A Most Horrible Tale of Murder and Messages from Beyond the Grave.

GravesWith apologies for the revolting bit…

Anyone who knows me will also know that I’m not terribly switched-on spiritually.  I did try for a bit; I went to church for nearly 10 years and, whenever we were reminded that our bodies are a temple of the human spirit¹, I couldn’t help thinking that mine is more of a spiritual wasteland.  I’ve always felt, from a very early age, that the answers to life, the universe and everything would be found in science.

While the scientific side of my brain dismisses unusual events (and there have been a few) as coincidence, the emotional side wants to believe that there’s something out there. So on the Bilbao-Portsmouth ferry last Friday, when I read an article about Gloria Hunniford and how her daughter Caron regularly sends her feathers from beyond the grave, I thought, “Why does that never happen to me?”  She even gave her mother advice on the title for her new book for crying out loud – now that’s the kind of help I could do with.

I was feeling rather petulant, so I sent a sneaky thought out to my dearly departed relatives: “If you’re out there, why don’t you send me feathers? Go on, convince me that you’re there.”  And then, the most amazing thing happened.  Even though we were in the middle of the Bay of Biscay, where even gulls don’t bother to perch, I received not one but 3 feathers in quick succession.  The first was black, the second was lime green and the third was shocking, fuchsia pink – I realised quite quickly that these were not fresh from the bird.

It didn’t stop there.  When we arrived home I went straight out to the back garden and there I saw feather number 4, a more natural-looking grey and white one.  “Interesting,” I thought, “one from each grandparent.”  And then I turned and saw number 5, a beautiful fluffy white feather, the type you might expect in a story like this, tumbling across the lawn.  I couldn’t help thinking that this was their way of telling me, “You’ve had your lot, now buzz off and leave us alone.”

So was this cynic converted?  Not a bit of it.  I resisted the temptation to sob, “You’re alive, you’re alive!” and, instead, started to analyze what had happened in the last 24 hours.  The black feather had, I am sure, come from a feather boa – a hen party had passed by just ten minutes earlier.  The green and pink feathers were found in the playroom, where various art materials are used on a daily basis.  The last two feathers were found in my garden, which isn’t entirely unexpected.  It was unusual to find five in such a short period of time but then I was looking for them.

I knew I was pushing my luck, but I decided I needed one more sign.  Not subtle, but something spectacular, like the pheasant’s tail that I found in the garden one time.  “Just one more,” I asked, “then I’ll believe.”  I swear I heard a distant sigh, or was it the wind?

This morning, as soon as we’d had breakfast, I flung open the doors and windows and I took the kids straight out to the garden to play.  My eyes were drawn immediately to something glinting and sparkling in the morning sunshine.  Intrigued, I went to investigate and on closer inspection, the object had the appearance of yellow ectoplasm.  And then I saw the chunks.  This was Felix cat food, chicken in jelly if I wasn’t mistaken.  And there, in the middle of it all, was the regurgitated, decapitated body of what appeared to be a small garden bird.  “Poor bird,” said Daniel.  Poor bird indeed; judging by the unnatural position of its intestines, its death had been somewhat cruel and unusual.

Minutes later, with the headless corpse safely tied up in a bag, I stood up to survey the garden.  It looked like the scene of a particularly bloody pillow fight – feathers absolutely everywhere.  Feeling like a crime scene investigator, I got down on my hands and knees to scour the garden for body parts and vomit – anything that my 14-month-old baby might want to eat.  As I did so, I decided that perhaps there is an afterlife and that my grandparents are having a blooming good laugh at my expense.

And I know whose idea it was too.


1. 1 Corinthians 6:19

6 Responses to “A Most Horrible Tale of Murder and Messages from Beyond the Grave.”
  1. Ellie says:

    Brilliant! Have I told you about the pigeon Mum sent? We were gathered together at my brother’s house a night or two after she’d died when we heard odd noises coming down the chimney. Several hours later we finally managed to detatch the expensive, carefully fitted fireplace (ignoring the warnings saying not to do so) and in fluttered one very stressed pigeon. Mum never did things by halves so, despite being a cynic like yourself, I do like to think she sent the bird. It certainly gave us something else to think about for a few hours!

  2. Helen says:

    Love it, you’ve made my extremely dull afternoon extremely not dull.

  3. Fiona says:

    Its the way you tell ’em Cath.
    I am undecided on this front too but it certainly makes for an entertaining read!

  4. Shannon says:

    Brilliant! I’m thinking the grandparents were hysterical with laughter. The only question now is, what will they think of next? 🙂

  5. Catherine Osborn says:

    Thank you for your feedback, girls. Sorry for the delay, I’m learning how to be a good blogger, so now I’m atoning for past sins. I have an exciting update on this story, watch this space!

  6. Heather says:

    This is interesting and is making me think. i am a cynic. but an optimistic one. I have a suspicion that ghosts and spirits exist and yet i am not convinced. I think like you I would be looking for the rational, trying to not believe.

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