Ghost Story: The Girl in White 

“Really, you’re the most ill-mannered and clumsy child possible! Why can’t you be a lady!” I look down at the soup splattered tablecloth and my spoiled Sunday dress, at the spoon I dropped when I saw the apparition. I want to protest, to explain, but the figure at the other end of the dining room is looking at me intently, her finger to her lips. She disappears before my eyes. 

There she is again, climbing up the narrow staircase, under the watchful eyes of all the dull and dusty family portraits. I rush after her, the fading hem of her dress trails in front of me, but always out of reach. At the top of the stairs she turns around, her face stricken with something ominous and troubling, before vanishing once more. My hand goes right through her. 

There she is, a featureless figure in white, roughly my age, staring at me from over at the window, while Miss Sharp rattles on about satin stitches and French knots, and how my work is too careless. 

I wake to see her standing over my bed, her contours distinct in the moonlight. I’m too scared to light a candle, lest she disappears again. She’s crying now. “What’s wrong?” She doesn’t answer, but is running out into the hallway, and I follow, my bare feet cold against the wooden floorboards. I run after her across the lawn, through the garden arches and the roses, until she stops still in front of the pond. 

There’s terror on her face. “ What do you want?” I yell into the night, unladylike and helpless. I spent a long month with Aunt Clara while she was ill, reading boring novels to her, pouring never-ending cups of tea, feverishly waiting to go back home. Now I’m back, and there’s no trace of my spectral friend. Countless days have passed. Have I merely dreamt her up? I watch as intently as she used to watch me, but there’s only the relentless ticking of the clock, the dreary blur of clattering dishes, pattering of feet, chatter of voices. 

I’m searching every room. I swear I really did see her. I’m searching outside, every inch, every corner of the garden. I hoist myself up onto the old oak which overlooks the estate, its bottom branches touching the surface of the pond. “Be a lady!” I mimic Mother, as I climb higher and higher. I can see all the way to the house now, can see Mother is talking to the gardener, and I wish she 'd see me. A cobweb brushes my cheek, making me jump slightly. Suddenly there’s a cracking sound, and my fingers slip. I hang suspended by my dress , which got caught on a branch. There she is! Below me! I gasp as I hear the white fabric rip, and just before I break through the surface of the water, the girl’s face ripples, and, together, we disappear.


I've had the pleasure of finally upgrading my laptop, and with it, my editing software. It made me think back to when I first started making videos for YouTube - back when I had nothing much to work with. I had a crappy phone camera, lived in a dark and dingy place with little privacy, and practicing was a practical impossibility, which ruled out making my channel music related. I remember the day I made my first video - a dark snow covered winter day, on which I had no heating. My attempt at a coal fire was Dickensian at best, and without tangible result. I was without a clue or concept, shivering in a dark room with broken lighting, smiling bravely into the camera, hoping I wasn't disturbing the aggressively passive aggressive noise-of-any-kind-hating neighbour. My circumstances made it impossible to be authentic, which made it a doomed enterprise to begin with. But I learned a lot.

Some years seem to have no other value. I find it hard looking back at my past life, and past versions of myself; how nothing ever followed a linear route, and just how many times I was thrown off track. But there's been upgrade after upgrade, and I know I tried to do the best I could with each version. I feel relieved to be where I am now. On the outside it looks like I haven't achieved much. I've spent about half my life already, with next to nothing obvious to account for. But I don't mind, because I know how hard I had to fight for where I am. 




What I Lost When I Lost my Words 

There's years between me and the time I felt I still had the words to be a writer. 

I always felt, that when I left my country for the UK, I had to leave so much more behind at the customs than just my nail scissors. 

I have to think of the scene from the beginning of the movie Marie Antoinette, where the heroine arrives in France, and has to strip naked and leave every single thing she owned behind. Adopt a new identity in a new country. This scene is burned deep into my memory. 

Having to shift to a different language feels very similar when you've built you're identity on being a writer. 

That first year was hard. I spent it mostly translating my novella to death. The second year I gave up on fiction and wrote poems that were doomed from the start. The words felt cold and foreign on my tongue, and awkwardly stared back at me from the prison page in front of me.

After that I wrote songs. 

But the last 18 years have been soaked in the knowledge I have become someone else. The real me is liquid ink. A writer before everything else. The real me would feel a thrill when looking down the barrel of a gun, impatient for the opportunity to translate the experience into words.

I've no literary ambitions anymore, but I have to ease myself back into writing again. It's less of a choice, but a storm that I can't contain. A raging reclaiming of the parts of my soul I considered lost.

Starting Messy 

"Why do words fail me? I'm a writer. Why can't I write a few simple lines to update my website?" I took it down for maintenance, and the way things were going it was likely to stay down for good.

But I was heading for a gold medal in procrastination, should it be included in the Olympic Games in time.

I stared at the screen, made too many cups coffee, closed my laptop, and posted on social media instead.

I flicked through my promo pictures, but they were all taken ages ago, before the pandemic, and it was a completely different person staring back at me. So I went and practiced instead.

I started typing words, but they felt wrong, so I deleted them again, closed my laptop and considered doing the washing up. 

The problem is - the world is upside down and I'm figuring out who I am in it,  and working out an alternative route to my destination.  

I've been defining myself as a live performer, but obviously, in a pandemic world that has become kind of extinct.But, as Picasso said, "When you run out of red, use blue."

And I've never fitted into a box anyway - let alone in a neat paragraph or two. 

The good thing is, I get to try something new. The bad thing is, it's uncharted territory, and my learning process is a public one. 

But you have to start, even if it’s a messy start. You have to leap, even though you’re scared.

Step 1: Revive my YouTube channel. Step 2: Revive my website, to document and share the journey of my leap. The falling on my face, the getting back up again and again - and hopefully, eventually, a somewhat graceful landing.

Where shall I send exclusive content to?