The Haunted House
The Spook takes all his apprentices to a haunted house in Horshaw and tells them to go down to the cellar at midnight and face what’s lurking there. Some run shrieking into the night, others like Tom Ward pass the test and begin their apprenticeship.
The haunted house is based on the one in Preston where I lived until I was eleven years old – Number 1 Water Lane. It had two small rooms down stairs, two bedrooms and an attic which we never used. For some reason the door was nailed shut. As far as I know the house wasn’t haunted but it is where I had the recurrent nightmares that are featured in both ‘The Spook’s Apprentice’ and ‘The Spook’s Tale’. It didn’t have a cellar (I added that to make the story more interesting) but it had a dark space under the stairs in the kitchen – what we called the ‘coal-hole’. Cobs of coal would be delivered by horse and cart and the coalman would carry his bags through our small front room filling it with coal dust.
It was a house originally built for mill workers and Water Lane even had its own ‘knocker-up’, a lady who would walk down the street early in the morning and rap on the upstairs windows with a long stick to wake you up for the early shift.
The picture is of me sitting on the front-step of that house. I’m either four or five years of age and it must be Easter because I’m guarding a chocolate egg.