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  • The 1883 Dundee Ghost Flap #3: Castoffs April 24, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    Some peripheral reports from the 1883 Dundee ghost flap. Readers will remember that reports began in late 1882, and that they died out at the quarry in late Jan 1883, after an energetic policeman had intervened.

    19 Feb 1883 a Dundee paper reported that the ghost had been caught. If this really was the or a miscreant it is extraordinary that he got off so lightly. Was he a member of an influential local family? His job and home hardly suggest it. Or was this just an idiot with a white sheet on his head, a part time banal ghost of the worst sort? Almost certainly the latter.

    For two or three months back considerable consternation has been caused in Dundee by one or more young men disporting themselves in the character a ghost. The ‘ghost’ has suddenly shown itself in almost every quarter of the town at all hours of the night and morning, and chiefly to girls, and children, several of whom have suffered severely from the shock to their nervous system. It generally appeared with a hideous face, surmounted by a hat to ‘which some yards of crape were attached, and was attired in long dark cloak, which with, it is supposed, the aid of phosphorus, suddenly changed into a luminous colour. Early on Saturday morning the ghost was apprehended in Nethergate, under the name William Anderson, clerk, South Ellen Street, appeared in the Police Court to answer to a charge of creating a disturbance with view to annoying and frightening the lieges [sic?]. He explained that he had been in company with some friends and had got too much in drink, whereupon the Magistrate administered an admonition and then dismissed him.

    A second report confirms that William was a bit of a prat.

    6 Feb a carter in Hill Town became drunk and ran out of his house to settle with the ghost. He was bound over for disturbing the peace.

    Here are some of the Carter’s more furious sentences for posterity. Notice the reference to a sheet.

    9 Feb perhaps the single wisest contribution to the debate, Beach has never seen this before, came in an advertisement for Beef, Mutton, Pork! Note the way that the author is wise to the danger of the media creating a ghost storm.

    16 Feb a letter to the newspaper furiously decried the ghost and the authorities: the writer signed himself with one of those wonderfully priggish Victorian names, Pro Bono Publico. He describes a young woman frightened in the north east of Dundee.

    31 March a man ends up in court for striking a woman hard over the head with a poker. Her crime? She had been wearing a shawl in the close at night and he had thought that she was the or a ghost. He got fifteen shillings or ten day’s imprisonment. Good general Victorian rule is that attacks on property get you the noose, attacks on person a sharp slap on the wrist.

    More on the Dundee ghost flap: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOt com