Being known as a lecturer in paranormal studies means that everyone needs to tell you their favourite ghost story.
These range from the mildly diverting to the downright tedious. I have even encountered a dentist who wanted to tell me about his mothers pet dog, now long dead whose shadow could still be seen, while having his hands in my mouth.
However, every now and then a gem of a story comes your way, sometimes from where you would least expect it.
Recently a plumber came to do some work in my little kitchen and although I suspect a bit of a drinker and brawler he was also an honest man, something of a “rough diamond.”
As he worked he proceeded to tell me one of the most amazing paranormal stories I have heard in years and one that had happened quite recently too.
It turned out his brother had been driving home late one night across the fens, the flatlands across Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, in East Anglia. Being in a hurry he was driving at some speed when a sudden bend meant he took a turn at speed and ended up overturned in a ditch.
The emergency services were quickly on the scene and it wasn’t long before he was cut from the wreckage and taken to hospital.
After X-rays and treatment for his relatively minor injuries, a policeman came to his hospital bed to take a statement on the accident.
It was then the plumber’s brother asked about the scruffy lad with the long coat, who together with his dog had kept him company while he was waiting for the ambulance?
The young lad had refused to let the plumber’s brother drift off to sleep, saying he was near the edge and if he went to sleep he might never return. The plumber’s brother honestly felt he owed this young lad a big thank-you for possibly even saving his life.
The policeman looked thoughtfully for a moment before asking: did this lad have long fair hair and glasses held together with tape? Was the dog a Labrador on a string and did the boy have a broad country accent?
On learning that the answer was “yes” to all these questions he told the plumber’s brother that the bend where his car had overturned was well known locally as an accident “black spot”.
Indeed, he attended an accident there some three years ago, when a car had swerved into the ditch and ended up an overturned mangled wreck. Fortunately however there was no one in the vehicle, apparently; and thinking the occupants had simply abandoned the wreck and gone for help, the tow truck driver decided to pull it from the ditch.
It was then to his horror that they found the vehicle’s occupants, a lad with long fair hair in a long dark overcoat and a Labrador on a string. Both had been thrown from the vehicle and ended up crushed beneath the wreckage.
This stretch of road in Cambridgeshire is one of the countries most dangerous, as across the fens mile upon mile of straight road can turn unexpectedly into sharp bends. This meant there were so many accidents here, the policeman explained, that the story of the young lad and his dog had become part of local folklore.
Apparently the lad worked on one of the local small farms that still manage to scratch a living in the area. And he is seen regularly on the bend, a hazy figure with his dog at dusk gesturing to motorists to slow down.
Local legend or not, the policeman explained that he had lost count of the number of people who had reported being comforted at the scene of an accident, whilst waiting for an ambulance by a, “lad and his dog”.
With thanks to Trevor the plumber.