INTERVIEW WITH THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN AND THE WAILING WOMAN
Resident Ghosts at The Hooting Owl Inn
CAM: So, Headless Horseman, I guess the question that a lot of people ask you is, how did you lose your head?’
HEADLESS: Please, just call me Headless. And no, apart from Ernie, my horse, nobody has asked me that. In fact, nobody’s asked me anything since I lost my head. Mostly when they see me folk just gibber, or wet their pants, they don’t usually start up a conversation. So thank you for taking an interest, and in answer to your question, it was like this. One afternoon in the winter of 1648, me and Ernie was galloping home across Bludangore Moor. I was thinking about what to have for my tea, when all of a sudden, there we was in the middle of this battle.
Well, you could've knocked me down with a pikestaff! I had no idea there was going to be a battle on. There’d been nothing about it in the papers or anything. But we was right in the thick of it, with blokes jabbing each other with pikes and blasting away at each other with muskets. Then there were the cannons. Don’t ask me about the cannons.
WAILING WOMAN: No, don’t ask him about the cannons.
CAM: Ok, I won’t.
HEADLESS: The cannons was the worst of it. Thumping great balls whizzing around, knocking the stuffing out of folk and making this smoky stink you wouldn’t believe. Then, all of a sudden “Ker-bonk!! Boing, boing, boing!”
WAILING: Headless believes it was a cannon ball that knocked his head off.
HEADLESS: Well something did, that I do know. First I’m alive, then I’m not. One minute I’ve got my head on, next minute here’s me groping around and there’s my head watching me look for it. Lucky for me, my horse was dead as well.
CAM: I don’t know that it was all that lucky for your horse, though.
HEADLESS: Well I couldn’t see nothing much except a whole lot of legs and hooves, what with my eyes being in my head and my head not being on my shoulders. But having my mouth in it as well, my head had the brains to sing out to my horse. “Ernie! Ernie!” it went. And Ernie who, as luck would have it, still had his head on, trotted over to my head and stood over it until I’d got down and picked it up. I tried sticking it back on, but it wouldn’t stay put, so in the end I sat it on the saddle in front of me.
CAM: And when was it you realised you were a ghost?
HEADLESS: Well, I could tell something was up. The battle finished very sudden, like. Both sides ran off screaming and it was hard to say who’d won.
It was Ernie who twigged. “I think it’s us,” he said. “We’ve scared ‘em off and I think that’s because we’re ghosts.”
That’s the first thing about being a ghost, you can have a conversation with your horse. The second thing is that you’re supposed to spend the rest of eternity haunting the place where you died. But the battlefield was empty, it was perishing cold and starting to get dark. “Blow this for a lark,” I said. “Let’s go and find somewhere more comfortable to haunt.”
So we galloped across the moor until we came to The Hooting Owl Inn. There was a notice that said,
No Ghosts and No Horses in the Bedrooms
WAILING: The ‘no ghosts’ bit was because of me. I’d been haunting the place for three hundred years. They couldn’t get rid of me, but they tried to put a stop to any more ghosts.
CAM: And the ‘no horses’ part?
HEADLESS: How many inns do you know of that have horses in the bedrooms?
But any road, what with getting caught in a battle, having my head knocked off and missing my tea, I’d had enough for one day. And so had Ernie. So we just jumped through an upstairs window. It wasn’t open, but that didn’t matter. The third thing about being a ghost is that you can do all this floating stuff; straight through solid wall and windows. It scares anybody who sees you do it, but it’s handy for getting around.
WAILING: Well, if I’d been alive, I would’ve died when this oik on a horse came sailing through my window. But then when we realised we were all….thingummies…
WAILING: Apparitions…we decided we’d be room-mates, including Ernie. We’ve been haunting this inn together ever since.
CAM: No doubt you have an interesting story yourself, Wailing Woman. Perhaps we can talk to you next time. In the meantime, thank you headless, for talking to us today.
HEADLESS: Pleasure. And Ernie does interviews an’ all. You can always talk to Ernie.
CAM: I would love to talk to Ernie sometime soon. Thank you again, ghosts of the Hooting Owl.