Dead famous beyond the grave

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The Independent Online

Communicating with the undead is a talent not given to many but, Joanna Lumley, it seems, is one of the lucky ones. In her recently published memoirs, she revealed that she was particularly sensitive to messages from the other side. and had in fact been visited by a ghost while she was living in a parsonage near Dover.

Communicating with the undead is a talent not given to many but, Joanna Lumley, it seems, is one of the lucky ones. In her recently published memoirs, she revealed that she was particularly sensitive to messages from the other side. and had in fact been visited by a ghost while she was living in a parsonage near Dover.

An ancient man had loomed up in the cellar, then disappeared. Lights had been turned on and off. A watch had been dumped in a waste-paper basket. One night, Joanna saw a freshly-dug grave on the law; the next morning it was gone.

Yet, when a journalist rang the present occupiers of the house, they were unable to report the slightest hint of spookiness. "Maybe they like Joanna more than us," one of them said sadly.

Of course they did. Some of us are simply more tuned into the spirit world than others. Among parapsychologists, we are known as "sensitives". People in the business of self-exposure - actors, pole-dancers, writers - are likely to be more sensitive than "normals", as we call them.

So it was no real surprise when, one dark but not particularly stormy night, I experienced the familiar, faintly irritating sense that the temperature in my bedroom had suddenly dropped, and smelt the dispiriting scent of mouldy gravestones. Soon, a sound that was as plaintive as the wind blowing through a graveyard could be heard.

Damn, this was all I needed - a ghostly visitation.

"Wooooooo ..."

I started snoring, but it takes a lot to put off a ghost.

"Is there anybody theeeere?"

"Yes, there is. Get on with it."

The ghost made that guttural death-rattle noise that they like to use, and then went quiet.

"Spare me the deathly silence," I snapped. "I'm not in the mood. Just deliver your message from beyond the grave and let me get some sleep."

"We're not happy." The whisper was more sulky than ghostly. "No one took Joanna Lumley seriously."

"Oh, boo-hoo. Aren't there more important things to worry about on the other side?"

"We thought she was a good choice. Grown-up, experienced, well-respected, wacky without being bonkers."

"Come on, she's an actress. She had a book to sell. Get a life."

A tragic sigh filled the room. "That's not a very tactful way of putting it."

"Why did you want to scare poor old Joanna?" I asked. "Come to think of it, why are you here? What exactly is it that you want?"

An odd noise, a tuneless groan that seemed to be an attempt at singing, filled the room. "Fame. We want to live forever."

"But you do live -"

"Oh, very funny. We want a share of this celebrity thing that everyone on earth is talking about. Being one of the walking dead is no kettle of roses. We want recognition. Some of us are quite interesting. Just because you don't have a body, it doesn't make you a bad person."

"You've got ghost stories. Now and then there are documentaries about you."

"A reality show. That's all we're asking for. Let's face it, the genre's getting tired. If you had something like SpookSwap, and got a living person to change places with a non-living person, it would be great TV and educate people about everyday life on the other side."

"A reality TV show for ghosts? Are you serious?"

"Just write an article about it. Run it up the flagpole. Leave the rest to us."

"And if I don't?"

"Wooooo ..."

"All right, it's a deal. Now just let me go to sleep."

Miles Kington is away

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