Why is it that staircases are so spooky? We know there’s nothing at the top waiting for us, only the cat, if you have one. When I was a boy the staircase was called the ‘wooden hill’, which automatically put the cosy way to bed outdoors. Added to that, the light switch was out of sight around the corner at the top. I would creep up the stairs with one eye on the warm light spilling from the living room into the hall before inching my hand into the darkness, waiting for my fingers to come across something nasty.
But it’s not unusual to find something unpleasant on the stairs. Staircases are places of transition, from one level to another, from one state to another. We had a Victorian villa in England that had the scariest landing you could imagine. Children would insist on an escort even during the day. The cat didn’t hang around by the radiator, and once in bed, there were few midnight excursions to the lavatory.
I would go from the front room and down the hall to the kitchen all the while feeling invisible eyes upon my head. Sometimes, busy in the garden, my eye would drift up to the landing window. What was that? A reflection in the glass of a bird flying by? Did a sudden draft move the curtains, or is one of the family home early?
Evangeline wouldn’t come out of the bathroom after brushing her teeth in the evening if Virginie or myself were not waiting outside. ‘I don’t want him to look at me,’ she explained.
One day I had had enough and decided to clear the bad energy that our fear was reinforcing. If it was a ghost, it was about time it was laid to rest. It wasn’t the first time I had had to remove unpleasant energy from a building, and I am pleased to report it was very successful.
That was a few years ago now. Since then I have helped friends and neighbours with their difficult spaces, and once I tidied up a pavement outside a derelict pub that Evangeline would cross the road to avoid, ‘I don’t like the green man,’ she told me, so I went to have a word with him. It turns out that he had quite a sad story, but that’s for another time.
When I was a small boy, I never found anything nasty at the top of the stairs. The plastic switch was always there, and the incandescent bulb would light up every corner of the landing. I don’t know why we never had a switch at the bottom of the stairs. It was always just one of those things.
I built the staircase in our current house in a space where there had never been stairs before. I made sure there were switches at both top and bottom.
My little boy is nervous about going up on his own late in the evening after watching a movie or an episode of Doctor Who, but that’s only to be expected. When his big sister, Evangeline, was babysitting recently she told him not to worry as she was the ‘scariest thing in the house’, and I guess she should know.