Robert Walker’s Weekend Wondering | OPINION, March 18, 2017

THIS is the true story of how I created a poltergeist legend.

We lived at the top of a hill in a small NSW town; to protect the guilty (me) I won’t name the town.

The yard was very long and our sewer line developed the mother of all chokes – it was backed up for about 30 steep metres and the WC was another couple of metres above ground level.

Two plumbers arrived and used the “snake” attachments to bore up the pipe from the access point at the bottom of the yard and, as one does, I was watching the process.

There was a sudden rumbling like distant thunder and the gaffer said one word, calmly and quietly as I remember it now, “Run.”

When someone tells me to run, I don’t saunter - and I was first to safely turn to look at a rarely seen sewage spectacular.

A two metre tall “gusher” soared up from the access pipe; the “snake” – gradually pushed out also – danced, grew and twisted in the air like a metallic Indian rope-trick.

“Eureka”, I shouted, “we done struck oil Paw!”

“You reek’a somethin’ else right now mate,” said the off-sider, “That ain’t oil.”

A few days later I was down the local and told the barflies that I had a great story.

One codger interrupted and said, “Nothin’ like Mrs. Clackett’s story!”

And he narrated the tale of how, a few days ago, poor 83 year-old Esme had been dozing  at home (“You know her; she lives about 100 yards directly down the hill from you” gave me my first inkling of where this was leading) when suddenly every water outlet in the house exploded upwards with raw sewage.

The “gusher” I saw had been, it seems, nowt but a drop in the ocean and the main bulk of the 30-plus metres of back-up had roared and accelerated down-pipe, like a long steam train, for 100 metres until it met Mrs Clackett’s antique water and sewerage hook-up.

What had been protective U-pipes were simply straightened out by the force of the impact and every household outlet had become a jet-propelled eruption of cold tonnage rising to the ceiling, screaming “Free-dom!” like some semi-liquid William Wallace bursting into the old dear’s house.

Apparently dishes were blown from the sink; the dunny lid was torn off and the ceiling above it would have to be replaced; the toilet bowl itself was still gurgling as if trying to communicate something to whoever would listen; the entire laundry was now a browner shade of pale; and a drainage grate from the yard was found on the roof.

The cat was never seen again.

Some people had already decided that the whole thing had a tinge of the supernatural about it and visiting folk were taking photos of the “poltergeist-house”.

The pub had taken a booking by a bunch from a Sydney ghost-hunter group for the next weekend and there was talk of a camera crew.

While I was quite pleased that I’d at least contributed a little to the town’s tourist trade I still knew that I’d have to see the gaffer and the off-sider about keeping shtum; a few quid back-hander would see to that.

The old codger who’d interrupted me earlier said, “So what was your great story then?”

I had to think fast – because the whole pub went silent – and said “Oh, I mistook some nettles for lavender and got a rash”.

“Huh!” snorted the codger, “I’ve always said you don’t know shit from she-oaks”. But I do. Oh, I do.



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