Weddings are a joy, especially when held on a Sunday and are so far away that it is inconceivable for the whole family to attend. Children miss school? Husband miss work? No we can’t have that. Despite almost no protests, I still found myself in front of the aforesaid bunch, eyes closed with hands apart, gently patting the air, adopting the universal ‘calm down’ pose saying “Ok ok I’ll go and save all our skins, then at least one of us has shown our face.” It worked and within two hours I was all but packed and on my way.
It also helped that I could tie it in with a visit to our factory and check out progress on our Charles Oakley Collection which will be launched very soon.
My big sister and I were to share a room after she also took the fake moral high ground. I was so (very secretly) excited as it was all taking place in the New Forest, a beautiful part of the world. To be quite honest though, were it to be held on a sewage farm in the back end of nowhere I would still be in attendance, fascinator and all. NOTHING and NO ONE was going to stop me having a relaxing night in a nice hotel getting some much-needed sleep.
Yeah, right. Firstly, upon arrival at the -very old and spooky looking- hotel, my super-paranoid sister had not even put her bag down when she commenced her ‘fire inspection’. It’s strange what you discover about your siblings when you least expect it don’t you think? Mmm. Leaning out of the window shaking the nearest drainpipe to see if it would take our weight, she informed me that knotted sheets would be our best option. Glad to have cleared that up then…
The wedding was a good laugh and I almost managed to put all thoughts of leaping out of burning hotel rooms with bedsheet parachutes behind me, when they were replaced with something else entirely. Upon returning to the pitch black hotel car park, my sister peered up towards our room and gasped “someone has just looked round our curtain, it’s moving”. Glancing up I could almost see the fabric swaying. A trick of the dark, I thought, ignoring my steadily increasing heart-rate and flashing images of an old woman with a tight grey bun. Which begs the question, why do old women ghosts always have hair on the “grey bun” spectrum?
What followed was without doubt the spookiest, most terrifying, madness-inducing night I have ever spent. Maybe it was the curtain twitching, grey-bunned old woman who gave me the willies the most, or it might have been the persistent tapping on the dressing table which big sis refused to acknowledge.
Whatever it was sent my fear-ometer into overdrive resulting in me sitting bolt upright and pulling the cord on my bedside light so hard it came off in my sweaty hand. Big sis was revelling in my terror. In fact, I haven’t seen her laugh so hard since she greeted me from school one day holding out my dead zebra finch in her hand, trying hard to supress the hearty laugh which followed about five seconds later. I found it strange that for someone who is an avid believer in ghosts and is a Most Haunted superfan, she wasn’t too freaked out. Little did she know but her cheery disposition settled my nerves somewhat and after much baffling reassurance, along the lines of “the spirit is just making her presence known and will not bother you if you don’t bother her”, we switched the lights off once more and attempted to sleep. I decided to convince myself that sis was actually making all the noises herself to scare me, just as she did 100 years ago when we shared a bedroom. Aaah, I thought, she misses ‘us’, as I drifted off.
The next thing I remember was an almighty ringing in my ears and the light going on. The bloomin fire alarm. Big sis lurched out of bed and had her boots and coat on before I could even get my head off the pillow. After a quick glance outside, she told me to stay calm and get up. Now this was either a really really REALLY elaborate hoax to further wreck my head or I was about to discover how difficult it is to abseil down a burning building using knotted sheets. Her grey pallor said it all. I was so glad I wasn’t alone for the second time that night as we rushed out of the room (thankfully not out of the window!). Sis braved it first, touching the door with the back of her hand as she went. The fire turned out to be a miniscule flame in a waste paper basket which didn’t half chuck out some smoke. Thank the Lord because my oldest pyjamas, which were more suited to the grey-bunned ghost, were not what I envisaged wearing during my first tv appearance whilst being saved by a burly fireman.
It was another hour before we got to sleep by which time I was so shattered, I would have happily shared my bed with the ghouliest of ghouls should any care to join me.
Consequently, we missed breakfast and were dithering wrecks by the time it came to the four hour journey home (complete with motorway closures and mind-boggling detours).
I was half expecting Jeremy Beadle to be on the doorstep when we finally arrived, furry microphone in hand. But alas, it was just the smiling faces of the children and husband who I shall think twice about abandoning should the opportunity arise again.
It probably wasn’t the most relaxing weekend I’ve ever had to be fair (massive understatement) and required several early nights to feel anything like human again. But at least I learned one thing – that sharing a room with a safety-obsessed fan of the paranormal can come in handy sometimes…