I don’t really believe in ghosts, I’m too much of a cynical realist, but I’ve never been able to explain what happened in our previous house. When looking for suitable furniture to do up our Victorian kitchen, we saw a dilapidated old pot cupboard standing outside a junk furniture shop. The owner of the shop said they’d just cleared a Sussex farmhouse and this had been ripped out of the kitchen. We snapped it up as a bargain and, when stripped and cleaned of years of grease and grime, it looked gorgeous. It looked like it had always been there, completely filling one wall.
Initially nothing unusual was noticed until on day my neighbour, perched sipping coffee and admiring the renovations, suddenly brushed something away from her legs with a shudder. She has a fear of cats and insisted a large cat had brushed past her legs . I pointed out that my cat was asleep in the garden, but she insisted a cat had been there.
I thought no more about it until a few weeks later. One afternoon I was sitting reading at the kitchen when my cat jumped in the chair behind me. I felt him squeeze in the space between me and the back of the chair. We often had minor battles as to who owned that particular chair and this time I was determined to win. I turned round to pick him up and chuck him off, but there was no cat.
A little nervously I told my husband, expecting my story to be dismissed as a fantasy, but he took me seriously. He said that when he was rebuilding the kitchen, plumbing in the sink unit to be precise, he’d felt a cat brushing round his back. He hadn’t liked to mention it before as it seemed so strange, no cat being there.
We lived for several years with a vague feeling of a benign presence in the house. Our children were teenagers at the time and they never mentioned anything and we never told them about our extra ‘cat’.
Maybe it was our imagination but we sometimes felt it was just out of sight, in the corner of an eye, in another room. It was no way scary, just there.
Only once more did it make itself known to anyone. On her last visit to us , my mother, in her late eighties and with her mind meandering far into the past, suddenly smiled and put her hand down and stroked a cat, saying, ‘Nice puss’ or something like that. She had owned many cats in her lifetime and was an enduring cat lover. Her mind may have been wandering but I am sure on that occasion, even though I couldn’t see it, she stroked a cat.
As I’ve said, I can’t explain it. When we moved the first things the new owners did was rip out the old kitchen We saw the cupboard lying broken and forlorn in a skip in the street. They told our old neighbour that they loved the house but hated that gloomy cupboard in the kitchen. A pity, they don’t know what they missed.