The Reluctant Ghost

I’ve not got any feet! That’s not fair. I don’t want to go flitting about like a fairy, never landing on the ground. I don’t want to go about at all actually, but apparently I don’t get a choice in the matter.

I told the chap, when he hooked me of the conveyor belt – “You left it a bit late, mate, didn’t you? It was getting really quite hot down there. Are you sure you’ve got all of me?” But he took no notice. Must be on some sort of bonus incentive programme I reckon.

Anyway, here I am. Dumped into this grubby, shabby not worth a shilling half derelict semi with no idea what I am supposed to be doing and NO FEET! It’s an insult that’s what I think. I used to be a manager, you know. I ran that posh shoe shop in Oxford Street – you know, the one with “All shoes made to measure” on the window and a list of famous patrons as long as your arm, including, I may say, Royalty and John Lennon.

You know the old saying – “once a salesman always a salesman”. I hate wasting time, so since I’ve been here, I’ve been trying to drum up some custom in Leadenhall Market, whispering suggestions in people’s ear “Look at those shoes. Very classy!”. But I got laughed at by Dick who also works this patch. “ got no hope of being noticed around here matey – they’re all too busy making money. Anyway if they were in the market for a ghost hunt – It would be ME they’re after. I’m famous, see.

He curled up his mouth in a satisfactory smirk. “You’re a rubbish advert for a shoe shop anyway ain’t you? What with having no feet!” He laughed so much his wobbly head wabbled like a raspberry jelly and was in danger of falling off.  “I heard you got hanged in York” I jeered. “Praps you’d be better off haunting up there!”

“And praps you’d like a borrow of me ‘orse”, Dick smirked. “She’s over there, having a nibble of the churchyard weeds. Sorry, I forgot you can’t get up on her can you, seeing as how you can’t put your feet in the stirrups!” He went off laughing away like a good ‘un.

I was now grade three depressed.    To cheer myself up, I floated over to the London Hospital thinking maybe if I looked in the operating theatres I might find a leg, or at least a few toes. But I’d left it too late. The place was pristine not a spare bit of leg in sight. Until I reached the canteen. The place was packed. So this is where the ghosts go when they’ve finished their haunting for the night! And there were so many of them. Most of them were draped in blooded bandages but they seemed a cheerful bunch. I decided to join them. “What ho mates” I said in my best jolly sailor boy voice. “Anyone got a foot or two to spare?”

A boy peered up at me from under a table, his scalp well endowed with oozing sores. “I aint got no feet to spare, but you can have me head if you want, mate” and he proceeded to throw it up to me, his rotten flesh falling off the bones as it landed beside me on the floor, still laughing.

“Thanks, but no thanks” I replied, niftily side stepping the messy sploge. “I’ve got one of them already. Anyone know where the operating theatres are?”

“You don’t want the operating theatres mister” my new friends assured me. “What you want is the clinical waste bins. Just follow your nose. You can find all sorts in there. When you’ve got fixed up, come back down here – we’re having a halloween party tonight!

I got fixed up all right. Some ancient surgeon rummaged about in the bins and found a couple of legs. He speedily trimmed them to size. They weren’t a pair and one was considerably shorter than the other but they would do.  He produced a pot of super glue and completed the operation in five minutes flat. I was ecstatic! I was a bit wobbly at first but soon got the hang of it and swaggered back up to the canteen. I danced away all night, singing and laughing as I twirled partner after partner around the floor! “Roll on next Halloween”, I said. - At last, I had found my feet.


                                                                                                            This month's poem is by Harold Wonham

"I want two volunteers!"

The mainsail is set, the mizzen too

and the Skipper says

"I want two volunteers!"

and I, eager for each new challenge

step forth.

"We need more way against this wind.

So set Number 2 jib."

"But - "

"That's right, you'll be on the bowsprit.

Strap yourself on. Then you'll be fine."

The mainsail is set, but reefed right down

For we tack against an easterly gale

and fight our way up the Channel.

I crawl along the bowsprit, jib clutched tight.

Beneath me foam the waves, icy green

and eager for each new novice.

I cling tight and bless

the shackle that now holds me

as, an eternity long, the prow

rises on a crest then dips-dips-dips

into the trough

spuming expectant spray across my lashed face.

I reach the rope and start

agonisingly slowly

to clip on the sail.

My partner smiles, beckons me back

and so I crawl

back to the sanctuary of the heaving deck.

The jib rises and we fight once more

our way up the Channel

while I

exhausted, and panic over

fight my exultant pride.