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A Ghost Walk in Cambridge

For my son’s birthday we took a bunch of terrified kids on a ghost tour of Cambridge – on a Saturday evening, perfectly timed as dusk turned into night and the old lamps came on in the chilly backstreets of the historic town centre.

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Nancy: The Woman in Black

Leading the tour was Nancy, who cut quite a ‘Woman in Black’ figure herself. Come to think of it, she did rather vanish into the night at the end.

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Beware the chronophage my son!

What I loved about the tour, as well as the spooky tales, was the way Nancy picked out tiny details in the buildings around us that revealed history, stories and secrets. A never-before-noticed stone carving of a dog baying from the roof of a house, commemorated a tragedy that once occurred within. A tiny, goblin-like charm incongruously placed in a photography shop window, hints at the presence of a hideous half-torso phantom that visits from time to time…

(The bottom half – if you really needed to know!)

I was particularly pleased to hear that Jamie Oliver’s restaurant was once haunted by a ghostly librarian, who delighted in tidying up books. Quite a handy ghost to have, in fact.

Eerily of all, a seemingly charming piece of ironwork, apparently just showing a house’s number but in fact revealing – from certain images in its decorative detail – for instance a gallows tree – that this was once the house of the Cambridge hangman! Ghostly customers may return to his doorstep, one imagines, to grumble a bit.

It was intriguing to hear about Cambridge’s famous new (ish) Relativity clock. My son had asked me a while back why it had a monster on top, and I jokingly told him that it was there to eat the seconds as they passed. This flippant explanation turned out to be true – apparently the weird beast is intended to be a chronophage – a time-eater.

This clock was slightly shoe-horned into the ghostly theme, by Nancy pointing out that clocks, as they tick out the seconds, remind us all that we are all being hurried along to our graves! One of the mums did stifle a snort of disgust at this macabre remark.

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The Haunted Bookshop (that's it's name).

If you’re looking for something offbeat to do with your kids you could do a lot worse than creep around the backstreets of Cambridge on a myth-haunted night. Perhaps the scariness was all the more pleasurable knowing that the cold outing would end up with us being crammed into Gourmet Burger Kitchen at the end.

The pleasure children have at anticipating their birthdays and all the attendant hulabaloo, is only matched by the delight of the parents – sigh – when the whole thing is over for another year.

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My wife has pointed out I don't know how to wear a hat.

Happy haunting.

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About Glenn Dakin

Glenn Dakin is a writer, cartoonist and editor. He is author of the Candle Man series of fantasy novels for Egmont. His best-known comics are Abe - an autobiographical strip (Top Shelf);Temptation (Penguin Books and Active Images); Spider-Man heroes and Villains (Eaglemoss);the Rockpool Files (With Phil Elliott, Slave Labor/Marvel UK); Robot Crusoe (Funday TImes); Plasmer (Marvel UK); Clan Destine (Marvel USA).

5 responses to “A Ghost Walk in Cambridge

  1. Diana ⋅

    Hi Glenn! We miss you at Lufkin Middle School! I love this blog entry about your son’s birthday walk in Cambridge. What an exciting time for him! I sort of felt like I was right there with the tour as I read. I suppose it’s the author’s descriptive manner that drew me in. LOL.

    It has been quite a busy year for us with lots of new things happening. We have a different principal, we have written and received a grant for a new “2-speed” catalog for the library…and we are anxiously awaiting the last book in the Candleman trilogy! I have had some ask about it. We would love an update when you have time.

    I continue to hand kiddos your books as I want them to experience your great stories. I wish the best for you and yours and hope it has been a great year for your sweet birthday boy!

    Blessings and peace to you family,
    Diana-LMS Librarian -Lufkin

    • Hello Diana, how nice to hear from you! We often talk about Lufkin here, and Cory has it on his weather app, on his ipod, and often checks in to see how hot it is in Texas.I suppose he will never get over not having come with me! :)
      I’ll update with news about Candle Man 3 when I have some. Keep an eye on my website, etc!
      Cory did enjoy the ghost walk, I wonder if Lufkin has one? These spooky tours are quite a big thing over here, although I think we do have more history (and ghosts)in these parts!

  2. Tom Hart

    Love the Chronophage!

    • Me too. I read a book years ago, translated from French, called A Guide To Life, which said that a chronophage was a time-waster. ‘Beware the chronophage, we all have them in our lives. He will remorselessly waste your time. His weapon is the unexpected visit and the phone call…’ Imagine my surprise to find out, a chrohophage after all was a time-eating insect beast!

  3. Septimus Creech ⋅

    I went on a day trip once, and the horror only truly began when I ARRIVED at Gourmet Burger Kitchen.
    Fascinating stuff… I always assumed that gargoyles on buildings were there to ward off evil spirits, but no – that’s grotesques. I discovered recently that gargoyles serve a practical, down to earth function – to deflect rainfall from the sides of buildings which might otherwise knacker the masonry. Even the name is derived from a French word meaning ‘to gargle’. Uninteresting but true!

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