1961


38
YEARS

THE CASE THAT NEVER WAS

“I have come across many ghosts that are not ghosts, the faked, the false and the fraudulent…”

“…for this reason I always look for a normal explanation when I visit an allegedly haunted house or locality before considering a paranormal one.”

“There was for instance what I have always called

...the case that never was…”

“Having received reports of ‘ghostly’ music…in a house in Sussex...”

“...I made inquiries…”

“...and received a polite invitation to visit the house…”

“My first impression on meeting the owner…”

“...who lived by himself…”

“...in the large house…”

“…was that he was a lonely man…”

“He seemed to be completely relaxed

and not at all troubled by the ‘mysterious music’…”

“which I was told

...had been heard from all the rooms

on the ground floor of the house…”

“He talked at length…I asked all sorts of questions, and was told there were no special times…no legend or story associated with the house…”

“...that might account for the ‘phantom music’...”

“After a while...”

“...I thought I heard the faint sound of music, somewhat distant…”

“…seeming to originate in an adjoining room…”

“I looked at my host.

He returned my gaze with the ghost of a smile on his face.

‘Yes, there it is - go and look if you like.’ 

“I went quietly into the next room...”

“...and the music stopped.”

“He had followed me,

and we went on a tour…”

“I spent the best part of three hours at the house…”

“…when I noticed that the music was only heard

when my host was sitting back in his chair…”

“I subjected him to minute scrutiny…”

“...and noticed that his left hand…”

“...seemed to clutch the padded armrest of his chair…

each time just before the music started…”

“Each time I let him think that...

the room where the music

appeared to originate…”

“...was the important thing…”

“...but in fact I was watching him

very carefully…”

“Eventually, when he disappeared into the kitchen with the tray of empty coffee cups,

I quickly examined his chair…”

“…and discovered a series of small buttons…”

“…hidden beneath the upholstery

at the end of the armrest…”

“I pressed one and heard music!”

“I heard my host hurriedly returning…”

“He looked daggers at me…”

“…and this time

my face bore

the ghost of a smile…”

“He knew the game was up

and admitted that he was something of a gadget maniac…”

“...and recorded muted mixed music

[to play] under the floorboards.”

“We parted amicably

and I never met him again…”

“...although several years later a researcher at the SPR asked me whether I had heard about a house

…where the sound of a dog barking had been heard in an empty room…”

“...he told me the name of the occupant,

and I didn’t bother to look into the matter!”

No Common Task
pp.130-133