Join me as I travel to Brighton, where I find that sometimes you don’t come for the ghosts, but the ghosts come for you…
And what a post this is. I can truthfully report that I have finally experienced something genuinely creepy – something that was, if not quite inexplicable, at least a little odd and unexpected. If it really was my first real brush with the supernatural, however, I find it more than a little amusing that it occurred in, of all places, a toilet. Dead the spirits may be, but they would appear to have a lively sense of humour.
I hadn’t gone to the Bath Arms in search of ghosts. I actually went for the reason people normally visit pubs, namely to have a drink. In common with many people downing a glass or two of cider, however, I eventually found that I needed to visit the amenities. I was not in a remotely creepy mood at the time; in fact, and as far as I can remember, I was thinking about paragliding.
All that changed as soon as I entered the cubicle.
Immediately, I sensed a change of mood: a sense of oppression, of coldness, and of being unwelcome. Though I knew that no one else was in the toilets with me, I felt that there really was someone else there – and that that someone wanted me out.
Just a feeling, an apparently random firing of neurons. But it was a strong feeling, and it wasn’t going away.
And there was more.
A second later, there was a series of distinct knocks on the dividing wall between the cubicles: three or four raps, rather loud, very clear, just as if someone was tapping on the wall. I was alone in the toilets. I was certain of it. They were tiny, and if anyone else had been there I would surely have seen them. The neighbouring cubicle had been empty when I went in, and had someone walked in just after me I would certainly have heard them. Had the sound somehow come from elsewhere in the building – an auditory illusion? A full-on hallucination, even? Perhaps; being an expert in neither sound waves nor psychology, I don’t feel qualified to say. But neither explanation sounds particularly plausible to me. I hadn’t drunk that much.
By now feeling thoroughly discomfited, I exited the cubicle and got my last surprise of the evening. The tap, which I was certain had been turned off when I entered the toilets, was now running. Could I have been mistaken about its being turned off before? Could a tap somehow turn on by itself? A plumber might know; I don’t.
As I said, creepy stuff. I was unharmed and, once I’d left the toilets behind, not especially concerned, but still…
I did what anyone would do in these days of the Internet, and checked online. It turns out that the Bath Arms has both an interesting history and (apparently) its very own ghostly residents.
For a start, the place is old. According to the information plaque attached to the outside wall, it’s been a licensed premises since around 1864, and the building itself is older still. There is a bricked-up tunnel in the cellar, which connects with other underground passages. What were those tunnels used for? Given Brighton’s coastal position, smuggling seems like the most obvious solution, but who knows?
According to some reports, a former proprietor of the pub killed himself by swimming out to sea, and occasionally returns to the building in dripping wet clothes. There have been other sightings, too: of a man in a tricorne hat walking through the bar, and a man in a Victorian-style coat and hat. Glasses have flown off shelves and smashed on the floor, and bottles have been moved by an unseen hand…
Nothing quite so dramatic happened to me, of course. But still, I’ll remember my experience for a long time to come. Was it a genuine encounter with the spirit world, or just a matter of strange acoustics and faulty plumbing? The choice, dear reader, is yours…