In 1955, in Edinburgh, 19-year-old apprentice painter, Alan Bogue, had a terrifying experience while working in an old Victorian property. Unseen footsteps, opening doors, a violent electric shock, and an overwhelming feeling of sadness. It wasn't until later that he learned of the heartbreaking tragedy that had recently taken place there.
In the world of hauntings, the apparitions of suicides figure prominently, which is not surprising, for of all human actions the taking of one's own life must be the most desperate. That some fragment of this anguish should linger, consciously or unconsciously, is very understandable. In 1955 Alan Bogue, a 19-year-old apprentice painter, had been sent with a skilled craftsman, Bill Oliver, to an early Victorian house in Garscube Terrace, Edinburgh, to redecorate a small, unoccupied but fully-furnished flat on the top floor. On the first day, Bill had gone down to the basement to make tea for the mid-morning break, leaving Alan in the bathroom cleaning up splashes on the floor.
On hands and knees, Alan backed towards the doorway, automatically rubbing with his turpentine-soaked rag, when he heard the sound of bare feet walking lightly along the passage from the bed-sitting room; there was the slight "stickiness" as each foot was lifted from the lino. Although he had thought he was alone on the fourth floor, there was no reason why someone else should not be there, and he took little notice. Then, in the next instant three events happened almost simultaneously: he reached the architrave of the doorway as he worked back; the footsteps came up level with him, and he was immediately hit by what he could only describe as a powerful electric shock. There was a blinding, stunning flash of brilliant light, which was felt almost as something tangible inside his brain rather than seen through his eyes, and his body was momentarily paralysed by a violent spasm. Alan staggered to his feet, dazed, and lurched towards the bed-sitting room to sit down to recover. As he approached the door, the handle moved downwards and the door itself opened: in the confusion of the moment, facts registered in his mind, but their significance did not.
He stumbled inside - he was not sure afterwards, whether he closed the door himself or not - and sat on the bed for a few moments. When he had recovered, the strange behaviour of the door puzzled him, and he looked round to find out why it had opened in front of him. As the window was closed there could have been no gust of wind, so he assumed there must be some quirk in the carpentry that caused his weight on the floorboards to let slip the catch.
With that issue settled logically, if not very convincingly, he stood up to return to the job, wondering about the more important incident. There were certainly no electrical wires or equipment anywhere near where he had been working, so a normal shock from the mains was ruled out, and it was with some trepidation that he approached the bathroom again, and bent down. Instantly, there came the same flash and tingling, though on this second occasion not as powerful as the first. As he stood up the intense feelings of amazement and alarm were suddenly overwhelmed by a deep sensation of inexplicable grief that came from nowhere, and brought him to the verge of tears.
It was at this moment that Bill Oliver returned from the basement with the tray of tea, and seeing Alan obviously in a strange state of shock and depression, he made some light-hearted comment. When Alan replied that he thought the bathroom was haunted, the reaction was electrifying: Bill's face suddenly drained of all colour, he dropped the tray, which fell down the stairwell to crash to the hall four storeys below, and then, with a rising flush of anger, he flew at Alan's throat with hands outstretched like a man demented.
After a brief struggle, the insane mood passed: Bill apologised and said that for that moment the shock of what Alan had said had made him lose control of himself. He explained that while he had been preparing the tea, the lady who owned the house had told him that the flat they were working on was being redecorated because three weeks earlier the tenant, a young history teacher, Anne, had committed suicide by hanging herself from the bathroom door by her dressing gown cord - a desperate act precipitated, Alan later learned, by a letter from her fiance breaking off their engagement. Neither man saw anything abnormal for the rest of the time they were working in the house, but Alan said that for the whole while he was unable to rid himself of the profound sadness.