I appreciate this may be rather a vanity blog but if it’s not your cup of tea please don’t feel obliged to read it, it’s just that our favourite TV show, Ghosts, is coming to an end and I felt compelled to mark the occasion somehow, especially because of all the laughter and sanity saving it has given us over the past few years. It has involved letter writing too…
Dear Cast and Crew of Ghosts,
From that very first broadcast of the first episode I have been completely hooked and within a very short time so were the rest of the family and I can safely say it is our absolute go to happy television whatever the mood. We’ve always been in awe of the comedy chemistry of the original Horrible Histories team (I got given the HH boxset for a Mother’s Day present not long ago) so it was no surprise to find we loved Ghosts, but the whole thing is just so magical. The fascination and love for it only deepened due to some lovely and quite amazing similarities to our own lives not least having worked at a beautiful old Grade II listed Georgian Mansion converted into an outdoor centre as well as finding out I have a distant relative called Jean Button. I remember Jean clearly, going to her house as a child (she was my Gran’s cousin) playing in their orchard across a little plank bridge and me and my sister going home with a travel Battleships set each, from out of the dresser. Thinking back that was quite random but I loved and cherished that game. I think she was my Great Great Aunt or cousin, I’m still not sure which.
I’m going to have to be a bit careful not to give any spoilers but the clincher for writing this, let’s just say it had something to do with blue plaques and cake, and the fact that the accompanying book for the series comes out on the Society’s birthday on 26th October – tomorrow! A bit tenuous, I know, but I didn’t need much of an excuse. And really, it does include some letter writing adventures too. The Outdoor Centre that I worked at for lots of years even before ever hearing about West Horsley Place was just filled with romance for me. I don’t know if any of the other tutors felt the same way about it but it still makes me giddy with excitement to think of all the history contained within it.
Roman coins were found buried in the ground when the dining room foundations were dug, George and Amy Garland, local Georgian Newfoundland Cod moguls lived there, WW2 radar scientists made major breakthroughs working on Top Secret projects by the French windows, various private schools have run from there, local smugglers were associated with the place, and rumours of secret tunnels and much more are part of its rich tapestry, all with their own story to tell. I’d got into sending wax-sealed letters because of the Garlands and wanting to imagine what it must’ve been like to get one arriving at a grand old house, so on watching Ghosts I definitely had to send one to “Button House”, I found out owned by Bamber Gascoigne. I had a couple of letters back from him which included his personal email address and mobile number in the letterhead. It would’ve felt like an intrusion to actually ring it, but I often wonder what he’d have said if I had. His letters are treasured even more so now.
I’m gradually making my way through the cast with letters too (I know, I’m such a saddo) but I’m sure it was a postcard from Ben Willbond that turned up from Abersoch the other day. We went on a little fieldtrip to West Horsley Place for my 50th in the summer of 2022 which was just the most memorable time, not least because we got lost across the fields from the train station trying to find it, and when asking if the coffee stall outside had any water they instructed us to use the “tap in the yard”! (Episode 1, of course!) Eldest looks very like Alison so we did a bit of reconstructing of scenes and the Society mug had a few photo shoots and cameos. I don’t know if all Tory MPs are like Julian Fawcett but our local one, the dashing and quite posh Richard Drax, definitely is. (I don’t mean in misdemeanours necessarily, just a similar physical mould.)
The friend that booked the surprise outing and came with us is actually an Alison, a lovely and all round brilliant friend and THLAS supporter, so it really did make me chuckle when Thomas was trying to compose a song for the TV Alison because I’d done the exact same thing a few years before. I read it down the phone to our Alison the other day. We both cringed. Kylie’s song was far better.
There were just so many funny coincidences, it started to feel spooky (although I freely admit I was looking for them) – the busted sewage pipes (Leeson House discovered 27,000 gallons of sewage in forgotten WW2 tunnels no-one knew about until recently), the plastic chairs from Something to Share (we had those at our wedding reception in 2000 at Leeson), the fusty and manky and probably priceless old stuffed animals (Leeson has an animal adaptation session with a whole array), “Put an egg on it!” (youngest’s recent obsession with eating eggs), and finally the Blue Plaque storyline as my dear and enthusiastic family had actually got one made for me last year for the Letter Writing Shed.
Maybe it’s the same for all the other fans across the country and beyond, but if nothing else it gave me a fab idea for this year’s birthday cake. Ghosts really does have a special place in our hearts and we shall miss it very much.
Thanks everso for all the laughs (and the happy tears).
FOOTNOTE: Here she is! “It’s cake!”