bumps and other such 'scary' noises .
Still a little wobbly round your wibbly bits? Then let's look at a couple of recorded cases of 'supernatural' activity and see what's needed: an exorcist or a decent sparky, plumber or some other professional trades' person such as those that just happen to be employed here? (And no Mrs sales director, I will not tell the nice people discreet exorcisms are available P.O.A.)
One highly investigated case of scary spooks happened to one Annemarie Schneider in Germany. The psychic 'experts' reckoned our old horror favourite, the poltergeist, was responsible.
Before I proceed it's worth noting that poltergeist is derived from a German word and roughly translates as 'rumble spirit' - a better description of some boilers and central heating systems we've treated I couldn't give! A yearly service of your boiler highly is recommended even if it seems to run sweetly. Put them first on your list of pre winter checks and the only poltergeist in your house should be Peeves in a Harry Potter book or a film on a TV channel near you.
But back to Annemarie you frightened bunch. A lot of the 'strange phenomena' she reported was a "disruption of electricity and telephone lines". Disruption of electricity and telephone service? In the middle of a stormy autumn? In a house with wiring & fuses modified by the RAF in 1945? Well I never! We politely suggest a humble electrician and telephone engineer may have helped in getting to the root of her problems.
Other supernatural 'indicators' are strange 'chill winds' and uncomfortably 'cold rooms'. Bbbbrrrrrr! May I suggest draught excluders? Grants for insulation are available if you haven't got any and for upgrading what you've got if it's not quite up to scratch.
Better still, flog the haunted house story to the papers and put the fee to good use on modern heat insulating windows! Either way, a visitation from a central heating engineer should give spooks the cold shoulder - and have your radiators properly balanced after six months of non-use.
Strange smells are another sign often accompanying 'visitations' from the 'other side'. They often accompany blocked drains too (phew-wy!) caused by leaves and storm debris. So if you're into having your Tarot cards read soon hope they say check your guttering is clear of leaves and that drains are free of potential blockages.
Still I like to keep an open mind and so was keen to look at a well documented case of spooky goings on that afflicted a London family in the 70s. This one was investigated by a scientist called Vladistav Bukreev, when another poltergeist was blamed for some very unpleasant activity.
For starters these poor people had stones thrown through their windows. A similar thing happened to a friend of mine. Those Millwall fans could be a bit naughty back in the 1970s couldn't they?
This unpleasantness was followed by 'blood' and other 'liquid substances' pouring from the walls and ceilings. A similar thing happened to me once - when some tiles were missing from the roof during stormy weather no less.
I'd also suggest having the water pipes checked. Leaking ones, especially when there has been oxidisation (rust) somewhere in the system can make an awful mess - looks just like watery blood don't you know. And should the pipes freeze due to a particular cold spirit - or cold snap - pipes can burst when they thaw leaving an awfully watery mess, just as if a hoard of hooligan banshees had torn up the place.
So as you're carving out pumpkins and watching your little ones bring back hoards of sweets, spare a thought for your poor old house (or new one for that matter). Treat it to a bit of precautionary TLC this month and we'll sure it'll keep you safe from unspeakable horrors like cold radiators, leaking pipes and the kind of draughts that can make the most rational person think someone's just walked over their grave.
If you're still scared after all these precautions, do what I do: hide under the duvet and hope the horrid monsters go away! But that's no way to talk about your children. Just don't turn to booze for a bit of courage. One of the first poltergeists on record visited George and Alice Walton, New Hampshire, in 1682. The place of the manifestation? Their tavern. George and Alice were two of North America's first publicans. Happy Halloween!