Saturday, 13 September 2008

Mersey Mystery by Ingrid Burney

And now for something completely different (as they say!). Chorlton resident, Ingrid Burney tells us of an eery encounter that she had recently on the river bank.
Be warned! After reading this you will probably have to sleep with the light on tonight ...

Mersey Mystery

[as told at ‘Chorlton Telling Tales’ Storyclub}

It happened last year, last Autumn to be exact. My friend Amy and I had arranged to meet up for a walk by the River Mersey, my favourite local walk. If you don’t know it, it’s about an hour’s walk, starting off through Chorlton Meadows, a nature reserve, and then following the Mersey round, crossing over two bridges to get back to The Meadows and home. By one of the bridges you find a pub, ‘Jackson’s Boat’, and that is where we planned to stop for a bit, walking back before it got dark.

Even though it turned out to be a drizzly, overcast day we decided to go ahead. After all (as seasoned Mancunian walkers) we were well prepared, with waterproofs and boots. However we soon realised that this was not just surface drizzle. This was the kind of drizzle that creeps, surreptitiously, sneakily, into your very skin. Since we were walking with hoods down (after all, how else can you talk properly?) it wasn’t long before our hair and faces were dripping wet. But it didn’t matter. We were engrossed, catching up, putting the world to rights. The ducks and geese by the river didn’t mind the weather either. The cyclists who silently crept up behind us, expecting us to leap out of the way for them, looked as impassive as usual. The runners, their faces concentrated, or contorted (in agony or ecstasy?) seemed unaffected. The dogs were enjoying themselves, as usual, together with their jovial owners. We were about the only people just walking, walking, talking, talking.

And that’s why we didn’t notice. Not until he was right in front of us. And then …he was gorgeous! Tall, dark, handsome and …a smile. To drown in. Dark, sleek hair, luminous skin, immaculate sports gear and trainers …and the smile. But, for me, he was too gorgeous, too handsome – but then, I’ve always distrusted perfect looking men. But even without looking, I knew how Amy felt. You know how it is, when you see someone, and every cell in your body does a somersault before settling down, not quite like before. Well, that was Amy. Instantly smitten. She smiled a smile that was so wide it stretched until it met itself at the back of her neck, as they say. And so it started. She talked and talked, smiled and smiled. He talked and smiled that smile. She talked and smiled and talked and smiled. He talked and smiled.

And I knew it was coming. Maybe before she did. She turned to me and asked,’ Ingrid, do you mind if he comes to the pub with us? ’Well, I was a gooseberry, I knew it. But I was going to be a gracious gooseberry.
So I replied, graciously, ‘Of course, it would be great’. Then I looked at him. I mean, really, really looked at him. And my blood ran cold. I hoped he hadn’t seen. I averted my eyes and hoped he hadn’t noticed.

So, thinking quickly I said, ‘But Amy, I really need to talk to you about something. Would it be ok if we go on ahead and he joins us, say, in about 15 minutes?’ She looked at me, in a ‘What are you playing at?’ sort of way, but shrugged her shoulders, and answered,
‘Yes, I suppose so …if it’s that important’. But she wasn’t happy and it showed. So she explained the situation to her friend, who smiled, and we made sure he knew where the pub was and whereabouts he would find us – Amy was very explicit. Then we turned away – us towards ‘Jackson’s Boat’, him to wander up-river a bit, along the path, to join us in a bit. So we smiled, and hugged and parted.

We’d barely turned round when she grabbed my arm and hissed,’ Ingrid, what was that all about?’
‘Didn’t you see?’ I hissed back. ‘Didn’t you notice?’
‘What was there to notice? He’s gorgeous’
‘He wasn’t wet. There wasn’t a drop of water on him or his clothes.’
We looked at each other. Rats tails of hair. Water dripping down our faces and clothes. Muddy boots.

Then, simultaneously, we turned round, to look at the man.
But of course, he wasn’t there.
We looked along the whole length of the path along the river. He wasn’t there.
The grass on the high bank on the other side of the path showed no sign of anyone having walked through it, and besides, even Superman couldn’t have climbed up in that time.
We looked along the path again, and saw our footprints in the mud.
Our two sets of footprints.
Only two sets of footprints.
Then Amy went pale.

We went to the pub, and we had a drink, and waited, but of course he didn’t show. I wasn’t surprised and I don’t think Amy was either. We chatted about this and that but not about what was really on our minds. Not then. We left early and got home well before dark.

Now, I’m happy to walk along this part of the Mersey in daylight anytime. But maybe, in future, I’ll be wary when I walk on October 31, Samhain (or Hallowe’en), because, this gorgeous man with the wonderful smile, if he wasn’t a ghost, what was he?

Copyright : Ingrid Burney 2008


Anonymous said...

Brilliant story there, Ingrid!

Jackson’s Boat is renown for its ghostly tales. Have a look at this link which gives a bit more info as well as a photo.


All the best,

Anonymous said...

I shall walk there more often - who knows, he may show up again?! ;-)