Once upon a time, one wintry October, there was a young nurse working nights in a draughty Victorian Hospital. Her ward was at the end of a 2nd floor corridor, the end of which was bricked up. The security guards refused to walk the to the end of the corridor to pick up the nightly ‘bed report’ as they were ‘afraid of the dark’. Inside the long, open ward, 28 men, most missing limbs, slept as quietly as animals in a zoo. One night, the nurses, huddled in their capes around a table in the middle of the ward, tried to stay awake as one of them, the oldest, muttered about God.
The nurse went to visit the staff toilet, which was outside the ward, off the dimly-lit corridor. As she washed her hands (as they did back then in the olden days), she heard the ward telephone ring. And ring. And ring. She wondered why no-one was answering it, fretting that all the patients would be woken. The other nurses denied hearing the telephone.
A young man, a boarder from another ward, still in possession of all his limbs and the most compus mentis, called out in fright. He’d woken to see someone standing at the end of his bed, staring at him, before disappearing into the fetid sluice. It was hard to see who it might have been; all the beds were occupied.
The nurse heard the squeaky wheeled blood-pressure monitor roll towards the nurses’ station, as if someone were holding onto it for support. She turned to see who had got up in search of a cup of tea and reassurance. There was no sign of anyone, except for the stethoscope swinging back and forth from the machine.
Talk turned to ghosts. The senior nurse (in years only as we second-year students were in charge of the ward), spoke of when the old nurses home was bombed in the Blitz. The home was at the end of the corridor, where now there was only a blank wall. Legend had it that on certain nights in October you could could hear running footsteps as ghostly nurses fled the burning building.
Derby City General Hospital is not the only hospital with strange goings-on. There must be many others, if the experiences of that nurse at the Manchester Royal Infirmary is anything to go by. How do I know they happened? Because that nurse was me. Do I think the phantom telephone, strange figure and self-propelling sphygmomanometer were signs of a ghost? No. But nor can I find a rational explanation for them. Where’s Yvette Fielding when you need her?
But seriously… there what was going on? There’s clearly folklore involved – medical folk love a good gory story – mixed with real history and probably some brain-altering tiredness brought on by lack of sleep… Yvette? Horizon? Anyone? Is ANYBODY there???